Does My Dog Need A Health Certificate When Flying?
Yes and no.
A health certificate when flying with your dog can vary state-to-state and with individual airlines. For example, if your dog is going to be checked (in the cargo of the plane — BTW this is banned for flat nosed breeds like French Bulldogs but all other dogs are OK) then you need a health certificate. Most airlines don’t require a health certificate for pets flying in-cabin.
What is a health certificate?
It’s a piece of paper stating that your pet is healthy to fly and current on all his/her vaccinations. It must be issued and signed by your vet and can cost anywhere from $25-70. It’s like a normal check-up and should take less than 20 minutes.
Health certificates are valid for 30 days.
If you’re flying domestic with your pet, a health certificate isn’t required except a few airlines (Alaska Airlines + Hawaiian Air) so be sure to call or search your airline’s website to double check their rules. This page/table at Dog Jaunt has an extensive list of most airlines and their requirements.
Now for international travel for pets, you need the country’s specific health certificate (usually multiple pages) and have it stamped by your local USDA office. You can find my step-by-step guide traveling from USA to Paris and find other countries’ rules + forms directly on the USDA Pet Travel page. Select the country from their drop-down menu and follow the steps.
Along with these health certificates, you also need to purchase a pet ticket from your airline — they are usually $100-125 one way and allows you to bring your dog on board in an airline-approved carrier. They stay in the carrier under the seat in front of you.
Always book ASAP as most airlines have a limit for the number of pets they allow on board. Happy flying!