McKee-Pownall Equine Services | Health Care FAQ

Health Care FAQ

What is Required to get Export Papers for my Horse to Travel out of the Country?

Export Papers

Export documents are required for any horse crossing the border to the United States, and for any horse being exported to another country. Health papers play a vital role in preventing the transmission of infectious disease, and allow for tracking of horses in case of an outbreak. The recent cases of equine herpesvirus in Florida underscore the importance of this process. While crossing the border is usually quite simple, preparation is the key to a smooth trip!
It is a good idea to start the process of obtaining your travel documents 7-10 days prior to departure, which allows enough time to prepare the paperwork and obtain government authorization.

Necessary Steps:

  1. You will need a coggins test with a negative result taken within 180 days of departure. If the coggins will expire after you leave, but before you return, you should get a new one. Turnaround time for a coggins test is 2-3 days.
  2. A veterinarian will perform a physical exam on your horse to detect evidence of any infectious disease. It is important to let the vet know if there have been any outbreaks on the property recently, and they will need to see the original copy of the coggins test. If your horse is grey, be sure to make the vet aware of any "invisible" white markings that may only be evident if the horse is wet or clipped.
  3. The health certificate, including a drawing of your horse's markings and brands, as well as the address of destination, confirmation of negative coggins test, and owner information, will be signed by the attending veterinarian.
  4. Most owners will have our office take the original coggins and health certificate for federal endorsement. The government vets are not always available due to other duties, so it is a good idea to leave extra time/days for this step. Please keep this in mind during holidays.
  5. If you decided to take the papers to the federal vet for endorsement yourself, please call ahead to your local office as an appointment is sometimes required. Our office is happy to provide you with the phone numbers. The health certificate, as well as THE ORIGINAL COPY of the negative coggins test, must be taken to the federal veterinary office in your district for an official stamp. Again, please allow extra time for this step as the federal vet is not always available all day, every day.
  6. You must make an appointment with the border officials prior to departure if crossing in Ontario. Your vet office can provide the numbers if needed, or you can check the Canadian Border Services Agency or US Border Services
  7. At the border, your documents will be inspected. The official veterinarian may or may not choose to unload your horse or search your trailer. A fee will be involved with the inspection. Please check the website at your planned crossing for details.
  8. This is the simplest scenario for export. There are additional requirements depending on the health and breeding status of the horse, and on the country or destination. Please contact us for more details.

RUSH situations: If your coggins is out of date, and the time frame is short, we may
order a “rush” coggins, with a slightly shorter turn around time. The lab charges an
additional fee for this service. Although we do whatever we can to accommodate your
travel plans, due to lab delays, availability of federal vets and pickup/drop off of
papers, there are no guarantees that a “rush” coggins will result in health papers being
ready depending on the time line.

Horses Imported/Exported to an from Europe

Horses being imported from Europe are also subject to additional testing prior to being
able to travel to the United States. If the horse is expected to travel to the US within 60
days of importation, please notify McKee-Pownall Equine Services so that we may
arrange additional testing and health paper requirements as soon as possible. Testing
can take and additional 14-21 days, as the US requires lab samples to be sent to their
federal lab in Iowa. Horses traveling to Europe may also require additional testing
depending on the destination country as well as any landing stops. These rules change
frequently, so please notify the office if travel to a European country is in the cards for
your horses. We would like the process to be as smooth, timely and cost-effective for
you as possible.

Dog Export

As a side note, any dogs traveling to the US must provide Rabies vaccination Certification from the veterinarian who administered the vaccine.