LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — There are many things to plan for when moving overseas, and if travel includes taking pets, the first step is to know what the legal requirements are for the destination country.
Every country has regulations for the importation of animals. This may include microchip and vaccination requirements, testing for levels of rabies protection, quarantine periods, and treatment for parasites and ticks. The base veterinary clinic keeps information sheets for the most common overseas permanent-change-of-station locations for Airmen to pick up.
Be aware that for some destinations, such as Hawaii or Japan, the process should start in advance of the move by as much as six months.
Another source of information is the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/vs/iregs/animals/. The country you are going to will also have information on their own website. The most common search term to try is “animal importation requirements.”
Once it’s known what moving the pet requires, a schedule of veterinary appointments is needed to complete the destination requirements. All original copies of rabies certificates, FAVN paperwork, and microchip registrations should be kept.
The last step before actually departing is to obtain a health certificate for the pet. This needs to be done no more than 10 days prior to actually leaving the country. If an off-base veterinary clinic is used to obtain the health certificate, the certificate must be signed by the USDA veterinarian in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There is a fee for the service, and will probably require overnight delivery of the forms to and from Albuquerque all within the 10-day window. For most countries, the base veterinarian can sign the health certificate without the need to send them to the USDA, which will save time and money.
During the health certificate appointment, be prepared to ask the veterinarian about any special travel needs the pet may have, such as medications for motion sickness or anxiety. Ask about the timing of feeding prior to travel. This is especially important when long overseas flights are a part of the trip.