|Moo: I'm going where?!|
After I researched airline requirements, I needed to find out what importation requirements there would be from Germany, the US (especially the Department of Agriculture), and the military to bring my cat with me to Germany. I emailed back and forth with the state veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture and she was very helpful with explaining the requirements; she even sent me a checklist of things to do.
Keep in mind that these requirements are for a pet/companion animal; there would be totally different requirements for a breeding animal or one for sale, I am sure.
Here is what I found:
1. To move to Germany, the cat must have been microchipped with a microchip that meets certain ISO standards (International Organization for Standardization). This microchip can be read by the German microchip readers and are 15 digits long. If your pet doesn't have a microchip that is ISO compliant, but has a different chip, you could, in theory, buy your own scanner and bring it with you so the pet's microchip can be read. However, the microchip scanners can cost quite a bit (sometimes around $100) so it would make more sense to get the pet remicrochipped with a $35-ish ISO compliant chip.
2. The cat must have a rabies shot that is more than 21 days old but less than a year old. Be sure that your cat is microchipped BEFORE you get the rabies shot! The vet must register the rabies shot to the microchip to prove that the correct animal has been vaccinated. If you do it in the wrong order, you will have to get the animal revaccinated. I also found on some documentation that the vet's signature on the rabies certificate must be in blue ink. Even if you think that doesn't apply to you, it might be good to request blue ink just in case you need it for some reason. I believe the blue ink requirement is because it would be more difficult to forge/photocopy something recorded in blue ink. I had some snafus with this step; originally, I had Moo vaccinated at a mobile vet clinic at a pet supply store to save money on a office call. The vet gave me a carbon copy of the papers so the ink appeared black. I had a dickens of a time trying to get ahold of the vet for a certificate signed in blue because she was only a contractor. I was worried about receiving it in time so I ended up taking Moo to another vet and getting his shot redone. What a pain!
3. Within 10 days of the flight, the animal must have health papers (for my move to Germany, I am using the form called the "Veterinary Certificate to European Union") signed by a USDA approved vet who certifies that the cat is healthy and fit to fly. You would get this done at your regular vet if he's approved by the USDA. Your vet may have the papers but you can also look for them for the Dept. of Ag. Since I'm paranoid about having the most current edition, I will print them out and bring them myself since my rural vet doesn't get too many of these cases.
4. After the pet has been checked and has had the Vet certificate filled out with a vet who is USDA-approved, a vet at the USDA must examine the certificate and complete the APHIS 7001 form, International Health Certificate. The certificate will cost $38 from the USDA. The papers can be mailed to the office or you can take them in person. Since I have such a limited time frame, I plan to drive to the USDA offices right after my regular vet does the health certificate and get the papers signed then. I was worried about the papers getting lost in the mail or not being in time for the flight, which is right after holiday closures. Plus, to pay for overnighting the paperwork by mail both ways would cost more than just making the hour drive to the USDA office.
Bring the copy of your cat's rabies and microchip certificates, as well as the veterinary certificate.
Be sure to check with the USDA about their office hours as well as when they're available to do the international health certificate. My state's office only has certain hours that they do this and I made an appointment. The vet even told me that Mr. Moo is welcome to come with me inside; she has been so nice and helpful :) I'm totally feeling like a crazy cat lady at this point, for sure, because I'm happy that Moo gets accompany me for errands and of course, for the move.