FAQ: Animal Health Certificate and Airline Pet Travel

Pet Travel Heath Certificate

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Animal Health Certificates for Pet Travel:

My Name is on the Animal Health Certificate but, I am not traveling with my Pet.

USDA/APHIS allows you to designate a person to represent you so long as they are traveling on the same plane as your Pet.


So, if your plans change and someone else needs to fly with your Pet or your Veterinarian chose the wrong Pet Parent’s name to include on the Animal Health Certificate, draft a letter, hand-sign (notarize if you want additional assurance) and your designated person can travel with your Pet.

What is a Animal Health Certificate?

A pet health certificate is an official document issued and often endorsed by USDA/APHIS, through your Veterinarian certifying that your Pet is fit to travel. including vaccination, Rabies & Titer tests, Microchip, age, breed, and health conditions required to travel with pets. Many Airlines require a Certificate to be issued within 10 to 14 days before travel.

Can my Vet send my Animal Health Certificate to any USDA Endorsement Office?

The answer is yes. Your vet can send your documents to any USDA Endorsement Office that is available.

If for whatever reason your pet will travel on a 48-hour health certificate, you may want your vet to send it to the closest operating office to your departure location to shorten the “in transit” time for the documents to be sent back to you.

“If you’re traveling on 48 hours – you’re going to want to request Next Day Early A.M. return service regardless of where / when you depart”. PawPawsExpress, Misty Collins.

Not all USDA offices are “Endorsement” offices. Most states only have one and it is usually in the state capital. Some states do not have an operating Endorsement Office at all (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming) just to name a few.

You can search for an Accredited USDA/APHIS Veterinarian from the USDA/APHIS site here.

USDA/APHIS Find an Accredited Veterinarian for Animal Health Certificate
USDA/APHIS Find an Accredited Veterinarian for Animal Health Certificate

What if I Want or Need to Pick Up My Pet’s Animal Health Certificate paperwork in person?

You will need to check with that specific office to see if they are allowing pick-up. Just as an example, the Ohio office did allow pick up in person (from an exterior mailbox only) just a few months ago, but now says to send your documents to Wisconsin.

How can find the information for USDA Endorsement Office locations? https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/endorsement-offices

One final tip, if you find yourself in an emergency, maybe you’re already traveling or maybe your vet can’t see you…..as long as you have your pet’s current rabies vaccination certificate and it has all of the required information on it (microchip number, manufacturer and brand of vaccine), most PetSmart locations can do a health travel certificate for you.

Call to verify and make sure you specify that it’s for international and will need to be submitted to the USDA for you. PawPawsExpress, Misty Collins.

Cost of Pet Health Certificates for Travel—Prices from Actual Travelers  

Small Yorkie in a Pet Carrier
Small Yorkie in a Pet Carrier

USDA APHIS Endorsement and When to Go to the Veterinarian for Airline Travel

You can take your Pet to the veterinarian visit up to 30 days before we travel and can submit the paperwork to the USDA right away (either electronically or by mail), instead of waiting until 10 days before the flight. 

The USDA/APHIS will review the paperwork and notify the veterinarian if there are any errors.  They will hold off stamping it until 10 days before the flight (the travel date will be in the paperwork). 

This is great since any errors can get fixed in advance of the 10-day period. They told me that more than half of the submissions contain errors!

Tips from the USDA APHIS office:

1) Make sure the microchip number is written on the rabies certificate and that the certificate has an original vet signature.
2) Make sure the dates are written in the European format: dd/mm/yyyy.
3) Include your address in the US and Europe.

When Does the 10 Days Begin from USDA APHIS Endorsement?

10 days or less from ARRIVAL not departure—you could be traveling for one or a number of days. 10 or less from arrival date.

Do I need an Animal Health Certificate to Fly with my Pet?

Yes, Pet Health Certificate requirements are set by the destination country and airline to fly with Pets. Requirements: Vaccinations, Rabies & Titer test, Microchip, Medications, Parasite Treatments, Age, and Breed. Pet Health Certificates often are issued 10-14 days before entry and must be endorsed by the USDA and APHIS through your Veterinarian.

Each Country has their own requirements for the Documents you need. You can find these requirements for each specific country here. Pet Health Certificates and Pet Passport US to Everywhere

How Much Does an Animal Health Certificates Cost in 2022?

The Cost of a Pet Health Certificate is between $30 and $400 depending on location and number of certificates. You can have up to 5 animals on your Certificate and you may need multiple certificates even if you are transiting through countries.

See all our information on Cost from Actual Travelers here: Cost of Pet Health Certificates for Travel—Prices from Actual Travelers  

Pet Travel Heath Certificate

TIP: Ask your Veterinarian not to require a signature on the Overnight return envelope for delivery—just in case you miss the delivery man.

