Requirements for Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets
Pets coming into Washington from within the United States must have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), also known as a health certificate issued within 30 days prior to entry. A licensed and accredited veterinarian must complete the examination certifying that the animal is free of infectious disease and satisfies state import requirements under the state rule WAC16-54-170. The veterinarian who conducts the examination must be the person who signs the certificate.
Dogs, cats, and ferrets that are family pets and have current valid rabies vaccination certificates and are traveling with their owners with no intent of a change of ownership are exempt from the CVI requirement.
The CVI must indicate that the following vaccination and test requirements have been met.
- Rabies - Current rabies vaccination. Dogs younger than 3 months are exempt.
- Heartworm - Dogs 6 months and older must test negative for heartworm or be currently on a heartworm preventative. Dogs that have been owned by the same owner for more than one month and are traveling with their owners with no intent of a change of ownership are exempt.
Cats and Ferrets
- Rabies - Current rabies vaccination. Cats and ferrets younger than 3 months are exempt.
Pets coming into Washington from outside the United States must meet federal and state import requirements.
Contact Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) - Animal Health Program at 360-902-1878 with questions on import requirements for pets.
Pets traveling to another state or foreign country must meet requirements specific to that destination.
Interstate and International Requirements
We encourage owners to travel with a copy of their pet's valid rabies vaccination certificate and CVI.
Answers to a few common questions
I'm importing a pet that's not old enough for its rabies vaccination. What should I know?
Unvaccinated pets that enter from another state will still have to be vaccinated against rabies according to state requirements. Keep your pet confined at home until its first rabies vaccination. Confined for another 30 days allowing time for the vaccination to take effect and give full protection to your pet.
I'm adopting a rescue pet from outside the state. What should I know?
Some people are buying and selling dogs and cats that have been imported illegally, including rescue pets. Importation of animals for adoption by any person or organization must comply with the same state and federal regulations. If you intend to adopt a cat or dog–adopt from a reputable pet rescue organization. The rescue should be open to answering your questions and be willing to share all information on the animal's current health. Be sure paperwork lists where the animal is coming from and where it is going. Check that the rabies vaccination certificate is complete, accurate, and information has not been falsified. Learn more, see WSDA's What to Know When Rescuing a Pet in Washington State.
What happens if I import a pet without a CVI?
First, make sure the veterinarian who completes your pet's CVI sends a copy to the state veterinarian at WSDA. Violation of Washington's import requirements is illegal. Failure to comply may result in fines or penalties according state rule WAC 16-60-030. Penalties can be up to $1,000 for forged documents or transporting animals into Washington without valid paperwork.
What is considered a “valid” rabies vaccination certificate?
When traveling, you may be asked to show “proof” that your pet is immunized against rabies. Always carry a copy of your pet's current, valid rabies vaccination certificate with you. Before leaving on your trip, make sure the certificate is complete and valid. Rabies vaccination certificate should include:
- Name and address of owner
- Breed, sex, color, markings and other identifying information for the pet
- Date of rabies vaccination and vaccine product information
- Date the vaccination expires
- Name, license number, address, and signature of veterinarian who administered the vaccination
Learn more from CDC on what is a valid rabies vaccination certificate necessary for international travel.
Do airlines have other requirements?
Airlines have their own rules on whether and how a pet can travel. Contact your airline to learn what pets and types of confinement satisfies their requirements and restrictions. For more information on how to fly with your pet, see CDC's Tips on Traveling with Pets and AVMA's Transporting Animals-Basic Requirements and Considerations.