Travel With Your Pet
A Health Certificate is documented proof that your pet meets all of the requirements that are expected by the place to which you are traveling. These requirements can range from booster shots to microchipping, depending on the destination state or country.
It's important to make sure your pet is vaccinated and start researching the required tests your cat or dog needs for travel as soon as possible. The USDA-APHIS office states that veterinarian-issued health certificates have to be completed within the exact time frame based on the state or country of destination's requirements.
Note that while some health certificates are valid for longer, most are only valid for 10 days. Often, certificates require vaccinations or boosters having been administered as early as 6 months before the travel date. Keep all of this in mind when selecting a date to schedule your initial appointment since slots fill up quickly.
Before Your Appointment
Below is a list to follow when preparing for your cat or dog's health certificate appointment:
- Review the requirements for pet travel to your destination
The requirements can be found through the USDA Pet Travel website.
It's your responsibility to understand the requirements of the health certificate your pet needs for travel. Our responsibility at Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital is to work with you to schedule required vaccines and booster shots and to write out the certificate at the end of the process.
- Contact your airline(s)
It is your responsibility to inquire with the airline(s) you will be using about whether they have any travel requirements, including specific vaccines or forms that require completion.
- Call the hospital to make an appointment.
An appointment for preparing an international health certificate is 1 hour per pet. If you are traveling within the United States, appointments will be 30 minutes (excluding Hawaii, which is also an hour).
The majority of health certificates are valid for 10 days after creation and will take anywhere between 1 and 3 business days for endorsement with the USDA. Make sure you plan your appointment and your travel dates accordingly.
- What to bring to the appointment
- Your contact information (full name, current address, and phone number)
- The name of your travel destination (residence, hotel, etc.), address and phone number
- The date your pet will be traveling, method of transportation and port of entry
- All previous records from other veterinary clinics
- Many health certificates need an original signed rabies certificate and the exact date of microchip implantation. If these were not performed at Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital and are needed for your pet's travel, you must bring these forms and dates with you to your pet's appointment.
During Your Appointment
Leading up to your appointment, you will need to ensure you have met all of the requirements for the state or country to which you are traveling.
When you bring your pet in for their appointment, we will conduct a comprehensive exam and review their medical history to make sure that they meet all of the necessary criteria.
For California pet owners, the completed health certificate must be submitted by mail to the USDA office in Sacramento, CA. Processing time usually takes 1 - 3 business days.
Once the certificate is finalized, you can either pick it up in person or it can be mailed to your address overnight.
Our Lincoln veterinarians are here to help facilitate the pet travel process and to fill out the required forms. It is your responsibility to make sure all the travel requirements are met.
To ensure your travels go according to plan, it is important that you come to your appointment fully prepared!