Pet Travel to or Through More than 1 Country?

Your Pet Health Certificate is often time sensitive, often valid only 10 to 14 days prior to entry to your destination Country.

What do you do when flying with your Pet takes more than 10 or 14 days to arrive? You can usually arrange to have your Pet Health Certificate for the final (destination country) issued at your Layover or Stopover country.

For example, if you are traveling to England through France (it is easier and cheaper Flying Your Pet to England through France? (Options for Dogs In-Cabin 2022)!), you can make an appointment for the US to France leg of travel in the US and have an appointment for the France to England leg in France.

This way, you have the 10-to 14 days to arrive in France and another 10 to 14 days to arrive in England.

What is the Cost of a USDA/APHIS Pet Health Certificate and Rabies Titer Test?

The Cost includes your Veterinarian’s Examination, Vaccination, and tests, the USDA/APHIS Endorsement Fee, and the cost to deliver the documents to you.

So, In addition to the Cost your Vet charges for the Pet Certificate, there is an additional $38usd fee to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to endorse the Certificate.  This amount is paid to the US Gov’t. through the Vet you choose.

For countries that require a rabies titer or blood tests, there is an additional cost of between $121.00 and $173.00usd per pet depending on the number of tests or non-rabies vaccinations. (1-2 will be $121.00 | 3-6 will be $150.00 | 7 or more will be $173.00)

Additional pets included on the same form are between $7.00 and $14.00usd.

See examples of actual travelers costs in 2022 here: Cost of Pet Health Certificates for Travel—Prices from Actual Travelers  

Why are Animal Health Certificates so Expensive?

Factors that determine the cost of your Pet’s Animal Health Certificate are primarily due to the Veterinarian you choose including the season and time of travel and geographical area of your Veterinarian.

Veterinarians can charge whatever amount they like and examinations, microchip implants, vaccinations, and blood tests are routine and do not require new expensive technology and yet, because the Veterinarian knows you are traveling shortly, often they take advantage and charge exorbitant rates.

APHIS/USDA charges have not changed in years but, Veterinarians continue to raise prices on the same physical examination they did 20 years ago.

You can find all the fees on the USDA/APHIS site here.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Animal Health Certificate? 

Your Pet’s veterinarian should submit your Certificate for endorsement electronically to the USDA/APHIS System (VEHCS system, Vet Export Health Certificate system) at the appointment

The USDA/APHIS systems takes 1-3 Business days to process your Veterinarians Animal Health Certificate.

You should include payment of an Overnight delivery fee.  If you pay this fee, the USDA/APHIS will “overnight” the certificate back to you via USPS, FedEx or DHL.

Most countries require the Pet Health Certificate be issued within 10 days of your Pet’s Travel.

Animal Health Certificates to Multiple Countries 

If you are traveling with your Pet through more than one country before your final destination, you may need more than one Pet Health Certificate.

If you are staying in the airport for your connecting flight to your final destination, you usually are considered “transiting”.  In this case, you will only need the certificate for the destination country.

If you are leaving the airport, flying out another day, traveling to your final destination by another method such as train, ferry or car, you will not be considered transiting.  

This is a stop over and you will need a certificate for the both the interim country and the final destination. It is a good practice to have an appointment with a Veterinarian locally in the Country you are traveling through.

How Do I find an USDA/APHIS approved Veterinarian?

You can find an accredited Veterinarian to obtain your Animal Health Certificate for Pet Travel Internationally and Domestically at the USDA/APHIS site here.

Is a Pet Passport the Same as an Animal Health Certificate?

The Terms “Pet Passport” and “Animal Health Certificate” are essentially the same. Pet Passport is a term used in the EU and UK and means all the documents you need to travel with your Pet. An “Animal Health Certificate” is one of these documents and sometimes all you need.

How Long is a Animal Health Certificate Valid for?

Your Pet’s Animal Health Certificate is valid for the 10 days following the date of issue for entry to the EU and the UK England and, it is valid for a total of 4 months for onward travel within the EU after the first entry.

Pet Cat in her Stroller
Pet Cat in her Stroller

Where to Find Low Cost Pet Health Certificate Veterinarians:

If you have access to a Military Veterinarian, they are almost always great to work with and are experienced in Pet Travel and importing Pets to many countries including the Pet Health Certificates. 

Also, fees are often less expensive at your local Animal Shelters or retail outlets such as Petsmart. 

You can have more than 1 Dog or Cat or other Pet on a single health certificate. You can have up to 5 animals per Certificate

Find a Step-by-Step Guide to Your Country Requirements for a Pet Health Certificate here: Pet Health Certificates and Pet Passport US to Everywhere

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