Travelling With Pets – Do Your Homework to Avoid Headaches
Did you know that travelling legally across a state or international border with a pet almost always requires some form of official documentation? Preparation is crucial because sometimes all the vaccinations, laboratory testing, etc. that is necessary to get the requisite officials to sign off on that documentation may take months to complete.
Even the most simple of trips can require preplanning. Here’s an example: I live in Colorado, close to the Wyoming border. One of my family’s favorite hiking/camping spots is in Wyoming, and we take our dog with us whenever we can.
To legally cross back and forth over that border, he is supposed to have:
- A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) issued by an accredited veterinarian within 30 days prior to entry that states he is free from potentially contagious diseases.
- A Current Rabies Vaccination given by a Licensed Veterinarian and be accompanied by a current rabies vaccination certificate.
Truth be told, many owners (myself included) fail to acquire a CVI before crossing state borders for short trips with their pets. The chances of being caught are slim, but why take the risk? The US Department of Agriculture provides links to each state’s import regulations. Check them out before you travel. Another good source of information is the State Veterinarian’s office.
Take special note if you are bringing your pet to Hawaii. That state is free of rabies and they take their import regulations VERY seriously. If you fail to follow all the steps for their “5-Day-Or-Less” Program, your pet may need to be quarantined (at your expense) for up to 120 days.
The procedure for travelling with a pet to a foreign country depends on where you are going (governments set their own regulations). The International Animal Export Regulations website is a good place to start your research, but since requirements can change with little or no warning, it is best to double check everything with your destination country’s embassy or consulate.
In most cases, animals being brought back into the United States after travelling to another country will be treated like “foreign” animals entering the U.S. for the first time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in charge of overseeing the importation of animals capable of transmitting diseases to people. Check out their website for more information. The Department of Homeland Security has also put together a helpful document entitled Bringing Pets and Wildlife into the United States Licensing and Health Requirements.
Your veterinarian can help guide you through these processes. As soon as you know when and where you will be travelling with your pet, call for advice. Your veterinarian will look into exactly what types of identification, exams, tests, documents, etc. will be needed and put together a plan for when and how many times he or she will need to see your pet before you leave on your adventure.
Dr. Jennifer Coates