Get Your Pet's Documents and Carrier Ready for Brazil Travel

Feb.27, 2013 Update: This article is being checked in relation to the International Health Certificate exact validity (see page 5).

If you are traveling to Brazil with you pet, this step-by-step will help you find out what documents you need and offer you some other planning tips.

These tips are particularly pertinent to cats and dogs. Other pets are subject to an additional requirement: a pre-import authorization issued by a local chapter of Brazil's Servi├žo de Sanidade Agropecu├íria - SEDESA for each state you intend to visit. Some animals may also need an authorization from IBAMA.

This step-by-step also incorporates the change in the process brought about Presidential Decree 6946 of August 21, 2009, which eliminated the need to have your pet's international health certificate legalized by a Brazil consulate, with a few exceptions, mentioned in this step.

Animal health departments mentioned in this article apply to the United States. If you're a resident of another country, you will need to check which department can validate the health certificate issued by your pet's veterinarian. Other restrictions and requirements may apply.

Before you get started, set aside a folder for you pet's travel documents, checklists and notes. Decide ahead of time how you will keep your pet's travel documents in your carry-on luggage. It's very important to be organized in your planning, especially during the 10 days before departure, when you will go through a bureaucratic tour de force.

Ideally, pet travel planning starts when you are choosing your airline. Analyze carefully each airline company's requirements and fares.

Be especially inquisitive about:

Pet carrier, or crate, requirements - Ask about size, kind, material, tags, plastic locks, size of openings and attachments, such as water dispensers.
Procedures prior to check-in - How much earlier should you arrive? Where do you take your pet?
Where you will retrieve your pet - This is extremely important. Your pet will not necessarily be placed on the luggage shuttle at your final destination. Depending on the airline, maybe your pet will be taken directly to another building at the destination airport and you will need to take a cab to get there. Inquire both about the arrival in Brazil and the arrival back home.
Where your pet will be if he arrives before you do - If your pet gets transferred to the correct connection and you stay behind for some reason, where will he be taken upon arrival at the destination airport?

Once you decide which airline you will travel on, write a detailed checklist with all their pet guidelines and save it in your pet's travel folder.

01 of 09

Find Your Pet's Certificate of Rabies Vaccination

Maybe you haven't needed your pet's records for a while. Locate them and save them in your folder. If you can't find them, call your pet's veterinarian and request a copy right away.

Make sure you have the Certificate of Rabies Vaccination, signed by the vet, with all the following information about the vaccine dose:

  • Tag number
  • Date of vaccination
  • Revaccination due date
  • Drug manufacturer
  • Serial number
  • Vaccine expiration date

On the same document, there should be information about your pet (name, DOB, weight, breed, color, species, sex and information about spaying/neutering).

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02 of 09

Check if the Rabies Vaccine is Within Brazil's Requirements

If your pet is over 90 days old, she must have had her rabies vaccine less than 1 year prior to date of entry in Brazil and at least 10 days before the date of entry into Brazil (30 days if it's the first vaccination).

You will have to go through a similar process before leaving Brazil, so make sure the return trip fits into those deadlines as well.

Brazil's pet admission guidelines determine 1 year expiration dates for rabies vaccination. Maybe your pet has had a longer-lasting rabies shot; in the US, the three-year rabies shot is widely available.

According to Brazil directives, pets on a three-year rabies vaccine that's past the one-year mark should be re-inoculated and allowed the time for it to take effect before attempting the trip to Brazil; since the country has no pet quarantine facilities, an animal past the one-year mark could be refused admission by the official in charge upon arrival and sent back to its country of origin.

Note that all the professionals responsible for the screening of pets at Brazil ports of entry have decision-making authority regarding admission.

When Pets Can't Take the Rabies Vaccine

Dogs and cats younger than three months are not supposed to take rabies shots. Pets that will be within that age range upon arrival in Brazil will still need to go through an exam and be given an International Health Certificate, in which the veterinarian will certify that the pet is too young to receive the vaccine.

However, note that if the pet turns three months while in Brazil, it will need to be inoculated in Brazil before it can leave the country. And for the very first rabies inoculation, there is a waiting period of 30 days after the shot until the pet can travel again. So if you're traveling to Brazil with a young dog or cat, make sure the pet will have left Brazil before it is three months old.

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03 of 09

Start Shopping for Your Pet's Trip

Plan ahead and check what you need to buy well in advance so you don't have to add pet travel shopping to your pre-travel rush. Your check list should include:

  • Dog carrier or cat carrier
  • Plastic locks
  • Water dispenser
  • Training pads to line the crate
  • Toys
  • Blanket

Set aside a place where you can pack all your pet's accoutrements, so you will know where to find everything on travel day.

