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Veterinary Export Health Certification System

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services (USDA, APHIS, VS) has an online electronic system for the creation, issuance, and endorsement of U.S. veterinary export health certificates used for the export of live animals and germplasm (semen, embryos, oocytes) called Veterinary Export Health Certification System (VEHCS). Using a secure server, VEHCS allows electronic issuance and digital endorsement of international health certificates.

Because VEHCS acceptance varies by importing country, we have placed color-coded banners within the APHIS International Regulations (IRegs) Website and Pet Travel Website. These banners will help you determine when APHIS’ online system for digital issuance and/or endorsement of export health certificates for live animals and germplasm can be used, as well as the type of signature (digital versus original ink) accepted on health certificates by each destination country.

Current & accurate information on IRegs

The IRegs page is where you can find the most current and accurate information on the country-specific requirements for the movement (export) of live animals, excluding pets but including livestock, horses, poultry, aquaculture, and germplasm from the United States to a foreign country. The APHIS Pet Travel Website is where you can find information regarding the movement requirements for privately-owned pets (e.g. dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, etc.) from the United States to countries around the globe. On both websites, at the top of each destination country’s page, there will be a color-coded banner indicating the type of signature that country accepts on health certificates from both the issuing USDA Accredited Veterinarian (AV) and the endorsing APHIS Veterinary Medical Officer (VMO). The banner will also note whether or not the embossed (raised) APHIS Seal will be present on the APHIS endorsed international health certificate.

NOTE: A printed paper copy of the completed health certificate must accompany EVERY live animal and germplasm shipment, regardless of how it is issued/endorsed.

Explanation of color-coded banners:

  • The RED banner indicates that an original ink signature is required from both the AV and the VMO. Certificates cannot be accepted through VEHCS for this country.
  • The ORANGE banner indicates that AVs may electronically sign and issue health certificates through VEHCS. The health certificate must then be printed by APHIS and requires a VMO's original ink signature with application of the APHIS embossed seal.
  • The GREEN banner indicates that AVs may electronically sign and issue health certificates through VEHCS, and an APHIS VMO may digitally endorse. The APHIS embossed seal of the printed hardcopy is not required when the certificate is digitally endorsed.
  • The YELLOW banner indicates the country has varied requirements:
    • For certain commodities (i.e. types of animals), AVs may electronically sign and issue health certificates through VEHCS, and the APHIS VMO may digitally endorse. The APHIS embossed seal of the printed hardcopy is not required when the certificate is digitally endorsed; OR
    • For all other commodities, original ink signature is required from both the AV and the APHIS VMO, with application of the APHIS embossed seal. 

Please read the information under each commodity heading on the IRegs page for that country to determine which type of signature is accepted.

  • The PURPLE banner indicates that AVs may electronically sign and issue all animal health certificates for that country through VEHCS. The endorsing APHIS VMO will then EITHER:
    • For certain commodities (i.e. types of animals), the APHIS VMO can digitally endorse the health certificate. The APHIS embossed seal of the printed hardcopy is not required when the certificate is digitally endorsed; OR
    • For all other commodities, the health certificate must be printed by APHIS and requires a VMO's original ink signature with application of the APHIS embossed seal.

Please read the information under each commodity heading on the IRegs page for that country to determine which type of VMO signature is accepted.

  • The BLUE banner indicates that AVs may electronically sign and issue health certificates through VEHCS, and the VMO may digitally endorse. Once the health certificate is digitally endorsed by the VMO in VEHCS, the AV must print a hard copy and apply his or her original ink signature atop the printed digital signature line, prior to export. The APHIS embossed seal of the printed hardcopy is not required when the certificate is digitally endorsed, even though an original ink signature is placed over the digital signature by the AV.

Color-coded banner summary chart:

 

RED

ORANGE

GREEN

YELLOW

PURPLE

BLUE

Accredited Veterinarian Signature

Original signature

Electronic signature

Electronic signature

Electronic signature for SOME commodities only (Please refer to IREGs)

Electronic signature

Electronic signature with subsequent original signature after APHIS digital signature

APHIS VMO Signature

Original signature and apply embossed seal

Original signature and apply embossed seal

Digital signature                         DO NOT APPLY EMBOSSED SEAL

Digital signature for SOME commodities only (Please refer to IREGs)

Digital signature for SOME commodities only  (Please refer to IREGs)

Digital signature                                             DO NOT APPLY EMBOSSED SEAL

Contact information

Shanna Siegel, DVM, MPH
Director of Live Animal Exports
United States Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Veterinary Services - Strategy and Policy