10 Steps to Traveling Overseas with Your Pet

As pandemic restrictions begin to lift, both domestically and internationally, our clinic is finding that more and more clients want to travel overseas with their pets for vacation. While it may seem like a fun idea, it’s important to be aware of the many hoops you’ll need to jump through as well as cultural and climate considerations. Taking your pet out of the country or even to Hawaii will require advance planning, multiple vet appointments and an abundance of paperwork. Be prepared with the ten steps below and Fido can be saying “Woof” at the Eiffel Tower or on the white sands of Hanalei Bay.

  1. Give yourself a 3-6 month lead time. Between vet appointments, USDA requirements, paperwork and potential additional testing, there are quite a few steps to the process. These steps can’t be rushed and often must occur within specific windows of time. Read through all information and instructions carefully ahead of time and plan accordingly.
  2. Review USDA Pet Travel requirements. Select the country you are traveling to and read through all the requirements. Different countries have different requirements and specific requirements can change for that specific country. Double check requirements even if you have traveled to your destination previously. Fill out USDA paperwork in advance and have it ready to submit to your vet at least 24 hours in advance of your health certificate appointment.
  3. Review airline requirements. Check with the airline you are traveling with to see what pet travel requirements are required and fill out any necessary paperwork.
  4. Make a vet appointment far in advance for necessary vaccinations & treatments. If your pet needs a rabies vaccine, it needs to be given at least 30 days prior to the travel date. If the vaccine is given WITHIN 30 days of travel date, there is a strong chance your pet CANNOT travel (i.e, 29 days within travel date). Hawaii, Australia and some other countries may require Rabies Titer Testing or other testing up to 6 months before departure. Depending on the destination, some countries may also require distemper-parvo and leptospirosis vaccines to be up to date. Internal and external parasite treatment also may be required. 
  5. Make a vet appointment for an International or Domestic Health Certificate. These certificates MUST be completed within 10 days of your travel date and exams at Harmony will be scheduled on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only. Please expect the exam to be as long as 1 ½- 2 hours, and note that it can only be scheduled with a USDA Accredited Veterinarian.
  6. Gather and submit all necessary paperwork to your vet AT LEAST 24 hours prior to your appointment. This includes USDA forms as well as your full and complete travel itinerary, including flight information, travel dates, and full address of destination(s). If your pet is currently on heartworm and/or flea and tick prevention, please bring your pet’s medication with you to the clinic as the doctor and technician will need it for the exam and certificate completion. If your pet is not currently on prevention, we will give a dose at the clinic if it is required by the destination country. If your pet was seen at a previous veterinarian and received vaccines please send those full and complete records to us 24 hours prior to your health certificate visit.
  7. Allow time for rescheduling. If the above completed paperwork is NOT submitted 24 hours in advance of your pet’s scheduled appointment, you will need to reschedule. Reviewing the paperwork ahead of time can help your vet catch important items that will need to be completed during the certificate appointment as well as items that may prohibit your pet from traveling.
  8. Prepare to pay additional fees. A USDA Health Certificate fee of $38 will be applied after the health certificate is submitted in the clinic. Note that USDA federal government regulation fees are subject to a price increase, and we will notify you at the end of the appointment if the price changes.
  9. Consider travel logistics. Will you need a specialized crate or medication to help with anxiety? Can you include a favorite blanket or toy in his travel space? How will he be provided potty breaks? All of these questions will require advanced research and consideration to make the trip as comfortable and stress-free as possible for your pet.
  10. Be patient. International health certificates may take up to 10 days to be approved through the USDA website. Please allow time and patience for this process. 

Taking your pet overseas or out of the country is absolutely doable, but requires a long and detailed planning process. Discussing your plan with our staff can help prevent both headaches and heartaches. Prepare yourself, plan in advance, stay organized and both you and your pet can enjoy the journey!