Do Dogs Need a Health Certificate If Moving Out of State?

Your dog's important moving papers include his health certificate, shot records and photo identification.
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You're getting ready to pull up stakes and move on, and you're taking your pup with you. There are a host of things to consider when you're moving out of state with your dog, and having a valid health certificate should be on your to-do list. Most states require a current health certificate for dogs crossing the state line.

Officially Healthy

The current certificate of veterinary inspection sounds official, and it is official, but it's also pretty simple. Before you take your dog out of the state, pay a last visit to his vet for a routine physical exam. Keep in mind a vet needs to be federally accredited to sign a health certificate, so if your regular vet doesn't meet that standard, ask him to recommend a vet who does. After your dog's been examined and declared to be in good health, the vet will issue you a health certificate saying your dog doesn't appear to have any contagious conditions. The vet will give you a copy, keep a copy for his records and forward a copy to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Different Rules for Different States

Not all states require health certificates for dogs crossing state lines, but most have some sort of regulations. Requiring health certificates helps to prevent the spread of disease. A host of animals are subject to regulation, including horses, livestock, companion animals and exotic pets. The only way to know for sure what your destination state requires is to contact its agriculture department or veterinary office.

Time Your Health Check

While it's nice to cross things off your to-do list while you prepare for your big move, don't move too quickly on that health certificate because it's only good for a limited time. Verify how long a health certificate is valid with the state you're moving to so you don't get your dog certified too soon. For example, some states accept a health certificate up to 21 days after it's signed by a vet, while others allow 30 days. When you get your health certificate, keep it handy in the glove compartment, along with your dog's shot records.

Other Moving Considerations

While you're verifying the requirements of your new state, take time to check its vaccination laws. Different states have different regulations regarding rabies vaccinations in particular. Understanding what your dog needs to be current will make your transition easier. Municipalities vary on dog laws, including how and when a dog must be leashed, breed restrictions and the number of dogs and cats allowed in a home, so double-check that your dog is welcome. Finally, though your pup may not care for the feel of a collar, he should wear one with current identification for the duration of the move. A current photograph of your dog should be kept with his health certificate and shot records.