What Is a CVI and Who Needs One?

The official document is essential for goats on the move

What Is a CVI and Who Needs One?

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By Jodi Helmer

Are you planning to sell goats to a farm in another state? Transporting the herd as part of an out-of-state move? Attending a livestock show far from home? You will likely need a certificate of veterinary inspection.  

“The CVI is commonly referred to as a Health Certificate,” says Terry Hensley MS, DVM, extension veterinarian for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “This document attests to the fact that the animal listed on the certificate have been examined by a veterinarian and did not exhibit any signs of illness or communicable animal diseases.” 

The requirements depend on factors such as age, gender, and reproductive status of the animal. In other words, the requirements are different for a four-month-old doe than a five-year-old wether.  

Each state also has its own requirements for a health certificate. In Nevada, all intact goats over six months of age must have negative tuberculosis and brucellosis tests within 30 days of transport. North Carolina requires a negative brucellosis test within 30 days before import and a negative tuberculosis test within 60 days before import. The CVI must list the results of all required testing and vaccinations. 

San Clemente Island goat Carson, at his vet checkup before traveling from Nevada to Maine.

The state-specific requirements reflect differences in disease concerns from one state to the next, according to Catalina Cabrera, DVM, MPVM, clinical assistant professor and small ruminant extension specialist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. The intent, she explains, is to prevent diseased animals from entering the state.  

Federal regulations also require that goats traveling across state lines for exhibition or sale to new owners for breeding purposes must have official scrapie identification tags, electronic implants, or legible tattoos as well as a CVI. Only veterinarians accredited through the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) can issue health certificates.   

A CVI is also a common requirement for events such as livestock fairs and exhibitions — even those held within the same state — if animals from different farms are going to be in close quarters where disease could spread, adds Cabrera. 

“It might be a requirement, but it depends on the organizers of the event,” she adds. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association notes that states may make exceptions for animals passing through for short periods, exempting goat owners traveling through multiple states as part of the journey to their final destination. Goats transferred to educational, scientific, or research facilities or transferred to veterinary care facilities may also be exempt from needing health certificates. Unsure whether you need a CVI when transporting animals? Call the vet. 

“Your veterinarian will find out the specific requirements,” Cabrera says.  

Ensuring a Healthy Herd 

Even though there is no one-size-fits-all health certificate, Cabrera notes that a single CVI can list multiple animals (as long as they are going on the same transport and head for the same destination). 

Given the essential nature of health certificates, it’s important to plan for success.  

Make an appointment with the examining veterinarian at least two weeks in advance. Ensure that you have birth dates, vaccination records, and other paperwork on hand during the appointment. All goats transported across state lines must have unique identification numbers and scrapie tags.  

“The veterinarian needs time to do any testing or vaccinations that may be required by the importing state or the show,” Hensley says. “Sometimes tests need to be repeated for various reasons [and] the veterinarian needs to receive the results before completing and signing the CVI.”  

A health certificate is only valid for 30 days, so make sure it will be valid during your expected travel dates.  

The issuing veterinarian will send copies of the CVI to the origin state and the destination receiving the animals. You must also provide a copy to the transporter if they are stopped for inspection. Keep a copy for your records. 

While the CVI goal is to limit the spread of disease among livestock, Cabrera notes that the CVI reflects animal or herd health at one specific point in time and is not a guarantee that an illness won’t develop between the time of the exam and their final destination. 

Anytime you purchase goats — even if the examining veterinarian noted no health issues on the CVI — Cabrera advises quarantining new animals from the herd for at least 30 days to reduce the risk of spreading disease. 

“It should be some comfort that when you enter a show or purchase a goat from out of state, the CVI helps reduce the chance the goat you purchase or is next to you at a show is not harboring an infectious disease,” Hensley adds. “It is sort of an insurance policy, not perfect, but helps cover some of the risks of disease.” 


Originally published in the 2021 special issue of Goat Journal — Goat Health from Head to Hoof Vol. 2 — and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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