Traveling with Your Pet
Health certificates are required for traveling with pets outside of the state of Massachusetts, regardless if crossing state lines by car or by plane.
Requirements for travel within the United States are much less complicated than international travel, yet each time a pet travels with their owner there are many things to consider.
Start Your Travel Planning Early
- Start planning at least two months ahead of time for domestic travel or four months for international travel to make sure that you are familiar with all the necessary requirements.
- If traveling by car, make sure to have copies of your pet's vaccine history, including the most current rabies certificate proving legal vaccination for rabies. Be sure to have a health certificate from your veterinarian for your pet's most recent wellness visit.
- If traveling by plane, research the airlines that you plan to use.
- Learn about their policies regarding pet travel.
- Which airplanes in their fleet have a cargo space available for larger pets; this will affect which flights are available for your trip.
- Which flights allow smaller pets in the cabin space.
- Suggestions for a safe carrier for all pets of all sizes.
- Procedures for dropping off your pet and picking them up — airlines may differ on what they offer for loading and unloading.
- If they have a non-stop flight for you and your pet to your destination or how layovers between flights are handled when your pet is on board.
Domestic Travel (within the United States)
- Airlines require a standard health certificate to board their planes that states your pet is not harboring any contagious diseases and that it is healthy (low-risk) enough to travel.
- Some airlines require a certificate of acclimation for larger pets traveling in a cargo space. Since not all airlines warm their cargo space to cabin temperatures, they request your veterinarian to state that your pet is healthy enough to travel in colder or warmer than average temperatures.
- Some airlines require a certificate of vaccination, or a rabies vaccine certificate, as well.
- ALL airlines have a required time frame this certificate must be issued prior to the flight. Make sure you are aware of this limitation and schedule an appointment to have your pet examined and a health certificate provided to you in a timely manner.
For example, your airline may require a health certificate to be dated no more than 10 days prior to your scheduled flight. Your pet needs to be examined in that 10-day period in order to obtain a valid health certificate. Without this exam, your veterinarian will only be able to provide a certificate dated back to your pet's last healthy visit.
International Travel (outside the United States)
- Start planning your trip at least four months in advance of your trip as many countries have a three month process prior to allowing your pet to be imported. If you start too close your travel date, it is possible trip may be delayed resulting in rescheduling fees from the airline.
- There is a great deal of variation among countries as to what is required to import your pet. If the policies and procedures for importing your pet are not met, your pet may be quarantined upon arrival to that country, sometimes for weeks or months. It is YOUR responsibility to know what those requirements are.
- Only United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved veterinarians are allowed to issue an international health certificate. Countryside Veterinary Hospital currently has multiple veterinarians on staff that are approved to issue certificates for international travel.
- The USDA provides resources online for educating the public on requirements for travel to other countries so that owners can research their destination country's requirements. In addition, our veterinary staff will take the necessary steps to make sure all the requirements of the destination country are met prior to your appointment. Pet relocation services are available to help complete the process if you need assistance with transportation, scheduling necessary visits, or with the paperwork process.
- All international health certificates must be completed by a USDA-certified veterinarian in your community and then approved by a USDA veterinarian. Currently health certificates in Massachusetts must be mailed to the USDA office in Albany, NY for approval. (Learn more about the Massachusetts USDA pet health certificate approval process).
We are here to help you in any way we can to get you and your pet to your destination. Feel free to call us at (978) 256-9555 with any questions or to book an appointment for a domestic or international health certificate.
Make sure to let us know when booking the appointment if you are planning domestic or international travel so we make sure that you are scheduled an appointment with the right staff veterinarian for your needs.
- USDA Animal Import/Export Guidelines
- New England Area USDA office
160 Worcester-Providence Road, Sutton MA 01590
- Massachusetts USDA Pet Health Certificate Approval Process