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How to tell if a pet's health documents is real? / Verifying Fake Documents.

On the dark side of the pet relocation industry, or in fact, any industry, there exists the people who will bend and break the rules, producing fraudulent documents to earn a quick buck. This is one of the reasons why the US has upgraded its pet import regulations (launching August 1, 2024) that targets pets from rabies high-risk countries. Whether it's to protect the United States' biosecurity from dog-maintained rabies virus variant (DMRVV) or to clamp down the loopholes discovered ever since 2021's 1st implementation of the CDC Dog Import Permit, there is an important fact here:


This article is for the following people:

  • Airline staff receiving paperwork from pet owners or agents

  • Friends who are helping their friends by travelling with their pets

  • Pet nannies/buddies or agents who are helping the pet owner or other agents with just one part of the move.

If you are caught with fake paperwork, you are liable!

Fake document suppliers/criminals have gotten bolder since 2021. From doctoring the dates on rabies vaccination records to make them valid for travel requirements, they have now gone much bolder, producing entire sets of documents and medical history to meet the importing country's requirements. To use an analogy, things have evolved from changing dates on a resume to hide periods of unemployment, to providing physical graduation certificates from famous institutions. Now how many of you would question a framed educational certificate hanging on a wall?

Below we have provided resources on the types of paperwork being faked and how to verify them. Unfortunately, this is only specific to fake US documents (albeit possibly produced elsewhere). We do not doubt other countries content with fake paperwork as well and we can only hope others may also offer resources specific to their region to help others.

Some of the following may be obvious, while others will present you with concrete proof on whether you should accept handling those documents. Do not be someone else's patsy, it isn't worth it.

International Health Certificates endorsed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

For pets travelling from the US to another country, the requirement for that country's version of a health certificate to be endorsed by the USDA is almost universal. For more context, after your pet gets examined by a vet and a health certificate is issued, that documents need to be further endorsed by USDA. Depending on the importing country, this endorsement can be digital or physically embossed onto the health certificate. Some countries like Australia (due to their own biosecurity laws) and "constant" communication with USDA make it hard for the health certificate to be faked but other countries such as China, Hong Kong, South Korea makes the use of fake health certificate and other documents almost "the normal". If your imagination hasn't caught up yet, then let me be clear, there exists companies who will sell a health certificate bearing USDA embossed stamp and signature by both a vet and a USDA officer without your pet ever seeing a vet. To the layman, and indeed, many agents, airlines and country officials, they look completely authentic - no one expecting the audacity for people to fabricate USDA's embossed stamp.

Those who have handled USDA endorsed health certificates would be familiar with this stamp. Some of us even having to color it in (using carbon paper) so that it would show up on scans so that it can satisfy the importing country's pre-check requirement.

Now that you know it can be faked, this is how to check if the health certificate in your hands is authentic.

After endorsement, each health certificate is assigned a certificate number usually on the top right corner of the 1st page.

The Veterinary Export Health Certificate System (VEHCS) now has a VEHCS Certificate Viewer that contains the database of all health certificate endorsed by the USDA since the start of 2024.

Selecting "VEHCS Certificate Viewer" takes you the following page where you can enter the Certificate Number, Country of Destination and Security Check Captcha.

Due to the possibility of certificate numbers being reused by the fake document criminals, please verify the details in the health certificate with those shown on the VEHCS results page. You can go further by actually clicking "View Certificate" to see the actual scan of the certificate from USDA's database to compare with the document you have.

Obviously, if the certificate number cannot be found (showing the error in red above), you are very likely looking at/holding a fake health certificate. We strongly encourage not using this health certificate to facilitate the pet's export and to gather as much information as possible before bringing it to the authorities. It's unfortunately not clear how to bring these to their attention, so if you'd like, please email us with those details so we may consolidate it., please indicate "Fake documents found:" as your subject.

Rabies Titer FAVN Reports

Due to having seen quite a number and verifying it via the following and other means, we are certain that of the existence of fake lab reports. Like the VEHCS Certificate Viewer, some labs also have their own verification portal to verify report. While they are originally used for pet owners and agents to check on the status of the testing, they can otherwise also prove if a lab report is authentic.

The two most common labs that produce Rabies Titer FAVN Reports are Kansas State University and Auburn University.

Kansas State University: Rabies Search (

Like the Health Certificate's certificate number, please verify the information on the website portal against those on the lab report. We have come across one particular incident where the microchip yielded results, but the dates did not match. The reason for this was that while the owner did indeed do the test, she couldn't wait for the results to travel and thus resorted to buy a set of documents regardless. Nonetheless, that still meant that the lab report in hand was fake.

So far, the fake lab reports we have found are lazily similar, seeing one makes it easy to spot another, but we won't show them here so as not to encourage the criminals to improve their craft. So far, having the 2 sticker labels typically found on the lab reports have been good enough to fool both airlines and the importing country's officials. Authorities who are interested can reach out to us for what we have collected so far.

Rabies Vaccination Certificates

Last but not least, the most common document and perhaps easiest to be faked is the Rabies vaccination certificate. Unfortunately, there are little consistencies over the format and look of the rabies vaccination certificate to be able to spot a fake. Fortunately, to verify one is to simply call the hospital that issued it. We don't encourage everyone to call, since hospitals don't really have manpower to field such calls, but we agents do as part of our standard operating procedures. We primarily call the hospitals to obtain certain details that are required but are usually missing from vaccination certificates (due to how the software was set up) such as microchip numbers, doctor's signatures and vaccination manufacturer name and product names. Doing so, we hit two birds with one stone by verifying that the pet did indeed receive that vaccination at that hospital and on that date.

If you really do suspect something and do want to call to verify, you should. However, that's also the reason why most fake documents suppliers and the people who use fake documents usually travel on a weekend, when the USDA, lab as well as most hospitals are closed. Gradually, flight bookings may only be acceptable from certain recognized agents (such as those that are part of the IPATA network) who airlines can trust to have verified those documents and paperwork so that they do not have to spend the additional manpower doing so or risk being liable for processing a pet for travel with fake documents.

While we have observed that most fake document criminals haven't yet become very creative, you should nonetheless be wary that the contact number on the rabies vaccination certificate might not be the hospital. We have had a couple of events where a call to the phone number on the certificate (allegedly for the hospital) was answered and the person was able to verify all the details on the vaccination certificate, but from experience speaking with hospitals as well as a hunch, we were not able to contact that number at a later date or verify that the hospitals (which existed) ever had that contact number. Of course, we also verified that the hospital did not have that pet's records. Sounding like a far-fetched conspiracy theory? Think about how easy it would be to get a friend to take a call from a potential employer asking for job references and what that friend would say to make you sound like the best employee?

General Inconsistencies

When more paperwork and pet details are available, some general inconsistencies can be easily noted, such as If a pet lives in South Carolina, why would they have a vaccination record issued by a vet in New York? It's not impossible, and we do not expect every paperwork you come across to be scrutinized like a detective would, but it does raise some flags.

Over the years, we have seen dumb flags that needed further looking into like:

  • A dog with cat's paperwork/vaccines.

  • Impossible vaccination manufacturer and brand combinations

  • Questionable or impossible dates i.e. Jan 1, 2020 or Feb 30.

  • Wrong breeds and ages (as verified against a picture of the pet)


We hope this does at least give you the reader some tools to protect yourself with. With the new website portals, it's become much easier to verify the authenticity of these paperwork. Do check them and don't be made into a patsy. Compile and report these documents to the relevant authority. If you have a sense of justice and feel that they are falling on deaf ears, send them to us at with "Fake documents found:" as the subject.


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