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Navigating Pet Travel? Let APHIS Help.

Posted by Adrianne Roy, APHIS Program Specialist in Animals
Jun 28, 2017
A person with a dog in front of suitcases near a SUV
If you are planning on packing your pet when heading overseas, first make sure you are prepared - APHIS can help.

When planning an international trip, we often want to bring the whole family – including our pets.  But, did you know taking Fido or Fluffy can be a complex, multistep process that requires advance planning and preparation?  To help make this process go smoothly, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has a few simple steps to follow – and a comprehensive website to walk you through the process.

First. Advance preparation is key.  Each country has different animal health requirements that travelers must meet so it’s important to start the process early. Our website covers the requirements for more than 130 countries.  Check the APHIS Pet Travel Website for your destination country’s entry requirements. 

Second.  You will need a health certificate.  Almost all countries require a USDA-accredited veterinarian to issue (complete, sign, and date) an international health certificate within a certain number of days prior to your departure to confirm the health of your pet.  So, as soon as you know where you will be traveling with your pet, contact a local USDA accredited veterinarian to assist you with the process.  With 68,000 private, accredited veterinarians nationwide, it’s likely your vet might be one or can refer you to one. Accredited veterinarians work cooperatively with APHIS to protect U.S. animal health and can certify that your pet is healthy and able to travel.

Third.  Getting the health certificate endorsed.  After the health certificate is issued by a USDA accredited veterinarian, it will typically need to be endorsed (signed and “stamped”) by your local APHIS office.  This can be done by mail or, in some cases, in person.  APHIS Service Centers are set up to process your health certificate as quickly as possible – but keep in mind, we process many certificates each year so be sure to leave plenty of time for us to complete this process.  Endorsement fees for pet health certificates starts at $38, but will cost more if the destination country requires Federal review of test results.  Check the APHIS website here for additional information on endorsement fees. 

Lastly, don’t forget to check with your airline carrier to see if they have additional requirements to transport your pet.  Make sure you know how to collect your pet at the port of entry upon arrival in your destination country.  It’s also important to remember that various U.S agencies regulate the entry of your pet back into the United States – plan ahead and check those requirements on the website before you go.

We know navigating various country requirements for international pet travel can be challenging, and that’s why we’re here to help.  If you have any questions about the process at any step along the way, please contact the APHIS Customer Service Call Center at 844-820-2234 or your local APHIS Service Center for more information.

Bon Voyage, Fido and Fluffy!

Category/Topic: Animals

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Comments

JOHN ADAMS
Feb 26, 2018

I live in New York State and we are planning to drive across country then enter Canada to cross over into Alaska to look at Land that we may be buying. We will be up there for 3 months so we have to bring our 13 year old declawed indoor fixed female cat with us along with a small hamster that belongs to our grandson.. We won't be stopping in Canada just passing through but I want to make sure that I have every thing correct so that there are no problems passing through. Is there any info that you can help us with as far as getting this right the first time?

Inna Knyshova
Jul 08, 2019

Hi, we left the country in the beginning of June with our dog. We had all of our dogs documents with us. Right now we are in Russia but we are going to Europe soon, and after we are going back to Miami through Istanbul (we are having a transit flight.) Do we need any other documents, or are the documents that were given to our dog in the U.S. is enough? We are coming back to Miami on August 9th.

Thank you,
Inna Knyshova

Ben Weaver
Jul 11, 2019

@Inna Knyshova - thank you for reaching out. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the lead federal agency for dog imports. They have certain requirements that must be met before a dog can be admitted entry into the United States. All dogs must appear healthy and depending upon what country the dogs are coming from, a valid rabies vaccination certificate may be required. To learn more, visit: www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/dogs.html

USDA APHIS has some additional requirements for dogs entering from countries that are affected with certain livestock diseases because the dog or its bedding could carry the disease without knowing it. The best way to know whether you need to meet these requirements would be to contact the Miami animal import center, where you will be entering, to discuss the locations you visited and the methods of travel between those locations (plane vs. automobile, etc). You can reach them at vspsmia@aphis.usda.gov or 305-876-2200. If you need additional assistance, you can also call 301-851-3300 and ask to speak with someone from the pet import team.

Ashley Schaefer
Aug 06, 2019

Hello my husband an I are relocating to Germany for government work. We have two pugs and are located in the state of Idaho. However we are flying out of the state if Washington, Seattle Tacoma international airport. Do my pugs need to be approved by the USDA office in Boise or the one located in Washington state?

Thank you so much,
Ashley Schaefer

Diane Foster
Sep 06, 2019

Are the requirements for a service dog different than for a pet? I will be taking a cruise with my nearly 3-year-old, spayed service dog and need to know what documentation I will require for her to be with me at all times.

Ben Weaver
Sep 10, 2019

@Diane Foster - thank you for your comment. The international travel requirements for service dogs are the same as those for pets, unless the receiving country says otherwise. If you’d like a person to talk you through the requirements, contact the APHIS Customer Service Call Center at 1-844-820-2234. You should also reach out to the cruise line in advance of your trip to ensure you meet any requirements they have for service animals too.