Sometimes family vacations aren’t complete unless all the members—even the four-legged ones—are there. Preparing the documentation to travel internationally with your dog can take months, so it’s valuable to begin your research as soon as you make your plans.
Here’s what to know if you want Rover to come on over:
Individual countries regulate which—if any—domestic pets they accept, even for brief stays, and each country has its own requirements for entry. Consult this list to determine the rules for your destination. Most countries require a certificate proving the dog has been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry. Many require a certificate of good health. In the U.S., the USDA issues both certificates. Contact the animal health district office nearest you for the latest info on import requirements and to find the proper health certificate forms for your destination. You’ll need a USDA accredited vet to complete the documents (vets opt into this program for free), and the USDA will have to certify the forms prior to your departure.
If you live in a European Union country, invest in a EU Pet Passport to allow your pet to travel freely throughout member states. Unfortunately, if you live outside the EU, it isn’t possible to acquire a pet passport. However, EU countries require the same health certificate, so you need only complete the process once to be able to cart your dog throughout the continent.
Simply because Fido departed from a certain country doesn’t mean he/she will be automatically allowed back in; check your country’s requirements to ensure Fido’s homecoming is a smooth one. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulate reentry. Although the CDC doesn’t require a general certificate of health, it reserves the right to deny entry if your pet has symptoms of an infectious disease that might be transmitted to humans.
The CDC also requires proof of a rabies vaccine, but because most other countries also require this for entry, if you’re from the U.S., you should already have this on hand for your return.
The USDA is also on the lookout for pets that might have tapeworm (common in working dogs who have been around livestock), screwworm (check this list of countries where it is known to exist), and Foot-and-Mouth Disease. Signs of these diseases may lead the USDA to deny entry and/or confine your dog for observation or treatment. To expedite reentry, make sure your pet is clean and free of mud. Also avoid natural bedding, such as straw, in which plant pests may be hidden.
Don’t travel with puppies fewer than three months old. Dogs of this age won’t have been vaccinated against rabies and are thus subject to confinement until they can be vaccinated against the disease and observed.
Lastly, be sure to consult your airline, which might have its own set of requirements (such as crating rules) for traveling pets.