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Traveling Domestically or Internationally With Your Pet? You May Need a Health Certificate

cat in crate at airport

If you plan to travel by auto or air with your pet to another state or internationally, your pet may require a certificate of veterinary inspection.

A health certificate is a federal document generated by a federally-accredited veterinarian. The certificate ensures that a pet has met certain health criteria.

There are two general types of health certificates for pets: domestic for interstate travel within the U.S. (usually by air) and international. Both types have stringent rules veterinarians cannot bend.

Domestic Health Certificates

Some common requirements for pets traveling to other states include a current rabies vaccination and testing negative for heartworm or currently on a heartworm preventative. Requirements vary from state-to-state.

Domestic health certificates must be written the same day the veterinarian completes a thorough physical exam and cannot back-dated. Check with your airlines and the states you’re driving through to see if they require one (each is different).

Click here to see the requirements for your destination state(s).

dog at airport

International Health Certificates

International health certificates vary by country, can be quite complicated, and often take several months to complete. As soon as you know your travel details, contact Atlantic Veterinary Hospital and ask us to assist you with the pet travel process.

We will help you determine the destination country’s requirements, including any needed vaccinations, tests, and/or treatments.

When you contact us, be sure to provide the following information:

  • The type of animal that will be traveling
  • The country of destination
  • The date of departure from the U.S.
  • Whether your pet will be traveling alone, as cargo, or with a person in the cabin of the plane

Some countries require you to meet time frames for updating your pet’s vaccinations, diagnostic testing, or administration of treatments and/or medications, so start the process EARLY!

If your pet is eligible for a health certificate, your veterinarian will issue it within the validity period (the time-frame for which the certificate can be used for your pet to travel) set by your destination country.

For detailed information about five steps in obtaining an international health certificate for your pet, visit the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service USDA APHIS).

2 Responses to “Traveling Domestically or Internationally With Your Pet? You May Need a Health Certificate”

  1. Reply Ione Fine

    I’d like to move a dog from Seattle to the United Kingdom
    I”d like to transport him in Jan if possible. He’s been chipped and is up to date on vaccinations, though I realize some may need to be redone.
    He’ll be traveling in the hold (he’s 110lb) but I’ll probably be on the same plane.


  2. Reply Allison Miles

    I am planning to live in Japan from January 2023-May 2023 and would like to bring my dog, Maicie. She will be 12 years old, will travel in the cabin and has up to date vaccines and a chip. Please let me know if you can assist with travel into Japan.

    Thank you,


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Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.