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Passport for your pooch?

By Kathy Fallert

In Europe, you can get an actual pet passport that remains valid for the life of your pet, as long as you keep their rabies vaccinations up to date. In the U.S., the term “pet passport” refers to the extra documents you need to bring along when you travel to other countries with your pet. This usually means a health certificate along with certain forms that vary depending on the country to which you are traveling.

Every country has slightly different requirements for incoming pets, but they all require proof that your pet is in good health and has been vaccinated for rabies. At a bare minimum, no matter where you’re going, if you’re traveling with a dog or cat you will need a health certificate issued by your veterinarian. If your pet is not a cat or dog, there may be different requirements. Your veterinarian can help make sure you have the right paperwork for your particular pet and destination.

If you are taking your pet to a European country, you will need to provide an Annex IV form, which varies from country to country. You will also need a USDA-endorsed APHIS health certificate for your pet, a Declaration of Non-Commercial Transport form (as proof that your pet is not being sold or given away) and your pet’s vaccination record. Some European countries also require proof of tapeworm testing or treatment.

Countries in other regions may require that your pet receive additional immunizations before visiting, and some also require an import permit. These forms and requirements change frequently, so your veterinarian is your best source of information. You can also do your own research by referencing sites with customs requirements for your destination country.

In addition to researching the requirements for the country you’re visiting, remember to check with your airline to see its regulations for transporting pets. Typically, they require that your pet’s health certificate be issued no more than ten days before your travel date. Your airline may also have restrictions during times of extreme heat, which makes travel in the cargo department unsafe for pets. They may also have breed restrictions, especially for short-nosed dogs or cats that are at increased risk for respiratory distress.

Always be sure to consider whether or not your pet is healthy enough to travel by air. Pets sometimes get sick or even die on airplanes. If you have any doubts, consider leaving your pet home with a pet sitter or at a kennel.

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