Cats That TravelDogs That TravelPet Passports & Documents

What are the Requirements for a US Pet Passport in 2023?

The compulsory requirements for a USA Pet Passport are as follows:

  1. Rabies vaccination (dogs, cats and ferrets)
  2. Health certificate
  3. USDA endorsement

Depending on which country or territory you are visiting and the species of your pet, your pet may also require the following:

  1. Pet microchipping
  2. Rabies titer test
  3. Tapeworm treatment (dogs only)
  4. Additional vaccines
  5. Import license for pets
  6. CITES permit

In this article we will discuss in detail each of the requirements to export a pet from the USA and to import a pet into another country.

What is a Pet Passport?

USA Pet Passports is a term used to represent the documentation required to travel with your pet.

The documents required depends on which country you are travelling from, and which country you are entering. Each country has different rules and requirements to import pets, and these often vary between your pet’s species.

Essentially, a pet passport demonstrates that your pet is fit and healthy to travel.


Rabies Vaccination

Most countries require dogs, cats and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies.

It is also a requirement for dogs to return to the USA after travel. Cat’s do not need a rabies vaccination, but requirements may be subject to State and local ordinances.

Where can I get my pet’s rabies vaccination?

Most veterinary clinics will be able to administer your pet’s rabies vaccination.

Make sure that you are given a certificate with the date of the vaccination. You will need to provide proof of your pet’s rabies vaccination to customs.

Are there specific time scales for the rabies vaccination?

Yes. There are very specific time scales that you must adhere to.

Although the timings vary, usually your pet must be vaccinated against rabies at least 28 days prior to entering a country. Your pet will also need to be vaccinated within the past 1 to 3 years, again depending on the country.

The USA doesn’t accept 3 years rabies vaccinations. Therefore, the date of the vaccination must be less than 12 months prior to re-entering the USA. 

Do all pets require rabies vaccinations for a USA Pet Passport?

No. It tends to be just dogs, cats and ferrets. Rabies vaccinations are not usually required for small pets such as rabbits and hamsters.

However, it is recommended that you check, as this is not always the case.

If travelling to Thailand, rabbits are subject to the same requirements as dogs and cats, meaning they do require a rabies vaccine.

Only mammals can get rabies, therefore birds, reptiles and amphibians do not require a vaccination.

IMPORTANT – if microchipping is required for the country you are visiting, the rabies vaccination must be administered after or at the same time as the microchipping. If you fail to microchip your pet before getting it’s vaccination, the vaccination will not count.


Health Certificate

All pets require a health certificate to prove that they are fit and healthy enough to travel. These are also known as a veterinary or sanitary certificate.

Where can I get a health certificate from my pet?

You can get a health certificate from your veterinary once they have completed a full health check on your pet.

Copies of the certificate are given to the owner, kept by the veterinarian, and sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What must my pet’s health certificate show?

This certificate should identify your pet, the dates of vaccinations, the manufacturer and the expiration date of the rabies vaccine.

The certificate should be in English or be accompanied by a copy that has been translated into English.

Do all pets require a health certificate for their USA Pet Passport? 

Yes. All pets require a health certificate to prove that they are fit for travel. This includes, dogs, cats, birds, rodents, reptiles and amphibians.

Not only do you require a health certificate to export your pet from the USA, it is usually required to enter another country.

Are health certificates valid for a limited amount of time?

Yes. Health certificates are usually only valid for 30 days.

Therefore, if you are staying abroad for more than 30 days, you will need to visit a vet when abroad.


USDA Endorsement

All pets leaving the USA must send relevant paperwork required for the destination country to the State USDA office for stamping/endorsement. This must be done before leaving the country.

Contact your local USDA veterinary service center location for assistance. You can find your closest one here.

What needs to be submitted to get my pet’s health certificate endorsed?

  1. The original health certificate completed, signed and dated by the USDA Accredited Veterinarian. These must be completed with ink on paper, not electronically.
  2. Vaccination certificates for rabies and additional vaccinations required.
  3. Laboratory test results for vaccinations (if required by destination country).
  4. Import permits (if required by destination country).
  5. Payment

Do I need to bring my pet with me to get the USDA endorsement?

No. Just all of the relevant documents, listed above.

My pet will be traveling to multiple countries. Do I need to get each of the countries endorsed?

You will just require a health certificate for the first country you will be travelling to.

After you have left the USA, it is your own responsibility to ensure you pet is accepted at the next border.  Therefore, you should ensure you are well aware of the requirements at your next destination.

How long does it take to get my pet’s health certificate endorsed by USDA?

Typically, it takes a few days. However, if there are mistakes on your health certificate, it will take longer.

Please contact your APHIS Veterinary Services Endorsement Offices for more specific processing times.


Pet Microchipping

Not all countries require pets to be microchipped, including the USA. However, it is highly recommended that you have your pet microchipped in case your pet was to go missing.

Having your dog, cat or ferret microchipped is required when visiting many countries, including the whole of the UK and the EU.

What is a pet microchip?

A microchip is a small chip the size of a grain of rice that holds a unique number which can be detected by a microchip scanner. It is implanted just under your pet’s skin between its shoulder blades.

Where can I get my pet microchipped?

Again, you can have your pet microchipped at your local veterinary clinic.

Do all pets require microchips for a USA Pet Passport?

No. This usually applies to dogs, cats and ferrets.

