Many pet owners view their pets as family members, and more and more pets are accompanying their families on their travels. Obtaining a US pet passport can help make travel less stressful by ensuring that your pet is prepared to travel with you internationally.
Pet passports refer to all the proper documentation that you need in order for your pet to enter another country. It usually involves time and preparation to ensure your pet’s ready for international travel. The basic documents that you need to enter countries are vaccine records, health records, and a USDA endorsement. The fee for a USDA travel endorsement certificate is $38. However, if your pet requires specific lab tests in order to enter a country, the fee can run up to $173, not including the cost of any tests or vaccinations that might be necessary.
Here’s everything you need to know about obtaining a US pet passport successfully and the costs related to securing it.
The Importance of US Pet Passports
Different countries have varying requirements for pets to enter. Some countries have very strict laws that prevent any pets from outside of the country from visiting. So, before you book your tickets for your pet, make sure to check the country’s government travel site to see if pets are allowed to enter. Some countries may only allow certain pets, like dogs, to enter. This is because some animals may be invasive species to the country and can be a safety risk to natural habitats in that particular country. Cats and rabbits are common examples of animals that have large wild or feral populations in many countries.
Securing a US pet passport will greatly reduce the stress and uncertainty surrounding your pet’s ability to enter a foreign country. It ensures that your pet is allowed in another country and acts as proof and documentation that supports your pet.
How Much Does a US Pet Passport Cost?
The current fee for USDA travel endorsements is $38 per endorsement certificate.1 This applies to any number of pets. If your pet requires a specific lab test in order to enter a country, the fee is $121 for one or two tests. The fee is raised to $150 if your pet requires three to six different kinds of tests. It gets raised again to $173 if your pet requires seven or more lab tests.
Keep in mind that these fees don’t apply to service dogs. So, if a dog belongs to an individual with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it does not get charged a fee for any USDA endorsements.
|Number of Lab Tests||Fee|
|7 or more||$173|
Additional Costs to Anticipate
US pet passports are essentially documenting and verifying your pet’s health records. So, you have to make sure that all of your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and that his or her health has been cleared by a veterinarian. With that in mind, be prepared to pay for any vaccinations and tests that need to be completed to enter a country.
The average cost for a 1-year rabies vaccine is between $15 to $20. A routine checkup is between $50 to $250. The cost depends on your veterinary practice as well as the types of services that were used in the checkup.
How to Obtain a US Pet Passport
The basic documents that you need to enter countries are an updated vaccine record, health records, and a USDA endorsement. Your veterinarian can help you run all the tests and administer vaccinations that your pet needs to travel internationally. Once you have all your paperwork and documentation prepared, you’ll send them to the USDA along with any associated fees. Once the USDA receives your documents and approves them, it will send you an endorsement certificate for your pet.
You can also work with a USDA-accredited veterinarian. These veterinarians can help expedite the process by assisting you with administering all the vaccines and tests your pet needs to travel. They can also help you submit all the proper documents that you need in order to receive a USDA endorsement for your pet.
Does Pet Insurance Cover US Pet Passports?
Pet insurance companies don’t typically cover costs and fees related to gathering and submitting the documentation and paperwork. So, it won’t help pay for application fees or postage. However, some pet insurance companies have wellness plans that can cover routine care costs, including annual health exams, vaccinations, and preventative diagnostic testing. Some wellness plans will also cover any preventative medication, such as flea and tick pills.
If you’re interested in enrolling your pet in a pet insurance plan to help pay for routine care costs, make sure to select a wellness plan. This is because a typical accident and illness plan that’s offered by pet insurance companies doesn’t help pay for routine and preventative care costs. Some pet insurance companies offer a wellness rider that you can add to an accident and illness plan. These types of riders will help pay for medical bills related to preventative care.
What Other Requirements Are Needed for US Pet Passports?
Different countries can have additional requirements for pets to enter their borders. For example, some countries also require proof of microchipping and spaying and neutering records. Countries can also require pets to take certain tests that prove that they’re free of any infectious diseases and parasites. So, you may have to have your pet pass a stool sample test or provide records of tapeworm treatments.
Along with health records, you may have to obtain import licenses and CITES permits. Because each country has its own requirements, make sure to check the official travel website of any country you plan on visiting to get the most updated information on pet travel.
It’s also important to check your airline’s pet travel requirements. Airlines may also ask for health records and have rules for pets traveling in the cabin or in cargo.
Obtaining a US pet passport can be a complicated process with many steps. While the endorsement fee is $38 per pet, expect to pay additional fees for lab tests, shipping, and other requirements.
If you want to be extra safe with the application process, don’t hesitate to work with an accredited veterinarian. Accredited veterinarians can help you make sure that you have everything you need so that your cat is ready to travel with you whenever you’ve secured dates to travel abroad.
Featured Image Credit: Brian Goodman, Shutterstock