Dog Sellers: Certificates of Veterinary Inspection FAQs

​​​​​​​Wisconsin law requires licensing and inspection for many dog-related operations. Under this law, a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) must accompany each dog sold — this includes dogs that are adopted out “for consideration” — whether that is a donation, covering expenses for spaying and neutering, or any other thing of value.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about CVIs. Please contact DATCP at (608) 224-4872 or if you have question about the requirements.

Choose a topic:

​What is a CVI?

A CVI is a form completed by an accredited veterinarian and used to verify the general good health of an animal. It may also be called a​ health certificate.​

What information does a CVI include?

  • The consigner’s (owner or seller) name
  • The consignee’s (buyer or adopter) name (required for interstate)
  • Animal description or identification number
  • Vaccination record, including rabies vaccine
  • Statement of health based on physical examination
  • Veterinarian’s signature

Is this something new?

Wisconsin has always required CVIs for all animals imported into Wisconsin, including dogs. In some cases, there have been CVIs required for movement of livestock within Wisconsin, and sometimes fairs and shows have required them for animals to enter in competition​. 

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Is a CVI a guarantee that a dog is healthy?

No, a CVI is not a guarantee. In fact, the document includes a statement that “no warranty is made or implied.”

A current CVI simply verifies that the dog was seen recently by a veterinarian and is not showing signs of communicable diseases and that its required vaccination status is up to date. It may record any exceptions to general well-being, but does not guarantee against genetic defects or diseases that may not be obvious, such as early stage heartworm disease.

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What is the difference between interstate and intrastate CVIs?

Interstate CVIs are issued in the state of origin for an animal going to a different state. Each state has its own interstate forms, but all contain the same information. Intrastate CVIs are for animals sold within Wisconsin to meet the dog seller program requirements.

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What does the dog sellers and facilities law require concerning CVIs?

All dogs sold by license holders must be accompanied by a CVI. An intrastate CVI can be used. Interstate CVIs can be used for Wisconsin or out-of-state buyers if the destination is known when the CVI is written. If the dogs come from outside Wisconsin, the interstate CVI from the state of origin is adequate as long as it is valid when the dog is sold. If the buyer is taking the dog(s) out of Wisconsin, they should contact the state of destination for requirements. Wisconsin dog sellers and facilities can work with these buyers to help them comply with those requirements.

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Do I need a CVI to sell dogs if I am not required to be licensed under the dog sellers and facilities law?

You do not need a CVI to sell dogs within Wisconsin if you are not required to be licensed. However, most other states will require you to provide a CVI for dogs you sell to parties in other states. Be sure to check with the state veterinarian’s office in the state of destination for requirements. If you bring dogs into Wisconsin from other states, they must arrive with a valid CVI.​

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We are a shelter and do not sell animals — they are adopted. Do we need to provide CVIs?

The law defines selling dogs as any transfer of ownership for money or other consideration. So adoption fees, donations, covering the costs of spaying and neutering, and other similar arrangements all count as sales. These dogs are required to have CVIs.​

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How much will it cost?

The veterinarian fills out the CVI and the fee will vary based on your veterinarian’s rate​.

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Where do I get the necessary forms?

Only veterinarians can buy the forms. They can buy them online at (under “online services”), or they can call (608) 224-4872 between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays​.

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How long is the CVI valid after the veterinarian examines the dog?

The veterinarian must complete the CVI within 10 days after examining the dog. It is valid for 30 days after the date of examination.

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What if it expires before the dog is sold or adopted?

The dog must be re-examined and another CVI issued.​

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What if I bring dogs from another state and sell them in Wisconsin?

The seller in the other state needs to provide you with valid interstate CVIs, but you are responsible for seeing that the CVI accompanies the dogs when they arrive. If the interstate CVI is still valid when you sell the dog, then you can provide the buyer with a copy of that CVI. If it has expired, you would need to have the dog examined by a Wisconsin-accredited veterinarian, who will complete an appropriate CVI.​

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What if I sell animals to someone in another state?

