How to Get an International Health Certificate for Your Dog

In our Woof Woof Travels episode on Finland, we were’t kidding when we said it took several visits to the vet before Woof Woof qualified to travel to Finland – or nearly any European country.

But you can drop your number of visits to with these tips:

1. Speed up International Health Certificate Approval by microchipping your pet now.

For European countries, any vaccines that were done before microchipping don’t count. Woof Woof had to wait 21 days after micro chipping to leave the country. If you’re not traveling for awhile ask your vet to microchip your dog on your next visit. Then any vaccines given during your vet visit.

2. Learn the rules now.

Every country may have a different rule on what shots and tests you may need and when they need to be performed. For instance, Woof Woof needed a dewormer within 10 days of his trip for Finland, but he didn’t need this test for Denmark. If he had not had this test, he wouldn’t have gotten to meet Santa in the Arctic Circle. Should any dog be denied that priviledge? Look up the rules for rules for pet travel for the country you are travel to on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website, you can find the link and other helpful resources for pet travel on our resources page.

2. Fill out the international health certificate form slowly.

The problem with a form that has to be filled out so close to the travel date is that a mistake on the form can cost you valuable time, possibly the whole trip. So you don’t have to postpone your travels, fill out the form carefully and double check that you’ve filled out everything that was asked of you. Preferably, fill out the form before you leave the office, so you can have your veterinarian or an assistant help you insure it’s filled out. You will have to mail the form into a state department that may be in another city.

3. Send the form FedEx (or other overnight service recommended and don’t forget the return envelop.

The international health certificate generally has to be filled out pretty close to the travel date. If you decide to wait to send the form regular mail, you’re taking chances. Always both send it overnight and provide the prepaid envelop to send it back via the same method. Remember to always have a solid place for the certificate to arrive back to you. I was in canada when Woof Woof’s form was returned. I selected for the certificate to be sent to a FedEx pick up location for when I returned home.

Revisit your veterinarian if needed, and always check guidelines as soon as soon possible. The good news about the complications is that it’s because countries in the European Union are rabies free. Your dog will be safe, and they’ll be more traceable to get back to you if lost when microchipped.