A Health Certificate is a legal document that is required for traveling to another state or another country. An examination by an Accredited Veterinarian (certified by the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA) is required and the accredited veterinarian can only provide the Health Certificate if he or she determines that the animal is healthy and free of any contagious illnesses. There are two categories of Health Certificates: Domestic and International.
Domestic Health Certificates
Each state has its own laws outlining how to legally bring an animal into that state. Universally, an Interstate Health Certificate is required as well as proof of rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats. There may be other requirements depending on the state. For instance, Hawaii has very stringent requirements because they are currently rabies-free, so there is much preparation required. You will need to plan about five months in advance of your travel or your pet may end up caged in a quarantine facility for up to four months. At VCA Front Range Animal Hospital, we do have Accredited Veterinarians that can provide the legal documents you need to travel with your pet.
International Health Certificates
Each country has their own unique requirements for bringing pets into their country and the requirements are constantly being modified. It is an advantage if the Accredited Veterinarian is experienced in providing International Health Certificates to be sure everything is done correctly. Fortunately, at VCA Front Range Animal Hospital, we do have Accredited Veterinarians with extensive experience in preparing pets for international travel and have successfully sent pets to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Egypt, the European Union, Great Britain, Costa Rica and Mexico, to name a few.
Some countries are easier than others. If you think you might be traveling to another country, it is very important to plan as far in advance as possible. Some countries take 4-6 months of prep time. Please call us for advice if you think you might be travelling outside the U.S. with your pet, even if you are not sure. It is never too early to see what preparations would be needed.
For more information on travelling with your pet, around the U.S. or around the world, visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel