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Loyal Family Blog

Health Certificates 101

Traveling with Your Pet Interstate vs. Internationally

At Loyal Family Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarians and staff frequently get asked questions about interstate and international travel with pets. We understand that traveling with your pet and making sure that all the requirements are met can be a stressful process. The good news is that it does not have to be! The most important thing is to make sure to plan ahead, be organized and give yourself plenty of time before your departure date.

The best website to find out what is required for both interstate and international travel is the United States Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Website. See the link provided below.



Most states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), or also commonly known as a health certificate. Dogs and cats over 3 months of age must have a certificate of a current rabies vaccination. The health certificate paperwork can be filled out by a licensed and accredited veterinarian AFTER a physical exam has been performed. A veterinarian cannot legally complete a health certificate until your pet has been examined to verify that the pet appears to be disease free and healthy for travel. This health certificate is only valid WITHIN 10 DAYS (depending on the airline) of importation or arrival at your final destination. Each airline and state may have different requirements, so please do your research and check with the airline you are using for specific requirements when making the reservation for travel.

Advanced Arrangements with Airlines

Check with your airline! If you are traveling on a commercial flight with your pet in the cabin or in cargo, please contact your airline for the specific requirements. For example, there are certain carrier requirements that vary depending on the animal's breed or size.

Make sure you call the airline directly to make the reservation and confirm that there is space for your pet on the flight. Airlines can refuse transport of your pet for various reasons such as if there are any signs of illness, aggression/violent behavior, an improper carrier that does not meet the airline's guidelines or if extreme temperatures warrant that it is not safe for your pet travel.

We recommend getting your pet accustomed to their carrier before travel. Try to make the carrier a safe and positive place. Have the carrier in an area where the pets can go in and out of if they wish. You can try to feed them a meal in their carrier or give them a fun toy or treat. If you are concerned about your pet being anxious on the flight, talk to your veterinarian about safe sedative options.

If you are traveling to or from a destination where the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit or above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, most health certificates must have a specific statement from the veterinarian that your pet is acclimated to theses extreme temperature for short periods of time. Be aware, if the temperatures are too extreme (cold or hot), the airline will probably deem it unsafe for transport of your pet.

This is great website that has links to various airlines and their requirements.


If you are planning on traveling interstate, please contact us to schedule a veterinary exam within the appropriate time-frame required by your airline (typically 7-10 days) for the health certificate to be completed and have your pet's rabies certificate information with you.


Most countries have STRICT regulations on international pet travel. The USDA-APHIS website is a great resource to find most information required for the export of animals to countries outside the United States: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/importexport/animal-import-and-export. It is also recommended to contact the embassy or consulate of the destination country. Each country has specific times and regulations, with even more specific paperwork and documentation and these requirements can change over time. For example, some countries require a rabies titer, external or internal parasite treatments, specific health screening tests, etc. Some countries also have quarantine rules when your pet arrives to the new country. Please note that some countries like Australia and New Zealand have particularly strict requirements and it can take many months of preparation to import pets into those countries.

For the countries that have extensive paperwork and requirements for importation, an international transport company will be needed. While there are a number of transport companies available for hire, our clients have given us positive reviews for a company called Pet Relocation. Their website is www.petrelocation.com.

After the country's specific required paperwork and physical exam has been completed by an accredited veterinarian, the paperwork then as to be reviewed and signed, or endorsed, by Washington State's USDA Veterinarian in Olympia. An in-person appointment can be scheduled with the USDA veterinarian OR you can overnight the paperwork to the office. There is also an additional fee to have the paperwork endorsed by the USDA Veterinarian. Below is the address and contact information for the state USDA office and the USDA state veterinarian.

USDA-APHIS-National Import Export Services
1550 Irving Street, SW, Ste. 100
Tumwater, WA 98512

Rabies Titer Info for International Travel

A blood rabies titer test for dogs and cat is required by many countries prior to importation. This can be a benefit your pet because it may reduce the quarantine period or eliminate the quarantine period completely. If you pet does not already have an ISO (international Organization for Standardization) 15-digit microchip, this must be placed prior to the blood test.

The rabies titer is a serological blood test called the Fluorescent Antibody Virus Neutralization (FAVN). This test detects the amount of protective antibody against the rabies virus from previous vaccinations. Countries that require a rabies titer typically mandate greater than 0.50 IU/mL to allow for importation. Our hospital uses the Kansas State University Rabies Laboratory and it takes approximately 3-4 weeks for the titer results to be returned from the date the sample was received by Kansas State University. If you are traveling in less than 3 weeks, there is an expedited STAT service available. The required timeline varies on the country, but most titer results are required 30-180 days BEFORE entering the country.

Beware! Most countries require that the pet be vaccinated for rabies at least 30 days PRIOR to the blood sample being drawn. Some even require that the pet has been vaccinated PREVIOUSLY with proof of two rabies certificates before the blood can be collected.

A few countries that need this FAVN test are: Hawaii-USA, Guam, Japan, St. Kitts & Nevis, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa and many others.

If you are planning on traveling internationally with your pet, please contact us to schedule an initial veterinary exam and provide the paperwork that you need completed. We are happy to help make this process as smooth and easy as possible, but it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure all the requirements and paperwork are completed on time. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any further questions or concerns and we can partner together to make your travel preparation as stress-free as possible!

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