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Pet Import Requirements for United States

Before you begin planning your travel to the United States (excluding Hawaii and Guam) one very important question needs to be answered and that is, if your pet is a dog, whether the breed of your furry friend is allowed in the country in the first place. While it may seem odd, many countries including the United States ban or restrict certain breeds.

No Breeds are restricted or banned from entry into the United States at this time however some states may impose restrictions. Visitors are strongly recommended to verify with your destination for any local requirements. 

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) governs the importation of dogs, cats, turtles, monkeys, other animals, and animal products capable of causing human disease. Pets taken out of the United States are subject upon return, to the same regulations as those entering for the first time.

All pet dogs arriving in the state of Hawaii and the territory of Guam, even from the US mainland, are subject to locally imposed quarantine regulations

Once you know that your pet is allowed in the United States, here’s what you’ll need to do:


Contact your Vet

The first step is always to contact your vet to ensure your pet is safe to travel.  Some breeds of dogs and cats should not fly and are not accepted on most airlines.  Your local vet can also assist you with the process, paperwork, and vaccinations necessary for international travel. 



The United States does not require that your pet be identified with a pet microchip, but it is recommended that you microchip your pet with a 15 digit ISO 11784 compliant microchip and register your contact information prior to traveling as a means of identification should your pet be lost or separated from you.


Vaccination Requirements:  

Dogs entering the United States with their owners who have lived in a rabies free country for at least 6 months do not require a rabies vaccination, however, it is recommended and may be required by state ordinances.

Unless your dog is entering from a rabies free country, your dog will need proof of a current rabies vaccination administered more than 30 days prior to entry but not more than the expiration date of the manufacturer of the vaccine. The United States does accept 3 year rabies vaccinations. If the expiration date of the vaccination is not shown on the health certificate, then the date of vaccination must be less than 12 months prior to entry to the United States.

All requests to import an unvaccinated dog must be approved in advance. Unvaccinated dogs must be vaccinated within four days of arrival at their final US destination and within ten days of entry into the United States, and must be kept in confinement for at least 30 days after the date of the vaccination. In some cases, unvaccinated dogs that arrive in the United States from countries that are not considered rabies-free may be denied entry to the United States

Dogs not accompanied by proof of rabies vaccination, including those that are too young to be vaccinated (i.e. less than three months of age), may be admitted if the importer completes a confinement agreement and confines the animal until it is considered adequately vaccinated against rabies (the vaccination is not considered effective until 30 days after the date of vaccination).

Rabies vaccinations for cats are not required to enter the country, but requirements may be subject to state and local ordinances.


Other Vaccinations

A Blood Titer Test is not required to enter the United States from any country.

Before your dog can enter the United States from a high-rabies country, it must be treated against certain screwworms between one and five days prior to entering the United States. Your veterinarian must verify that your pet has been inspected for screwworm, and the results are negative.


Certifications and other paperwork

A licensed veterinarian must complete and sign a veterinary certificate. This certificate should be in English or be accompanied by a version translated in English. It should identify the animal, the dates of vaccination, the manufacturer and the expiration date of the rabies vaccine.


Young Pets

For puppies entering the United States rabies vaccinations must have been administered at an age of at least 3 months and they are not allowed to enter for at least 30 days after being vaccinated.

Unvaccinated puppies younger than 3 months entering the United States with their owner and not intended for resale are permitted entry only if they are pre-approved for home confinement by the Center for Disease Control or born in and originating from a country that is rabies-free.


Other Animals  

Other categories of pets such as, tropical fish, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals such as guinea pigs and rabbits are not subject to requirements of rabies vaccination but should have a health certificate to enter the United States. 

Note: No live or dead rodents of African origin, including any rodents that were caught in Africa and then shipped directly to the United States or shipped to other countries before being imported to the United States, may be imported. Also applies to rodents whose natural habitat is Africa even if those rodents were born elsewhere.

Some other pets including parrots and turtles are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).   You will need to apply for additional permits if this is the case.  


Flying with Birds

Birds may only enter the United States at international airports located in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. All birds entering the United States will be subject to 30 days of quarantine. Additional requirements apply.

Always check with your airline well in advance of your trip to understand its bird travel policy. Not all "pet-friendly" airlines permit birds. If they do, it's important you find out about various restrictions, such as whether birds are allowed in the cabin, carrier size, bird size, species, etc.

  • If you are planning to fly internationally with your pet bird, you may find out that only cargo storage is acceptable. Even then, there may be restrictions on how many hours birds are allowed to stay in the cargo area.
  • As with other pets, be sure to obtain a necessary health certificate no more than 10 days prior to your flight and carry with you all important papers regarding your pet bird.
  • It's a good idea to have your bird banded when flying internationally.
  • Bottom line is to make sure your pet bird is comfortable when traveling by air, with plenty of room to move around in a travel cage, while still conforming to the airline's pet travel policies.


Airport Arrivals in the United States

Pets may travel as checked baggage or in the cabin with you.  Pets can enter the United States at international airports in many cities including but not limited to New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago.

If your pet shows signs of any disease that may be communicable to humans when examined at the port of entry to the United States. They may be subject to further examination by a licensed veterinarian at your expense. This could result in quarantine or your pet not being allowed into the United States at all.


Have additional questions?

Check out the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)  website for more information about pet travel to the United States and other countries.


Managing the rules and regulations for importing pets into the many countries across the globe can be difficult. Not only because they can and do change frequently but also because it's hard to accurately say how enthusiastically a given country will chose to enforce the regulations or what the consequences of non-compliance might be. We attempt to ensure that the information provided here reflect current regulations but we strongly recommend that you verify the rules for the country you are visiting to avoid situations that could spoil the trip for you and your pet.


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