There are benefits to vacationing with animals, however, all too often taking your animal on holiday is problematic, expensive, and difficult. We like the idea of traveling with our animals yet the logistics of animal travel is overlooked and the fine print causes the animals distress or to be left behind – and sometimes in hot cars. Please know that not all animals are candidates for travel and animals cannot go to all destinations. Traveling can be very stressful on your pet and can expose them to diseases that they have little or no immunity to, which can make them very, very sick.
If one is moving to another location rather than vacationing and the animal is moving as well, there may be protocols required by the state, province, or country to which you are going. It is very important to check out the site: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/home/. It will give you the information you need to follow (to the letter) that will make your move with your animal successful. No matter whether you are vacationing or moving, there is essential information for you to read and most importantly to understand. This site contains information regarding:
- taking your pet from United States to a foreign country (export)
- bringing your pet into the United States from a foreign country (import)
- traveling with your pet from state to state (interstate)
Animal travel with in the lower 48 states and Alaska is what is generally referred to as domestic travel. Often travelers are driving or can drive, but sometimes there are other methods of travel such as flying in an airplane, ferry, or other boat. As animal travel is generally defined as leaving one jurisdiction and entering another (or several), it is important when traveling with animals to pay close attention to the details (i.e. reading the fine print) regarding what rules and restrictions apply. Even within the boundaries of the lower 48 states, there are strict rules that apply regarding certain diseases and certain types of animals. As the owner of the animal, it is important that you consult with your veterinarian and do some homework prior to domestic animal travel. You will need to make sure all documents are in order and all the necessary information is on them – this is the pet owners’ responsibility, not the veterinarians (though your vet may and likely will assist you).
International travel (outside the USA and Hawaii)
Generally, it is not appropriate or worth the expense and potential heartache to travel internationally with animals for vacations. Should you be moving to another country and wish to bring your animals with you to live there with you, one must start planning for animal travel about 12-18 months in advance. Do not purchase any travel tickets prior to starting the process. Some things to know to get started:
- What country you are moving to
- When you are moving to that country
- Method of moving to that country
- Dates of arrival and port of entry
- Home address (no PO box or partial address; entire physical street address is required)
- Are animals traveling with you or separately, and all above information should be known for them too
A few things to know and remember regarding the process of traveling with your animal:
First, it must be said that as the owner wants to travel with the pet, it is the owner’s responsibility to do the research thoroughly and correctly prior to even considering bringing the animals with you while you travel. For example:
- Where is the pet to stay when you are doing fun things or dining that don’t allow pets?
- What if the animal gets sick or injured?
- What if the animal goes missing?
- Can you purchase the foods that the animal will eat?
- Is the animal able to exist in the climate you are going to?
- If you are returning and need official documents for reentry, where will you get them?
Second, regarding the microchip implant date, microchip number, and the rabies certificates, the microchip often must be documented that it is implanted into the animal BEFORE the rabies vaccines. It is also often required that the microchip number is on EVERY piece of vaccine documentation required for travel. The pet’s owner must get the official vaccine certificates and rabies certificates prior to making the first travel appointment with the veterinarian (this is NOT the veterinarians’ job to organize your paperwork – have it ready and bring it all to EVERY appointment).
Third, if you are planning on returning to the USA with your animal at any point in the future, it is imperative to keep up to date on the reentry requirements while you are away. Don’t assume that since you started here, reentry is automatic – it is not. This information is also on the site sourced above.
Finally, this is a time-consuming and expensive process. Be sure to allow sufficient time to work your way through the process fully and completely. It will do you no good to be in a rush or plan last minute. The process is the process and it is in place for good reasons: to prevent the spread of disease. Your veterinarian will not likely be able to assist you properly if you are trying to rush the process. Be prepared to pay for the veterinarian’s time and expertise, as you will likely not be able to go with out her or his help.