Health Certificates for Traveling Pets

Health Certificates for Traveling Pets
By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, Tx

The USDA and governments around the world have specific requirements for pets transported across state and international borders. Pet owners traveling to another state should contact the State Veterinarian in the destination state for information about their requirements. A list of each state’s contact numbers can be found at the site below:

The State Veterinarian office will give you that state’s requirements for health certificates on your animals. A USDA Accredited veterinarian in your area can then examine your pets, complete whatever services are required, and provide you with the paperwork needed to cross into the destination state. The site below contains a list of states with addresses to access this information:

Travel to other countries entails much more documentation of your animal’s history and vaccinations. The United States has minimal requirements for animals to be exported to other countries, but there may be certain re-entry requirements if you plan to return to the United States with your pet. If you are taking your pet out of the United States to another country, whether permanently or for a visit, you should do the following:

  • Contact the APHIS Veterinary Services Area Office in the State from which your pet will be transported. Your Area Veterinarian-in-Charge can provide current regulations, tests, required forms, documents, and inspections necessary.
  • Contact the visiting country’s consulate or embassy for information about any requirements that you must meet. A listing of consulates can be found at the U.S. Department of State website at:
  • More general information about importing/exporting your pets is available from the USDA at:

Contact your local USDA Accredited veterinarian to set up an examination of your pets. Bring the necessary documents to be filled out and signed with you for that appointment. The veterinarian will conduct the examination, administer vaccinations as specified, and complete the documents as needed.

The completed and signed documents for international travel are then sent to the USDA APHIS office in Austin. There, the Veterinarian in Charge will review the documents and either give final approval or contact you if irregularities are found. The specifications must be met exactly and very precisely for approval. Once the documents are approved, they are then ready for you take present to the foreign officials upon your arrival.

The examination by the local accredited veterinarian must take place no more than 30 days from the intended date of departure. I strongly recommend that you have this done as close to 30 days out as possible, because that will ensure adequate time in the event that changes must be made to the documents; Murphy’s Law must be taken into consideration.

The process of procuring correct documents and satisfying foreign countries’ import regulations becomes much easier by using companies specifically for that purpose. We have done examinations and completed travel documents for several clients using a company called Pet Express. The documents are always correct, and the process goes much more smoothly when they are involved. Their web site is:

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