We get it — it can be hard to leave your pet behind when you travel. There’s a reason why there are so many pet-friendly hotels, airlines that allow you to bring your pets and even entire vacations dedicated to pampering your pet.
If you’re traveling internationally, you may be considering getting a dog or cat passport.
Depending on where you’re going, pet passports can help smooth the way for international travel — and the best ones can be used more than once. Let’s take a look at pet passports, how they work and the requirements you’ll need to enter other countries with your pet.
What are pet passports?
Like human passports, pet passports allow your animals to travel from one country to another. They apply to all different types of pets, though which animals you’re allowed to bring with you may be limited by the country to which you’re traveling.
Not every country offers a pet passport. Instead, many countries rely on one-time-use health certificates to get clear your pet’s entry to another location. The procedure for obtaining a health certificate is similar to that of a pet passport — it typically includes a vet visit and proof of vaccinations.
Pet passports in the United States
Do dogs need passports to travel to the U.S.? What about cats? The United States can be a little more lenient when it comes to those bringing dogs, cats, birds and other animals into the country.
For example, when it comes to cats, the U.S. government has no specific requirements for bringing one into the country. Travelers bringing cats into the country don’t need a certificate of health, but the cat is inspected at the port of entry. If it appears ill, it may need further examination by a vet or may even be denied entry.
There are some additional requirements for those traveling with dogs. There is a temporary suspension of importing dogs traveling from a country high-risk for rabies. Those traveling from other locations aren’t required to have a rabies vaccination, but it is recommended. You must also sign an affidavit stating that you haven’t been in a high-risk country for the last six months.
There are additional restrictions for those coming from locations with screwworm or foot-and-mouth disease — you’ll want to check the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website to get the most up-to-date information.
Note that although the federal government may allow entry to the U.S. with your pet, some states, such as Hawaii, may impose additional restrictions.
Pet passports in the European Union
To enter the European Union with your pet from the U.S., you’ll need a USDA-accredited veterinarian to sign a health certificate attesting to your pet’s health. Dogs and cats must also have a microchip and up-to-date rabies vaccinations.
If you’re using a health certificate, it’s only valid for 30 days after the veterinarian has issued it. Additionally, the USDA must have endorsed the certificate within 10 days of your travel to the EU.
Once you’re already in the EU, you can opt to visit a local vet to get a pet passport. This can be incredibly helpful if you travel to Europe with your pet often. Pet passports eliminate the need for a USDA health certificate and health exam prior to traveling. Take note that U.S. dog passports and cat passports don’t exist — a pet passport must be issued within the EU.
Pet passports in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has some of the strictest requirements when it comes to animal passports. When traveling from the U.S., you’ll need to have a Great Britain pet health certificate issued in the last 10 days. This includes verification of a microchip and a rabies vaccination, as well as endorsement by the USDA.
If you’re traveling with a dog, you’ll also need to get a specialty tapeworm treatment for your pet. This treatment must be given by a USDA-accredited veterinarian between 24 and 120 hours prior to entering the United Kingdom.
If you do not follow all requirements set out by the U.K. government, your dog may be quarantined at your expense. Additionally, some breeds are not able to enter the U.K., including pit bull terriers.
Pet passports in Australia
Australia is also strict when it comes to pet travel. It’s such an extensive process that the Australian government has created a step-by-step guide for bringing both cats and dogs into the country.
Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to do if you want to bring your dog to Australia.
You’ll first need to have your pet’s identity verified, get a microchip, a rabies vaccination and a rabies neutralizing antibody titer (RNAT) test. After the RNAT test has been submitted, you’ll have to wait at least 180 days to enter Australia. In the meantime, you’ll need to apply and pay for an import permit and make arrangements for your dog’s quarantine accommodations on arrival at Melbourne International Airport.
Prior to traveling, your dog will need to receive additional vaccines and parasite testing and receive a final examination by a veterinarian within five days of departure. All dogs must travel as cargo (not in the cabin), and they will be taken directly to quarantine for a minimum of 10 to 30 days.
Suffice to say that it is a lengthy journey to take your pet to Australia, and it can be a traumatic experience for your pet. Think carefully before making the choice to do so, especially if you’re just taking a vacation.
Pet passports for international travel, recapped
Traveling with your pet can be a rewarding experience. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy macarons in France with Fluffy.
Depending on where you’re going, there are additional restrictions that you’ll encounter, including the need for a health certificate or other documentation. Although many countries don’t issue a specific pet passport, those who travel to Europe often may find it worthwhile to invest in a European Union pet passport since it eliminates the need for frequent vet visits.