Know What’s Needed to Travel with Your Pet

by Gigi McWhirter

OK, so we are living in a crazy time right now, and freedom to travel about is not the normal anymore. However, if you have the opportunity or need to take a trip that includes your pet, make sure your animal is ready.

Every state in the country has a department dedicated to animals. This department is headed by an individual called the State Veterinarian. These professionals and their team of veterinarians and support staff regularly consult with emergency rooms, physicians, legislators, school and other local officials, health departments and the general population on preventing exposures to and controlling diseases that humans can get from animals and animal products.


Any animal entering any state should be accompanied by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). This certificate can only be issued by a veterinarian with a current license to practice veterinary medicine in the state they are working in and a USDA-APHIS National Accreditation Certificate.

These doctors are issued a book of numbered certificates by the state in which they practice medicine. The certificates are in triplicate form.

The doctor does a physical examination and acknowledges that the entry requirements for the state the animal(s) are traveling to are met. For dogs and cats a current rabies vaccine must be noted on the certificate; horses and other livestock require different things.

Once issued, the actual certificate is valid for 30 days. Owners of the traveling animals are given the original or top copy of the written certificate to accompany them during the duration of their trip. The veterinarian who issues the certificate then sends the second and third pages to their state veterinarian’s office. The state keeps one copy for their records and sends the other copy to the destination state vet’s office. By doing so, the state veterinarian is aware that the animal(s) will be entering their state and are healthy and meet their state’s entry requirements.

For horses and other equine, donkeys, mules, zebras, a current Coggins test is required for travel. The Coggins test checks for Equine Infections Anemia (EIA) antibodies in the horse’s blood. Once the blood is drawn by the vet or vet staff member, the sample is sent to a state-approved laboratory. Typically the Coggins test will be recognized for one year. However, it is essential that you confirm the entry requirements for the state you and your animals will be entering.

Also, if your animal is participating in an event such as a rodeo or show, it is important you bring those requirements to your veterinarian so they can ensure that your animal meets their entry requirements, too.

If you are traveling with your pet on a commercial carrier, please contact the reservations department well before you travel to find out what paperwork they want to allow your pet to board — if you do not have what they require, they WILL NOT allow your animal to travel. No exceptions.

To prepare for your dog or cat’s veterinary visit, remember to bring the physical address where your animal is currently staying, the physical destination address and, if your pet is 12 weeks or older, a copy of their current rabies certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian. A CVI CANNOT be issued without these details on it.

For horses and other equine, you will need a current phone number and mailing address of the person presenting the horse, along with the physical address where the horse is stabled; the physical destination stable address and phone number; and the name, address and phone number of the person transporting the animal(s); as well as a current Coggins. Other entry requirements such as a VS (Vesicular Stomatitis) statement may be required along with an entry permit issued by the state vet’s office to which you are traveling.

If you have any questions, you can contact the state veterinarian’s office or your veterinarian.

This article touched on the entry requirements for domestic dogs, cats and some equine. For all other animals including livestock, reptiles and birds, please consult with your veterinarian and the destination state vet’s website.

Happy Tails!