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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture

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Steps to Obtain an International Health Certificate for Pets

Please note that preparing for travel to some countries can take months.

Pet Travel to a foreign country can be complex and time consuming. Before you start the process, you will need to know the type of animal traveling, the country of destination, the date of departure from the U.S., and whether or not the pet will be traveling alone, as cargo, or with a person in the cabin of the plane.

Steps involved in international pet travel:

  1. Determine when the pet will be traveling and what the country of destination will be. 
  1. Work with the pet’s veterinarian to determine the destination country’s requirements, including any necessary vaccinations, tests, and/ or treatments. We recommend creating a schedule to make sure all requirements are met within the specified timeframes.
    • Some countries may require:
      • Timeframes that must be met for vaccinations, tests, and/ or treatments
      • Import permits or other pre-travel approval
      • Extensive pre-travel waiting periods
    • If the destination country requires the pet’s health certificate to be endorsed (counter-signed and embossed/ stamped) by APHIS after it has been issued by a veterinarian, the veterinarian issuing the pet’s health certificate must be a USDA Accredited Veterinarian.

  2. Have the pet’s veterinarian issue the health certificate within the validity period set by the destination country.
    • The certificate validity period (time frame a certificate can be used for your pet to travel) will be stated in the health certificate or on the Pet Travel Website.
      • To ensure there is time to complete the entire pre-travel process, APHIS recommends having the pet’s health certificate issued as soon as allowed per the destination country.

  3. When APHIS endorsement of the health certificate is required, the pet’s health certificate must be submitted to a USDA APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Office after it has been issued by the pet’s veterinarian.

1.  Mailing (USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL)
2.  In-person (appointment or walk in, office dependent) 

  1. Once the pet’s health certificate has been issued by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian and endorsed by APHIS (when required), finish any outstanding requirements.
    • Some countries allow treatments to be completed after endorsement.
      • For example, tapeworm treatment for dogs traveling to Finland, Ireland, Norway, UK.
    • Some countries require consulate approval or pre-notification.

  2. The pet may travel!
    • Airlines may have separate and additional requirements.  Check with your airline to determine what requirements they may have, if any. 

Additional helpful resources available on the APHIS Pet Travel Website include:

  • Pre-Travel Checklist: Tool that can be used to capture the information used to plan for the pet’s trip and complete the process for obtaining a health certificate
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Document:  Contains general information and identifies common problems that prevent endorsement (countersigning and embossing/stamping) of a health certificate by USDA APHIS Veterinary Services
  • Contact information for USDA APHIS Veterinary Services Offices: Veterinary Services can help you and the pet’s veterinarian meet and understand the travel requirements associated with the pet’s destination country.

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