Traveling with Your Pet

Preparing your pet, or pets, for travel can be a convoluted and time-intensive process, even for our veterinarians. Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware of exactly what will be required for your animal companion to make the trip, no matter if you’ll be traveling internationally or across state lines.

For pets, both international and domestic travel often require an official CVI (certificate of veterinary inspection), also referred to as a health certificate. While the certificate must be prepared by a USDA-accredited veterinarian, the requirements for entry are established by each individual country, state or territory. Some destinations require proof of additional vaccinations and testing. Others, such as Hawaii, will immediately quarantine pets regardless of health reports due to their rabies-free environment.

To keep travel with your pet as stress-free as possible, please consider the following steps:

  • Research the most current requirements for your destination on the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) page from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) site. We recommend that you print all pertinent information and forms and bring these to all appointments for your pet prior to your travel day.

  • Alert our Client Service Representative that you are scheduling an appointment for a health certificate and please provide your specific destination. This information will allow us to be prepared to advise you regarding specific requirements and to schedule necessary future appointments.

  • Expedite the completion of required forms by providing us, via email, with important details of your travel, such as destination address, travel date and medical history (including vaccinations that were administered elsewhere). Arrive early to your appointments to complete important forms and allow us to confirm your needs.

    • Plan to schedule your pet’s final pre-travel exam at the first possible date within the travel window required by your destination authority. For most destinations, a veterinarian must confirm current health status by performing a complete physical exam within 10 days of travel and completing this step as early as possible will ensure that your International Health Certificate will be completed in time. This appointment will involve completing the forms that you must then send to the USDA/APHIS office (out of state) for final endorsement, typically via overnight/FedEx (The nearest FedEx location is conveniently located at 3340 E. Thomas Rd.).

    • Be sure to express any concerns regarding medications to our veterinarians.

 

  • Please note that your airline may have different travel requirements than your destination. Check with your airline for specific requirements for your flight (e.g. pre-flight arrival times, travel carrier specifications, etc.).

International Travel
It is essential to plan as far ahead as possible as some international destinations may require as many as 6 months to fulfill certain criteria for entry. If you have traveled with your pet internationally in the past, please bear in mind that rules and regulations may have changed.

Continental Interstate Travel
The USDA requirements for pet health and travel vary widely depending on which state you’re visiting. Because of the particular nature of each state’s requirements, the most reliable source of information when researching will be the destination state’s State Veterinarian office.

Airline Requirements
The policies of transportation services are finicky and likely to change frequently. Because of this, we are unable to provide current airline requirements. You will have to research which airlines are currently allowing pets and in what capacity (cabin, cargo, cargo plane, etc.), but it’s often most effective and reliable to communicate with the airline directly. Then, on the day of travel, it’s a good idea to contact the airline to make sure the weather is in your pet’s favor; you will also need a back-up plan in case the answer keeps your pet land-bound.

Professional Pet Transport
If you’re nervous for your pet to fly under the care of people who are used to handling inanimate cargo, and you have the funds, professional pet transport may be the way to go. The International Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA) is a collection of over 440 pet transport companies in over 84 countries. This is a great resource for finding the perfect service for you and your pet’s needs.


Making sure your pet is physically healthy enough for travel can be a process, but you don’t have to do it alone. As long as you come prepared, the veterinarians at Animal Care Hospital of Phoenix can assist you in getting your pet ready for your trip. If you have further questions or want to schedule an appointment for your pet prior to travel, call us at (480) 887-4791. Bon voyage!