A health certificate for travel for your pet is an official document that validates that he or she has passed an extensive health examination, is free from communicable diseases, and shows proof of vaccination. Depending on your state or country guidelines and how you intend to transport the animal, obtaining one may differ depending on how it’s obtained.
State laws often mandate health certificates for pets traveling across state lines by air or car, however international travel can require adhering to stricter requirements set by individual countries.
Once you know which state or country your travel will take you to, contact the government agency responsible for animal health in that location. Most likely they have an online site with information and lists of required documents; once you know exactly what’s necessary, schedule an appointment at an approved veterinarian who accepts USDA credentials.
At your appointment, a veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive exam and review your pet’s medical history to ensure they fulfill all required criteria. For example, many countries mandate current rabies vaccination, typically at least 30 days prior to travel.
If your veterinarian does not believe your pet meets the requirements for travel to a particular country, they will not issue a health certificate. They may attempt to request a waiver from the ministry of agriculture in that nation but it must first be discussed with them carefully before doing so.
Health certificates not only verify your pet is free from disease, but will also include an updated list of their vaccinations with dates for each shot – this allows authorities at your destination to ensure your canine has received all their rabies and distemper vaccinations on time.
International travel will require that a health certificate contain your pet’s microchip number and owner contact details, so authorities can identify its owner in case their pet becomes lost during transit.
Although acquiring a health certificate for travel can seem complex, these steps will make the experience simpler for both of you. Beginning the paperwork early and working closely with the USDA office, CDC, and Embassy of your destination country will give you peace of mind knowing your pet is healthy for travel.