Pet Care: Happy Landings for Pets, Part 1
If air travel for your pet to or from Costa Rica is a new experience, thorough preparation will ensure you both have a happy landing. It all starts with planning carefully and as early as possible to avoid complications and last-minute chaos.
Keep in mind the paperwork relating to your pet's health status has some datesensitive aspects. Certain windows of time are critical for either not acting prematurely or not acting soon enough.
Costa Rica's National Service for Animal Health (SENASA) requires an international health certificate for all dogs and cats upon arrival at San José or Liberia airport. Originating with the national animal health agency in your departure country, the certificate must be completed by the licensed veterinarian you choose to examine your pet and administer any vaccinations, testing or treatments as needed.
Completion of your pet's health certificate, and subsequent endorsement by an official government veterinarian in your home jurisdiction, must occur within two weeks of your flight to Costa Rica. However, airlines typically request the certificate be completed within 10 days of your departure date. Some might ask you to submit a copy in advance. Be sure to clarify this with the airline when booking your flights.
All dogs and cats older than three months old require a rabies vaccination at least one month prior to their departure flight date. Dogs must also be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and leptospirosis.. Treatment for external and internal parasites is also necessary within a specified time period.
Dogs or cats traveling to Costa Rica from a European Union country must have an EU passport and rabies antibodies test report, in addition to the international health certificate. The test report requirements can add up to three extra months to the health paperwork processing timeline.
Your pet's health certificate for air travel to Costa Rica is valid for 30 days from the date stamped. If your departure flight after visiting Costa Rica is within that time period, no more paperwork will be necessary.
For visits exceeding the health certificate's expiry date, or pets living here to leave the country, a similar paperwork process is followed in reverse. There may be some differences, however, depending on the destination country. A veterinarian in Costa Rica examines your pet and completes a certificate of health for stamped authorization by SENASA, again valid for 30 days. In some instances, a lawyer's stamp may also be necessary.
For trips planned outside Costa Rica, consulting with your veterinarian here is a good place to start, and may save you time and effort in taking further steps. Our clinic, for example, can look after the entire examination and documentation process, including stamping and fees. As always, we advise making arrangements as far in advance as possible to avoid complications and inconvenience.
Keep in mind the paperwork relating to your pet’s health status has some date-sensitive aspects.