Pet health certificates: Essential for International PCS travel

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.—With permanently changing stations already being a complex procedure for individuals, any way to simplify it is always welcomed by service members.

When PCSing is already stacked with getting all the correct documents and information together before a move, the last thing on Service members minds are acquiring the necessary documents for bringing pets overseas.

This is where the Nellis Air Force Base Veterinary Treatment Facility staff finds many Service members tend to forget that securing the requirements for a pet’s health certificate is as important as securing documents for oneself, or unfortunately they may not be joining on the move overseas.

When PCSing overseas, a health certificate is by far the most important document needed during the PCS process for pets.

“A health certificate is a declaration stating that that you have met the requirements to enter another country, but also that your pet is healthy to travel and can handle the certain extremes that can happen while traveling,” said Heather Leighton, Nellis AFB Veterinary animal health technician.

Not only does this document state that the pet is healthy, but it also serves as proof that they are not carrying any communicable diseases.

“A health certification also states that your pet is not known to be carrying anything transmittable, meaning no worms, or parasites,” said Karla Larsen, Nellis AFB Veterinary animal health technician.

While a health certification is very important for pets, it should be known that not all countries have the same rules and regulations for animals entering the country.

“Every country is a little different; Germany and the United Kingdom are pretty easy, but you have some countries that are much more difficult,” said Larsen. “These countries have higher requirements and it’s a much more time consuming process.”

When PCSing with animals, moves to countries in Europe are the easiest to secure health certifications.

“Europe just requires an international microchip and a current rabies vaccine, and there is a time schedule that must be met,” said Leighton. “As long as you have those requirements met, and your pet is healthy, you’re going to be fine.”

All countries are different and some have their own, more stringent, rules and regulations that Service members pets must follow.

“Japan, Korea, Guam, Hawaii, and Australia are all very complex when it comes to health certificates,” said Leighton. “They require not only the microchips, but multiple rabies vaccines and a rabies antibody titer test. For Japan, you have to do the antibody titer test and then your animal has to be quarantined for 180 days once that test has been drawn. Then there are import forms that have to be filled out for certain places, so it becomes a very tedious, long process.”

The veterinary technician recommend that service members who will be traveling overseas give themselves plenty of time in order to obtain the necessary documents to travel with their animals.

“If you give yourself six months for anything that involves a rabies titer test you should be set, and for something such as Germany and the United Kingdom 30 to 35 days is best,” said Larsen. “We recommend that if there is even a chance that you could be going to Korea, Japan, Hawaii, or Guam, pay the money and complete the requirement to PCS with your pets early.”

Once the requirements have been met and the health certification administered, there is only a short window that service members have to travel with pets.

“It should be known that the health certificates are only good for ten days once you get them,” said Leighton. “The United Kingdom is only good for 120 hours after your pet receives the proper flea, tick, and taper treatment.”

While this is a short period of time, the veterinary clinic technicians do anything and everything they can in order to make the ten day window fit when PCS travel happens.

“We do everything in our power to get your health certificate as close to your departure date as we possibly can,” said Larsen.

While these are just the general requirements for PCSing to different countries with pets, contact the Nellis Air Force Base Veterinary Treatment Facility for specific requirements of each country during their operating hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., for any additional questions call 702-652-8836.