International Travel Information / International Health Certificates (IHC)
Traveling with your pet is always an adventure, and traveling internationally can be especially stressful.
When planning international travel with your pet, the key is to start planning EARLY! Many countries have requirements (including microchips, blood testing, vaccinations and/or other procedures) that may need to be done months in advance of the actual travel date. Other procedures (physical exam, USDA endorsement, deworming) may need to be done within days of travel. Kenwood Animal Hospital has 5 doctors who are USDA Accredited to help you through this sometimes complicated process.
The first step is to consult the USDA APHIS website for international travel recommendations:
Select the country you will be visiting and verify their specific requirements. Pay close attention to the requirements for microchipping, Rabies vaccination, and any testing that may be required.
**Please note: we recommend you also check with the embassy, as the USDA does not guarantee that their information is the most up-to-date.
If you are not a Kenwood Animal Hospital client or have had your pet’s vaccinations or microchip done elsewhere, be sure all records are forwarded to Kenwood Animal Hospital (email to: firstname.lastname@example.org) as early as possible so they can be reviewed by one of our Accredited Veterinarians to enable us to schedule all exam, treatments, etc., at the appropriate times for your travel.
A few general guidelines, based on MOST countries:
• Most countries (the EU in particular) require microchipping to positively identify a pet. The microchip must be ISO-compliant to be able to be read by the universal scanners. Kenwood Animal Hospital (KAH) uses only ISO-compliant microchips. ISO-compliant chips are 15 digits, no letters. If unsure if your pet’s microchip is ISO-compliant, check with the chip manufacturer. If you don’t know the manufacturer, visit www.petmicrochiplookup.org and enter the microchip number.
• Most countries require the Rabies vaccination to be current. The vaccine must be given AT LEAST 21-30 days prior to entering the country (so you can’t get a Rabies vaccination the week before you travel) and some may require it to be given within 1 year of travel (even if labeled a 3-year vaccination). Some countries may require documentation of more than one Rabies vaccination.
• To recognize a vaccine (including Rabies) as valid and current, most countries require that the microchip be implanted PRIOR TO or on the same day as the vaccination.
• Most countries require a Health Certificate of some sort. The usual time frame is within 10 days of travel but this varies with the country. These certificates can only be issued at the time of a physical exam of the pet by an ACCREDITED VETERINARIAN on the day the certificate is issued. Although we have 5 Accredited veterinarians at Kenwood, not all veterinarians at Kenwood are accredited, so be sure to specify that you need an INTERNATIONAL health certificate (IHC) when you schedule your appointment.
• Most countries require the IHC to be endorsed by the USDA APHIS Field Office Export Desk.
Beginning in 2020, we are now able to submit IHCs electronically to the USDA for endorsement for most, but not all countries.
- some countries, including most EU countries, allow the Accredited Veterinarian (KAH vet) to submit the IHC electronically. The USDA endorses the certificate, then returns the printed original signed copy via overnight delivery to you.
- some countries allow the Accredited Veterinarian to submit the IHC electronically AND the USDA to return the endorsed copy electronically to KAH. KAH will forward the electronic copy to you for you to print out.
- there is no longer an option to obtain the USDA endorsement in person.
- In either of the above cases, the printed paper copy of the IHC must accompany the pet while traveling.
In addition to providing us with your pet’s medical history, the following documents and information are needed PRIOR to the appointment for the International Health Certificate:
- Rabies vaccination certificate which includes date of vaccine, duration (1-year, 3-year) manufacturer of vaccine and serial number. The certificate must include the pet’s microchip number and must have the veterinarian’s signature
- Microchip number and date of implantation
- Test results if required by the importing country – Rabies FAVN titer, other
- Certificate of any other required vaccinations
- Import permit (if required)
- Other documentation required by the importing country.
- Date of travel (dates of departure and arrival in destination country, if different)
- Method of travel, including airline name and flight number (if known)
- Who is traveling with pet (usually the owner), including phone number and address of departure (usually your home address)
- Who is receiving the pet at destination (usually the owner traveling with the pet), including phone number and address of destination
- Is the travel temporary (vacation, etc) or permanent (moving)
- Name and address for shipping label for return of health certificate from USDA (your address)
Please try to provide all of the above information AT LEAST a week prior to your appointment to expedite the submission of your certificate. Your charges at the appointment will include:
- an exam fee
- a charge for preparation and submission of the International Health Certificate
- charges for any additional vaccinations, treatments (deworming, external parasite treatment) and procedures performed
- the USDA endorsement fee (currently $38 if certificate only, $121 or more if tests are reviewed)
- fee for overnight shipping label, if required
Certificates are generally endorsed within 24-48 hours on business days (Monday – Friday) if no errors/problems exist.
If the certificate is returned to KAH by email, we will email it to you upon our receipt.
If the certificate will be returned to you via overnight shipping, KAH will provide you with a copy of the shipping label so you are able to track the package.
*** Please note: some airlines may have different or additional requirements, so be sure to check with them well in advance of making your airline reservations.
While the accredited doctors at Kenwood Animal Hospital are happy to assist you in your planning, we cannot be familiar with the ever-changing requirements of every country so the burden ultimately falls on you, the pet-owner, to be sure you have met all the requirements for travel. If more convenient, you may want to employ the services of a pet relocation company, such as