Just before we left for Paris, I wrote a post about the requirements for bringing a dog to France. One of the pieces of paper you need to leave the U.S. is a state health certificate (unless, presumably, you’re not taking a domestic flight before departing the country). A Dog Jaunt reader, planning to bring her Yorkie from Paris to Los Angeles, via Chicago, on United flights, sent me the following message:
[D]o you know what the airline/state is looking for exactly, when they ask for a “health certificate”? We are traveling with our little Yorkie from Paris to LA (via Chicago) on United, and no one has been able to tell us what a “health certificate” is! (United told us that the state defines it ….. Chicago told us that we have to ask California, since that’s our final destination ….. California said to ask our vet here in the UK …. and our vet doesn’t know!) I’ve seen the link you posted for traveling to France (the health certificate form to fill out – which, I only knew about because of you …. no one told us about that for when we fly back to France) but I can’t figure out what I need to travel from Paris to LA (via Chicago). Could you help me with this?
That sounded grim, so I started by called the California state veterinarian’s office (I could also have called the Illinois state veterinarian’s office, since the reader’s domestic flight starts in Chicago, but as you’ll see, it wouldn’t have made a difference). That office told me that a state health certificate is not required in the situation the reader described. They (incorrectly, it turns out) told me that the USDA handles incoming pets; I called the Washington USDA office for more information, and learned from a helpful and knowledgable USDA official that I should be speaking to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
While pets leaving the U.S. are governed by the USDA’s rules, pets arriving in the U.S. are governed by the CDC’s rules, which simply say that your dog “must have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry.” I called the CDC, and learned that the CDC does not have any particular form in mind for that rabies certification. My reader should, it appears, talk to her U.K. or Paris vet and get them to give her a form indicating that her dog has been vaccinated against rabies (with the particulars of the vaccine used) on X date, and showing that the signatory is a veterinarian.
The CDC site mentions that some airlines may also require “a general certificate of health,” even though the CDC doesn’t require that — and sure enough, the United rep I talked to confirmed that United requires a general certificate of health for incoming pets. The rep didn’t have a form of certificate to refer me to, but said that it should, generally, indicate that the pet’s health is good and his vaccinations are current. Here’s what I suggest: Take a look at the USDA-APHIS’s Form 7001 and at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s proposed model Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and make sure that your U.K. or Paris vet provides the same information (and, of course, makes it clear that the information is being provided by a veterinarian). I’ve only seen portions of the E.U. pet passport form, but it sure looks as though it handles both the CDC’s need for a rabies certificate and United’s need for a statement about a pet’s general health.