Primary Care

Health Certificates

If you are thinking about traveling with your pet on an airplane, then you probably are going to need a health certificate. Here at VCA Kickingbird, we have several veterinarians on staff that have special certification by the USDA and training on how to complete these for you and your pet. We use VEHCS, the electronic verification for the USDA. 

There are two types of health certificates available: (all health certificates require an exam the day they are issued)


  • If you are traveling within the continental United States.
  • This does not include Hawaii – there are special requirements for this state. Please visit the Hawaii state website for more specifics.
  • The USDA is not required to sign off on these health certificates.
  • We can usually compete in one appointment close to travel, but please call ahead.


  • If you are traveling with your pet internationally.
  • These require certain guidelines issued by the foreign country and will require approval by the USDA.
  • International health certificates may require multiple appointments and are usually issued 48 hours (about 2 days) to 10 days (about 1 and a half weeks) prior to travel. 

Acquiring a health certificate will require you to schedule an appointment with your USDA certified veterinarian. Your pet will receive a health exam to determine if it is healthy and safe for travel. The doctor will also verify the pet’s microchip and make sure the rabies vaccination is current. Here are a few helpful tips before booking your appointment. 

Helpful Tips

Before booking travel, please visit the APHIS pet travel website.

  • Select the country you are traveling to with your pet.
  • You will need to know any plane changes and a full itinerary because it is the landing flight (first location that touches the ground) that will determine which country’s health certificate is required. Certain countries require a health certificate for both the landing flight and connecting flights.
  • The address of your destination will be required to go on your USDA health certificate. Please make sure you have this information before your appointment.

For most international travel a rabies vaccination must be current and fall within the visiting countries guidelines.

  • Basic rabies guidelines: Primary (1st) vaccination must be given 21 days (about 3 weeks) prior to travel. A microchip should be placed prior to this date or on this date. For a multi-year vaccine to be valid you must also have the information for the primary vaccine and no lapse in time should be between them.
  • A Rabies certificate should be issued with the following information:
        - The owner's name must match the health certificate and travel documents.
        - The pet’s name, sex, and color must match the health certificate.
        - A microchip number should be printed on the rabies certificate when possible.
        - Date of vaccine including when the next vaccine is due next.
        - Manufacturer, brand, and lot number of vaccine should be on the certificate.
        - When possible, a blue ink original signature should be present on the certificate and will need to travel with the pet at all times. 

If traveling to a rabies free country, you will need a FAVN rabies titer prior to travel and these can take up to 12-16 weeks (about 3 and a half months) to obtain.

Financial Information

  • To obtain a health certificate (domestic or international) an exam will be done on the day of the health certificate. 
  • There will be a fee for the health certificate, price varies based on requirements for the certificate. 
  • If the certificate requires a USDA signature there is a fee for the USDA.
  • USDA does not allow pick up of these certificates so a shipping label will be required the day the certificate is issued. This shipping label is recommended to be overnight with tracking.