Questions and Answers: Traveling with a Pet

Questions and Answers: Traveling with a Pet


Requirements for pet travel are set by the destination country.  You will need to work with a local veterinarian to complete any required exams, testing, treatments, vaccinations, and/or paperwork.  Guidance for international pet travel can be found on the APHIS Pet Travel Website. Links to some of the helpful resources available on the Pet Travel Website can be found at the end of this document.
Most destination countries require pets to arrive with a health certificate (also called an international health certificate, a veterinary health certificate, a veterinary certificate, or an export certificate). Health certificates are issued (completed, signed, and dated) by a local veterinarian who examines the pet and performs (or verifies) all required testing, vaccinations, or treatments. 

Many destination countries require health certificates to be endorsed (counter-signed and embossed/ stamped) by APHIS after they have been issued by a veterinarian. In these cases, the veterinarian issuing the health certificate must be USDA-Accredited. If the pet traveling is a bird, the veterinarian facilitating the shipment must be a Category II USDA Accredited Veterinarian. For all other pets, any USDA Accredited veterinarian may assist.

You should also contact the company transporting the pet (e.g. airline, cruise line) to see if they have additional or different requirements the pet must meet.   

No. Each country establishes its own requirements based on the type of animal traveling so there is not one standard health certificate or set of requirements.

To help ensure the pet meets the destination country’s requirements, enlist the assistance of a local veterinarian. Once the pet meets the requirements, the veterinarian will need to examine the pet and issue the health certificate within the timeframe required by the destination country. 

If the destination country requires the health certificate be endorsed by APHIS, the issuing veterinarian will need to be USDA-Accredited (Category II if a pet bird is traveling).  Click here to find a USDA Accredited Veterinarian.

All veterinarians must be licensed in the state that they work in order to practice veterinary medicine.  When a destination country requires a pet health certificate to be endorsed by APHIS, the veterinarian issuing the health certificate must licensed and USDA-Accredited in the state where the certificate was issued. If a pet bird is traveling, please make sure the veterinarian has the appropriate accreditation status for completion of international health certificates for birds (Category II).  

Get started as soon as possible!  The process could take a few weeks to many months, depending on the requirements of the destination country.  Please work with a local veterinarian as soon as it is determined a pet will be traveling.

Prior to the pet’s departure from the United States, many countries require APHIS to endorse (counter-sign and emboss/ stamp) the pet’s health certificate after it has been issued by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian.  Endorsement is a final review process, where APHIS officials verify the information on the health certificate is accurate and ensure that the pet meets the destination country’s requirements.

APHIS officials must review the health certificate and all supporting documents, including vaccination certificates and test results, in order to complete the endorsement process.  The following items need to be provided for endorsement of the health certificate:  

  • The original health certificate issued (completed, signed, and dated) by the USDA Accredited Veterinarian that examined the pet before travel. 
    • APHIS cannot endorse any health certificate with an electronic/copied signature of the issuing veterinarian (this includes by email and fax). All signatures on health certificates must be done with pen and ink on paper.
    • A few countries may allow health certificates to be submitted via APHIS’ electronic certification system, called VEHCS. When available, this option will be clearly noted on the APHIS Pet Travel Website. In these cases, the issuing veterinarian’s signature will be securely applied within the system and electronically submitted to APHIS for endorsement.
  • Vaccination certificates (e.g. rabies vaccine certificates) and laboratory test results for vaccinations and tests recorded on the health certificate.
  • Import permits, when applicable. 
  • Payment
    • Learn more about fees associated with APHIS endorsement. 

For additional information about the submission of a health certificate for endorsement, including the forms of payment accepted by each APHIS Veterinary Services Office, please view the Office Information Sheet posted to the APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Offices page of the Pet Travel Website.

No, you do not bring your pet to the APHIS Veterinary Services office. You will only need to bring the pet’s completed, signed, and dated health certificate, any supporting documents, and payment for the User Fee associated with APHIS endorsement.

The pet will need a health certificate for the first country it will be traveling to and clearing customs in after it leaves the U.S. The requirements the pet will have to meet for travel to additional countries will depend on the mode of transportation (e.g. car, ship) as well as how long the pet will spend in each country. It is your responsibility to ensure the pet will be accepted at each border the pet plans on crossing.

Please contact your local APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Offices for assistance with pet travel to multiple foreign counties.

The endorsement processing fee varies based on the destination country’s requirements.  Learn more about the User Fees associated with APHIS endorsement and forms of payment accepted.

