There are certain requirements to be fulfilled before you can import your pet into New York City.

Import of Dogs

Dogs, cats and turtles can be imported into the US free of duty though other pets are subject to a customs duty which can be included in your personal exemption limits if they accompany you and are meant for personal use and not resale. Currently a general certificate of health is not required by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) for the entry of pet dogs and cats into the US. Some airlines, however, do require them so it is advisable for you to procure one from a licensed veterinarian before you embark on your journey.

Pet dogs, cats and other animals are usually subject to inspection at the port of entry and can be denied entry into the US if they seem to have an infectious disease which can be transmitted to humans. If your dog appears to be ill on arrival, an examination of a licensed veterinarian is then required and you have to be prepared to bear the cost of this examination.

Further you need to have a certificate that shows that your dog has been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before its entry into the US. These requirements even govern service animals or guide dogs. Dogs which do not have the proof of this vaccination including those which are too young to be admitted, can only be admitted if the owner signs a confinement agreement, Form CDC 75.37, which is available on the Center of Disease control’s website. (

French, Spanish and Russian translations of this form are available though the form has to be filled in English. Puppies which are less than three months old and cannot be vaccinated have to be kept in confinement until they are old enough to be vaccinated and then they must be kept in confinement for an additional 30 days. Unvaccinated dogs have to be vaccinated within 10 days of their arrival in the US and have to be kept in confinement for 30 days after that.

Dogs which are being imported from countries which are deemed to be rabies-free to have been based in that country for at least 6 months before their arrival in the US.

Once your dog has arrived in New York City it has to be registered as is required under NYS laws. (


A cat which is being imported into the US is not subject to these rabies vaccination requirements. Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. However, some states like Guam and Hawaii require vaccination of cats for rabies, so it is advisable to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination before embarking on your journey.

Other Animals

The Centre of Disease Control, however, restricts the import of birds from several countries where the H5N1 virus is present. This is to prevent the spread of bird flu. This list is available on the CDC website (

If you are indeed allowed to import a bird into the US you have to prove that it is a pet for personal pleasure which is not meant for resale. Accordingly you have to:

  1. Obtain a USDA import permit (
  2. Provide a health certificate that has been issued by a full time salaried veterinarian
  3. Quarantine the bird at your own expense at a USDA animal import center. The list of these centers is available at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service which regulates the import of birds.(

The CDC does not regulate the import of live fish, reptiles or small mammals. These are regulated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. (

Further all birds and animals have to be imported under healthy, humane conditions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stipulates that careful arrangements be made with the carrier for suitable cages, space, ventilation, and protection from the elements. Cleaning, feeding, watering, and other necessary services must also be provided to the animal being transported.

The rules that govern the import of animals into the US can be found on the websiteof the Center of Disease Control. Generally the air carrier that you choose to transport your pet to the USA handles all the customs formalities which are involved with this procedure. Virgin Atlantic is reputed to be one of the best carriers for the transport of pets, though before you take your pet out of your home country you need to have an certificate of export or a ‘pet passport’ from your home country.