In light of the recent dissolution of the agreement between Washington, Oregon and Idaho allowing travel between those states without a Coggins test, we thought it would be helpful to review what is required for interstate and international travel!
Are you thinking of hitting the road with your horse? Going to a show, camping, or moving? Make sure you have all the right documents to have a stress-free trip!
Each state has their own requirements for paperwork when you are bringing your horse into their state. The three things you absolutely must have when traveling from Washington to another state or Canada are: Coggins Test, Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, and Horse Identification Certificate.
A Coggins test is a blood test to see if your horse has Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). EIA is an infectious blood-borne disease caused by a lentivirus (similar to HIV in humans) affecting horses, donkeys, and mules. The disease is spread by blood-feeding insects and the sharing of blood-contaminated items, such as needles and syringes. There is no treatment or vaccine for EIA and it is a life-long infection. Many times horses will show no outward signs of infection but they can in fact be harboring the disease. Testing is crucial to controlling the spread and outbreaks of this disease, which is unfortunately still alive and well. (Learn more about EIA)
Most states require a negative Coggins test within 6 to 12 months of travel; Canada requires a negative Coggins within 6 months. Oregon, Idaho & Washington previously had an agreement not requiring a negative Coggins when traveling between the three states, but that was revoked in February 2017 due to positive EIA cases in all three states in 2015 & 2016.
The test requires a simple blood draw, some paperwork, and is back within 2 days. There is an expedited version of the test available which yields results within 12 to 24 hours. Electronic Coggins tests are available through GlobalVetLINK, which allows you to access and print your horse's results at any time. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about utilizing this service.
Certificate of Veterinary Inspection
Commonly referred to as a "health certificate," this paperwork certifies that your horse appears to be free of infectious, contagious and communicable diseases and that they can safely travel to other states. It requires a brief physical exam by a veterinarian to determine that your horse is healthy and then they will fill out the pertinent information and issue the certificate.
Every state requires a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) within 30 days of travel (Texas is the only exception at 45 days). Some states, such as Oregon and Montana, require prior permit numbers to track entry of animals into their states. The certificate is only good for one trip and expires 30 days after the date of issue. If you are staying at your destination for over a month, you will need to find a veterinarian in that state to issue a certificate for you to come back home. As with the Coggins test, there is an electronic version of the CVI available through GlobalVetLINK.
Horse Identification Certificate
Typically referred to as a "brand inspection," the state of Washington requires that all horses traveling out of the state be inspected and issued this certificate by a certified livestock inspector, in many cases this may be your veterinarian. It is a proof of ownership document and is required even if your horse does not have a brand, and is intended to help prevent livestock theft.
There are three options: a one-way, annual or lifetime certificate. A one-way certificate can have more than one horse on it and is good for literally one-way; it won't work for a round trip so they are appropriate for horses that have been sold or if you are moving out-of-state. An annual certificate is good for one year from the date of issue and a separate one is required for each horse. A lifetime certificate is good for the life of your horse as long as the same person retains legal ownership. You are provided with a permanent ID card that includes a photo of your horse for easy identification. There are additional fees associated with these certificates, payable to the WA State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), and they range from $5 to $60 per horse.
Some states, such as Montana, will not issue a CVI (health certificate) permit number to horses that are not accompanied by a horse inspection certificate.
Six Month Horse Passport
If you will be traveling between the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California and Montana, your horse can be issued a Six Month Passport. It combines both a Coggins and CVI into one form and is typically good for 6 months from the date of the Coggins test. The passport can be issued and used as just a six month CVI if you have an existing Coggins test. You will be required to track your trips on the back of the passport paperwork and at the end of the 6 months, you will send a photocopy of it to each state you visited. This is a very convenient option if you are planning on frequent trips to multiple states.
For specific state import requirements, visit this website to direct you to the correct state laws.
In order to travel to their country, Canada requires that your horse have a negative Coggins test within 6 months and a Canadian International Certificate within 30 days of travel. (A Horse Inspection Certificate is still required by the state of Washington when traveling from WA to Canada.) Unlike the CVI, the Canadian "health certificate" requires endorsement by a federal veterinarian, which can take up to two weeks.
Typically your veterinarian will draw the blood for the Coggins test and start the International Certificate. Once the Coggins test results come back, the certificate is completed and sent via US Postal Service or FedEx to the Federal Vet's office in Olympia, WA. The paperwork can be expedited if required, or there may be appointments available if the horse owner wants to take the paperwork to Olympia to get it endorsed in person.
Travel to our most northern state has it's own requirements depending on the method in which your horse will be getting there. All horses need a Coggins within 60 days of travel. If they are traveling through Canada, they will need a Canadian International Certificate and if they are traveling via barge or air, they will need a regular interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, both within 30 days of travel.
Hawaii, Mexico & International Travel
Whether going to the islands, heading south or going abroad to Europe, Asia or beyond, each destination has their own unique requirements for travel and quarantine that would be impossible to be covered in this post! Your veterinarian is your best point of contact to find out what is required or they can put you in touch with the correct organization to get this information.
With a bit of advanced planning, you can get on the road to your next adventure with minimal hassle or stress!
(Please note: due to the nature of disease outbreaks, travel requirements and restrictions can change at any moment. Contact your veterinarian for the most up-to-date information.)