Pet Travel: USDA Offices Running with Limited Staff During Shutdown

For those planning to travel with their pet in the coming months, be very aware that the United States Federal Government shutdown has caused all the USDA offices to operate with limited staff at best. It will be difficult to obtain USDA endorsement of veterinary and Annex II certificates until the shutdown is over. We recommend contacting your State USDA office and see if they will accommodate you. Be sure and make an appointment if you can. JFK and LAX offices are open to foot traffic if you are anywhere in the vicinity. Hopefully, traveling for pet owners will be easier real soon!


Pet Travel: USDA Offices Running with Limited Staff During Shutdown — 21 Comments

  1. I would like to know if the rule for requiring a rabies vaccination when flying a puppy (16 weeks old) within the U.S. varies from state to state? Toy dog breeds, from what I’ve been told by my vet, should be at LEAST six months of age before receiving a rabies vaccination. I went to a different vet for a health certificate today and she refused to sign the certificate if I refused the vaccination. Ultimately she called the USDA and was told it was not a requirement for the receiving state. Is there any type of list I may be directed to in order to find out the USDA rules for each state?
    Thank You

  2. Hi Bart – there should be no delays when you clear customs in the US because customs are considered essential personnel by the Federal Government. Their service should not be interrupted.

  3. I will be importing a dog INTO the US next week. Are there any issues, delays, etc. with the vet procedure at the airport when bringing dogs into the country?

  4. Thank you for your advice, and I contact the LAX, they do have a walk-in service from Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 11am. If anyone need any information, can call 3107251970. This post is really helpful!!!

  5. Jasmine – I would suggest contacting a pet transporter that serves LAX. The USDA office is open there and they can get the papers endorsed. Might cost you a small charge. Go to and search for a pet transporter that serves LAX. Hope this helps.

  6. Amy – JFK USDA office is open to foot traffic. Be prepared to wait, but they should be able to serve you. If you call, do it early in the morning and keep trying.

  7. Hi,
    I have a maltipoo and I want to take him back to Hong Kong. To import a live animal to HK, it requires a signature from a government vet, but the san diego USDA office is closed and I couldn’t contact them. So, how can I get that signature? I have a flight on Oct22.

  8. Hi, first of all, thank you so much for this posting.
    I’ve been stressed out because of the federal government shut down.
    I live in New York City and am leaving to Korea with my dog on 10/22 Tuesday.
    Do you know if JFK office is still open and providing walk-in service? Is it possible to make an appointment?
    If so, I will try to go there and get the endorsement on Monday.

  9. Scarlett – you are correct. You dog is not exempt from any of the requirements that other dogs have. We are on the east coast, so I am not sure whether the Seattle office is closed or not. Try early in the morning. I do know that the LAX office is open and you may contact an IPATA transporter there to see if they can handle the paperwork for you. and search for a pet transporter in LA. The contact info is there. Hope this helps.

  10. And I have all of that, I have my certification that he is a registered service animal and the letter from my mental health doctor saying I need him for anxiety, but I’m concerned about customs in Europe if this shutdown doesn’t end because the state office in Seattle is not responding about the health certificate, which to my knowledge I need it to travel overseas, even with my dog being ceritified.

  11. I am in oregon and am traveling over seas with my service animal to visit my partner on November 30th and having no hope with this resolving, how can I get the certificate seeing as I need my animal with me especailly to travel (he is trained to help with anxiety attacks)

  12. Hi Kay – if you are close enough, your best bet would be to go to the JFK office which is still open and provides walk in service (althought I would be prepared to wait..) They do close at 11 on Friday Both the Harrison and Richmond offices are open, but only with limited hours (9-1) and limited staff so you should keep calling if the first option is not good for you. Hope this helps.

  13. I have tried to reach USDA offices in NJ,PA,DC area literally over 100 times to make an appointment for the endorsement thingy. But none of them answered the phone call. My departure date is settled on 21st this month. Can anyone please help me?

  14. Julia – you should try to call your State USDA office and make an appointment with them. Sending your information via FedEx may not be practical because, if they are open, they are operating with limited staff. The CFIA will endorse certificates for residents of Canada, so I do not believe that is your answer.

  15. Hello,
    Can anyone please help me with the following: I urgently need an USDA endorsement or the equivalent. What USDA offices are open, if any? Im not in the military, so would a military vet even be an option?
    As a last resort, would it be possible to take my kitty to Canada and get CIFA endorsement? (Canada’s equivalent office to our USDA)
    I think it is absurd that a USDA endorsement is required in the first place when US vets are most highly qualified & competent to document a rabies vaccination! The UK bureacrats have been the instigators behind all this obcessive legislation- they have a lost empire complex. There isn’t any rabies in the UK – there never has been…My husband and I are relocating back to the UK and we will be taking our beloved Persian who is 13 years old. We have to make entry in Germany so our kitty can can fly with us in cabin as the UK will not allow entry to our kitty unless he flys cargo which for an elderly cat is just too severe. Now the additional obstacle-the USDA shutdown- government is not supposed to be such a hindrance.

  16. Anna – the shutdown has really affected pet travel. Some of the USDA offices are closed and some are operating on very limited staff. If you have access to a military vet and they are a signigicant rank and can endorse your Annex II form with an embossed seal, then you will probably be OK. If this is not possible, I would consider calling DEFRA and asking them their recommended course of action. or +44 20 7238 6951.

  17. Hello there!
    Do you have an update on the military veterinarians? I am moving to the UK in 10 days from San Francisco and I can’t get a hold of anyone at the USDA to sign my cat’s papers!

  18. Hi Sarah – there are military veterinarians that can endorse veterinary certificates in lieu of sending them to the USDA, but they have to be a certain rank and the endorsement must be embossed. I am checking on the rank, but, as you know, the USDA is hard to get a hold of these days.

  19. My husband is in the military and I heard the vets on post can be used instead of getting the usda approval. Do you know if that’s true? And if so does it have to be the vet where he’s stationed or can if be a vet at any post we’re near at the time?

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