Traveling with Your Pet



Health Certificates

If you're taking your pet across state lines or international borders, it's important to know that a health certificate (also called a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection) is required.

  • It must be signed by a veterinarian after your pet is examined and found to be free of disease
  • Your pet's vaccinations must be up to date in order for the health certificate to be completed
  • Your pet's health examination must be completed no more than 14 days before you travel

A health certificate can only be completed and signed by a federally accredited veterinarian, which you'll find at NorthStar VETS. Please call us at 609.259.8300 to schedule an appointment to obtain this document in advance of your planned trip.

Acclimation Certificates

If you're traveling by air, some airlines require what's called an acclimation certificate or statement for air travel (check to see if your airline requires this). This is a form from your veterinarian that waives the low-temperature Federal regulation set forth in the Animal Welfare Act:

  • If the airline can't guarantee that your pet won't be in temperatures lower than 45 degrees F (7.2 degrees C) for more than 45 minutes when it's is moved between the terminal and the plane, or for more than 4 hours when your pet is in a holding facility - and you don't have an acclimation certificate - the airline will not let your pet fly
  • In addition, airlines cannot ship animals if temperatures will be higher than 85 degrees F (29.5 degrees C) for more than 4 consecutive hours in animal holding areas of airport terminals, or for more than 45 minutes while transferring the animal between the plane and the animal holding area, under any circumstances. As a result, there are no acclimation certificates that allow pets to be shipped when conditions are above these temperatures.

Acclimation certificates are written at the discretion of the veterinarian, and are based on his or her assessment of your pet's health. Our vets will be glad to discuss the best options for your pet.

Some Tips and Guidelines for Pet Travel

  • Make sure your pet has identification tags with current information
  • Implanting your companion animal with a microchip can improve the chances of recovering your pet if it becomes lost while traveling
  • Be sure that pets are allowed where you're staying, whether it's a hotel/motel or the home of a friend or family member
  • Animals must be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned before traveling by plane
  • If small enough, pets can be transported (in a carrier) inside the airplane cabin if the carrier can fit under the seat
  • Sedating animals for air travel is NOT recommended since the effects of tranquilizers at higher altitudes can be unpredictable
  • The size and construction of transport carriers (when animals are shipped with baggage) MUST follow IATA (International Air Transport Association) regulations; for more information, go to www.iata.org
  • Amtrak doesn't allow pets on its trains (with the exception of service animals)
  • Some countries (and Hawaii) require that your pet be quarantined upon arrival; they may also have other health requirements. Contact the appropriate foreign consulate, embassy or regulatory agency at least 4 weeks in advance of travel so you know what's required.

Helpful Resources and Links for Pet Travel Information