Pet Care

Why do you need a health certificate for traveling with pets?

Why do you need a health certificate for traveling with pets?

Air travel with pets is more common than you think. According to Pet Jets, an estimated 2 million domestic animals travel on commercial flights every year! And with more people adopting pets and seeing their pets as members of their family, that number will likely increase. Whether you're bringing a pet on a plane because you're moving or taking them on vacation, most destinations require a health certificate. 


Health certificates (officially known as Certificates of Veterinary Inspection) are a safeguard against spreading diseases, such as rabies, or harmful parasites. Not obtaining one before travel may lead to issues when you arrive at your destination. Our veterinarians at our clinic in Carmel Valley are USDA-accredited and can write health certificates. So, if you have a trip coming up, make sure to contact us as soon as possible to ensure your pet can travel with you.

What is the process of getting a health certificate for your pet? 

Your destination state or country may have specific health requirements for pets, such as vaccinations, diagnostic testing, and medications and/or treatments. Visit the USDA website to explore requirements for states and countries. Depending on your destination, it can take months to prepare for your pet's travel. It's important to discuss these requirements with your pet to develop a plan prior to your departure date.


If you're traveling internationally, it's important to research export requirements as they tend to change frequently. Also check your airline's policies as they may have additional policies to those set by federal, state, and local governments. Note that your veterinarian is not responsible for knowing the requirements for every destination—so be sure to bring any relevant information along with you on your vet visit, including: 

Your veterinarian will also make a determination as to whether your pet is suited to travel, considering their age, health condition, and temperament. If your pet is already sick or injured, a veterinarian may not be able to authorize your pet's health certificate for the health and safety of others! Veterinarians are obligated to consider the health of other travelers and pets. 

What else should you bring for your pet when traveling by air? 

Beyond your Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, make sure to bring along these items to make your trip as smooth as possible—for both your pet and you. 

  • Your veterinarian's contact information 
  • Medical records 
  • Travel identification for your pet with where you will be staying 
  • Some airlines require an acclimation certification for travel 
  • Prescription medications 

Find more FAQs about traveling with pets at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Of course, the veterinarians at Papaya are always happy to answer your questions too. Happy travels! 

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