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 Leo on September 18, 2018 at 9:20 pm

Hello to the team of Pet Relocation,We live in Shanghai and have a pug that we adopted after he was abandoned. We consider to take him back to Europe - also to provide him with a better medical treatment. Since he is smaller than regular pugs I was wondering if it is allowed to bring him on-board instead of putting him in a cargo box? He has no breathing problems but still I would prefer to take him on-board. so the question is: Is it in general allowed when departing from a mainland Chinese airport to take your dog on-board?Thanks in advance and best regards, Leo

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 21, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Hi Leo! Pets are allowed to travel in-cabin from China to Europe, it is just a matter of reviewing airline restrictions prior to booking. Feel free to check out our Airline Booking Guide for tips & tricks. Hope this helps!

By Jenny on September 14, 2018 at 5:37 am

Hello. My partner and I are wanting to plan a trip travelling along the silk road, China. We would love to able to bring our three dogs with us. We would-be crossing the border by Loas. Could you be able to tell me if we could enter china by land with three dogs ...or does the strict 1 dog per passport still apply?Many thanks Jenny

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 18, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Hi Jenny! Thanks for the question. Yes, the one dog per passport rule does still apply, and will also apply when it is for you & your pets to leave China. Hope this helps!

By Will on September 11, 2018 at 9:17 am

Hi, my wife and I are planning to take our two cats out of China to the US at the end of this month. We got their rabies vaccinations months ago where we live in Nanjing at an officially recognized hospital, but recently we read that these vaccinations must be done at a particular animal hospital in Shanghai. Is this true?The certification booklet we got in Nanjing looks official with a red stamp from the Nanjing Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We were told by the vets that we can show this certification to complete the health check in Shanghai a week before our departure. Our trip is now only two weeks away, so if this Nanjing one is invalid then we are in trouble!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 12, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Hi Will! The vaccinations for your kitties can be done at any vet hospital in China. However, you will need to bring your kitties to ShenPu Animal Hospital, the official government clinic in Shanghai, exactly 7 days before departure so the vet can issue the export health certificates. Hope this helps!

By Jenea on September 7, 2018 at 5:19 am

I already live in China and I rescued my dog here. I want to go away for CNY and take him with me as I will have 30 days off from work. I can't seem to find any information about coming back to China with my pet if he originated here. He is up to date on all vaccinations and has the book with all of the stickers and stamps. Will he have to be quarantined if I bring him back?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 10, 2018 at 11:23 am

Hi Jenea! When traveling with pets, your pet will lose it's residency status whenever it leaves the country. This means it is considered a full export from China & import into a new country. Then whenever you bring him back to China, you will need to fulfill the import requirements to re-enter the country, which would include quarantine for re-entry. Our clients typically find someone to watch their pets when they have to leave the country for a short time in order to avoid the stringent import/export requirements. Hope this helps!

By Armando Neto on August 7, 2018 at 9:35 pm

I heard some people say that they entered Chengdu without going through the quarantine, is it possible?

By Maegan at PetRelocation on August 14, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Hi Armando! While there is technically a 30 day quarantine upon entry, we are able to avoid this by using proper agents and routing. If you'd like more information, please fill out our Arrange a Move Form and one of our representatives will be in touch shortly. Thanks!

By Emma on July 26, 2018 at 12:38 am

Hello!I just moved to China with my pets, and I was wondering if they would have to go through quarantine every time I reenter the country with them after a few days or weeks of vacation outside of China.Thanks!

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 27, 2018 at 9:15 am

Hi Emma! When moving pets internationally, every time your pet leaves a country, they lose their residency status. It is a full import/export with every trip. So, if you were to leave the country for a few days for vacation, we'd recommend finding someone to watch your pet so you would not need to go through the import process, quarantine process, export process, etc. again. This will greatly reduce stress for your pet. Hope this helps!

By Alex on July 25, 2018 at 10:50 am

Hi, and thanks for the useful information!Do you know anything about conditions in quarantine zone in Beijing airport? I want to go there for a year from Russia with my cat, but not quite sure, is it safe to take her. Because one month in quarantine is a long period of time and big stress for an animal.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 27, 2018 at 9:02 am

Hi Alex! We totally get it. Thankfully we have not had any bad experiences with pets traveling into Beijing quarantine. It is very similar to quarantine in Shanghai - indoors, air-conditioned, clean & sterile. There are also individual runs for pets. Hope this helps!

By Tuan Nguyen on July 24, 2018 at 10:41 am

I will be travelling to Vietnam in this coming November and stay there until April next year. Can you help to see if I can bring my little Jack Russell/Chihuahua dog to Vietnam in that period? If so, what does it involve? Cost wise and documentation? Thanks.

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 25, 2018 at 9:23 am

Hi Tuan! We can definitely help. Feel free to check out the requirements for moving pets to Vietnam. In terms of pricing for pet moves there are a number of variables that impact the final cost of a pet relocation. These consist of distances from the home addresses to the airports, travel crate size, airline being used, routing and travel date to name a few. Each of our pet moves are customized to fit the needs of our clients, so in order to put you in touch with a consultant, please fill out our Arrange a Move form here. Looking forward to speaking with you!

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