Does My Cat Need a Passport to Travel?

does my cat need a passport to travel

Does your cat need a passport to travel? The answer to this is yes. Your cat will need a passport to travel internationally. Even if not traveling internationally, having a passport for your cat will speed up the check in process at airports. Traveling with your cat internationally requires a few steps to be taken before you can successfully leave for your trip.  Where do you get a pet passport you ask?  Here is a complete guide on how to obtain a passport for your cat.  Let’s start with a few commonly asked questions.

Do I Need a Pet Passport?

This is a yes or no type of question.  Do you need a pet passport to travel on an airplane?  No.  Will it make the boarding process easier?  Yes.  A pet passport will be required for any kind of international traveling.  A pet passport is used to show that your pet is healthy.  It is also a way to  show your pet is up to date on all the required vaccinations.  Without this passport, your pet will not be able to travel with you to your destination country or could be put through lengthy quarantines.  Even if you do not plan on traveling with your pet internationally, it is recommended to still get it to make any other form of traveling easier.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Pet Passport?

This is not something you want to be doing last minute before a trip.  The passport can be issued within 24 hours Monday through Friday.  The issue is if your pet will need to be vaccinated.  If your cat has a rabies vaccination, 21 days must pass before he may be eligible to travel with you.  You will also need to have your pet checked and dewormed by a vet 1-5 days before each return.

How Much Does a Pet Passport Cost?

There is no definitive answer on the cost for a pet passport.  The price can vary depending on what vaccinations your vet gives your pet.  Also, if you need any paperwork endorsed by the USDA, you can expect an additional charge of at least $38.00 per form needing endorsement.  A rough idea on how much you will spend would likely be a few hundred dollars.

How Long is a Pet Passport Good For?

After going through a tedious process to acquire your pet’s passport, you may be left wondering how long it is good for.  You will need to give your pet regular rabies boosters in order to keep the passport valid.  This time interval depends on the type of vaccine that is used, but is usually good for up to 3 years.  Some countries require annual rabies vaccinations for pets residing in their country.

How Do I Get a Pet Passport?

The first thing you will need to do is research the requirements for travel.  The requirements will vary based on your destination and method of travel.  Traveling on a plane per say may have different requirements than if you were to travel on a boat.  After you have researched the requirements for your specific trip, you will now need to visit your vet.  You will need to make sure your pet is up to date on all of the necessary vaccines and procedures to travel.  Lastly you will need to research the requirements for returning to the US.  I will go in depth of each step required down below.

Step 1: Researching

Each destination will have different regulations for your pet.  The requirements for the pet passport will also vary.  You will need to find and research information based upon your specific destination country as well as the airline or shipping company that you will using.  You can look up your country’s regulations on the USDA Website.

Requirements for Major Airlines and Shipping Companies

The next step is to find out the requirements for your airline or shipping company.  Airlines will tend to have stricter requirements than your place of destination.  Every airline will have thier own policies for international pet travel.  Here are some pet travel requirements for a few of the major US airlines.

Step 2: Make a Vet Appointment

Next you will need to contact your cat’s vet to set up an appointment.  It would be a good idea to let the receptionist know that you will be needing the appointment specifically for a pet passport to make the process as smooth as possible.  Depending on where you are traveling, you may need to ask for a referral if your vet is not federally accredited.

In worst case scenarios, it may take a few visits before your pet will be approved for the travel.  Some common procedures include: micro-chipping your pet or tattooing for verification purposes, different types of vaccines which will require waiting time for testing, flea, tick, and parasite removal.

Step 3: Get Health Certificate Certified

By now your cat will have been put through a series of tests and examinations by your vet.  After all that trouble you should have received a health certificate from the vet.  Some countries will honor this certificate while others will not.  Some countries and airlines will want this health certificate endorsed by the USDA.  In order to get the certificate endorsed you will have to send it to them by mail or drop it off in person with an appointment.  You will need to contact your local USDA vet service center for assistance.

What if My Pet Doesn’t Meet the Requirements?

So what happens if your pet cat sparky doesn’t fit the health requirements for travel?  First things first.  You will need to talk with your vet whether or not it will be safe to travel with them.  You might not like the idea of leaving your pet at home for your trip, but international travel can be very hard on pets.  The long travel time, jet lag, and other factors can cause different health concerns in your pet.  If it is not recommended that you travel with your cat by your vet, then it is best to leave your companion behind at this time.  If your vet gives you the okay on traveling with your pet, you will need to contact the USDA vet services office for further advice.

Step 4: Coming Back Home

If you are planning on returning back to the states with your pet make sure you didn’t buy him a one way ticket.  You will need to check the import requirements for your pet before returning.  The rules and regulations will vary depending on the species of your animal and the countries that you have traveled to.  I know this may sound harsh, but it is required due to the many different types of illnesses that your pet can acquire from your different travel locations.  The last thing you want is to bring home a deadly virus and have it spread all over town.  You and your cat friend will make the front page news and it won’t be for the better.

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