Nikki Fried clears Santa Claus and his reindeer for Florida travel on Christmas Eve

State Veterinarian Michael Short inspected animals and confirmed they pose no health risks.

With two days until Christmas, Nikki Fried gave the clear to St. Nicholas’ sleigh and nine tiny reindeer.

Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner on Wednesday issued a certificate of animal movement for Santa and Mrs. Claus, a North Pole couple planning a global expedition beginning Thursday evening.

The broad certificate grants extraordinary freedom for the Clauses to make their way through the Sunshine State. Between the hours of 8 p.m. on Dec. 24 and 7 a.m. Dec. 25, permission has been granted  to enter and exit all Florida homes, domiciles, encampments and premises.

Perhaps most important, the Christmas convoy, which plans to deliver toys and packaged tied up in bows at each location where it stops, has the clearance to pass through or over any U.S. port in the state of Florida.

“Given the challenges of this year, we want to ensure Santa Claus can safely travel the state and spread Christmas joy to all of Florida’s children,” Fried said in a statement. “As Florida’s regulator for the entry of animals, we’re pleased to issue Santa’s necessary Certificate of Animal Movement early, waive all fees, and ensure proper safety protocols to protect against livestock diseases and COVID-19. On behalf of Floridians, we wish Santa and his reindeer good luck and a pleasant visit to the Sunshine State.”

Despite news that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has already administered one of the limited doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Claus,  Fried did advise the international traveler to wear a mask while delivering gifts.

The traveling group of reindeer must go through the same routine safety and sanitization protocols as other gathered herd driven across the state. Reindeer fall into the classification of cervids, the same as elk or moose, which means each animal must be tagged and registered.

Veterinary inspections are also required, but that’s already been taken care of, as State Veterinarian Michael Short has already inspected the reindeer.

The permit issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services applies to a specified group of reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. The latter, identifiable by a nasal deformity that casts an at-first troubling luminosity, has been called the most famous reindeer of all. Short confirmed the redness in Rudolph’s nose represents no health threat to others in the herd.

Because of pandemic concerns, port authorities in Florida were directed at appropriate moments to disinfect the underside of Claus’ sleigh, an easily identifiable aircraft for the fact that it has jingle bells attached. When the sleigh must stop for animal inspections, Claus’ boots and gloves must be sanitized.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn