Airline Travel for Pets Guide

Required Pet Documents for Airline Travel

­An air traveler's worst nightmare is arriving at the airport, getting to security and realizing you don't have proper documentation. The same rules appl­y for pets.

No documents means no flying. Every state has its own rules and regulations regarding what kinds of pets can enter the state [source: ODA]. The most common types of documentation needed are:

  • Rabies Vaccination: Rabies is a nasty disease in animals and humans alike. While the amount of rabies victims has decreased significantly through the years, the victim rate has yet to reach zero [source: CDC]. Some states require a checkup within a certain amount of days of travel. Hawaii has a particularly stringent animal air travel policy. Be sure to check with your state and the state you are flying to well in advance of traveling [source: ODA].
  • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection: The CVI is also called a Health Certificate. This is a signed document from a veterinarian that states he or she has inspected the animal for diseases and overall health. These documents usually are only valid for a certain time, so check with your state to ensure yours doesn't expire before you fly [ODA].
  • Acclimation Certificate: This document features regulations about hot and cold weather extremes. Animals who are not accustomed to extreme cold can be harmed by a sudden burst of cold weather while waiting to be placed in plane storage and while on the plane. Call your airline to determine if you need this type of document [sources: LoGiudice, Delta].

Additional documentation needed may include a Confirmation of Feeding (food and water before the flight), Live Animal Checklist (instructions for the airline handlers) and tranquilizer consent forms (from a veterinarian) [source: Delta].