Traveling or moving internationally or to Hawaii with your pet?

This content is written by Dr. Janet Weistock, associate veterinarian at Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital.

Our own international travel plans can require a lot of planning, but there is even more planning that is required when you plan to travel with your pet dog or cat. Here are some pointers and the USDA website that can help you be best prepared to avoid any complications or delays at your destination.

Each country has their own specific requirements for bringing a pet into their country. We are including travel to Hawaii with international travel even though it is a US state because they are rabies free and have more requirements than general interstate travel.  

Here is the website for the USDA which has the requirements for pet travel for each country. They will also often have helpful checklists so you can prepare and plan ahead for your pet’s travel.

If your destination country’s requirements are not listed on their website, then it is your responsibility to contact that country or that country’s embassy to obtain the specific requirements.

The most basic requirement for all countries is an up-to-date Rabies vaccination and some form of health certificate documentation.  

International health certificates need to be signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian and most often endorsed by a USDA government veterinarian. Not all veterinarians are accredited, so it is important to find an accredited veterinarian as soon as you have any potential plans of international travel with your pet so you can all be prepared. 

Most certificates need to be endorsed 10 days before travel, but there are some exceptions in which the timing differs, which again would be noted on the USDA website above. Some countries have additional vaccinations, testing and treatments required before your pet can enter their country which will be listed on the above website.

Some, but not all, countries require an international or universal microchip. Often if required, this should occur before or at the same time of the current Rabies vaccination. If a microchip is required and your pet does not have one, do not worry, you can have one implanted and if needed a booster Rabies vaccination can be given, even if the current one is not expired, it is still safe for your pet.

If a country is Rabies-free or you are traveling through a Rabies-free country, your pet will need a Rabies FAVN titre in order to enter their country. This test can be a little costly and does take up to 6 weeks to get results returned, so it is important to know and plan ahead to allow enough time.

All pets should have a recent fecal check to make sure they are not carrying any intestinal parasites into another country. Additional requirements sometimes include certain vaccinations, other testing, and sometimes treatments by the accredited veterinarian for internal and external parasites, but again, all of these requirements and the timing needed before travel are usually listed on the USDA website.  

Planning is very important to making sure your travel goes as smoothly as possible for you and your pet, so as soon as you have any potential plans to travel with your pet, be sure to reach out to your veterinarian and the USDA.

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