Health Certificates

Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions by people traveling with pets. Getting all the right documentation in order can be tricky, especially if you are travelling internationally. If there is anything you are unsure of, the best resource if to contact the USDA directly.

What documents do I need to travel with my animals?

The documents needed vary depending on your destination, species, intended use of the animal, and mode of transportation/carrier (airplane, ship, truck). You can visit the USDA website for a list of different countries, and the necessary documentation needed. The testing requirements are to be fulfilled by a veterinarian. The animal must be examined by a veterinarian who will issue the health certificate. The health certificate is then endorsed by a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS) official veterinarian.  You should also contact your selected carrier for any additional documentation the carrier may require for the movement of your animals.

Does one health certificate work in all countries?

No. Each country establishes its own rules for entry of animals from the United States. You will need to meet the requirements of the destination country. Some countries require a specific health certificate they have developed. Many of these may be found online. Some countries ask you to use the U.S. international health certificate. Your veterinarian’s office should have the appropriate U.S. form. Health requirements and certificates may change at any time, so it is important that you check one of the Web for the most current regulations before traveling with your pet.

How do I obtain a health certificate for my animal/pet?

You must have your animal examined by a veterinarian. If the animal meets the destination country’s requirements, your veterinarian can issue the health certificate. Please contact your veterinarian to obtain a correct and properly completed export health certificate. Reminder of health certificate responsibility: Anyone who makes a false, fictional, or fraudulent statement on this document, or uses such document knowing it to be false, fictional, or fraudulent may be subject to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 5 years or both (18 U.S.C 1001).

How long does the process take before I can export my animal?

Get started as soon as possible! The process could take a few weeks to many months, depending on the requirements of the importing country. Some countries require an isolation or quarantine period, lasting from weeks to months, before an animal is eligible for entry into that country. You should start investigating the requirements of your destination country as soon as you can. Please inform your veterinarian of your travel plans as early as possible. Their involvement is critical to the process.

Why do I need to get my pet’s health certificate stamped by the USDA?

The “stamping” process referred to is called Federal endorsement. Endorsement is a final review process, where VS officials verify the information on the certificate as accurate. It is necessary for the VS Area Office to review all documents that support the health certificate. Please bring in or include these documents when presenting a certificate for endorsement. Laboratory results should be an original copy. If an original copy is not available, please have the laboratory fax the results directly to the VS Area Office you are using. When applicable, signed rabies vaccination certificates need to be included.

Do I bring my animal/pet with me to the VS Area Office when I get the health certificate stamped/endorsed?

No. You do not bring your animal or pet to the VS Area Office. We only need to see the health certificate and supporting documents that you have received from your veterinarian and/or the destination country.

What do I need to take my pet to another state within the United States?

The USDA APHIS VS, does not set requirements for the movement of pets across state lines. The requirements are actually set by each individual state. Therefore, you should contact the State Veterinarian of the state you are traveling to. They will provide you with the requirements. Below are two helpful websites for interstate movement of pets. You should also contact your airlines if you intend to fly.