Dr. Jones is a USDA accredited veterinarian that can sign health certificates or Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for pet travel. Not all veterinarians are accredited and special training is required to attain accreditation.
There is a fee for the exam ($32) and issuance of the certificate ($35 Interstate Travel, $50 International Travel). The vet must examine your pet and can only date the certificate for the date of the examination, even if your pet was recently seen for another reason. Please bring your pet's records, a stool sample, and heartworm/flea/tick preventive (if you have it) with you to the visit. Bring your destination address/contact information. Allow at least an hour for your vet visit. Pets with proof of current vaccinations and regular parasite prevention may just need an exam, but that will be determined during the consultation. Travel within the continental U.S. has the fewest requirements, but differ by state. Vaccines will not be administered on the day of travel, as to not risk an adverse reaction occurring during travel.
International health certificates often require a second-step endorsement at the Veterinary Services Endorsement Office in East Lansing, which requires an additional fee.
USDA-APHIS-National Import Export Services
3001 Coolidge Road, Suite 325
East Lansing, MI 48823
Please call the number above to set up an appointment at their office and take the signed certificate with you. You should not take your pet. Some pet owners send the document and fee overnight through the mail. Allow enough time for endorsement and return to you through the mail. You must have the double-signed original document with you during travel. Only original documents are allowed; no faxed or e-mailed copies are accepted.
A very helpful website is: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel
It has an interactive compilation of requirements for travel into (import), out of (export), and within the United States. Form VS7001 is a commonly used form that is good for 30 days from issuance. Your pet may need another vet visit/certificate from a vet in your destination country before re-entry into the United States.
Many airlines require a health certificate issued by the veterinarian within 5-10 days of travel. Please note that airline requirements are separate from country requirements so you must find out what your individual airline requires. When making your inquiry with your airline, specify if your pet will be in the cabin or in cargo under the plane. Ask about pet size limitations and approved carriers (type, dimensions, weight, etc.)
The main reason laws are in place for pet travel is to prevent infectious diseases from spreading to different parts of the world. The added bonus is that a vet exam may help to determine if your pet should or could travel safely based on the health assessment, but this is not a guarantee that your pet will tolerate or survive travel. The vet has the right to not sign the health certificate if the pet is sick. Tests, such as parasite screening of stool and blood (for heartworms) and application of a preventative/treatment for internal and external parasites may be required. Vaccination(s), especially Rabies, may be needed. A microchip may be needed for International travel.
Pet Safety: For certain breeds, such as those with brachycephalic airway syndrome (bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers), travel in cargo is not recommended due to potential difficulty with acclimatization and breathing. Sick, neonatal, and geriatric pets of any breed should not travel. Travel may be stressful for a pet, especially in temperature extremes. Sedatives are not recommended because if there is an adverse reaction to the drug, the pet cannot access veterinary care while in the air. However, anti-nausea drugs for motion sickness are available. Discuss options with your vet.
Good planning is needed in order to travel with your pet. All accredited vets must follow the same laws set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), and cannot flex the rules based on mistakes in travel plans. The vet's role is to inspect the pet and decide whether to endorse the health certificate. The APHIS form VS7001 basically states that the animal appears to be free of infectious diseases and is not from an area under quarantine for rabies.
It is the pet owner's responsibility to find out what the destination country's requirements are and plan accordingly. The receiving country has the right to not accept your pet into the country and can hold them in quarantine if the requirements are not met or if your pet appears sick. Animal Friends Vet Hospital has access to many health certificates for different countries through the USDA website, but please bring any paperwork with you based on your research, that might be helpful.
Please note: Travel of a pet to a rabies-free state like Hawaii or a rabies-free country like Japan is at least a six-month process.
We wish your pet safe travels!