Traveling overseas with your pet requires a document referred to as the “International Health Certificate.” Each country has different requirements. Some countries make it easy to import your pet, while others take a great deal of work and planning. Be prepared, and maybe this article will help you along the way.
The USDA is the primary government agency that you help you complete your documents. They maintain an up-to-date website with the most current guidelines for each country. The branch of the USDA involved in export and import of animals is called the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Visit their website at www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/home/
The first step is to schedule a consultation appointment with an accredited veterinarian. They can help you find your way through all the requirements.
Microchip requirements are common. There are two different categories of microchips: domestic and international frequencies. For international travel, your pet will likely need an “ISO compliant” microchip. To see how a microchip is implanted, visit: http://public.homeagain.com/how-pet-microchipping-works.html. The microchip is scanned at the port of entry to verify the pet’s identity and paperwork.
Laboratory testing is another common requirement for import. For example, South Korea requires an anti-Rabies antibody level that is high enough to protect against infection before allowing the pet to enter into their country. Rabies antibody tests for export must be performed at a government approved laboratory and we utilize Kansas State University. Results may take up to a month, and even longer if the first test fails. So, do not wait until the last minute.
De-worming and other parasite treatments may also be encountered. The United Kingdom and many Scandinavian countries require documentation that your pet receives a specific tapeworm medication to protect reindeer and sheep herds in those countries.
Nearly every country requires proof of a rabies vaccine, which often requires very specific timing. For example, Germany requires at least 21 days to have lapsed prior to travel.
Hours are spent on documentation ensuring proper lab screening, immunizations and medications. The accredited veterinarian will submit a completed copy of the paperwork to the local USDA office. Once they approve the paperwork, you must make an appointment with the local USDA office to obtain an official USDA “stamp”. There are various fees involved during this process for preparing the paperwork, vaccines and testing. Once the paperwork is stamped then your pet is free to travel anytime within 10 days of the stamp date.