What is a Pet Passport? Why do I need one?

Photo by acadmeic

Official passports, tourist passports, visas, movers, car shipping…all big headaches. Just when you think you have it all done, you find one more detail you can’t ignore. You can’t ignore it if you have a pet, that is. You need to apply for a pet passport if you have a fur baby that is part of your family.

So, what is a pet passport?

A pet passport is simply an official record of your pet’s health and immunization records.  It puts all required information in one simple document. After the veterinarian completes the forms, they go to the state agency, which verifies and authenticates the information. Your vet will get the paperwork back an pass it back to you. This paperwork is what you will carry with you when travel.

Why does my cat/dog need a pet passport?

The European Union is in the process of instituting the “Pet Travel Scheme” which is a system which will allow animals to move from country to country will less hassle and red tape. In order to make it easier for country officials to determine that your pet meets the requirements to enter a country, countries began to utilize the pet passport.

In order to enter the EU, your pet will need to meet requirements. The basic requirements include a rabies vaccination less than ten days before entering the country and a microchip which is the European standard rather than the American standard.

Where do I get a pet passport?

Go to your veterinarian to get a pet passport. Vets on military bases may be more familiar with the different country requirements and how to complete the paperwork than local veterinarians who have little experience with importing or exporting animals.

How much does it cost to get a pet passport?

A pet passport will cost you what your vet charges you for the services and the state will charge you for completing the paperwork. (Some vets may charge to fill out the paperwork and notarization.)  If you go online and do a search for “pet passport” you will find companies who would like you to buy their version of a pet passport and add-on the cost of a leather carrying case or some other accessory. These are not necessary. Your vet will still have to fill  out the forms and make sure your pet’s health information is correct on the forms. Save your money and let your veterinarian download the forms from the USDA website!

One more thing to remember…

Make sure your veterinarian is using the most up-to-date regulations when filling out paperwork. Currently, Italy requires people to use a pet-shipping company to bring animals into the country. I know they seem to allow military families to bring their pets into the country if they come on the same flight, but if you wait and have your pet join you later, you will have to pay one of these pet-shipping companies.

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6 Comments on “What is a Pet Passport? Why do I need one?”

  1. Wilmarie says:

    Hi! We have PCS to Vicenza Italy and I have an ENGLISH BULLDOG I like to know if he can travel

    • Peg Crippen says:

      Lost this comment somewhere, sorry so long for me to reply. There are some restrictions on snub-nosed dogs flying. I would talk to your local vet to see if there are specific restrictions. I think you can bring a bulldog, but only if you don’t fly during the summer when it is hot. The restrictions are much tighter in the warm weather.

  2. Llisa says:

    I am in the process of bringing my sweet little doggie over. The HealthCertificate has to be dated within 10 days of arrival and the rabies vaccine within 20-30 days. The Vet has to be certified by the USDA Vet (federal, not State), and signed off by the Federal USDA vet. We are coming from Hawaii which has strict quarantine laws for incoming dogs as we don’t have rabies here.

    • Peg Crippen says:

      Thanks for the additional information Lisa! Sometimes I forget the most important information. Coming to Italy will be a breeze compared to Hawaii! Good luck in your move!

  3. I recommend getting all the preparations done at the military vet if it’s an option. We went to a civilian vet before we knew there was a vet on my husband’s post and were told they could do the European Union Veterinary Health Form 998 and we should go on post for the International Health Certificate (because that one needs to be done 10 days ahead and the civilian vet has to send to the USDA for approval but the military vet does not have to) .The girl seemed like she knew what she was doing but she took forever to get us the paperwork back. Then when we took it to the military vet we found out a civilian vet should had us send even the Health Form to the USDA, there was something they hadn’t done correctly, and they hadn’t given us serial numbers for the rabies shots.

    Fortunately since we had proof they had the shots we didn’t have to have them redone but the military vet redid all the first paperwork based on her own observations and issued the second. Since it was due to PCS orders we did not have to pay for the visit or the forms (they will charge if you’re just traveling) and we discovered the shots and microchip we needed would have been cheaper at the military vet as well. After all that, they didn’t even check their forms leaving or entering the country. We did need them to register the pets to post though.

    • Peg Crippen says:

      The military vet was definitely a big help and cheaper. They also were much cheaper than the vet near my house for the microchipping. I did use the vet nearby for the final vaccinations right before we left, but the area we live in has many grayhound dog farms and the vet was used to shipping animals overseas. Unfortunately, we were not able to get our dog on the flight because of bad information given to us by the airline we were supposed to be flying. That is a whole other story, though… Hope you are enjoying Germany!