Health Certificates

Health Certificates

We live in an international city and many of our clients travel with their pets, either domestically or across the seas.

Please Note: We are not an animal transport company. We have USDA accredited veterinarians who can help complete medical requirements and provide health certificates, but you (the client) are ultimately responsible for knowing your pet’s travel requirements to your destination country (including medical requirements and coordinating the timing of testing and certificates). Please refer to the USDA’s website ( and check with your airline for any special requirements.

A few things before you travel

Almost all internationally traveling pets will need to be up to date on their rabies vaccine and have a valid 15-digit ISO microchip. Domestically, usually, only a rabies vaccine is needed. Many countries require other vaccinations and even blood tests. We will walk you through the requirements and help you fulfill them in a timely manner. You can find the full list of requirements for each country on the USDA APHIS website. Our veterinary team does our best to make sure you are fully prepared for your travels with your pet, but it is ultimately up to you to make sure you have all the required documentation, vaccines, microchip, and the correct timing for your trip. Additionally, we cannot accept responsibility for any expenses if your travel is delayed or additional requirements are needed, but we will do all we can to assist you.

Timing is everything! Some countries such as Japan, and even states like Hawaii, that do not have rabies, require a FAVN test, which may take upwards of several months for results to be returned. Many countries also have waiting periods before a pet can travel AFTER some medical testing or vaccination requirements are met – six months for Australia and some other island nations! We highly recommend that as soon as you know you will be traveling out of the country with your pet, you Request an Appointment with us and start doing your due diligence for your trip. 

Only a USDA Accredited Veterinarian can fill out and certify both domestic and international health certificates for travel. You will also need to factor in ample time to send that paperwork to a USDA APHIS Veterinary Medical Officer for international health certificates for many countries. 

Preparing for Your Appointments:

Please make sure that you have/do the following to prepare for your International Health Certificate appointment. We require a pre-travel appointment to discuss and plan your travel. It is recommended that you schedule this appointment as far in advance as possible. This will help expedite the process and make sure everyone is on the same page. We will then plan a date for writing and submitting the health certificate.

·   If you are not a current client or have other medical records for your pet elsewhere, please make sure you bring those records with you or send a copy to our staff prior to your appointment. 

·   Please fill out our International Travel form before your scheduled appointment.

·   To the best of your abilities, please be aware of all the requirements for your travel. We will do our best to make sure you have everything you’ll need, but if certain requirements are not met, your pet may be denied entry or your pet may be quarantined at the border. For certain countries, the use of a professional pet transport company may be indicated.

·   Be aware of timing! Most certificates are required to be signed by both a USDA-certified Veterinarian and a USDA APHIS Veterinary Services endorsement officer within 10 days* of travel but many other medical requirements have waiting periods as well. Some countries require USDA endorsement within 3 days of travel. See below for Mexico and Canada.

·   Many countries require import permits in advance of travel. We will help you locate these forms, however, the import permit is not a part of the USDA health certificate and is not the responsibility of a District Vet veterinarian

·   Please be aware of airline-specific requirements.

·   You cannot apply for an International Health Certificate the day before or the day of international travel. 

Travel to Mexico and Canada

Mexico does not require an endorsed health certificate, but the pet will need to be inspected by SENASICA at a Mexican Animal and Plant Health Inspection Office (OISA). It is advised that you travel with a valid rabies certificate and Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (issued at our office). When you cross the border, you will arrange this inspection.

Canada does not require an endorsed health certificate for dogs over 8 months of age so long as you travel with the pet. Your dog must travel with a valid rabies certificate. A health certificate, not requiring endorsement, is needed for pets under 8 months of age. Cats of all ages only require a valid rabies certificate.

*The timing varies by country, please make sure of the timing for your destination. 

USDA Endorsement Instructions

There are two ways to get your paperwork endorsed after it has been filled out by one of our USDA Certified Veterinarians. This is the final step in the process and in most cases is required at a maximum of 10* days before you will be entering your destination country. 

Note: Both your Vet’s signature and that of the USDA APHIS office is required within this time frame. 

Option 1:  Use the Veterinary Export Health Certification System (VEHCS). We will talk with you about how you can save time and money using VEHCS to submit your paperwork, including the health certificate. Most countries allow the use of VEHCS to submit the health certificate for endorsement. Our accredited veterinarian will submit the health certificate through VEHCS. Depending on your destination country, you will either receive a digitally endorsed final copy or one will be mailed to you by the USDA.

Option 2:  Ship the paperwork to USDA. This is rarely used now and not recommended, especially if VEHCS is allowed by the receiving country. It is important to include The Pet Owners Checklist for Shipping Health Certificate(s) to a USDA Endorsement Office with your paperwork to ensure that all required documents are in your shipping package. Submitting an incomplete package will cause delays.

All instructions are based on the most recent guidelines set by the USDA and APHIS as of December 13th, 2021. 

As of December 1st, 2021 all dogs that are coming from a country classified as high risk by the CDC for Rabies are required to enter via an approved point of entry with a valid US-issued rabies certificate. If your US-issued rabies certificate is expired by the time of entry, you will need to apply for a CDC Dog Import Permit if eligible.

All approved ports of entry are as follows: Anchorage (ANC), Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO), San Juan (SJU), Seattle (SEA), and Washington DC (IAD).

For a full list of countries currently classified as high risk, please visit the CDC’s website.

This list has been evolving constantly. 

What's Next

  • 1

    Call us or schedule an appointment online.

  • 2

    Meet with a doctor for an initial exam.

  • 3

    Put a plan together for your pet.