Traveling to other countries with your pets can be tricky. Each country has its own set of regulations which must be strictly adhered to in order for your pet to be granted admission. Failure to meet all of the qualifications can result in your pet being denied entry, or being placed in quarantine at your expense. As a USDA-certified veterinarian, I have assisted lots of folks with international travel with their furry companions. Here is some advice that may help make your travel planning a little easier.
Here is a summary of some important things to consider in your travel plans:
- Before embarking on your journey with your pet, I strongly recommend visiting the USDA website for international pet travel: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/take-pet-to-foreign-country. This site is an excellent resource that lists the requirements for the country you are traveling to, and the time frame for meeting those requirements.
- Take note of the time frame for each of the requirements for your destination country including:
- Examination of your pet and issuance of a USDA International Health certificate in relation to your travel date. This exam must be performed by a USDA certified veterinarian. Some countries further require that the certificate also be endorsed by a USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services veterinarian.
- Rabies vaccination administration
- Microchip implantation
- Other requirements may exist depending on the country and can be time-sensitive, including:
- Rabies antibody blood testing
- Deworming for parasites
- Vaccination requirements for specific diseases
- Blood testing for certain diseases
- When planning your time frame, be aware of your scheduled ARRIVAL date in the country you are traveling to, in addition to your DEPARTURE date from the US, and account for possible travel delays and time differences. Here’s an example:
- “Simba” is traveling to the UK, departing on 10/25. A deworming is required “no sooner than 24 hours before arrival, and no longer than 5 days before arrival” into the UK. Keep in mind that if you are flying overnight, you will not arrive in the UK until 10/26. So, if “Simba” was dewormed on 10/20, the UK would not honor that deworming, as it would be 6 days.
- Now let’s say “Simba” was dewormed on 10/21, with a planned arrival on 10/26. However, due to a snowstorm, your flight is delayed, and your new arrival date will be 10/27. Again, the deworming would not be valid, as it would be 6 days.
- Your flight leaves at 9 pm and arrives in the UK the next morning at 8 am. You remember at 3 pm that “Simba” has not been dewormed. Since it is within 24 hours of arrival, the deworming would not be valid.
- So, the best time for “Simba’s” deworming in this example would be 2-3 days before your trip. You can see how tricky timing can be!
- Pay specific attention to the health certificate requirements. Some countries require an examination by a USDA certified veterinarian within a certain number of days of arrival in the country. Some, but not all, countries further require that the health certificate also be endorsed by the USDA-APHIS state veterinarian. Some countries permit electronic endorsement of the health certificate, while others require an original signature and embossed stamp. All of this affects the timing.
- Once you have worked out the proper time frame, it is imperative to make sure all paperwork is in order and that you travel with original copies of all documents.
- Prior to travel, make sure you double-check with your destination country to make sure that no additional requirements or changes have been made to protocols. Changes occur frequently. Even if you travel with your pet to a certain country on a regular basis, do not assume that requirements will always be the same. It is best to assume that they will not remain the same so you are not caught off-guard.
While there can be many challenges to traveling with your pet internationally, planning ahead can go a long way to making the process less stressful, and your trip more enjoyable. We’re here to help you navigate your travel plans!
Safe travels !!