Importing Dogs, Cats and Pet Birds Into Florida

What do I need to have in order to bring my dog or cat to Florida from another State?

The pet will have to have:

  • an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and,
  • documentation of current rabies vaccination.
What is a health certificate?

It is an official state health form completed by a veterinarian who examines and determines that your pet:

  • is free of infectious and communicable diseases;
  • did not come from an area that is under quarantine for rabies, and
  • has not been exposed to a rabid animal.
  • It should also include documentation that your dog or cat is current on its rabies vaccination if the pet is 3 months of age or older.
Besides an official certificate of veterinary inspection, do I need to have a certificate of rabies vaccination also?

National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) Form #51, Rabies Vaccination Certificate (or state equivalent), is normally provided by the veterinarian at the time of vaccination, and can be used as proof of vaccination when traveling. At a minimum, the official certificate of veterinary inspection (health certificate) must show the same information that comes from the NASPHV Form #51, Rabies Vaccination Certificate, to include the manufacturer, vaccine type, lot/serial number, and expiration date.

My pet had a health certificate when I purchased it last year; can I use that same one?

No, a health certificate is only valid for 30 days after the date the veterinarian signs it.

Will my pet be required to wear a collar with a rabies tag?

No, but you must have proof with you that it is currently vaccinated for rabies.

My pet is elderly and intolerant of vaccines; can I still get a health certificate?

Yes, the dog or cat is exempt from vaccination against rabies if

  • a licensed veterinarian has examined the animal and
  • has certified in writing that, at this time, vaccination would endanger the animal's health because of its age, infirmity, disability, illness or other medical considerations.
I will be traveling by air. What does the airline require?

Contact the airlines as early as possible to make the appropriate reservations for your pet to travel. Some airline companies may require a health certificate and/or a certificate of acclimation (both can be obtained from your veterinarian), but this varies by company and type of flight. Also, some airlines may not honor a health certificate for pet travel unless it is within 10 days of examination – again this varies by airline company and type of flight.

NOTE: Airlines are not required to enforce state importation laws or import regulations of foreign countries. Even though the airlines may not require a health certificate, you must comply with the import regulations of the state or country of destination, and this may include a health certificate, proof of rabies vaccination, etc.

Please be aware that airlines do not have to accommodate animals either in passenger or cargo. If you have a preference, you must make arrangements in advance, and choose airlines that will accommodate your needs.

I will be stopping in several different locations before arriving in Florida. Will my health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination be accepted by other states?

Each state has its own requirements, which may differ from Florida's requirements. You should check with each state in which you plan to travel. You may obtain the most current information by calling the state Department of Agriculture or State Veterinarian's office. A current list of State Veterinarian's offices can be found at:
http://portals5.gomembers.com/Portals/6/StateAnimalHealthOfficials.pdf [Adobe PDF Document]  

What about bringing my dog or cat into Florida from outside the United States?

In addition to the requirements above for entry into Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Customs may have other requirements. More information can be found at their website: http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/index.html. Also check for any special import requirements from the United States Department of Agriculture: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals/animal_import/animal_imports_pets.shtml.

What are the requirements for importing a pet bird from another state?

For non-poultry pet birds,

  • an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (OCVI, or health certificate) issued by a USDA-accredited and state-licensed veterinarian in the state of origin must accompany the pet bird.,
  • It is valid for 30 days from the time of examination for entry into Florida.
  • Certain exotic or wildlife species of birds (e.g. raptors or protected species) may require a special permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, (850) 488-6253, www.myfwc.com/license/wildlife/captive-wildlife/.
  • If the pet bird is considered poultry, in addition to the above, a negative Pullorum-Typhoid (PT) test conducted within 30 days prior to entry is required and must be recorded by the veterinarian on the health certificate.

Further details may be found in the Department Administrative Rule 5C-3 at: http://www.FreshFromFlorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Animal-Industry/Industry-Rules

What are the requirements for importing a pet bird from outside the United States?

Regardless of the species of pet bird,

  • a health certificate from a full-time, salaried veterinarian of the agency responsible for animal health of the national government in the exporting country of origin, is required.
  • The health certificate is good for 30 days from the time of examination for entry into the U.S.
  • An import permit must be obtained from the USDA, and
  • arrangements must be made for quarantine at a designated port of entry.

Details can be found at the USDA web site: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals/live_animals.shtml.

Certain species of exotic birds may also require permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (800) 358-2104, or web site:
http://www.fws.gov/permits/ and may require a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, (850) 488-6253, or web site:
http://myfwc.com/license/wildlife/captive-wildlife/