EXAMPLE -- Frequently Asked Questions: Traveling with a Pet

EXAMPLE -- Frequently Asked Questions: Traveling with a Pet

1.  What do I need to do to travel with my pet?
Requirements for pet travel are set by the destination country.  You will need to work with your local veterinarian to complete the required testing, vaccinations and/or paperwork.  Your veterinarian can find this information here.

The animal must be examined by the veterinarian who issues the health certificate.  When required by your destination country, the health certificate will need to be endorsed by your local APHIS Veterinary Services office.

You should also contact your carrier (air, rail, etc.) to see if they have additional documentation or time constraints required to move animals. 

2.  Does one health certificate work in all countries?
No.  Since each country establishes its own requirements, there’s not a common form that will always work.  Your veterinarian will need to use the specific form required by your destination country, which may be in English or bilingual.  Most of the forms can be found online or through your veterinarian’s office.  If you need help figuring out which form to use, contact your local APHIS Veterinary Services office.   

3.  How do I obtain a health certificate for my pet?
First, contact your local veterinarian and let them help you make sure your pet’s vaccination history meets your destination country’s requirements.  Once it does, he or she will need to examine your pet and issue the health certificate.

Some countries required this examination and the health certificate to be performed by an accredited veterinarian.  If you need assistance finding an accredited veterinarian, contact your local APHIS Veterinary Services office .

4.  How long does the process take before I can export my animal?
Get started as soon as possible! The process could take a few weeks to many months, depending on the requirements of the destination country. Some countries require an isolation or quarantine period, lasting from weeks to months, before an animal is eligible for entry into that country. Please talk to your veterinarian as soon as you can, so they can help you identify and meet the requirements.   

5.  What countries are members of the European Union?
Currently, the 27 member States of the European Union are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.   

6.  How do I get my animal/pet’s health certificate stamped by the USDA? Can I mail my certificate or do I need an appointment to meet in person?
Many countries require the Federal government to “stamp” or endorse the health certificate prior to the animal’s departure from the United States.  Endorsement is a final review process, where APHIS officials verify the information on the certificate as accurate and ensure that the animal 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.  Laboratory results should be an original copy. If an original copy is not available, please have the laboratory fax the results directly to the local APHIS Veterinary Services office you are using. Rabies vaccination certificates must be signed.  If applicable, import permits must be included.

To have your paperwork endorsed, you can either schedule an appointment or mail the documents to your local APHIS Veterinary Services office.  If you choose to mail the documents via regular mail or overnight service (i.e. FedEx or UPS), please include a check or money order payable to USDA to cover the processing fees.  Enclose a pre-addressed, prepaid return method for overnight mail.  We recommend keeping your carrier’s tracking number to verify that your documents arrived at their destination.  

7.  Do I bring my animal/pet with me to the APHIS Veterinary Services office when I get the health certificate stamped/endorsed?
No, you do not bring your pet to the APHIS Veterinary Services office. We only need to see the health certificate and any supporting documents.   

8.  How much does it cost to have the health certificate stamped?
The endorsement processing fee varies.  It is based on by the number of certificates and the number of tests required for the health certificate. You should contact your local Veterinary Services office for more information.   

9.  How long does it take to stamp a health certificate? When can I expect my certificate to be returned?
Please contact your local Veterinary Services office for processing times. If your health certificate is not accurate or is on the incorrect form, you and/or your veterinarian will be informed of the errors. APHIS personnel will provide guidance on how to complete the correct form accurately.   

10.  The species I want to export isn’t listed under the destination country. What do I do?
Contact the appropriate ministry in the destination country and apply for an import permit. An import permit will tell you if the country will accept the species of animal you want to ship, as well as the requirements for your animal to gain entry into the country.

As soon as you obtain an import permit, contact your local Veterinary Services office.  Officials will review the document and let you know if the requirements can be certified and whether export is possible.  

11.  The document listed seems old. How do I know if I can use it?
Your local Veterinary Services office can tell you whether the posted requirements can still be certified. If the document cannot be certified, you need to contact the appropriate ministry in the destination country and apply for an import permit.  An import permit will tell you if the country will accept the species of animal you want to ship, as well as the requirements for your animal to gain entry into the country. As soon as you obtain an import permit, contact your local Veterinary Services office.  Officials will review the document and let you know if the requirements can be certified and whether export is possible.   

12.  The documents are only in English.  Do I need to have them translated?
Contact the appropriate ministry in the destination country.  Officials will tell you if the country requires a translation or bilingual document before the animal can enter the country. The ministry might have a bilingual copy of the document available for you. APHIS can only endorse documents that are in English or are bilingual.   

13.  Do countries require that the veterinarian who completes the health certificate be accredited or “USDA Approved”?
This requirement is determined by your destination country.  Some countries require a licensed veterinarian to complete the forms.  Other countries require an accredited veterinarian (or similar terminology, including competent authority, official veterinarian, or issuing authorized veterinarian) to complete the forms.  Your local Veterinary Services office can help you determine what is required.   

14.  What is an accredited veterinarian and how do I find one?
The U.S. accredited veterinarian program is a voluntary program that certifies private veterinary practitioners to work cooperatively with Federal veterinarians and State animal health officials. For more information on the program, visit the Veterinary Accreditation website. To find an accredited veterinarian, ask your regular veterinarian if he or she is accredited and feels comfortable running the required test for export of your animal(s). If your veterinarian is not accredited or comfortable with the process, ask him or her to recommend someone.   

15.  What if I’m unable to fulfill the testing/treatment/status requirements on the protocol or in an import permit?
Talk with your local Veterinary Services office.  APHIS officials may be able to recommend possible solutions. If you cannot fulfill the requirements, the document may need revision, or the destination country may not accept the animal species you wish to ship.  

16.  I’m only taking my pet to another country for a short time. What do I need to bring it back into the United States?
There may be certain re-entry requirements, depending on where you travelled and the species of your pet. It is especially important to plan for re-entry if you are travelling with a bird.  Information is available one the following websites:

17.  I have more questions. Where can I get additional information or help with this process?
If you do not feel comfortable completing this process on your own or are unavailable during the export process, there are private companies that specialize in exporting or relocating animals that can provide assistance.  You can also contact your local Veterinary Services office.   

18.  What do I need to take my pet to another state or territory within the United States?
USDA APHIS does not set requirements for the movement of pets across state or territorial lines. The requirements are actually set by each individual state or territory, including Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  You should contact the State Veterinarian for your destination state for their requirements.

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