Please contact your APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Offices for processing times, but the time required is typically a few days. If the health certificate is not correct or incomplete, the processing time will likely be extended.  You and/or your veterinarian will be informed of the errors and provided guidance on how to correct any problems noted.
Although all APHIS offices strive to provide prompt customer service, we highly recommend the pet’s health certificate be issued and endorsed as early as possible based on the destination country’s requirements. This will help prevent any delays in travel should an unanticipated problem with the paperwork arise.

If requirements are not listed, Veterinary Services has not been officially informed by the foreign country about the requirements for your pet’s travel.  It is recommended that you or your veterinarian contact a government official of the destination country for more information. 

In some cases, countries will require that an import permit be issued prior to your pet’s travel.  It is important that you completely read and understand your import permit as it may provide specific instructions or requirements for your pet.

Country of destination contact information:

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) OR U.S. Department of State

If requirements are not listed, APHIS has not been officially informed by the foreign country about the requirements for the pet’s travel. Although there are countries with unknown requirements, it does not mean the destination country does not have requirements the pet must meet. We recommend you contact a government official of the destination country (e.g. Ministry of Agriculture in the foreign country, border port official) for more information. 

If the pet is unable to meet any travel requirements, you must reach out to the ministry of agriculture in the destination country for written permission (in English) for the pet to travel. A USDA Accredited Veterinarian cannot waive another country’s requirements nor can they issue a health certificate for a pet that does not met the destination country’s requirements.

If you are unable to reach an official in the destination country, please contact your local APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Office as they may be able to recommend possible solutions.

There may be certain re-entry requirements, depending on the type of animal and where they have travelled.  It is especially important to plan for re-entry if a pet bird is travelling.  Learn more about bringing a pet into the United States from a foreign country. 

Veterinary Services does not set requirements or endorse health certificates for the movement of pets across state or territorial lines. The requirements are set by each individual state or territory, including Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  You should contact the State Veterinarian’s office in your destination state for their requirements

Pet owners should work with the pet’s veterinarian first. If any additional help or information is needed, please contact an APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Office.

In very limited circumstances, active duty military veterinarians and General Schedule (GS-0701) federal veterinarians working for the military (this does not include civilian veterinarians working on a military base) can examine your pet as well as issue and endorse (stamp) pet health certificates. This only applies for dogs, cats, and ferrets traveling to the European Union and dogs and cats traveling to Japan and South Korea. For all other countries and types of pets, if official endorsement of a certificate is required, APHIS must endorse the certificate after it is issued by either the active duty military veterinarian, GS federal veterinarian, or USDA Accredited Veterinarian (civilian) who examined your pet prior to travel.

On the health certificate, the name and physical address of the person in the United States who owns the animal should be provided as the “consignor” information. The “consignee” information should be completed with the name and physical address of the person who is receiving the animal in the foreign country. If you are traveling with your pet, you would write your name and the physical address where you are staying in the foreign country.

For internal or external parasite treatment, some countries specify which product or active ingredient should be used. If a specific product or active ingredient is not required, the veterinarian who examines the animal and issues the health certificate should apply a product licensed and approved in the U.S. for treatment of the target parasites. The specific treatment should only be documented on the health certificate when required by the destination country.

Please note that many countries do not accept any removable, collar-type products for treatment of external parasites.

  • If the pet is traveling alone, rather than with a person, the requirements and health certificate may be different.
  • Some countries haven’t notified the APHIS of their requirements.
    • This does not necessarily mean that the country has no requirements.
    • Please visit the APHIS Pet Travel Website, Requirements Not Known page, for more information.
  • Remember to plan the pet’s travel far enough in advance to allow enough time to meet the destination country’s requirements.  Factors to consider:
    • Does the destination country require the pet to have an import permit?
    • Is a microchip required? If yes,
      • Is there a specific type of microchip required (e.g. ISO compatible)?
      • Do required treatments, tests, or vaccines need to be given after the microchip was implanted?
    • Does the destination country require vaccinations, treatments, or laboratory tests to be given or performed?
      • Is there a time frame that the vaccinations, treatments, or laboratory tests have to have been performed within?
      • Is there a waiting period after the vaccinations, treatments, or laboratory tests has been performed?
      • Is there a specific type of vaccine, treatment or test that must be used?

Please note: Testing and treatment requirements are not interchangeable. If an importing country requires a pet to be tested, a laboratory test must be done; if a treatment is required, the pet must be treated with a pharmaceutical product licensed for use in the U.S.

Some additional resources are available to help with this process and include:


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