August 17, 2012
Travelling the U.S. and Beyond With Your Pets
Rules to know before you go
If you decide to travel with your pet internationally, to Canada, Mexico, or Hawaii, there are a few things to prepare and plan for before you leave. It might take a little research, but it's worth it to ensure a smooth trip for your pet with no last-minute surprises.
Please note that The HSUS discourages transportation of animals in the cargo hold of planes. You should carefully consider whether taking your animal to another country is in the best interest of your pet.
If a family member or good friend can care for your pet while you are gone, you might decide to spare your pet the undue stress and risk which air travel for animals creates. You may also wish to consider finding a foster home with a humane/rescue group in your area which can care for your pet temporarily. If you choose this option, form a written agreement with the group stating how long you will be gone, who should be contacted in an emergency, etc.
Do your homework
Regardless of what country you and your pet are traveling to, be sure to learn the animal quarantine policies long before you pack your bags. You may be able to find out a country's legal requirements through your veterinarian (who may refer you to other resources) or on the Internet or by contacting the embassy for that country.
Although pets may travel freely throughout the U.S. as long as they have proper documentation, Hawaii requires a 30- or 120-day quarantine for all dogs and cats. Hawaii's quarantine regulations vary by species, so check prior to travel.
If you and your pet are traveling from the United States to Canada, you must carry a certificate issued by a veterinarian that clearly identifies the animal and certifies that the dog or cat has been vaccinated against rabies during the preceding 36-month period. Different Canadian provinces may have different requirements. Be sure to contact the government of the province you plan to visit.
If you and your pet are traveling to Mexico, you must carry a health certificate prepared by your veterinarian within two weeks of the day you cross the border. The certificate must include a description of your pet, the lot number of the rabies vaccine used, indication of distemper vaccination, and a veterinarian's statement that the animal is free from infectious or contagious disease. This certificate must be stamped by an office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There is a fee for this stamp.
When you return
The USDA has a policy that all dogs imported from screwworm-affected countries into the U.S. must have a statement on the import health certificate that states specifically that the dog has been checked for and found to be negative for screwworm. The certificate must be issued within five days (which is different than most airline requirements that state the certificate must be issued within 10 days of travel). For more information and to see which countries are affected, visit The USDA's website.
If you are transporting birds out of the United States, record the leg band or tattoo number of each bird on the USDA certificate, and get required permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.