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10 Steps to Bring Your Service Animal or Guide Dog to Another Country

Two people hold a puppy in front of a sign for guide dog training school in Spain
Two people hold a puppy in front of a sign for guide dog training school in Spain

Start planning early and consider international quarantine and vaccination laws.

  1. Contact the embassy or consulate of the country you will be visiting for information on the policies and requirements of that country. For example, legislation banning or restrictions placed on certain breeds or types of animal.
  2. Inquire with the Department or Ministry of Agriculture in your destination country about quarantine policies, and if they have different policies for guide dogs/service animals.
  3. Allow at least a year of planning if you want to get your guide dog/service animal certified under the Pet Passport scheme. These certifications are helpful and sometimes required for people planning to travel to multiple countries with their guide dog/service animal.
  4. Contact disability organizations or guide dog/service animal associations in the country you will be visiting for information on cultural attitudes towards service animals, particularly dogs.
  5. Carry an official-looking letter introducing the guide dog/service animal to government officials, business operators and anyone else who might attempt to restrict the animal’s access. Have the animal’s papers translated into the language of the destination country if possible.
  6. Obtain health and rabies certificates from your veterinarian. Have these documents notarized and then certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some countries also require other tests or the implantation of an identifying microchip. The microchip number must be on all documentation related to the animal when the customs officials scan for the microchip. U.S. microchips do not meet ISO (International Standards Organisation), so bring your own microchip reader or get a second microchip implanted that does meet the standard.
  7. Obtain a “good health” letter from your veterinarian on letterhead stating that your guide dog/service animal is in good health and up to date on all vaccinations. It may be expensive to get all the vaccinations needed. Some countries require that the veterinarian be on their list of professionals approved to provide such documentation.
  8. Bring a letter from your health professional stating that you require the animal and for what reason(s). This may be particularly important if you have a non-apparent disability. You may want to get this letter translated.
  9. Outfit the guide dog/service animal with recognizable gear. A jacket/ vest or guide dog-type harness with the words HEARING DOG FOR THE DEAF, SERVICE DOG/ANIMAL, or GUIDE DOG on the sides is a good way to let people know that your dog is an official service animal.
  10. Learn about requirements on re-entry to your home country, especially if you are traveling in areas where there are diseases, such as screwworm, that are screened upon re-entry.


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