Transporting Animals Across State Lines

Transporting Animals Across State Lines

Are you considering getting into the animal transport business? If you are going to be transporting animals across state lines, there are a few things

There are many rules and regulations for interstate animal transport, and attention to detail is critical. You will need to acquire the proper licensing, follow the standards for animal welfare, and collect essential documentation. Skipping any of these steps could have serious consequences for your new business. Navigating this process can be tedious, and requirements often differ between states. Luckily, this article will help make the process easier by showing you what you need to know before transporting an animal across state lines. 

Licensing Requirements

Before you start your transport business, it is essential to acquire the necessary licensing. To do so, you will need to determine what kind of animals you will be transporting. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the transport of all warm-blooded animals. Because of this, you will need to apply for a USDA transport license and register your business appropriately. You can find more information about this process on the USDA’s website . Keep in mind that the transport of birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians is not regulated in the same way, and licensing requirements for these animals may differ. 

In addition to USDA licensing, additional state licenses may also be necessary to conduct business. In Colorado, all animal transporters must be approved by Colorado’s Pet Animal Care Facilities Act Program (PACFA). Before accepting a transport job, always make sure you check the licensing requirements for the state you are traveling to. Failure to do so could result in hefty fines, a cease and desist order, and even a criminal summons.

USDA Animal Welfare Act

To get a transport license, you will need to pass a facility inspection. This process involves an assessment of your transport vehicle to ensure proper safety and welfare standards are in place. The USDA Animal Welfare act is the most commonly used set of animal safety standards. The Animal Welfare Act was first passed in 1996 to ensure the proper treatment of animals. It includes regulations on vehicle ventilation and enclosure requirements.

The Animal Welfare Act is an excellent resource for transporters as they start planning their transport business. Following these protocols will help your business pass inspection and ensure you provide the best experience for the animals in your care.

Health Certificates

Once you have the appropriate license, you need to think about transport documents. One of the most important documents you will need to obtain is a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for the animal you are transporting, often referred to as a health certificate. 

A health certificate is an official document prepared by a veterinarian accredited by the USDA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This document certifies that the animal in question has received the appropriate medical care and is healthy for travel.

It is the animal owner's responsibility to acquire the health certificate from their veterinarian. However, it is your responsibility to review the document before transport. Here are a few things to pay close attention to when looking over a health certificate: 

  • Date of Inspection

    For most states, the health inspection must occur within the 30-day window before the animal arrives. However, this timeline can differ depending on the animal species and the destination. For example, in California, horses must be examined in the 10-day window before arrival. It is always a good idea to check your specific state’s requirements before you accept an animal for transport. You can do this by visiting this site, created by the United States Animal Health and National Institute for Animal Agriculture. Their site contains a “Find Requirements” tool that details what you need to know based on the type of animal you are transporting, your origin, and your final destination.

  • Description of the Animal

    For livestock and horses, veterinarians can list multiple animals on a single health certificate. Unfortunately, this can lead to costly mix-ups with transport. With large groups of animals, it may be tempting to simply compare the number of animals listed on the certificate to the number of animals going into the trailer or transport vehicle. However, this is not enough. You should always check the animal descriptions and identification tags to avoid transporting animals for which you do not have a health certificate. If you transport an animal that is not properly listed on the health certificate, inspectors may turn away the entire group of animals at the final destination.

  • Address of Final Destination

    Finally, make sure you double-check the final destination listed on the health certificate. This is especially important if you are transporting livestock to fairgrounds or an auction facility. If the address listed on the health certificate is different than the address the owner has provided you, you may not be able to offload the animals.

Additional Documentation

While health certificates are essential, there are some additional documents you may need to consider. Any time you transport animals across state lines, you take on a fair amount of legal liability. Consider talking to an attorney to determine what kind of liability coverage or insurance you should carry. You should also have liability forms drafted for animal owners to sign before transport. Ensure the owner understands the risk associated with travel and all documents are signed before the trip begins. 
 Another helpful form to consider is a contact information form. The form should include the contact information for the owner and the person who is receiving the animals. This information will allow you to contact the owner if there are any unforeseen issues during transport. It will also help coordinate delivery with the person at the final destination, as delivery times can be hard to predict on long transports.

Final Considerations

Transporting animals across state lines is a serious undertaking. Before taking on a job of this magnitude, make sure you have done your homework and are prepared for the task. Check the licensing requirements and welfare standards for the species you are transporting. Understand that these can vary between states. Do your research on the health requirements for the state you are traveling to and make sure you have adequate legal coverage. Interstate transport is in high demand, and with the proper preparation, you will be on your way to providing top-notch service.