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How Much Does A Pet Health Certificate Cost?

Published on: July 13, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

filing papersAlong with making a list of all the things you’ll need to do so your pet can travel by air, it’s smart to know what kind of costs are involved, so you can plan ahead for that, too. Every pet will need at least one health certificate, possibly more than one depending on where you’re headed.

What’s involved?

If your pet is traveling internationally from the USA, then a USDA accredited veterinarian examines your pet to determine his or her overall health status, scans the microchip, administers required treatments, verifies immunizations and records all the information on the international health certificate required for your destination. Your regular vet may be USDA-accredited, but not all licensed vets are - you will need to ask them. The cost for your vet to do the exam and needed treatments as well as complete/sign the health certificate and send it to the USDA (if required) will depend on the individual vet office. On average, the exam and basic paperwork will start at 

Additionally, many countries require the certificate to be officially endorsed by the local USDA office as well, to independently confirm the information on the health certificate is complete and correct. The USDA charges their own fee for this service.

The USDA endorsement fee depends on how many documents they need to endorse and this will depend on the destination country and number of pets traveling. The fees are outlined on the USDA website and start at $38 USD per certificate if no blood tests are required for that country. If your pet is traveling to a country that requires blood tests, then the endorsement fee will start at $121 USD and go up from there. 

Even though the USDA is a federal agency, each Area Veterinary Services office sets their own fees. So you should contact your state’s Area Veterinarian-in-Charge to learn what your total endorsement cost will be. The fees can change without warning, and it can sometimes be difficult to find current cost information online, so your best bet is simply to call and/or email them.

If you have multiple pets, some of them may be able to be listed on a single health certificate. However, if you have a mixture of species (cats and dogs), the cats may need to be on one certificate, and the dogs on another.

Here’s an example:

Suppose you now live in Houston and you’re planning to relocate your pets to London. You’ll need the UK-specific health certificate completed first by a USDA-accredited veterinarian. Each vet has their own charges, but typically start at $200. Then the health certificate will need to be sent to the Texas USDA Veterinary Services office for their official endorsement. The USDA charges $38 per certificate. Depending on if you will be mailing the documents to the USDA or sending them electronically, you may also need to pay the shipping charges so that you get the originals back to travel with your pet. If you have a dog, you will also need to go back to your USDA-accredited vet between 24-120 hours prior to your dog's arrival to the UK to have them administer a tapeworm treatment and report it on the already endorsed health certificate. The fees for this will vary by vet office and cannot be done by you at home.

Some countries have additional certificates and blood tests that are required for importing pets, so your vet will need to complete these, too. The cost of treatments varies by vet office. This additional paperwork may also need USDA endorsement, so this will be more expensive than the example above.

As we mentioned above, the cost of a pet health certificate (and preparation) actually has several costs involved:

  • Cost of the preliminary veterinary requirements such as microchipping, vaccinations and/or bloodwork
  • Cost of the final vet exam, completion of the health certificate and any additional treatments needed (ex: internal & external parasite treatments, blood testing, etc.)
  • Cost of the USDA endorsement of paperwork
  • Cost of shipping the paperwork back to you prior to your pet's departure
  • Your driving expenses traveling to/from the vet (in some cases more than once)

All in all, this is still likely to be one of the least expensive aspects of moving your pet to another country, despite the fact it is also one of the most important. Depending on your destination country, you can either mail the paperwork to the USDA for their endorsement along with a pre-paid return label or in some cases your vet can electronically submit the paperwork to the USDA. Given the critical importance of these materials and the often-tight timing involved, it’s a good idea to retain control of the documents.

Give yourself plenty of time

“How hard can it be?” Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of obtaining health certificates. For one thing, if your destination country has more complicated requirements, you will be making multiple vet visits to take care of the required treatments, and these must be administered in a specific time frame. Some countries have long waiting periods after certain treatments, so the entire process can take several months to complete correctly.

As soon as you know you’ll be moving, contact your vet and find out what paperwork you will need.

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