Update: You can now download the APHIS Vet Health Certificate (Form 7001) here.
If you're moving internationally, you're most likely going to need a Vet Health Certificate, also known as the USDA APHIS Form 7001. We get asked about this form often and it is actually our most-searched item once people arrive on our website.
The 7001, as we call it, is issued by USDA-accredited veterinarians and then must be endorsed by their state's USDA Veterinary Services office. The state Veterinary Services offices oversee all of the export documents for pets departing from the US, and ensure that the veterinarians issuing the documents, including the 7001, are accredited and filling out accurate information.
Here are the steps for obtaining and getting endorsed the Form 7001 health certificate:
1. Find a USDA-Accredited veterinarian in your area. The USDA Veterinary Services offices do not need to see pets to issue health certificates -- they only look at the paperwork after it has been completed. So you'll need to ask your local vet if they are accredited.
3. Go to your vet to get the health certificate issued. This must be done within a certain time frame of your travel date -- check the pet import requirements for the country you are going to, as well as the requirements the airline you are flying on, to determine when you will need to get the health certificate issued.
4. Check your (vet's) work! We cannot stress this enough. As part of our service, we review all of our customer's paperwork carefully before it is sent to the USDA for endorsement. If you are arranging your pet move on your own, you will need to double (and triple!) check your veterinarian's work. If you don't, the USDA will return the documents to you unendorsed. You don't want this to happen because then your Fido can't depart on time! Make sure all dates are written correctly, microchip numbers match up to microchip paperwork, your pet's age on the 7001 matches what's on his vaccination records ( you wouldn't believe how often this is incorrect!), etc. If you must make a correction to the paperwork, have your vet draw a single line through the error and initial somewhere next to the correction. When in doubt, or if your health certificate starts to resemble a 7 year old's doodles, start over with a new health certificate!
5. Take by hand or send in your paperwork to the USDA. Depending on where your state veterinary service office is, you can either go into the office in person to obtain the endorsement or you can send it in via FedEx. If you are going to take your documents in, you will want to call about a week in advance to make sure they will allow you to come in and to make an appointment. If you are sending your paperwork in, you will need to include some sort of payment information. The USDA does not take checks. You might consider writing a coversheet with your contact information instructing them to call for a credit card number. Also, keep in mind that if you do not include a return envelope, the USDA will send it back via US Postal Service. If you need your paperwork returned sooner (which most people do), include a pre-addressed FedEx overnight envelope with your paperwork. The USDA typically will stamp documents on the same day or the following day after they receive them.