What, you thought those blue booklets were just for humans?
For travelers, few things are as valuable as a passport: they can get you across borders and onto ships, planes, and trains, and also serve as a tangible record of the places you’ve been. It makes sense, then, that there are similar documents for animals. Taking your cat, dog, pig, or turkey abroad sometime soon? Here’s what you need to know.
Be aware that each country has its own set of rules and regulations, and that what works for Djibouti may not work for Greece. Well in advance of your trip, contact the local embassy or consulate of the country you (and Fido) are traveling to, and start by asking about three things: what documentation and forms you’ll need to enter the country; what vaccinations your pet must have; and if there are any other restrictions. After determining how your pet will fly, contact the airline for their specific regulations, too, as there may be cases where a country does not require particular certification, but an airline does. For example of fine print, most airlines require pet health certificates that are no more than 10 days old—but more on that later.
GET A CHECK-UP
Much like you might go to the doctor’s office to get the MMR or yellow fever vaccine before overseas travel, your animal companion needs to do the same. Look at the required vaccination list, note certain stipulations—say, if a pet has to have had the shot one week prior to travel—and take the list to your veterinarian, who will be able to help walk you through the process. Once the vet has given your pet the required vaccinations and filled out the paperwork, prepare to have the forms endorsed by your local Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) office, if (most likely) required. Make a copy of any relevant lab work results, as the documentation will only help your case move forward smoothly.
SEND IT OFF
If certification is required, you’ll need to send the paperwork by mail or courier to your state’s USDA-APHIS office. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or a pre-paid Federal Express envelope, along with the inspecting veterinarian’s name and daytime contact information. Should you wish to deliver the paperwork in person, call 24 to 48 hours in advance for an appointment. Note: There is a USDA endorsement fee for cats and dogs, so call the office to determine the fee, and include it with your paperwork.
ABOUT THAT PET PASSPORT…
Ok, ok. So maybe those blue booklets for pets in the U.S. aren’t exactly blue booklets—they’re more like neatly filed forms. Still, actual pet passports are part of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) program in the United Kingdom, which allows registered pets to skip quarantine before getting on the plane for the U.K. For starters, animals must have one of two things: an identity microchip implanted under the skin, or a tattooed serial number. Their microchip or tattoo number will be noted anywhere from a pink A4 paper form to a small book, and will also include the pet’s vaccination certificate, and other veterinarian notes. Under the PETS program, pets from most Western European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and several Caribbean island countries can travel to the U.K. If you’re moving your dog, cat, or ferretbetween European Union countries, you can simply present a certified rabies vaccination in a pet passport or another health certificate, though requirements vary slightly by member state.