It is nice to be able to take your pet on vacation with you, but are you aware of all the requirements involved in traveling with your pet?
Planning for a trip should start as early as possible. Normally, a month should be sufficient time to plan a trip, but I’ve had clients who have wanted to travel to Japan only to find out that they don’t meet the rabies requirements for that country and have had to delay their trip 6 months in order to be compliant with that country’s rules. I’ve seen others plan trips in the middle of summer only to have their airline deny their pet travel for weeks due to heat requirements imposed by the airline. Let’s try to make this go smoothly by considering a checklist of items to go through in planning a trip with your pet.
There are four organizations you should contact when you plan to travel internationally with your pet.
1) Ask your airline about the cost of travel and whether the pet will travel in the plane with you or down below with the luggage. If the pet will travel in the cabin with you, be sure the dimensions of your carrier are acceptable to the airline.
2) Ask how long they will honor your health certificate for. Although the health certificate states that it is valid for 30 days, some airlines may only honor it for 10, 7 or 3 days.
3) Check to see if they impose travel restrictions on certain days or certain times of day. Some airlines will not accept pets if the ground temperature exceeds 85 degrees or is below 45 degrees on any portion of your trip.
4) Ask if there are any breed restrictions. Some airlines will restrict certain “short-faced” breeds from being allowed in the belly of the aircraft and that same pet may not meet the size requirements to be in the cabin.
Be sure to contact the consulate of the country you are traveling to and ask if they have any special requirements. Most islands have very strict requirements that could take weeks or even months of planning to fulfill. A lot of countries now require the standard APHIS Form 7001 Health Certificate along with a bilingual health certificate for their country. Some consulates will ask that you bring the health certificate to them prior to traveling with their pet. A list of consulates can be found on the U.S. Department of State website at www.state.gov/ .
In order to travel, you will be required to have an “International Health Certificate” for your pet (APHIS Form 7001). Ask your veterinarian if they are “accredited” as only an accredited veterinarian can sign a health certificate. Your veterinarian will help you determine what you will need to do to meet the requirements of the destination country. Such requirements could include: vaccines, dewormings, flea & tick control, microchipping, rabies vaccine titers or resolving an illness prior to travel.
Talk to your vet about sedation. This is an area that is controversial. Personally, I prefer to not sedate pets, especially when they must go below with the cargo, if they are older, or if they are a “short-nosed” breed. My philosophy is that if any of these pets have a problem while they are sedated in the cargo hull, no one is around to see or to help. I do make an exception for an extremely anxious pet or one that will be up in the cabin and bark the entire trip.
The USDA Office:
Once your health certificate is signed by your veterinarian, it needs to be taken to the local USDA office. The Miami office is located at 6300 NW 36th St and they can be reached at (305) 876-2200. You can schedule an appointment to take your certificate in and have it signed, or you can drop it off and pick it up later. Call them for specific appointment times and hours of operation. They are NOT open on the weekend.
We are here to help if you have any additional questions. Have a safe trip!