A Simple Guide to China Pet Travel

China Dog

Relocating Pets In and Out of China

Moving your pet to or from China can seem quite daunting at first glance due to the strict import rules and quarantine requirements.

There's a welcome "however" though: while China’s regulations are confusing, the good news is that there are several options for leaving and entering China that are safe for pets – whether quarantine is included or not.

Read on to learn how relocating pets to China can be safe and routine with the right knowledge and preparation.

Ready to discuss a specific plan for your pet? Contact us to set up a consultation with our dedicated China team!

Pet Import Requirements for China

Chinese import protocols are quite strict when it comes to pets, as different cities and provinces require different items from owners (visas, passport copies, etc.) or ways of entry (manifest cargo, excess baggage, in-cabin). It's normal to have questions and to feel a little overwhelmed at first.

To start, all of China requires that all pets have a rabies vaccination within a year of departure and older than 30 days at the time of travel. Furthermore, there is a strict one pet per passport rule that cannot be avoided if entering China directly.

Many major cities in China also require that dog owners obtain a dog license once the dog has arrived into the city. Beijing even requires this document prior to export, so if you’re planning on eventually leaving China with your dog it may be a good idea to look into obtaining a dog license upon arrival. This document can be obtained by paying a visit to the local police station with your dog along with your passport, visa, and local address in hand.

Moving Multiple Pets to China

So what happens if you have more than one pet? You’re not out of luck, as there are two options for importing multiple pets into China:

  • Use another relative or friend’s passport(s) to import your other pet(s)

  • Enter China through Hong Kong

The options above also depend on your destination city in China. If you have multiple pets, reach out to your PetRelocation Consultant to determine the best option for your family. (For reference, here's the story of two happy cats who moved to Shanghai with us last summer.)

Pet Quarantine in Shanghai

Many cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai, require up to 30 days of quarantine for pets upon entry.

In Shanghai, though the facility is basic, the quarantine station offers safe accommodations for pets. Here are a few helpful facts about the facility:

  • The units pets stay in are air conditioned and clean.

  • There’s an outdoor area for dogs and a cattery for cats.

  • Pets are fed twice a day and dogs are walked regularly.

  • While visitation is not allowed for security purposes, local contacts are welcome to call the facility to check in on pets throughout their stay.

How to Avoid Quarantine in China

Avoiding pet quarantine in China, while possible, can be a little complicated. As mentioned previously, going through Hong Kong is an option for entering China. By following Hong Kong’s strict import rules, we are able to avoid quarantine in China altogether.

If this is the option that interests you the most, please reach out to our team for further details about the process and read about Nela's journey from San Francisco to Shenzhen.

Pet Export Requirements for Leaving China

When you're ready to leave China, there is no pre-export quarantine for pets. This makes the process a little smoother, although it can still be tricky based on the city from which your pet is departing.

Regardless of the city, your pet will need to have a completed vaccination booklet (with stickers) from a Chinese vet, a health certificate, and an export permit. In most Chinese cities, the health certificate can only be obtained by going to a government-approved vet or a government vet, who also issues the export permit.

Because some cities require a copy of your physical passport to be present at the time of check-in for your pet, we highly recommend traveling after your pet has departed to avoid any issues with your own departure.

As you can tell from the above information, how you move your pet to or from China is largely determined by the origin and destination cities. To ensure your pet’s move is on track to be safe and smooth, please reach out to us here for more specific information.


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Ask the Experts


Cats, Dogs




Add a Comment

By Sara on August 2, 2017 at 10:00 am

Hello, we will be traveling to Changsha from the US (no layovers, just a straight shot from L.A. to Changsha) and would love to be able to bring our dog. Would we be able to do this and, if so, how do we go about getting her there?

By caitlin@petrelocation.com on August 2, 2017 at 10:44 am

Hi Sara, please review the pet import requirements for China here.

As you can see, a quarantine may be required upon entry, but we'd be happy to discuss your options in greater detail if you're interested in finding out more about our services. Please contact us here to set up a consultation with our China team.

Thanks for reaching out and we look forward to hearing from you!


By Sarah on September 2, 2017 at 6:32 pm

Looking to bring my dog with me from Canada into China, most likely through entering Hong Kong as I will be in the south of China. What do I need to know on how to do that if i place my pet in cargo or have him under the seat?

By bethany@petrelocation.com on September 5, 2017 at 9:40 am

Hello Sarah,

Thank you for reaching out! If your dog will be traveling in cargo, you will need to make sure you find an IATA approved travel crate. We have instructions on finding the right size and type on our website here.

As far as travel requirements go, you will need to meet Hong Kong's import requirements if your dog will be entering Hong Kong at all. Those can be found here.

If you need further guidance, please feel free to reach out to us as one of our specialists can help sort out your options.

We hope this helps and look forward to hearing from you!

By Michael Santiago on October 8, 2017 at 6:46 pm

I'm moving to Nanjing for a year long contract, but doing training in Beijing for 2 weeks. I have a cat who might have FIV and he's overweight. What are the procedures to get a cat there? Will his health issue bar him from entering? And I'd love to avoid the quarantine, but with the training it may be difficult and he would most likely have to be in quarantine. I've heard some negative things about this quarantine process. Will my cat be safe during this process?

By bethany@petrelocation.com on October 9, 2017 at 10:05 am

Hello Michael,

The rules and requirements for importing pets into China can be found here. Also, we have not come across any regulations that would prohibit your cat from entering due to his health issue.

Many of our clients have had their pets go through quarantine in either Beijing or Shanghai, as the treatment of pets is actually much better than you would expect. However, if you are looking to avoid quarantine, please reach out to us here and one of our consultants can talk you through this option.

Thanks for reaching out!

By Laura on November 30, 2017 at 12:42 am

Hi There, Im visiting china and have come across two very sad looking kittens in shenzhen city. Id like to buy them, have proper veterinary vaccinate and check for problems than relocate them to Switzerland. Am worried this is very tough to do as i have no knowledge or background on the animals. Could you offer advice on what steps i should take or which reliable veterinary i should get in touch with in Shenzhen before relocating the kittens? Thank you for any advice you could offer. Sincerely, Laura

By bethany@petrelocation.com on November 30, 2017 at 10:12 am

Hello Laura, you will need to follow Switzerland's import requirements here in order to move the kittens.

While we do not have a vet to put you in contact with in Shenzhen, we would recommend finding a local pet-shipping company to advise. You can find other reputable companies on the IPATA website here.

We hope this helps!

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