A toy car on a map of North America

Planning to travel to Canada / Mexico with your dog? Plan to get an international health certificate showing up-to-date rabies vaccination before you go!

What’s Changing?

Starting August 1st of this year, dogs returning home to the U.S. after traveling abroad (including a short visit over the border to Canada or Mexico) will need to satisfy a range of new requirements put into place by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

What will be different:

  • Your dog will need to be microchipped with an ISO-compatible chip (these microchips will have 15 digits; the microchips we implant at Ann Arbor Animal Hospital are ISO-compatible)
  • AFTER microchip is in place, your dog must have received at least one rabies vaccination AND your dog must be currently up-to-date on their rabies vaccine
    • If a rabies vaccination was administered PRIOR to microchipping, then the CDC considers that vaccination to be “invalid” (i.e., as though it never happened)
    • Even if your dog is not yet due for a rabies booster and has already been vaccinated against rabies many times, he / she MUST receive a rabies vaccination AFTER microchipping in order for the CDC to consider that vaccination to be “valid”
    • If your dog has not had any rabies vaccines administered post-microchipping, then the first rabies vaccine they receive post-microchipping will be treated by the CDC as the dog’s “first” rabies vaccination. As such, that vaccine will need to be administered a minimum of 28 days prior to your USDA-accredited veterinarian issuing an international health certificate for your dog’s travel. Additionally, the CDC would treat this “first” rabies vaccination (even if it is not actually your dog’s first rabies vaccination received) as being good for only one (1) year, for international travel purposes
    • Booster rabies vaccinations administered by a USDA-accredited veterinarian after the first post-microchip rabies vaccination are considered “valid” immediately by the CDC, provided that your dog is more than 15 months old at the time of administration and has not had any lapse in rabies vaccine coverage
  • A USDA-accredited veterinarian must issue an international health certificate for your dog’s travel and submit that health certificate for USDA-endorsement. An online method called VEHCS is generally used for this purpose, and there can be a variety of delays within this system – particularly during periods where many certificates are being submitted in close proximity (periods like the present one, where veterinarians all over the nation are rushing to get certificates submitted ahead of the August 1st implementation date for the CDC’s new rule)
    • The USDA-accredited DVM who administered the rabies vaccine is the one who should be completing the international health certificate. If the veterinarian who administered the rabies vaccine is not available / was not USDA-accredited (not all veterinarians are, since USDA-accreditation is voluntary), then this form may instead be completed by a USDA-accredited veterinarian who works in the same practice as your veterinarian, provided that your dog’s information (i.e., breed, age, sex, and microchip ID) and vaccination history can be verified in the practice’s medical records
  • Your dog will need to be at least 6 months old and appear healthy
  • You will need to fill out a “CDC Dog Import Form” (this can be completed while you’re in line to cross the border). This form won’t be available from the CDC until July 15th

Please note that not all veterinarians are USDA-accredited, but this accreditation is necessary in order for the veterinarian to issue the international health certificate for your dog’s travel. If your dog’s most recent rabies vaccination was administered by a veterinarian who is not USDA-accredited, your dog may need to be re-vaccinated in order to meet the CDC’s incoming re-entry requirements.

For a more in-depth look at what is going on, you can view the Technical Instructions Document for veterinarians from the CDC here.

So, if you’re planning to travel to Canada / Mexico with your dog, returning after August 1st this year, please make an appointment to see one of our several USDA-accredited veterinarians as soon as possible. Remember, the CDC has clearly stated that rabies vaccinations administered prior to microchipping will be considered “invalid” and there is a 28 day waiting period after the first post-microchipping rabies vaccination before the required health certificate can even be issued – that’s in addition to the time it will take the currently swamped USDA to endorse said health certificate, once received.

Call us today to get in for your dog’s ISO-compatible microchipping and rabies vaccination!

Recent Posts

About Us

Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.