Health Certifications for Travel (USDA)

August 2012

Health Certification for pets and horses traveling to Canada

If your clients are traveling to Canada for vacation, make sure you provide the correct export documents for the pets and horses that will travel with them. 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) establishes importation requirements for animals entering Canada. USDA-accredited veterinarians need to be aware that requirements for certification of animals for movement into Canada may change due to specific disease concerns. Always verify current requirements to be sure all documents are complete and provide the required certification.

The USDA Area Office in Tumwater has two staff members available to help with International Health Certificates, Ms. Kristine Kraig and Ms. Lilly Nieves. The Area Office’s contact information is—

USDA APHIS VS Area Office for AK/OR/WA
1550 Irving Street, Suite 100
Tumwater, WA 98512
Main office phone 1-360-753-9430
Fax 1-360-753-9585
Hours 7:30 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday

You will find general information about preparation of International Health Certificates for a wide range of animal species and animal products on the USDA Area Office website.

Sources for further information—
USDA website
Canadian Food Inspection Agency website

Dogs and cats—

CFIA only requires a valid rabies vaccination certificate for dogs and cats entering Canada with their owners. Dogs and cats must have a current rabies vaccination if they are over 3 months old. The rabies certificate should clearly identify the pet (breed, color, weight, etc.) and give details on the rabies vaccine used (date given, trade name, serial number and whether the vaccine used was valid for one or three years).

If pets are younger than 3 months of age, it is recommended that a Health Certificate, which states that the animal is too young for rabies vaccination, accompany the animal.

It is also recommended that owners with pets traveling to Canada have a valid Health Certificate for their pet, which documents the rabies vaccination. Customs agents from the Canada Border Services Agency may ask to see a valid Health Certificate. There have been instances of pets without Health Certificates being refused entry into Canada.

You can issue a Health Certificate for international travel if you are licensed and USDA-accredited. The Small Animal Health Certificate does not need to be endorsed by USDA.

Proper form for dogs and cats—

  • Washington State Small Animal Health Certificate form AGR 300-3008 or
  • USDA’s Small Animal Health Certificate form VS-7001

If the client is considering travel by air, the International Transport Association restricts air travel to dogs 8 weeks of age or older. Whenever a pet travels by air, the owner should consult the specific airline carrier for additional information and requirements.

If dogs are not accompanied by their owners when transported into Canada, an export Health Certificate is required for entry. The required certificate can be found online on the USDA website. Physical examination by the veterinarian issuing the certificate must be completed within 36 hours of arrival in Canada.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulates re-entry of US-origin dogs and cats into the US. Requirements for pets entering the US are on the CDC website. Pets can generally return to the US from Canada provided they have a current rabies vaccination certificate. However, if the owner and pets return by air, the airline may require a current Health Certificate. The pet owner should contact the specific airline carrier for additional information and requirements.

Horses—

Horses entering Canada must be accompanied by a valid US Health Certificate. The horse must be inspected by a licensed, USDA-accredited veterinarian within 30 days of export and must have a negative Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA or Coggins) test within six months.

 

Due to the confirmation of Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) in horses in New Mexico, horses that originate from New Mexico and US horses that have been in New Mexico within the previous 21 days may not be exported to Canada. Additional requirements are in place for horses from Texas and for Canadian horses returning from New Mexico.

Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) certification for equines is also required for entry into Canada.

For current certification requirements and correct wording, consult USDA’s website, or contact the USDA Area office. After the US Health Certificate has been issued by the USDA-accredited veterinarian, it must be endorsed at the USDA Area Office in Tumwater.

Once the US Health Certificate has been endorsed, it is valid for 30 days following the date of issue. Horses can travel between the US and Canada as frequently as necessary during this period of validity, provided the EIA test remains current.

A brand inspection to verify ownership is required prior to movement of horses to an out-of-state destination. Check with the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Brand Inspection Program, 1-360-902-1855 or livestockid@agr.wa.gov, for current requirements, procedures and fees.

Birds—

For Canadian import purposes, “pet bird” is defined as a personally owned and cared for bird and applies only to species such as psittacines, song birds, toucans, canaries, finches, etc. “Pet bird” does not apply to pigeons, doves or poultry.

 

Personal pet birds must—

  • Accompany the owner or
  • Be in the possession of an immediate family member and
  • Must be found to be healthy when inspected at the Canadian entry port.

The owner must sign a declaration at the Canadian entry port stating that—

  • The bird has been in the owner’s possession for the 90 days preceding the date of importation and
  • Was not in contact with any other birds during that time and
  • The bird is the owner's personal pet and is not being imported for the purpose of resale.

The owner or any member of the family must not have imported birds into Canada under this pet bird provision during the preceding 90-day period.

For pet birds not meeting these requirements and for commercial shipments of birds and export of poultry, requirements can be found on the USDA website.

US-origin pet birds returning to the US through land border ports must also accompany the owner or family member and be inspected by a USDA port veterinarian at the US port of entry. The owner will be required to sign a declaration that the bird has been in his or her possession for the preceding 90 days and has not been in contact with other birds during this time.

Owners of pet birds entering the US by air or sea are required to obtain a US import permit and arrange for an inspection by a USDA Veterinary Medical Officer. For these birds and all other returning US-origin birds, requirements can be found on the USDA website.

Additionally, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulates importation of certain protected avian species. US-origin pet birds returning from Canada may be subject to additional US FWS requirements. Contact the US FWS at 1-800-358 2104 for further information and for all requirements.

Exotic pets—

To obtain the proper requirements for unusual pets, contact the USDA Area Office in Tumwater at 1-360-753-9430 or consult USDA’s website.

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