Bringing pets to the US is subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, wildlife, and customs requirements and prohibitions. Pets, except for pet birds, taken out of the United States and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time.
The U.S. Public Health Service requires that pet dogs and cats brought into this country be examined at the first port of entry for evidence of diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Travelers with dogs originating from areas not free of rabies must bring a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Turtles are subject to certain restrictions, and monkeys may not be imported as pets under any circumstances.
It is a general requirement that airlines require health certificates for traveling pets. It is strongly advised to check with your airline prior to your travel date to find out what the requirements are.
Dogs, cats, and turtles are free of duty. Other pets imported into the United States, if subject to a customs duty, may be included in your personal exemption if they accompany you and are imported for your personal use and not for sale.
It is strongly recommended to check with your port of arrival ahead of time before importing a pet or any other animal. It will avoid you delays during the process.
Bringing Cats and Dogs
All domestic cats and dogs must be free of evidence of disease communicable to humans when examined at the port of entry. If the animal is not in apparent good health, further examination by a licensed veterinarian may be required at the owner’s expense.
|Veterinarian’s Health Certificate||Required by airlines for all travelling animals.|
|Anti-Rabies Vaccination Certificate||–Not required for domestic cats. Nevertheless, be aware that cats arriving in Hawaii or Guam, both of which are free of rabies, are subject to locally imposed quarantine requirements.|
– Required for domestic dogs: Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entering the United States. This requirement does not apply, however, to puppies less than three months of age or to dogs originating or located for at least six months in areas designated by the U.S. Public Health Service as being rabies-free.
The following procedures apply to dogs arriving from areas that are not free of rabies:
• A valid rabies vaccination certificate should accompany the animal. This certificate should be in English or be accompanied by a translation. It should identify the animal, the dates of vaccination and expiration, and be signed by a licensed veterinarian. If no expiration date is specified, the certificate is acceptable if the date of vaccination is no more than 12 months before the date of arrival.
• If a vaccination has not been performed, or if the certificate is not valid, the animal may be admitted if it is confined immediately upon arrival at a place of the owner’s choosing. The dog must be vaccinated within four days after arrival at the final destination, but no more than 10 days after arrival at the port of entry. The animal must remain in confinement for at least 30 days after being vaccinated.
• If the vaccination was performed less than 30 days before arrival, the animal may be admitted but must be confined at a place of the owner’s choosing until at least 30 days have passed since the vaccination.
• Young puppies must be confined at a place of the owner’s choosing until they are three months old, then they must be vaccinated. They must remain in confinement for 30 days.
|Other Major Infectious Diseases Vaccination Certificates||– Screwworms: The USDA has imposed requirements on dogs imported from Screwworm infected regions of the world. Generally, the countries where screwworms are prevalent are Africa, Asia, Central America (& Caribbean), Middle East, Pacific Islands, and South America. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Inspectors will check the origin of dogs entering the United States and if the dogs originate from one of mentioned areas and do not meet USDA policy – the dogs will be held. To meet the requirements dogs must have:|
1. A health certificate signed by a veterinarian official certifying that the dog was inspected for screwworm within 5 days preceding shipment to the U.S. and was found free of screwworms.
2. Dogs infected with screwworm must have been held in quarantine and treated until free prior to leaving their country.
|Advice to prevent Foot-and-Mouth Disease||Owners of dogs imported from countries or regions affected with Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) are advised to take the following precautions to prevent the introduction of FMD from pets entering the United States:|
– The feet, fur, and bedding of the pets should be free of any excessive dirt or mud.
– The pet’s bedding should be free of any straw or hay, or other natural bedding.
– The pet should be bathed as soon as it reaches its final destination.
– The pet should be kept separate and apart from all livestock for at least 5 days after entry into the United States.
|Quarantine||Collies, shepherds, and other dogs that are imported from any part of the world except Canada, Mexico, and regions of Central America and the West Indies and that are to be used in the handling of livestock must be inspected and quarantined at the port of entry for a sufficient time to determine their freedom from tapeworm.|
Please note that if all your papers are in order, there will be no quarantine for your pet. If you fail to meet the requirements, it will result in quarantine for your animal.
Bringing other animals
There are no restrictions or requirements on rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets and other pet rodents if they are brought in as pets. See the resources below for birds and other exotic pets.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Tel. 703.526.4200 or Toll Free 1.877.CBP.5511 (1.877.227.5511)
U.S. Public Health Service
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Confinement agreement for non-vaccinated dogs:
Information on travelling with pets.
Importing pet birds into the United States
- Permit application for birds entering via an airport:
USDA Port Veterinarians