Health Certificates

Traveling With a Pet? 

Health Certificates are always needed when traveling with your pet(s) either outside the country or on an airline.  It is important to know that it always requires some preparation and sometimes, a great deal of paperwork.  Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to do the research needed and to acquire the appropriate documentations.  To help you along with the process, we've compiled some information to help but we can't stress enough the importance of thorough planning on your part.

What Is a Pet Health Certificate and How Do I Get One?

If you are taking your pet across state or international borders, a health certificate is required. The health certificate, or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, is an official document stating that your pet has been examined by a licensed, USDA-accredited veterinarian and has been found free of communicable diseases or parasites, as of the day the certificate is issued.

The veterinarians at Southpoint Animal Hospital are accredited by the USDA to sign Health Certificates for your pets as you prepare them for domestic and international travel.

If a veterinarian is concerned that your pet has a communicable disease he/she will NOT issue a health certificate.  Also, the certificate lists the current vaccine types and dates of administration. The required vaccines must be up to date and had to have been administered by a veterinarian. Different state and countries require different vaccines for travel. Some also require microchip identification which is also listed on the health certificate, blood testing, quarantine, or other specialized forms. 


You will need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection specific to the country of destination, and some airlines also require an Acclimation Certificate. Both of these certificates can only be completed and signed by a federally-accredited veterinarian. When you return home, your veterinarian may recommend a follow-up examination to make sure that your pet did not pick up any diseases or parasites while traveling.

SPAH’s Health Certificate Policy:

Visit the APHIS website for helpful information and directions for what is needed for traveling with your pet(s). It is helpful to review this checklist PRIOR to making travel.

International travel health certificates are VERY complicated and time sensitive. We have created a checklist to help you prepare for international travel. There are two ways to prepare for an international health certificate examination:

1.  See the links below for the paperwork needed to travel to your country of destination. Print out the paperwork, review it, and, on a separate sheet of paper, write down all of the pertinent information your veterinary office will need. Bring ALL documentation and information to SPAH 48 hours prior to your health certificate examination appointment

2. As a pet owner, you must know everything that you will need in order to travel with your pet. A veterinarian will examine your pet during your Health Certificate Appointment and the staff of the hospital will complete the forms that you provide.  However, it is the owner’s responsibility to provide all proper and necessary paperwork and present a complete list of requirements for the country you are traveling to so that the veterinarian is able to complete the appropriate tests during the exam.  Any misinformation provided to the veterinarian (such as the wrong destination address or not having proof of rabies certification) can cause havoc with the international health certificate process and, in some cases, prevent you from traveling with your pet.

Some documents are required to be shipped overnight, signed by the APHIS Veterinary Services Service Center, then returned all in a certain time period.  Therefore, it is important to plan ahead and consider how office hours during the week as well as weekends will affect these strict time constraints.  Some countries require quarantines or special tests prior to travel and these processes can take time.

Helpful Checklists & Info for People Traveling with Pets in Regard to Health Certificates:

Where to begin your research

Checklist for IN-Country Travel – DOMESTIC

Checklist for OUT of Country Travel – INTERNATIONAL


Things to keep in mind:

Domestic Travel:

1. Health Certificates for travel within the United States of America does not need to be endorsed by the USDA (except Hawaii).

2. Legally, all interstate travel requires a health certificate- this is especially important for flying

      a.  Call the airline to find out their requirements

           i.  Travel carrier requirements
          ii.  Location of pet in plane
          iii.  Sedation policy
          iv.  Health certificate/vaccine/parasite control requirements

      b.  Demonstrate appropriate documentation of current rabies vaccination (some rabies vaccines are good for 1 year or 3 years)

3. Keep a copy of your domestic health certificate with you while traveling.  Think of it as your pet's passport and keep it safe.

4. Domestic health certificates are typically valid for 10 days when flying and 30 days if traveling by land

5. If traveling to Hawaii please see the USDA’s website for that state’s unique requirements


1. Check airline requirements as recommended for domestic travel

2. Forms and previously prepared documentation need to be dropped off to USDA-accredited veterinarian 48 hours prior to date of health certificate examination

3. Have definitive travel plans with specific locations/dates

4. Verify if your pet will automatically be quarantined-this is based on the destination country’s quarantine policy

5. Determine if USDA endorsement is required and endorsement fees/schedule

6. Check on microchip information (some countries have very specific requirements for placement and type of microchip)

7. Some countries require testing (titers for vaccines, parasite testing, etc.) prior to travel (at owner’s expense)

8. Be sure to have pet’s complete medical records for the USDA-accredited examining veterinarian

9. Health certificate examinations typically need to be within 10 days of travel (and keep in mind the logistics   of endorsed documents, office hours, weekends, etc)

10. Keep a copy of your pet's paperwork safe during travel.  This is your pet's passport!

11.Remember to research what is needed for your pet to RETURN home with you as well!