How to Obtain a Pet Passport


There are no uniform standards across the globe for a pet passport. Each country sets its animal importation regulations according to risks it's hoping to avert by letting a pet come into its borders. Some countries are rabies-free and want to stay that way. Nations also want to ensure that a pet who's been on the road isn't bringing exotic diseases home.

Within the United States

If you're an American citizen traveling with your pet within the continental United States and Alaska, there are no regulations for crossing state lines with a pet. Domestic airlines may require proof of vaccinations or a health certificate before flying; check with individual carriers for details. U.S. territories can impose their own border rules, such as the requirement that a rabies certificate from your veterinarian be presented when traveling to Puerto Rico.

Since it's rabies-free territory, Hawaii has different rules from the other 49 states. To qualify for a quarantine period of five days or less, your pet must have had at least two rabies vaccinations with the most recent dose administered at least three months before arrival on the island. Pets must be microchipped and a blood sample must be tested at an approved laboratory for rabies antibodies at least 120 days before arriving on the island. These test results are sent by the lab to your vet and to Hawaii's Animal Quarantine Station. If these requirements aren't met, your pet will have to be in quarantine for 120 days. With either the short or long quarantine period, the owner picks up the boarding tab.

Coming to America

If you're bringing a pet into the country from outside of the United States -- including American citizens who have been traveling abroad with a pet and are returning home -- you'll need to meet entrance requirements.

  • Cat vaccinations are not required to enter the country, though they may be required in the jurisdiction of your final destination. 
  • Dogs need proof of a rabies vaccination that was administered more than 30 days before entering the country. This data should be included on a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian with the past month. 
  • Blood tests are not required. 
  • Rabies exceptions are made for dogs who have been living in a rabies-free country for at least six months. 
  • Dogs coming from certain countries are required to receive screwworm treatment one to five days before crossing the border. Certification that your dog has tested negative should be provided by your vet.

Other animals such as bunnies and reptiles aren't required to have any shots but must have health certificates. Even with a clean bill of health, birds can fly only into Los Angeles, New York and Miami airports and must face 30 days in quarantine.


  • If you're away from the United States for more than a month, be sure to get a recommendation for a vet in the country you're visiting. You'll need an updated health certificate as your passport home.

Euro Pet Passport

The term "pet passport" often refers to the document that allows for easier travel between European Union countries -- but not even these nations all share uniform entrance requirements. These passports are only for residents of EU countries, or for outsiders planning to live in the region for an extended period of time. A passport is obtained through any licensed vet in a member state of the EU, and requires microchipping that matches up to the passport number and a rabies vaccine.

If you're traveling to the EU from the United States, your vet can download the EU health certificate to fill out to assist in your travels. You'll need to meet individual requirements for your destination country; for example, the United Kingdom requires microchipping, rabies vaccine, health certificate and a tapeworm treatment for dogs, while rodents and rabbits have to spend four months in quarantine.


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