The following are basic requirements and considerations applicable to all animal species being transported for whatever reason. Visit the animal category specific sections to learn more about the additional requirements and considerations for the species you have.
A certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) ), also known as a health certificate, is an official document issued by a Federal, State, Tribal, or accredited veterinarian certifying that the animals identified on the document have been inspected and were found to satisfy the regulations pertaining to their intended movement – within the same state, between states, or internationally.
Countries, territories, states, and even public modes of transportation have requirements and restrictions on transporting animals. The regulations help protect people, animals, and ecosystems by guarding against the spread of dangerous diseases, pests, and invasive and injurious animals. Most likely, a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) will be required by the authorities at destination. It is your responsibility to get this information from the authorities of your destination well in advance of travel so that you can plan accordingly, including considering alternatives to transporting the animal(s).
Be aware that some countries and states may also require your animal(s) to be quarantined before or upon arrival.
The regulatory timeline is basically the chronological order and timeframe in which the travel prerequisites need to be completed.
Is there enough time to meet the destination’s import requirements? (e.g., Japan requires at least 180 days between the rabies titer test and a pet’s arrival into the country.)
Timing may be critical. Be sure to make and keep all appointments needed to best ensure your animals qualify for travel.
To help you keep track of some of your important responsibilities as the travel date nears, the AVMA has created the Basic timeline for interstate and international travel with animals.
Most states, territories, and countries require certificates of veterinary inspection (CVIs) to be completed by federally accredited veterinarians. You should check the requirements of your destination to see if this is the case for you. To find out if your veterinarian is accredited for the species of animal you have, just ask your veterinarian.
If your veterinarian is not accredited or if there are no other veterinarians accredited at the practice, ask the practice if it could recommend an accredited veterinarian. Additionally, you can locate accredited veterinarians by contacting your local USDA, Veterinary Services National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP) Coordinator.
Animals should be healthy enough to travel, and depending on the regulations of your destination, there may be additional animal health prerequisites, such as identification, vaccinations, tests, certifications, etc.
The destination authorities (consulate or embassy of the country, state or territory animal health department, etc.) may have sent you specific information or forms that need to be shared with or signed by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may need to make copies of the materials to assist in the CVI process or for recordkeeping purposes.
Please do not ask your veterinarian to violate federal law and professional ethics by asking them to do things like:
Your veterinarian cannot do any of these things because doing so is unethical and illegal. Such actions would jeopardize a veterinarian’s licenses, accreditation, and career, and may also result in prosecution by state or federal government.
Just like when at home, animals must be provided water, food, proper handling, and health care.
This is done through the Veterinary Service (VS) office of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Plan ahead because such services may only be available by appointment. If there are issues with the forms or if the country of destination has changed its import requirements before you get there, additional time will be needed to ensure that all requirements are properly satisfied.
Authorities may ask to see the documents; so, keep them readily available. If you do not have the documents, the destination authorities will determine what actions will be taken (refusing entry, imposing fines, requiring or extending quarantine, etc.).