Health Certificates & Pet Travel

Prior to your pet's Health Certificate Appointment please take the following steps:

**For international travel, we highly recommend you consider using a pet travel service who will prepare all of your paperwork and ensure your pet meets all the requirements. Try Pets with Passports!**

First Steps

  1. Check import requirements for your destination:
  2. Contact your local USDA office to verify all requirements and for further import/export questions.
    • Austin USDA Veterinary Services - (512) 383-2411 - Your local USDA Veterinary Services personnel are the experts on pet travel requirements. We recommend you contact them as soon as you find out your pet will be traveling to ensure all requirements are met.
  3. Airline Pet Policies - If applicable: Contact your airline for specific requirements. We recommend you get the requirements in writing so that there is no confusion at the airport.
    Specific questions to ask the airline:
    1. What type of health certificate
    2. Required info on the health certificate
    3. Statement of acclimation requirement (specific temperatures?)
    4. Are there any restrictions on pets during the time of year you will be traveling (extreme temperatures can mean airlines won't allow pets in cargo, or only allow them in cargo during certain times of the day)?
      *Consider pet specific airlines. These cater to pets and generally offer climate controlled travel with closer pet monitoring.
  4. Pet Airways - If possible, drop off/ email all required documents to 1 week prior to the appointment so that we can review them.
  5. Make sure you have original rabies certificates (signed in blue ink if possible). If we have done the rabies vaccination, let us know when you send in your documents so we can print new original rabies certificates.
  6. Some international locations have special requirements such as rabies titer testing (FAVN), microchip requirements, and most have vaccination requirements. They may need to be done in a certain order and time frame to avoid lengthy and expensive quarantines. For some countries (UK), the process should be started up to one year prior to the trip. Hawaii has a quarantine and generally requires 6 months of preparatory time.
    1. FAVN testing is required for regions to include: Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Australia, Guam, New Zealand, and some islands in the Caribbean. FAVN test results are generally available in 6-8 weeks.
    2. Microchip requirements may include a requirement for a microchip of a specific frequency (they often need to be ISO compatible). Contact your microchip company to verify your pet's microchip is the correct frequency. See this Microchip FAQ from the AVMA for more information.

At Your Appointment

  1. Have a checklist for every document you need and/or item that must be completed.
  2. Verify microchips (have them scanned)
  3. Discuss sedation/anti-anxiety medications if needed. It is best to try these ahead of time to make sure there are no adverse effects. In addition, sedatives are not recommended for animals flying in cargo, since they make make the animal unable to regulate their body temperature or cause some other life-threatening issue when they are not being monitored. Many airlines specifically prohibit sedatives for pets in cargo.

After Your Appointment

  1. International Health Certificates require USDA endorsement. This means the USDA veterinarian in Austin must review the Health Certificate and sign off on it. Be sure that you build this into your plans.
  2. We recommend copies of health certificates, rabies certificates, and pet information be taped to carriers as well as with the travelers.

See Each of Our Travel Checklist Handouts!

Links for more information: