Health Certificates: Know Before You Go

By Dr. Michael Bassett, Medical Director
Traveling with your pet requires advanced planning. Air travel generally requires at least an examination of your pet and a health certificate from a veterinarian within 10 days of travel. International travel requires more time and planning. We recommend beginning the process 2-3 months before travel. The following explanation from the U.S. State Department sums up the process:

Certification requirements vary from country to country. Some countries simply require the veterinarian who examines your pet to be licensed in the state of origin, and no USDA endorsement of the veterinarian’s examination statement is required. Some countries will accept a standard letterhead health certificate and rabies certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA. However, other countries may require that your pet be checked by a federally-accredited veterinarian and that a United States Interstate and International Certificate for Health Examination for Small Animals (AHPIS Form 7001) be issued by that veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA.(Since August 1994 only a federally accredited veterinarian can sign this form.) Carefully check the OBC country briefing box or call the embassy to determine the exact requirements before making an appointment with a veterinarian. Also check the airline you will be using for your pet. There have been cases where a country does not require a certification, but a particular airline does. There is a USDA endorsement fee per certificate for cats and dogs. Contact the USDA-APHIS for the current cost of the endorsement of the APHIS-7001 form. Note: More than one dog or cat may be on a certificate. For other animals, call the USDA at the numbers below.

The timetable for obtaining examination statements and certifications can be very tight. Plan well in advance to be sure all paperwork is complete in time for your shipping date. You may send your paperwork by mail or courier along with a rabies certificate, the appropriate fee for service, and a self-addressed stamped envelope or a pre-paid Federal Express envelope (if you are short of time) for return to you. Be sure that the veterinarian’s name is legible, and include a contact person with a daytime telephone number. Pets examined by veterinarians in other U.S. areas should have the papers certified by the USDA-APHIS veterinary office in that state. The office closest to the Washington, D.C., area is:

U.S. Department of Agriculture 
Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS)
Veterinary Services
Federal Building
400 N. 8th St., 7th floor
Richmond, VA 23240
Tel: (804) 343-2560 Fax: (804) 343-2599
Alternate: Call 301-851-3300 and press option 2.

If you wish to deliver the certificate in person, call 24 to 48 hours in advance.

If you are planning to travel soon with your pet, please give us a call at 301-258-0333 to set up an appointment with one of our accredited veterinarians.  Traveled with your pet before?  Share your story in our comments!

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