NVAP Reference Guide: International Animal Movement

Last Modified: March 20, 2024

International animal movement from the United States to a foreign country involves a clinical veterinarian and USDA APHIS Veterinarian Services partnership. International Health Certificates (IHCs) for the export of animals from the United States are issued (completed, signed, and dated) by USDA-accredited and/or state-licensed veterinarians, depending on the species of animal being exported and the requirements of the importing (destination) country. Before issuance of an IHC, the veterinarian must verify that all required pre-travel physical examinations, herd/animal health verifications, vaccines, treatments, and laboratory tests are complete. Most importing countries require IHCs to export animals from the United States to be endorsed (reviewed, counter-signed, and stamped/embossed) by APHIS –VS. In most cases, when APHIS endorsement of an IHC is required, the issuing veterinarian must be USDA-accredited. One of the many VS endorsement offices typically endorse IHCs. A series of commodity-specific overviews of general export requirements for livestock, horses, poultry, and pets follows.


The United States has specific minimal requirements for exporting livestock to other countries. The Code of Federal Regulations, 9 CFR part 91, and the current Program Handbook (632.74 KB) contain approved ports of embarkation and shipping requirements. The APHIS –VS endorsement office can also provide the current regulations, tests, and inspections required to export livestock. Most importing countries will have additional specific health requirements for the entry of animals. The importing country establishes these requirements, not the United States. These requirements may be specified on an import permit or a country-specific health certificate. An import permit is a document permitting the import of a specific animal or group of animals and, when required, must be requested from and issued by the importing country. A country-specific health certificate is a health certificate provided by the importing country, which will often specify import requirements in the form of certification statements. In the absence of a country-specific health certificate, a protocol may be posted on the APHIS website. If a protocol is posted without a country-specific health certificate, VS Form 17-140, US Origin Health Certificate can be used. Because requirements change frequently, obtain the current export requirements before each export by visiting the APHIS-VS International Regulations for Live Animal Export website (see link at the end of this section).

International health certificates are official documents that should be typewritten, accurate, and complete. If you have additional questions not answered by the regulations website, contact your APHIS –VS endorsement office for assistance. See that link at the end of this section. 


Certain minimum export requirements are listed in 9 CFR Part 91 and the Program Handbook, linked below, which also apply to horses being exported from the United States.

International health certificates for export of horses from the United States will use either a country-specific health certificate or a VS Form 17-140. Current requirements and forms can be obtained at the APHIS International Regulations website, linked below. In either case, the horses must be properly identified (all markings, tattoos, brands, and electronic IDs listed) to avoid being held by the receiving country’s officials upon arrival.

Canada is a common country receiving horses from the United States. Several options exist for the health certification of horses to Canada. If a paper form is desired, it can be obtained from the APHIS International Regulations website linked below. VS Form 17-145, US Origin Health Certificate for the Export of Horses from the United States to Canada, is also acceptable. The Veterinary Export Health Certificate System (VEHCS) can be used if electronic submission is desired. Information on VEHCS is available at the link to the International Regulations site below and from your APHIS-VS endorsement office.

International health certificates for horses going to Canada should be typed or printed. These certificates are valid for 30 days from the date of issue by the accredited veterinarian. The date of issue refers to the date the horse was inspected and determined to be healthy to move and is not necessarily the date the certificate was signed. The horse’s description on the export certificate must match the description on VS Form 10–11, Equine Infectious Anemia Laboratory Test, or the official state EIA laboratory test form. See Appendix D for examples of VS Forms 17–140, 17-145, and 10–11 and instructions on completing them. For additional information on horse identification, see the section entitled “Current Animal Identification.”


Obtain current requirements for international poultry travel at the International Regulations link below. Some countries will require a country-specific certificate, found at the International Regulations link. If a country-specific form does not exist, VS Form 17–6, Certificate for Poultry or Hatching Eggs for Export, is commonly used for the international movement of poultry or hatching eggs (see Appendix D for an example of this form). You can obtain VS Form 17–6 from the Forms link at the end of this section. 

The NPIP Approval Number and NPIP Classification (blocks 9 and 10 on VS Form 17–6) can be obtained by contacting your APHIS –VS endorsement office. This information is also published annually in two books: the NPIP Directory of Participants Handling Egg-Type and Meat-Type Chickens and Turkeys and the NPIP Directory of Participants Handling Waterfowl, Exhibitory Poultry, Game Birds, and Ratites. These directories may be found online at: http://www.poultryimprovement.org/

Dogs and Cats

The USDA does not have requirements for exporting privately owned dogs and cats. However, most international pet animal health certificates now require USDA-APHIS endorsement. The importing country puts these requirements in place, which vary greatly depending on the pet's destination. Please visit the APHIS  Pet Travel website for the most up-to-date information on exporting dogs, cats, and other pet animals.

If requirements are not listed for a particular country, it is best to contact government animal health officials in the importing country for more information. If this is not possible, contact your APHIS-VS endorsement office for more guidance. Occasionally, APHIS Form 7001, Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for Small Animals, can be used when a specific form does not exist for a particular country. Please be aware that airlines may require the APHIS Form 7001 for pets traveling to any country, in addition to the pet’s country-specific health certificate. APHIS typically cannot endorse Form 7001 if a country-specific international health certificate exists.