Traveling With Your Pet
As veterinarians we are only able to provide documentation that your pet is healthy and has met other medical requirements needed for travel. However, we do not know the specific requirements of every country as they vary for each possible destination, so it is your responsibility to fully understand what is needed to successfully enter the destination country with your pet.
Below are some resources for you to help insure your travel plans are successful. Be sure to plan ahead as some destinations can require specifically timed steps that can take several months to complete.
If you find that you need help with these details you may wish to contract with a pet travel service company. They can coordinate all the steps needed to assure your success.
As soon as possible, contact your airline to find out what their requirements are for taking your pet on the plane. Some airlines will not allow pets to fly on their airlines.
Also (as soon as possible) find out what the current requirements are for bringing your pet into a foreign country. There may be timing of vaccines and certain tests required in order to bring your pet into another country or onto an island. It can take as many as 6 months to fulfill some of the requirements for islands.
Hawaii is an island that is rabies-free, and wants to stay that way, so they have very strict rules for bringing animals to the islands. It is advised to begin planning a few months in advance (3 to 6 is advisable) to make sure you meet all of the requirements to avoid having your pet quarantined on the island. Visit the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s web page on bringing animals to Hawaii to learn about the quarantine requirements.
Under the section “Hawaii’s Animal Quarantine Law” there is a “Checklist for 5-Day-Or-Less program.” Be sure to select the "Checklist" for the island you are flying to: Checklist 1 is for Oahu (arriving in Honolulu), Checklist 2 is for Hawaii (Kona), Maui (Kaului), and Kauai (Lihue). READ IT CARFULLY! Once you have determined what is needed and the timing, you can schedule with us to have the necessary vaccines, tests and treatments performed to generate a health certificate. Health Certificate exams need to be done within 14 days of travel, and require the veterinarian to apply flea and tick treatment at the time of the exam.
The State of Hawaii also requires a "Dog and Cat Import Form" and fee payment be submitted to the Animal Quarantine Station, and the documents must arrive well in advance of your arrival: 10 days minimum for Oahu, 30 days minimum for the other islands.
Also check with your airline, as they may have other requirements. Often they have temperature restrictions on the day of travel for any pets not flying in-cabin. This is for the health and safety of your pets.
For Foreign Countries
Visit the USDA website on Pet Travel to get the most current information for your destination country.
Once on the USDA website, choose the country you will be visiting to find out the specific regulations for that country. These do sometimes change, so check for the current requirements every time you plan to travel. You can also contact the consulate of the country or the USDA to find out what is required.
Most foreign countries/islands need the health certificate, issued by your veterinarian at the health certificate examination, to then be endorsed by the USDA/APHIS veterinarian. Your veterinarian must be accredited by the USDA to perform health certificate exams and sign the health certificate documents. We recommend you call to schedule a Health Certificate examination appointment as soon as you know your travel dates. This appointment typically needs to be within 10 days of travel, and you need to allow time to take the documents to the USDA/APHIS office to be certified after the exam visit.
You can call the local San Francisco USDA/APHIS office at (650) 876-9358 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment. They often will not schedule an appointment until you have booked the appointment with your veterinarian. They are located near the airport in South San Francisco and are typically open 9am to 3pm, Monday through Friday (sometimes closed Fridays), and documentation endorsement is handled by appointment only.