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Everything You Need to Know About International Health Certificates

Happy New Year from us to you! With the start of 2023 also comes National Pet Travel Safety Day on January 2nd. To celebrate, we are shedding some light on international travel and how to prepare for traveling abroad with your pet!

Over 4 million pets and live animals are transported by air worldwide every year, according to the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association. With this many animals traveling together, it has become imperative for the United States and other foreign countries to make sure that each pet boarding a plane has a good bill of health so as not to spread infectious disease to other parts of the world. How do they do this? Through international health certificates of course!

International health certificates are required for all pets traveling internationally. Before you start the process of acquiring an international health certificate for your pet, you will need to know the following:

  • Type of animal traveling

  • Destination country

  • Date of departure from U.S.

  • Is your pet traveling alone, in cargo, or in the cabin with you?

Once you know these, it will be time to start planning to complete your pet’s health certificate! The requirements for your certificate will differ based on your destination and can change at any time - so be sure to do your research early when planning your trip. In fact, time restraints are often an important thing to keep in mind when planning to complete your pet’s international health certificate. Based on which foreign country you are traveling to, extensive testing such as Rabies Titers may be required before completing the international health certificate, which can take up to twelve weeks to perform. Most international health certificates must be completed within 10 days of travel which is why it is so important to research your destination well in advance of your trip. To look up your destination country’s requirements, visit the USDA’s Pet Travel Guidance page.

Once you know your travel destination’s requirements, it will be time to schedule your pet’s IHC exam with us. International health certificates can be completed by any USDA-accredited veterinarian - which at NAH is either Dr. Spinosa, Dr. White, or Dr. Lebo. These appointments are often more extensive than a usual exam, but will be where all of your pet’s services will be completed to make them eligible for international travel.

Another aspect of the international health certificate process is getting your pet’s certificate endorsed by the USDA. Not all foreign countries require this, but many popular travel destinations do. After your veterinarian signs off on your pet’s international health certificate at their IHC exam, they can either submit it to the USDA for endorsement or you can mail it to the USDA yourself. The USDA endorsement process can take upwards of 3 days to complete alone, so be sure to plan accordingly.

We know the international health certificate process can be very nuanced, which is why we are here to help you navigate it. If you are planning a trip overseas in 2023 with your four-legged friend, visit our website to fill out the Health Certificate-International Form and let us help you get them there by scheduling your International Health Certificate appointment with us!

NAH Locations with USDA-accredited DVMs:

Holistic: (352) 332-9991

39th Avenue: (352) 332-2292

Main Street: (352) 372-5391

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