For additional, more specific information on traveling with animals, including updated regulations, visit our Animal Travel and Transport pages.
What should I think about when deciding to travel with my pet?
Whom should I contact as I am considering travel arrangements?
What should I bring with me on my trip?
Where do I get a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and acclimation certificate, if needed?
Can I bring my pet out of the country with me?
Can I bring my pet camping?
Forms of travel
Q: What should I think about when deciding to travel with my pet?
A: There are numerous considerations you should take into account:
Q: Whom should I contact as I am considering travel arrangements?
A: All of the following are important:
Q: What should I bring with me on my trip?
A: You should bring the following items with you:
Q: Where do I get a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and acclimation certificate, if needed?
A: Many states require an up-to-date Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from a licensed, accredited veterinarian when traveling. Your pet must be examined by a veterinarian in order for a health certificate to be issued. This certificate basically indicates your pet is healthy to travel and is not showing signs of a disease that could be passed to other animals or to people. Certain vaccinations must be up to date for a health certificate to be issued. As part of the exam, your veterinarian may check for heartworm disease and prescribe heartworm preventative medication. When you return home, your veterinarian may recommend a follow-up examination to make sure that your pet did not pick up any diseases or parasites while traveling.
You will need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to travel and some airlines require an acclimation certificate. Both of these certificates can only be completed and signed by a federally accredited veterinarian. If your veterinarian is not federally accredited, you will need to find an accredited veterinarian in your area, by contacting your USDA Area Office.
View our video about travel certificates for pets and livestock.
Q: Can I bring my pet out of the country with me?
A: Yes, but keep in mind that you have to follow both the United States regulations as well as the regulations in the other country to which you are traveling.
You should contact the Consulate or Embassy in that country to find out their regulations. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks of disease to your pet and have your pet vaccinated appropriately based on the risks. Some countries (and Hawaii) require quarantine of your pet upon arrival, Knowing the requirements before you travel helps you decide if you are going to take your pet or leave it at home, and prepares you for what to expect if you do take your pet with you.
Q: Can I bring my pet camping?
A: Yes. The same rules apply when taking your pet camping. Talk to your veterinarian about flea, tick and heartworm prevention as well as specific risks associated with camping outdoors. (such as leptospirosis and other diseases).
Keep your pet on a leash and in your sight; and be considerate of other campers. Clean up after your pet.
Being outside, your pet can be exposed to many different wild animals like skunks, raccoons, snakes and other animals that can injure your pet or expose them to disease. Do not let your pet chase or come into contact with wildlife—it can be dangerous for both your pet and the wild animal.
View our information for outdoor enthusiasts.
Traveling by Plane | Traveling by Boat | Traveling by Car | Traveling by Train or Bus
Q: What can I do to prepare my pet for air travel?
A: The following preparations will help both you and your pet:
Q: What is the best way to choose flights appropriate for my pet?
A: The following will help you choose flights that are appropriate:
Q: What should I do on the day of the flight?
A: On the day of your flight:
Q: What is an acclimation certificate?
A: This is a form from your veterinarian that will waive the low temperature Federal regulation as stated in the Animal Welfare Act.
Q: Do I need to get an acclimation certificate?
A: Some airlines will require an acclimation certificate in order to let your pet travel.
Q: Should I tranquilize or sedate my pet for long flights?
A: It is recommended that you DO NOT give tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air because it can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems. Short-nosed dogs and cats sometimes have even more difficulty with travel. Visit our FAQs about short-nosed dogs and air travel for more information.
Airlines may require a signed statement that your pet has not been tranquilized prior to flying.
According to Dr. Patricia Olsen with the American Humane Association, "An animal's natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation and when the kennel is moved, a sedated animal may not be able to brace and prevent injury."
Q: What are crates approved for air travel?
A: It is best to purchase an approved crate prior to travel (at the airline or local pet store) so you have time to let your pet get used to the crate and be comfortable. If your pet is small and can fit comfortably in an airline approved carrier, your pet may be able to travel with you in the cabin.
Approved crates should:
Q: How do I prepare my pet for traveling in my boat?
A: For personal boats, take time to allow your pet to become familiar with your boat.
Q: What items should I bring with me to keep my pet safe?
A: Bring the following items:
Q: How will my pet go to the bathroom when on a boat?
A: You can train your dog to use a piece of astroturf, a box of sod or newspaper. For cats and other small animals that use litter boxes, make sure there is a covered litterbox secured to the floor inside the boat.
Q: What should I do to prepare when traveling on a cruise with my pet?
A: To prepare for traveling with your pet on a cruise:
Q: What are some other things to think about when traveling by boat?
A: Here are some other things you should think about:
Q: What can I do to prepare my pet for traveling in a car?
A: If your pet does not ride well in a car, consider leaving your pet at home, with friends or family, or in a boarding facility.
Q: What should I do to keep my pet safe and healthy?
A: To keep your pet safe and healthy:
Q: Can my pet travel with me on a train or bus?
A: Most states restrict the travel of pets on trains or buses. Exceptions are made for guide or service dogs. Check with your carrier to find out if your pet can come with you and what rules and regulations apply.
*In order for veterinarians to sign a health certificate and/or acclimation certificate for pet travel, they must be accredited by the USDA.
Learn how to prepare a pet for safe travel by airplane or automobile and what to include in a pet travel kit.
2016 American Veterinary Medical Association