However, some countries may require other pets to be microchipped

How long are microchips valid for?

A lifetime! Once your pet has been microchipped, they are given a unique code which is stored on a worldwide system.

IMPORTANT – if microchipping is required for the country you are visiting, the rabies vaccination must be administered after or at the same time as the microchipping.


Rabies Titer Test / Rabies Blood Test

In order to complete your USA Pet Passport your pet may need a rabies titer test, also known as a rabies blood test.

Some countries require your pet to have a rabies titer test before arrival. This is to ensure that there is a sufficient amount of the rabies antibody in your pet’s blood (at least 0.50 IU/mL).

Where can you get your pet’s rabies titer test?

You can get this done at a certified vet.

What is the process of getting a rabies titer test?

28 days after getting a rabies vaccination, your vet will take your pet’s blood sample. Next, they will send the sample to an official certified laboratory for testing.

How long does it take to get rabies titer test results back? 

It will take up to 1 month to get the results back from the laboratory.

Therefore, if you are travelling to a country that requires a rabies titer test, allow yourself at least 2 months. If your pet fails it’s blood test, you will have to start the process again. This will take another 2 months.

Does my pet need to be tested within a certain time scale?

Countries requiring the blood titer test require that it be completed between 30 and 180 days before entering the country. The timing varies depending on your destination country.

The waiting period until entry starts on the day the blood sample was drawn by your veterinarian.

If travelling to a country in the UK or EU, you must wait 3 months from the date the blood sample was taken before you travel. You do not need to wait if your pet was vaccinated, blood tested and given a pet passport in the EU before travelling to an unlisted country.

Do all pets require a rabies titer test?

No. Only certain countries require pets to be tested. Additionally, this will only apply to the species that require the rabies vaccination, usually dogs, cats and ferrets.

Birds, reptiles and amphibians cannot get rabies and therefore do not require a rabies vaccination or a titer test.


Tapeworm Treatment

If you are travelling to certain countries, your dog may need proof of a tapeworm test to complete your USA pet passport.

Can I just buy a tapeworm treatment tablet over the counter?

Unfortunately not. The date and time of your dog’s treatment must be recorded on the pet passport or official third country veterinary certificate, by an official vet.

Additionally, the tapeworm treatment must contain Praziquantel to be effective against Echinococcus tapeworm.

The following treatments are not permitted:

Stronghold, Advocate, Frontline or Frontline Combo, Nexgard or Nexgard Spectra

Are there specific time scales for the tapeworm treatment? 

This treatment must be administered by a vet between 1-5 days / 24–120 hours prior to travel.

Do cats need a tapeworm treatment?

No. If a tapeworm treatment is required to enter the country you are visiting, it only applies to dogs.

What countries require dog’s to have a tapeworm treatment?

England, Scotland, Wales, Finland, Norway or Malta.


Additional Vaccines & Treatments

As well as the rabies vaccine, many countries require additional vaccines and treatments.

Whether you need these, depends on the country that you are planning on visiting. Different countries and territories have different requirements.

Turkey requires that all cats need to be vaccinated against calicivirus, panleukopenia and feline viral rhinotracheitis, before entering the country. Furthermore, dogs are required to be vaccinated against parainfluenza, leptospirosis, parvovirus, bordetella, hepatitis and distemper before being allowed into the country. You are also required to treat your dog or cat against Echinococcus.

The USDA has a helpful tool on their website to check requirements for importing pets to different countries – click here.


Import Permit or License for Pets

Some countries require you to apply for an Import License or Permit before entering the country.

How do I apply for a pet import license?

You can usually apply for these online via the importing country’s Department of Livestock Development.

Alternatively you can pay an agent to organise the permit for you.

How long is an import license valid for?

Although it differs between countries, they are usually valid for 30-45 days.

When importing a pet to Thailand, the import permit is valid for 45 days from issuance (apply here). On the other hand, when importing a pet to Malaysia, the import permit is valid for 30 days from issuance (details on how to apply here). 

Check the requirements of the country you are visiting.


CITES Import & Export Permit

If your pet is not a dog, cat or ferret, and especially if it is a turtle or parrot, you may need a CITES Permit.

A CITE Permit is required for species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Over 180 countries participate and enforce CITES regulations.

How do I know if I need a CITE Permit for my pet?

You can check whether your pet is protected here.

Will I need a CITE Permit for my dog or cat?

No. It is only required for endangered species that are protected.

Check the CITE website for more information.


There are only 3 basic requirements to obtain a USA Pet Passport – rabies vaccination, health certificate and USDA endorsement.

However, as you are now aware, there are many additional requirements to enter other countries. Therefore, it is likely that your pet will need additional tests, certificates, vaccinations and permits.

Additionally, these requirements vary depending on the species of your pet.

Please note that there may be additional requirements to the ones listed above. It is important to check the requirements for your specific pet species and destination country.

For more information on USA Pet Passports, check How to get a USA Pet Passport in 2019 [ULTIMATE GUIDE].

Hope this has been helpful.

Happy and safe travels!

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  1. My cat was microchipped back in 2014 when I adopted him. Since the article refers to needing it done newly around the same time as the rabies shot— do I need a 2nd chip or???????

    1. Hi Dee, if your cat has already been microchipped then he’s ready to get his vaccinations! Your cat’s rabies vaccination will need to refer to your cat’s microchip number. This is why cats must be chipped before getting vaccinated. Hope this helps!

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