Traveling is the spice of life - but sometimes it can get a little too spicy! Here at Rancho Village Veterinary Hospital, our vets help make it easier to get the health care certificate your cat or dog needs to travel.

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Seeing the World with Your Dog or Cat

You will need to get your pet vaccinated and start researching the required tests your cat or dog needs for travel as soon as possible.

The majority of health certificates are valid only for a maximum of 10 days in many cases, though several are valid for longer. Be sure to keep this in mind when you are selecting the date you schedule your appointment for, and remember that appointments are often filled well in advance.

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Before Your Appointment

Please follow the list below when preparing for your cat or dog's health certificate appointment:

  • Review the requirements for pet travel to your destination

    The requirements can be found through the USDA Pet Travel website. Rancho Village Veterinary Hospital's role is to complete the certificate and provide the vaccines and shots required but, it's your responsibility to understand the requirements and make sure they are met in the correct time-frame for traveling.

  • Contact your airlines

    You have to inquire if the airlines have any more travel requirements, including specific vaccines or forms that need to be completed.

  • Call the hospital to make an appointment.

    International health certificate appointments will take 1 hour per pet. National health certificate appointments will be 30 minutes (except for Hawaii, which is also 1 hour). Most health certificates are valid for 10 days and take 1-3 business days to be processed by USDA, so make sure to plan your health certificate appointment and travel date accordingly.

  • What to bring to the appointment
    • Your full name, current address, and phone number
    • The name of your travel destination (person, hotel, etc.), address, and phone number
    • The date your pet will be travelling, method of transportation, and port of entry
    • All previous records from other veterinary clinics
    • Many health certificates need an original signed rabies certificate and the exact date of microchip implantation. If these were not performed at Rancho Village Veterinary Hospital and are needed for your pet's travel, you have to bring these forms and dates with you to your pet's appointment.

During Your Appointment

At the appointment, we will conduct a comprehensive exam to make sure your pet is healthy for travel and fill out the Health Certificate.

You must then submit the completed certificates to the USDA office. Processing time usually takes 1 - 3 business days.

When the certificate is finalized, you can either pick it up in person or it can be mailed to your address overnight. If you would like to have the health certificate overnight mailed to you,  you can purchase a pre-paid self-addressed overnight shipping label from FedEx.

Our La Mesa veterinarians are here to help facilitate the pet travel process and to fill out the required forms, however it is your responsibility to make sure all the travel requirements are met- so we ask that you come to your appointment prepared!

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