You will need to provide an interstate CVI completed by a Wisconsin licensed and accredited veterinarian.​

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Can there be more than one dog listed on a CVI?

Yes, there are spaces for up to 10 dogs to be listed.

For an intrastate CVI, dogs sold to different consignees (buyers/adopters) can be listed on the same CVI. However, for interstate CVIs, all dogs listed on the form must be going to the same consignee.​

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If a CVI that I received with a dog I purchased is still valid, can I change the seller's name to mine and use the same CVI when I sell the dog?

You can still use the CVI as long as it is still valid. However, you cannot remove or change information on it –including the original seller’s name. You can add your name and address as a re-consignment, but cannot erase or black out the original information. You must provide a readable copy to the buyer as well.​

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Who gets copies of the CVI?

The following will receive copies for the intrastate CVI:

  • Buyer
  • Seller
  • Issuing veterinarian

The following will receive copies for the interstate CVI:

  • State veterinarian of origin
  • State veterinarian of destination
  • Accompany shipment
  • Issuing veterinarian​

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What if the CVI is for more than one dog, but the dogs are going to different owners? 

For an intrastate CVI, you may photocopy the buyer’s copy to give to each buyer, and circle or highlight which dog or dogs that buyer purchased. Be sure to keep a copy in your files that includes this information.

For an interstate CVI, multiple owners cannot be listed.​

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Can a CVI be issued as part of the pre-surgical exam when we have dogs spayed or neutered?


If the veterinarian completes the CVI before we know who is buying the dog, how do we handle listing a buyer's name?

For intrastate CVIs, the buyer (consignee) information is not required. However, the license holder is required to keep a record of the location that received the dog and the person who took custody or control, if anyone.

For an interstate CVI, you will need to list the consignee information for the final purchaser of the dog(s), and all the dogs on the CVI must be going to that consignee.​

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Can any veterinarian complete the CVI?

The veterinarian must be licensed in the state issuing the CVI. The veterinarian must also be accredited.

Accreditation is an additional credential granted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state that allows veterinarians to do official regulatory work — such as signing CVIs.​

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Can I complete the CVI and have my veterinarian sign it?

A CVI shall be prepared and signed by a Wisconsin-certified veterinarian (ATCP 10.05). A certificate accompanying a dog imported into this state shall be issued by an accredited veterinarian, as defined under ATCP 10.01 (2).​

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What tests and vaccinations are required to get a CVI?

For dogs, there are no required tests. If the dog is 5 months or older, it must be vaccinated for rabies before receiving a CVI, with the date of vaccination and the veterinarian who administered it indicated. Rabies vaccination by owners is not acceptable.

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Does a dog have to be vaccinated for rabies to get a CVI?

Dogs 5 months or older must have current rabies vaccinations to get a CVI.​

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What if a dog has a genetic defect or a medical condition that is not contagious or infectious?

That does not have to be listed on the certificate, but a veterinarian may choose to include this information. While there is no lemon law for dogs in Wisconsin, consumers are free to file lawsuits if they are unhappy with a dog. If you disclose any known conditions, such a lawsuit is less likely to be filed or to be successful if it is filed.​

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We rescue dogs and occasionally send them to other shelters. Do they need CVIs?

If you transfer dogs between Wisconsin shelters these are not considered sales, so this does not require CVIs. If you transfer dogs between states you must have an interstate CVI.

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If there is an error or omission on the CVI, can the buyer sue the vet and/or seller?

There is nothing in the law to prevent a person from suing. However, accurate paperwork reduces the likelihood of a lawsuit and the likelihood of a successful lawsuit if one is filed. Shelters should include a hold harmless clause in their release and adoption documents to help avoid lawsuits.

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What happens if I sell a dog without a CVI?

Penalties may range from a warning letter up to charges filed in court, with resulting fines. This information would be a public record, available to the media and potential buyers.​

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