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Planning your trip abroad with a dog: Getting the right forms to fill out

I’ll write more tomorrow about the things we had to do to get Chloe set up for her upcoming trip to Paris — this is a more general post about where to get the paperwork you need for any international trip with your dog. Everything I’d read told me to contact the U.S. embassy of the country I was planning to visit to find out what’s needed for a trip to that country with a dog, but that turns out to be bad advice. According to the vet tech at my veterinarian’s office who does the paperwork for a lot of traveling clients, embassies do not always have the most current information.

She recommends instead going to the USDA website for the forms you need, and following up with a phone call to the USDA for any recent updates and tips. Here’s what you do. When you arrive at the USDA website, click on “Travel and Recreation,” under the “Topics” tab. Click on “Pet Travel,” and on the resulting page, click the “More” button in the “Pet Travel” paragraph — you’ll be taken to a page of useful info. The first link under “Travel Abroad” takes you to APHIS’s international regulations page. Scroll down to the “List of Countries” and click on the appropriate letter to find the country you’re visiting.

I was confident that my vet’s office had called for the most recent updates, but if you’re not, you might want to call your local USDA office (here’s the link that gives you the location and contact info for your state’s USDA office) and make sure you are absolutely current. Your state’s USDA office will also give you important tips, like the instruction to fill out your forms in blue ink, not black ink.

Please note: When I began this process, I went to PetTravelStore.com and ordered, for $8.50, the “pet passport forms” they offer for France. What arrived was a sheet of basic instructions, a cardboard folder to store documents in, and a one-page “Veterinary Certificate for Domestic & International Airline Travel” that bore little resemblance to the document you actually need, provided by the USDA on its website for free. Although PetTravelStore.com is normally a good resource, I cannot recommend it as a source for international pet travel forms.

12 comments

  • Jerry

    Apparently when we filled this customers order we forgot to include the EU form 998 for France which is a normal part of the pet passport package for France. I am sorry the customer did not contact us as we would have sent it out immediately.
    Jerry

  • Thank you for your comment, Jerry — perhaps that would have helped, but I had no way to tell that anything was missing from the packet I received. You might consider including a contents list in your packets, so customers can double-check that they have all the materials they ordered?

  • Jerry

    The person leaving the original blog had a good suggestion and that is to include a table of contents of each pet passport package. That is being implemented. Pet Passports sells its forms through the PetTravelstore.com and has been doing so for over five years. We are nearly the only source for up to date information on 15 countries around the world.

  • simone

    What I just found out today is that you bring only the paperwork from your vet to the USDA not the actual Pet….(um …is it just me..?)
    also, print out the form from their website YOURSELF! A gentlemen next to me had the wrong form all filled out by his vet but it was not accepted and he has to come back…..grrrr….

  • Anni

    Hi! I needed to comment on your website because your blog was a life saver for me and for my pomeranian puppy! Im Finnish but now visiting here at the States for a longer time. We got our puppy in October so she is now 6,5 months. 3 weeks ago we had our first flights to Finland with Lufthansa and Finnair and yesterday we flew back. With the help of your blog our trip was great! I ordered that Sleepypod air carrier for her and she LOVED it! There was no problem with the carrier and I didnt even compress the ends to make the carrier smaller during take off and landing. Staff at Lufthansa were amazing and they came over to me every hour to make sure that she was fine. Thank you again for your posts they really made me feel more comfortable before and during our flights!

  • That is the kind of comment that FUELS me, Anni — thank you so much!!! I’m thrilled that everything went well for you and the pup — hope it’s the first of many great trips together!

  • Interesting question today from a reader who’s visiting the U.S. and will be returning to Europe shortly: “If I were to visit a vet in NJ, can I have all the paperwork endorsed by the USDA in the state of NY instead of in NJ? Or does the USDA of x state need to be the one endorsing health certificates issued by the vets of their states?” So I called my local USDA office and learned that the answer is “maybe” — it depends on what states your state has reciprocity with. WA has reciprocity with OR and AK, but not, for example, with CA. (I missed office hours, darn that time difference, so I couldn’t get a definitive answer for the reader, but the signs look good: the same vet is listed as the USDA/APHIS contact for NY and NJ.) Here’s the current list of head honcho USDA/APHIS vets, state by state: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/downloads/vs_poc.pdf

  • One more update about that question a reader raised about getting paperwork endorsed in a different state: I also consulted my local USDA vet, who’s been wonderful about taking time with questions like these, and he told me that the New York USDA/APHIS office is in Albany — far from NYC — so my reader will need to FedEx the forms (and enclose a FedEx return envelope). And if that’s the case, she might as well FedEx the stuff to the NJ office instead, which will be equally convenient/inconvenient as Albany. Factor in the turnaround time to your travel plans, I told my reader, and urged her to talk everything through with the USDA folks over the phone so she’s sure that she’s sending them what they want to receive, from a USDA certified vet, so there’s no time-consuming hitch.

  • Francine

    Hi Mary Alice, This is such a helpful website, thanks so much for keeping it. I have a twist on the international pet travel that you might be able to help me with. We are american citizens who were posted in Europe for 11 years, during which time we acquired a little Shih Tzu from Belgium. She has a pet passport and has travelled extensively in Europe with it. We are now retired and are starting a cycle of living half the year in Europe , London in particular, and half the year in the U.S. We returned to the US in January with our dog who is in the states now for the first time. I plan to return to London via Paris and the chunnel to the UK , in July. I wonder if my dog needs the full, extensive health certificate, seeing as she’s got an EU passport, or a shorter version, one page health certificate. I understand that we will have to do the worm test in France before crossing the Channel. I wonder also if flying Air France versus an American airline( specifically Delta) makes a difference in what health certificate is expected. The staff at both these airlines don’t seem knowledgeable at all and refer me back to various websites . My vet is very willing to help but has not done this before. Any info will be appreciated. Francine

  • Hi, Francine! Thanks so much for the praise, and congratulations on creating the life I yearn for! Someday, someday…. Now then, I was just chatting with my vet tech about another client of hers who has a similar set-up (has a pet passport, frequently travels back and forth), and she was saying that her client just uses the pet passport. The vet gives the dog a check-up, fills out an entry on the passport, and off they go. That makes perfect sense to me, because the French authorities (to the extent that you’ll ever see any at the airport) are accustomed to pet passports, and the U.S. authorities only want to see evidence that your rabies vaccination is current, and administered more than 30 days before entering the U.S. (which your passport presumably shows). So, long story short, it’s my strong belief that in your case, the pet passport works and will continue to work.

  • Francine

    Thanks … I have a strong feeling too that when we arrive in Paris, the officials will view it as returning to the EU with a long established passport, than entering for the first time, although technically we are not European work visa holders any longer. I’ll chance it with the shorter 1 pg health certificate from the USA vet. FYI, the vets here say that the EU passport would be invalidated if they made any entries in it.
    Decided to do a 10 hr direct flight on Delta from Seattle to Paris. I read very bad reviews about Delta in general but seems the in-cabin pet transport is good… what could go wrong with her guardian angel (ME) with her. I will let you know how the experiment turns out! Thanks again for your response and your fabulous web site1

  • I would LOVE to hear how it goes, Francine — it’s such a grey area, U.S. citizens using an E.U. pet passport, and the more info the better. If you have the opportunity, please let us know, too, what kind of plane you travel on, and how your girl’s carrier fits under its seats. Safe and fun travels!

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