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  News from the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association                                               Fall 2009

General Advice for Exporting Pets from the United States

1. Cats and dogs need to meet country-specific requirements. If you transit one country on your way you MAY (or not) have to meet requirements of the transit country as well as those of the country of destination. Your veterinarian and USDA can supply information and assistance in the process, but the pet owner is ultimately responsible to ensure requirements are met. Some travelers find that companies which specialize in pet shipping are useful.

2. Pets may need a microchip and always require a current rabies vaccination. Other tests, vaccinations and treatments may be required. Individual countries may have timing requirements for tests and vaccinations that vary from other countries. It may take six months or longer to prepare an animal for export to some countries. Usually this information will be put onto some type of health certificate or certificate of veterinary inspection, issued by a veterinarian. Some countries have their own health certificate they want to be used for pets (the European Union nations, South Africa, Japan, and others). These certificates may be available online, directly from a ministry in the country, from an embassy office, or may require an application for an entry permit to obtain. Most countries do not have their own health certificate form. Most veterinarians use the USDA form “APHIS 7001, United States Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for Small Animals”; it is a numbered, controlled form issued direct to veterinarians from USDA-APHIS-VS.

3. Regulations and health certificate forms for many countries may be found at

These regulations are the most recent ones supplied to USDA by officials in other countries. The requirements are NOT listed for every country. You may wish to check a commercial site, such as

4. You will need to work with a USDA-Accredited Veterinarian who will do the required health exams, draw any blood samples, administer vaccinations and treatments and prepare a health certificate to suit both the country & specific airline. In some countries such work must be done by an official, government-salaried veterinarian; in the United States, private practitioners are accredited by the US Department of Agriculture to perform these functions. All private practitioners are licensed by the state they practice in, but NOT all are USDA-Accredited to do export work. Our office uses a database that allows us to tell if an individual practitioner is USDA-Accredited. The hospital or practice does not receive USDA status. We recommend that the traveler ask their regular veterinarian if they are USDA-Accredited. If they are not, ask for a referral to a nearby USDA-Accredited veterinarian. This improves cooperation of sharing of records needed for travel. A very few countries specifically state that USDA Accreditation and USDA endorsement of the documents are not required. Also, there are special arrangements by some countries for family pets of US military members.

5. You will need to discuss with your veterinarian who will be responsible for obtaining the necessary forms (most are available online at the address above, but not the APHIS Form 7001).

6. You will also need to contact the airline your pet is flying on to find out if there are any special requirements. Speak to the airline CARGO personnel (even if pet is flying in-cabin) at the airport you will be leaving from. Believe it or not, some airlines vary their policies between airports. Record their names & save the info. Will your pet (cat or small dog) travel in the cabin with you, or will they travel in the cargo hold? Does the airline require any additional paperwork? These are the kind of questions you want answered. For travelers to the European Union, some airlines will want to see a copy of an APHIS 7001, the health certificate form used for pets to Europe before the present EU forms were issued. We suggest veterinarians issue both an APHIS 7001 and an EU certificate “just in case.”

7. The health exams and certificates for domestic travel should be done within 10 days of travel, as a general guide. Some countries & airlines may be more restrictive, so look on YOUR airline’s website or call the CARGO section.

8. After your veterinarian has prepared the health certificate it needs to come to a USDA Veterinary Services Area office to be endorsed. Endorsement means that USDA places a signature, seal or stamp on the documents attesting that the USDA Accredited veterinarian is approved to do export document work. There are Area offices in Annapolis, Maryland, Richmond, Virginia and most state capitols. You may use one that is most convenient for you. This information applies to the Area office in Annapolis. There are minor differences between offices (office hours, scheduling, etc.).

9. You can bring your documents to our Area office in Annapolis in person or you can send them to us. You MUST call and make an appointment so we will have a Veterinary Medical Officer in the office to sign your documents. Our veterinarians have multiple duties in the three state/district area we cover and we want to save you a wasted trip. Our number for appointments is 410-349-9708; whoever answers will be able to make the appointment for you. Typically, it takes 20-30 minutes to process your paperwork.

10. If you send the documents to us, use an express service (UPS or FEDEX). Surface mail is not recommended unless you are sure about timelines. Include a prepaid return label so we can send the documents back. Provide phone numbers where we can reach you. Often there are minor corrections we can make if we can contact you. We will process and send back your documents no later than the business day after we receive them, unless there are problems and we can’t reach you.

11. We need to have the following documents presented to process your health certificates--if time is short, we suggest you or your veterinarian fax for initial review (301-261-8113), advising us by phone you’re doing so.

A. Health certificates (originals) to be endorsed

B. Copies of the current rabies vaccination certificates for each animal (and rabies titer results for the few countries where required).

C. Check, money order, credit card info to pay the USDA user fee. The fee varies with the country of destination, number of tests required and number of animals. Ask about the fee in advance; the minimum is $35 and increases each October. Checks and money orders should be made payable to USDA. We do not accept cash.

D. Prepaid, return label (we prefer you include the envelope) if you express documents to us.

12. Directions:

For express service:

USDA-APHIS-Veterinary Services
1598 Whitehall Road, Suite 5
Annapolis, MD 21409

13. If you have any additional questions, please call us at 410-349-9708 or 301-261-8072. The members of our staff are here to serve you.

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Important Links from this article

Regulations and Health Certificate Forms for Different Countries


© 2009 Maryland Veterinary Medical Association

Annapolis, MD 21403 • (410) 931-3332 • fax (410) 931-2060 •