Common Mistakes on International Health Certificates for Small Animals


If you are planning on traveling out of the country with your pet, there are some frequent stumbling blocks in preparing your pet for this travel. Below are common mistakes made when obtaining international health certificates for small animals, as well as useful contact information and websites at the bottom that can be valuable resources. 

Health certificate not signed by an accredited veterinarian:  To issue an owner of a pet a US Interstate and International Certificate of  health examination for small animals, many countries require a veterinarian to be accredited in the state where they issues the health certificate.

The health certificate lacks an original signature.  While most veterinarians are familiar with the standard health certificate, many countries have their own format.  It is very important to take time to review the certificate so you understand what is required and where you and your veterinarian sign and date the form.  Please sign in a non-black color.

Missing rabies certificate:  Always remember to send the rabies vaccination certificate (preferably signed by the veterinarian) along with the health certificate(s).  The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) needs to see it in order to verify the information on the health certificate.

Health certificate not completely filled out:  The USDA often receives certificates which are incomplete.  The most common incomplete sections are:
• Box # 5 -  Animal Identification
• The boxes for the certification statements by the owner (bottom left), or the veterinarian (bottom right) or both.  The appropriate boxes must be marked with an “X” when the owner and veterinarian sign the certificate.

Addresses are incorrect or incomplete:  The addresses are confusing, but need to be filled out as accurately as possible.  The name and address of owner/consignor is their address in the US.  The address of the consignee is the foreign/destination address (whether it’s a home, hotel, military base, etc.)

The wrong health certificate is used:   As indicated above, many countries have provided us with their own certificate format.    Certificates for the European Communities (EU) should be two sided – front to back).  If there are any questions about the type of certificate to use, please contact the USDA office (see below).

Missing test results:  Make sure to submit copies of test results reported from the lab that actually ran the test.

Information on the certificate does not meet the requirements of the destination country:  For some countries, a simple health certificate and rabies certificate is insufficient. Please be sure that to contact authorities for the country where you are traveling and ask about their requirements to import a pet. A pet owner should also contact their transporter (airline, etc.) to find out their requirements.  Many times the airline has more stringent requirements than the destination country, including how long the certificate is valid (airlines may meet or exceed USDA requirements).  If you and the owner are not aware of the country’s import requirements, please contact the USDA (see below).

Veterinarian signature not provided by an accredited veterinarian:  Many countries require the veterinarian examining your animal for the health certificate to be USDA accredited in order to prepare the pet for entry into their country. Ask your veterinarian if they are accredited for international health certificates with the USDA.


1. Georgia USDA APHIS Veterinary Service:  1498 Klondike Road Suite 200, Conyers, GA  30094, telephone 770 922-7860 (APPOINTMENTS FOR IN PERSON ENDORSEMENT REQUIRED)

2. Foreign consulate offices in the United States:

3. USDA-APHIS- Veterinary service’s website for international animal regulations:


  • 2015 Emerald Coast Veterinary Conference

    June 3-7, 2015
    Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort
    Destin, FL
    20 CE Hours Available
    Get more here