Travel is so popular nowadays that even your cat or traveling pet might need a pet passport. But what exactly is a pet passport and how do you get one? Or do you even need one?
We have traveled with Yoda to 7 different countries on 3 different continents, and we only needed a pet passport once.
Most of the time you won’t need a pet passport for traveling with your cat.
But just to be sure, we’re going to cover all there is to know about pet passports and why or if you need one. And if you do, here’s how to get one!
What Is a Pet Passport Book?
A Pet Passport, in short, is a book or official document showcasing your cat or dog’s medical history including vaccinations and dates, relative information concerning your pet’s bio, weight, health condition, and overall travel history.
It was created as part of the Pet Travel Scheme – designed to help facilitate the growing number of pet travel requests between countries and member states.
Pet Passports are most common in the EU – European Union – and travel to and from the EU and some countries such as India and Nepal.
While a pet passport might be required, in most instances an alternative form of certification like Canada’s “Certification of Ownership” or the United States/International “International Health Certificate” is accepted.
Which Countries Require a Pet Passport?
We have needed proof of a pet passport only once. And that was when we were flying Yoda by cargo out of Nepal. Read our article about shipping a cat by cargo here.
The European Union – member states including the UK (not sure about the UK now Brexit is underway though) – normally require a pet passport.
Traveling with your pet in between the United States, Mexico, and Canada? You do not need an official pet passport book. The international health certificate certified by a USDA APHIS officer and veterinarian is what you need.
The United States does not require a rabies certification for ENTRY into the U.S. You will need one to exit the country, however.
Mexico and Canada both require proof of rabies vaccination.
Traveling to other countries, such as Australia or New Zealand, will require your cat or dog to undergo quarantine. We’ve never flown to countries where this procedure is enforced.
Does Your Cat Need a Pet Passport?
You don’t NEED a pet passport to travel to Europe, but this may vary by country or even by airline regulations.
However, once inside Europe, you might be asked to show your pet’s passport. This just means your pet’s documents.
Even when we lived in Europe with Yoda – including in France, the Netherlands, and Belgium – we did not need proof of a pet passport.
We had one scanned but it was outdated. So we just used official documents and records of updated vaccinations from receipts and bills we received directly from the vet’s office.
How to Get a Pet Passport for Pet Travel
A pet passport is convenient to have, especially if you travel with several pets. Keeping one pet passport book for each animal might speed up the procedure if you travel often and if you travel between member countries.
You can quite easily download a template online or ask at your local veterinarian to see if they have physical copies. I think we picked ours up at the vet’s office in Kathmandu, miraculously.
Nowadays pet passports are more popular. I saw some large pet stores now carry them, such as PetCo or PetSmart in the U.S.
If you are unsure if you need a pet passport at all, do ask your vet or speak to an airline representative about their pet travel policies.
Our Experience Using a Pet Passport
As I briefly mentioned, the only time we needed a pet passport for our cat was when we lived in Nepal and needed to ship Yoda out of the country.
The procedure was simple. I filled out most of Yoda’s details like age, weight, breed, etc.
The vet then filled out the required information regarding medical history such as,
- Microchip identification
- Last rabies vaccination
- Most recent flea and tick treatment
- Last deworming treatment
- Other vaccinations
Doing so proved useful for airlines and country officials, as they could easily check all this information in one place instead of sorting through several loose-leaf documents.
However, as we continued to travel after that we weren’t required to have this pet passport. The updated information was easily read from the health certificate we received from the vet.
Tips for Your Cat’s Documents When Traveling
Since Yoda is always moving to new countries, it’s important for us to stay organized with his documents.
The best way we manage to track all of Yoda’s vaccinations is with a convenient folder or binder.
All of his documents, including vet bills, vaccination dates, and proof of rabies, go inside that folder. We also make copies.
Take this binder with you everywhere you travel and do not pack it inside your luggage. You will need to show these documents at check-in when you fly.
Final Thoughts: What Is a Pet Passport and Do You Need One?
Pet passports are mostly used for travel between European Union member states. Although, if you find yourself in need of a pet passport book while outside of the EU, don’t fret.
You can easily download a template offline and have your vet fill in the history and recent vaccination records of your pet.
As always, be sure to ask questions well ahead of time in case of doubt. Ensuring you have the right answers about your pet’s travel will help reduce the chance for error.
It’s best practice to keep an organized folder or binder of your pet’s documents with you when you travel with your cat or dog.
Still have questions? Contact us! Drop a comment below and we’ll get back to you within a day or two at most.
Thanks for reading and bon voyage!