- Traveling with dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, rodents, hedgehogs (including tenrecs), reptiles, amphibians and pet birds such as parrots, parakeets, finches and canaries
First, you need to visit the USDA Pet Travel Website https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel. A USDA Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), or Health Certificate, issued by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian, will be required if you are planning to travel by air, whether internationally or domestically. This will not typically be required if you are traveling domestically in a motor vehicle.
The CVI/Health Certificate does require a physical exam by the veterinarian, with associated charges, and dogs and cats must be vaccinated for rabies. Other preventive care measures such as Distemper/Parvo vaccine, Bordetella, parasite prevention including heartworm prevention and a stool sample microscopic exam for parasites are all strongly recommended and sometimes required by specific airlines. The CVI/Health Certificate is valid for 10 days when leaving, 30 days when returning home.
These rules apply to assistance animals, therapy animals, service animals, and emotional support animals just like they do to pets.
If you are traveling internationally you will want to visit the USDA Pet Travel Website https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel MONTHS in advance of your departure date. Here you will find further information including a database maintained by the USDA to help you understand the steps, including tests and vaccines, you will have to take to prepare your pet to travel with you internationally. These requirements are established by each individual country according to their laws, so they vary significantly from country to country, and can change without warning. The USDA does an excellent job keeping up with these changes, but you will want to check this website repeatedly, as well as contacting the USDA Veterinary Services Office in your area https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/endorsement-offices as you complete your pet’s preparations.
These rules apply to assistance animals, therapy animals, service animals, and emotional support animals just like they do to pets. DO NOT ASSUME you will be granted an exception simply because you need to keep your animal with you at all times. Also, be aware the laws of the United States that provide special allowances for therapy, service, assistance and emotional support animals do not apply outside of the United States.
Be aware you are not ‘just taking your pet on a trip with you’. In the eyes of the animal disease control officials in the foreign country you are visiting you are importing an animal into a foreign country. There are SERIOUS international regulations regarding this that have been put in place to protect the animal related industries in the countries involved. Obviously, your pet is not livestock, but your pet can carry diseases that affect livestock, and can transmit these to livestock in the country you are visiting. Your pet can also carry diseases that can be transmitted to people. The government simply wants to ensure they are regulating the risk of letting people bring foreign animals into the country.
Finally, as you complete your pet’s traveling papers you will need to obtain a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), or Health Certificate, from a USDA Accredited Veterinarian. Not every veterinarian provides this service because gaining USDA Accreditation is a complicated, frustrating, and time-consuming process, plus USDA Accredited Veterinarians must deal with the bureaucratic hassles associated with issuing and assuming responsibility for CVI’s, or Health Certificates. The veterinarians at Pet Medical Services are all USDA Accredited.
However, do not expect us to have the CVI/Health Certificate waiting for you and to know all the details about completing it. We are experts in treating and preventing animal disease, not in animal importation and exportation. Each individual country’s veterinary inspection process is different. We can assist you with animal exportation and importation, but it is not a primary focus of what we do. Things will go much smoother if you take time to be well prepared ahead of your visit to complete the CVI/Health Certificate.
If all your pet’s paperwork is not in order when you travel, and it is found that some detail of your pet’s preparations was not perfectly completed you may face the unpleasant situation of your pet being quarantined, against your will but at your expense. Therefore, you want to start your preparations well in advance, so you will not have to rush and run the risk of some detail being overlooked.
For international travel you will also need to have the CVI endorsed by a 2nd veterinarian directly employed by the USDA. Fortunately, this can often be done online, but do not count on this until you verify it with the endorsement office. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/endorsement-offices. There are fees associated with obtaining this USDA Endorsement in addition to the fees associated with obtaining a CVI from your USDA Accredited Veterinarian. These fees are set by the USDA, not by your local USDA Accredited veterinarian. You can find these fees here https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/pet-travel-info-and-guidance-document/pet-travel-endorsement. The bureaucratic hassles of traveling with your pet can be nightmarish, especially when traveling internationally. Your USDA Accredited Veterinarian, and the USDA Endorsing Veterinarian are there to serve you, to ensure that a complex and difficult process goes smoothly so you and your pet can enjoy your trip instead of enduring a nightmare of bureaucratic hassles in a foreign country. Please be prepared to work with them as they do their best to make a very complex process as simple as possible for you.