Health Certification Requirements for Pet Travel

Health certification requirements for pet travel

While planning a vacation with your pets, you may have marveled at the amount of red tape required. It turns out airlines and states impose an incredible amount of health certification requirements. And their end goal? Preventing the spread of disease through pet travel.

A responsible pet owner should stay on top of these requirements, so here’s a quick rundown.

What kind of certificate do I need for pet travel?

Transporting a pet interstate or international requires a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). Your local veterinarian issues this document under the National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP).

When you take your pet in for a checkup, inform the vet of your travel plans. They should offer you a certificate proving that your pet is up to date on vaccinations (parvo, rabies, etc). They will also check for parasites (heartworm, hookworm, etc) and include their findings in the certificate they issue.

Commercial airlines, meanwhile, have regulations of their own in place. In addition to a CVI, they might also need the following:

  • Acclimation certificates waiving the federally mandated temperature requirements
  • Travel forms or international animal health certificates
  • Pet passports or quarantine certificates

All these requirements vary by destination, so please check with your airline/transporter in advance of booking the trip. Additional certification may be required to guarantee that the animal is not a carrier of infectious diseases.

Which states and countries handle things differently?

State and local ordinances often enforce slightly adjusted pet travel regulations. Here’s just a couple of examples:

  • California and Texas do not required you to provide a CVI when importing cats or dogs.
  • In Illinois and Michigan, dogs do require a CVI but cats do not.
  • Georgia, Maine, and Montana require a CVI if the cat or dog is brought in for a change of ownership or exhibition. (An entry permit may be required as well.)
  • Washington requires no CVI for a family pet, but does require a rabies vaccination certificate.

If traveling internationally, the rules and regulations vary even more. Please contact the consulate/embassy of your country of destination for information on animal health requirements.


Jumping through bureaucratic hoops to prove that your pet’s in good health can be annoying, we know. Still, it’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure that only healthy animals are allowed to travel. Battling the spread of disease is another way for owners to provide the care that their furry friends deserve.

When you book a driver through CitizenShipper, they’ll want that health certificate, and might ask if the animal has had all its shots. Do your best to answer their questions and provide the necessary documentation. This not only keeps your pet happy and healthy but other animals across the country as well!

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