Health Certificates for Travel

traveling-with-petsDogs and cats can travel for many reasons, such as dog and cat shows, sporting competitions, breeding purposes, hunting, or for a family vacation. An export health certificate is generally required by the destination country if dogs and cats are traveling internationally. A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) may be required if they are traveling intra/interstate. Some movement requirements exist for most all companion animals traveling either interstate or internationally.

These requirements vary with the destination and potential disease risk posed by the animal species. For example, Hawaii is a rabies-free state and has very strict entry requirements for dogs and cats coming from the U.S. mainland. Additionally, some countries have concerns about leptospirosis or echinococcosis, so treatment or preventative measures may be required prior to travel.

You may or may not be aware of these regulations or requirements when traveling with your pet. Accredited veterinarians are a resource for client education and are responsible for meeting the destination requirements.

As soon as you know that you might be traveling with your pet, it is best to contact the FRAH and ask about the requirements for travel. The staff at the FRAH will then contact APHIS, Veterinary Services Area Office of the State from which your pet will be transported. Your Area Veterinarian-in-Charge can provide you with the current regulations, tests, required forms, documents, and inspections.  You should then contact the visiting country’s consulate or embassy for information about any requirements that you must meet.  A listing of consulates can be found at the U.S. Department of State website.  Another resource for international import requirements can be found at this site.  Additionally, USDA-APHIS, has a great resource for traveling pet owners here.


Clients using air travel with companion animals within or outside of the U.S. should contact the airline prior to travel. Any airline transporting animals as freight must be registered carriers under the Animal Welfare Act and must follow transportation regulations in 9 CFR Chapter 1, Subchapter A – Animal Welfare. They may have additional airline restrictions (e.g., dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and weaned at least five days before flying). Some airlines require pets to be examined by a licensed veterinarian no more than ten days prior to the date of travel and current certificates must accompany the animal at the time of departure.

Airlines may also require an acclimation certificate signed by the veterinarian for the animal(s) being transported. Acclimation certificates were originally intended for transporting sled dogs, which are comfortable in temperatures below 45 degrees but are not heat tolerant. Today acclimation certificates are used to allow airlines to ship dogs and cats when they cannot guarantee compliance with animal welfare regulations.  Check the individual airline’s requirements regarding the acclimation certificate and always exercise your best professional judgment. Consideration should be given to the age and size of the pet; season, time and distance of the flight; regular dietary routine; any medical treatment (tranquilizers, etc) administered; and other details as appropriate.

American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta all offer pet travel/shipping, as does Alaska Air.


Most cruise ships do not permit pets. Those that do only allow them on a very limited basis and they have strict requirements in addition to the regulations that must be met by the destination country.

Dr Sheridan is a “category 2” accredited veterinarian, and as such, can help you with almost any kind of pet, not just cats and dogs.  After determining the travel requirements for your pet, the staff at FRAH will then develop a strategy ensuring that your pet arrives with no delays, unnecessary quarantine requirements, or additional, unexpected expenses. Traveling with your pet should be as stress-free as possible!