Test the water dispenser. Try to get your pet used to the water dispenser, offering a drink from it when you know he tends to be thirsty - right after a meal or after a walk, for example.

Test the plastic locks. Let your pet play with the new toys and sleep on the new blanket so they are familiar objects on travel day.

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04 of 09

Get your Pet's International Health Certificate

Call your pet's veterinarian and check:

  • Is the veterinarian accredited to issue an International Health Certificate?
  • How much does it cost for a visit and the Certificate?
  • How long in advance do you need to schedule an appointment?

Ask the veterinarian if there are any infectious diseases particular going on in your area that your pet's health certificate should indicate she has been cleared of.

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05 of 09

Get Ready to Run: Planning the 10 Days Before Departure

No more than 10 days must pass between the issuing of the International Health Certificate and your pet's arrival in Brazil. It is a very tight schedule, but it can be done.

You will need to do two things within those 10 days (while getting yourself ready to travel):

  • Take your pet to his veterinarian and obtain the International Health Certificate
  • Take the Certificate to the United States Department of Agrigulture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) veterinarian closest to you. The APHIS veterinarian will validate the International Health Certificate.

It used to be necessary to have the the original International Health Certificate, signed by the APHIS veterinarian, legalized at the Brazilian Consulate in your area. That step is no longer necessary, except for a few countries. Find out which countries still need consular legalization of the International Health Certificate for Brazil Travel in this step.

There aren't many APHIS-accredited offices. In the next step, you will learn how to locate them and what you need to get your paperwork done quickly.

Try to plan your schedule so that you can either mail in the International Health Certificate or drive to the APHIS office on the same day you obtain it. That would save you precious time, since APHIS offices are only open on business days, while the International Health Certificate will expire after 10 consecutive days.

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06 of 09

Have the International Health Certificate Validated by APHIS

Go to the APHIS Area Office Map and locate the office nearest you.

The APHIS office does not request that you bring your pet. What they need is:

  • Your pet's Certificate of Rabies Vaccination (see step 5). They don't require the original document, but Brazil does. Please provide the original.
  • Your pet's International Health Certificate (see step 8). It must be the original.
  • A money order for the endorsement fee.

Now call the APHIS office and find out how you can get this paperwork processed. I called the Texas office and got this information:

  • They don't take walk-ins. If you plan on taking the certificates to the office, you need to make an appointment at least 2 or 3 days in advance.
  • Once you leave your certificates at the office, you must allow for a 24-hour period before you can pick them up or have them sent to you.
  • Appointment hours are Mon to Fri, 8a-2p.
  • Certificates can be sent express (overnight) with a pre-paid return airbill so they can get back to you also express. If you fail to provide for express return, the certificates will be sent to you by regular mail.
  • There is a $24 endorsement fee.
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07 of 09

Consular Legalization No Longer Needed for Brazil Pet Travel (With Exceptions)

Updated on Dec.21, 2009

Presidential decree 6946 of August 21, 2009 did away with the need to have the International Health Certificate legalized by a Brazil consulate, with a few exceptions.

The decree is valid for the whole Brazil territory and for representations abroad.

As of this writing, only nationals of four countries need to have their pet's International Health Certificates lealized by a Brazil consulate. That need is based on a reciprocity agreement - the four countries in question require consular validation from Brazilian nationals entering their territory with pets. The countries are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kenya.

US travelers don't need this step anymore. Consular legalization should not be requested at Brazil's ports of entry. When you apply for your visa, should any doubts come up regarding the need for consular legalization of your cat's or dog's health certificate, have a printout of decree 6946 at hand for clarification.

The writer would like to thank the Ministry of Agriculture for information regarding Decree 6946 and the new regulations for pet travel to Brazil.

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08 of 09

Organize Your Pet's Travel Folder

Once you get your pet's documents from the Brazilian Consulate, prepare your pet's travel folder. Here's a checklist:

  • Certificate of Rabies Vaccination
  • International Health Certificate validated by the APHIS
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09 of 09

Prepare Your Pet's Crate and Travel Items

Set up your pet's carrier according to the airline checklist. Make sure the carrier has all the requested tags - usually Live Animal, This Side Up, pet name, and address tags.

Make sure your pet's name is clearly indicated on the carrier. It's a great comfort to see airline and airport employees calling your pet by name in soothing tones - even though in Brazil, some English names might be adapted to Portuguese pronunciation and get your pet wondering - Are you talking to me?

Make sure you pack a leash for a quick walk right before you go into the aiport for check-in. Keep it in your carry-on luggage. If your flight to Brazil stops at Miami International Airport, as many do, you may be able to take your pet to their nice pet relief area, complete with grass, paths and lamp posts.

Hopefully, careful planning will help avoid at least some of the stress involved in getting your pet ready for air travel to Brazil.

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