Want to travel the world, but can’t imagine leaving your best friend behind? You need a pet passport!

Traveling with pets is possible, but it does require extra planning research to pull off an international trip with Fido or Fluffy in tow. Just like humans, pets need their own passports to become world travelers. They may need additional documents, too. Here’s what you need to know to get your pet travel-ready.

Why Does Your Pet Need a Passport?

A “pet passport” demonstrates that your pet is healthy and up-to-date on all required vaccinations and treatments. Without a passport, your dog, cat or pet won’t be able to travel to your destination country or could be subject to lengthy, lonely quarantines.

image of yellow lab that says Step 1 Research pet passport requirements

How to Get a Pet Passport in 4 Steps

There are four main steps to get a pet passport:

  • Step 1: Research and confirm the requirements, based on your destination and method of travel.
  • Step 2: Visit your vet to get your pet up-to-date on all the necessary vaccines and procedures.
  • Step 3: Get your pet’s travel certificate certified by the USDA, if necessary.
  • Step 4: Research the requirements for returning to the US.

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Let’s take a look at these steps in a little more detail.

Different destinations have different regulations. Pet passport requirements will also vary. So, before you do anything else, find out what your pet needs to travel to your destination country.

Actually, your pet needs to meet two different sets of requirements: the destination country and the airline or shipping company that will carry it.

How to Find International Pet Passport Requirements

First, look up your destination country’s regulations on the USDA website. Then, contact the country’s embassy or consulate in Washington, DC to verify. Some countries may have an embassy website that tells you everything you need to know. Call anyway. Make sure that you aren’t missing anything. Contact information is available in this handy article from the Department of State.

Pet Passport Requirements for Popular Destinations

United Kingdom: Bringing your pet dog, cat or ferret to the UK
European Union: Movement of Pets
Mexico: If traveling with your dog or cat
Canada: Bringing Your Pet to Canada

Requirements for Airlines and Shipping Companies

What about the airlines? Airlines can and sometimes do have stricter requirements than the country you are traveling to. For example, most airlines require your pet’s health certificate to have been issued no longer than 10 days before travel. Some are even stricter. As with your destination country, research the requirements and then call to verify.

Here are the pet travel requirements for the major US airlines:

Step two of traveling with your pet - call your vet

Step 2: Call a Vet

Next, it’s time to contact your veterinarian and set up an appointment. Depending on where you’re going and what airline you’re taking, you may need to ask for a referral if your vet is not federally accredited.

It may take several visits to get Fluffy fit to travel. For example, here are some commonly required procedures.

  • Microchipping or tattooing for identification
  • Rabies vaccine, plus time for the vaccine to “take” and blood tests to show the vaccine has been effective
  • Flea, tick and parasite removal

Step 3 of traveling with a pet - get certifiedStep 3: Get Certified, If Necessary

By now, your pet has been thoroughly poked, prodded. Hopefully, he’s received a clean bill of health. Now, the veterinarian will issue a health certificate. Is this enough to travel on?

Not necessarily. Some countries and airlines require you to have the certificate endorsed by the USDA. Usually, this requires you to send it in by mail or courier. However, you may be able to drop it off in person with an appointment. Contact your local USDA veterinary service center location for assistance. You can find the closest one here. This office is also an excellent resource for you and your vet if you have questions during the process.

What to do if your pet doesn’t meet requirements

What if Fido or Fluffy isn’t in the best of health? First, discuss with your veterinarian whether or not you should travel with them. You may hate the thought of leaving your pet behind on a long trip. But, international travel is hard on pets. Your companion may be better off staying behind.

If your veterinarian thinks your animal can handle the trip, contact your local USDA Veterinary Services office for advice. They may be able to suggest alternative solutions.

Step 4 of traveling with a pet - coming home

Step 4: Coming Home

Planning to return to the states with your pet? Don’t buy Fluffy a one-way ticket! Check the import requirements for your pets. Rules will vary depending on the species of your animal companion and the countries you’ve traveled to.

Did you think getting a human passport was tough? As you can see, getting one for Fido is even tougher. Unfortunately, RushMyPassport can’t rush pet passports. But we can expedite all of your human passport needs. Contact us today for passport service in as little as one week!