Importing pets to the United States is a relatively straightforward process with no quarantine, but there are a few steps you need to take to make sure your dog or cat is ready for the move.

We’ve put together a simple guide below to provide the information you need to successfully bring a furry or feathered family member to the United States.

Want to speak with an expert about relocating your pet? Contact us to set up a complimentary consultation!

Requirements for Importing Pets to the USA

Although US rules are generally simpler and easier to follow than those of most other countries, importing pets here still requires careful planning. See below for the requirements you’ll need to meet before bringing your dog or cat into the US. If you’re planning to move a pet within the continental US, you can visit our page about shipping pets cross-country.

Dogs

  1. A veterinarian issued health certificate stating your pet is healthy and fit to fly. This certificate must be completed within 10 days of travel.
  2. A microchip (recommended)
  3. Proof of rabies vaccination from all countries where rabies is present*. Puppies must not be vaccinated prior to 3 months old, so the youngest puppy that can be imported to the US is 4 months old.
  4. Optional vaccines include Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Para-influenza, and Bordatella.
  5. For dogs originating in countries affected with screwworm, the following is required:
    1. The dog must be accompanied by a certificate signed by a full-time salaried veterinary official of the region of origin stating that the dog has been inspected for screwworm within 5 days before shipment to the United States.
    2. The certificate must state that the dog is either free from screwworm or was found to be infested with screwworm and was held in quarantine and treated until free from screwworm before leaving the region.

*Read here for information on importing a dog from a rabies-free country.

Cats

  1. A veterinarian issued health certificate stating your pet is healthy and fit to fly. This certificate must completed within 10 days of travel. (not required by the CDC or the USDA, but may be required by the airline)
  2. Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. However, some states require vaccination of cats for rabies, so it is a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination.
  3. Optional vaccines include Feline enteritis (also known as Feline panleucopenia or Feline distemper), Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus.

Birds

  1. Birds weighing over 100 grams must be identified by one of three approved means: a microchip, leg band, or tattoo.
  2. Requirements vary. For more detailed requirements and guides about bringing birds to the US, including the multiple agencies involved in bird imports, read here.

Other Pets

If you are planning to bring a pet other than a dog, cat, or bird to the US, you can find more information on the USDA APHIS website.

Other requirements to consider

Preparing your pet for export from your current residence: 

Always check with your country of origin to determine export requirements for any pet. Most countries require a government endorsement/export permit in order for pets to leave, or some other type of official government veterinarian inspection before departure. You can determine export requirements by contacting your departure country’s Ministry or Department of Agriculture.

Make sure you meet individual airline requirements for pet travel:

Some airlines, including Delta, require additional documentation for live animals under certain circumstances. If booking pet travel on your own, check with your airline of choice to ensure all paperwork requirements are met.

Please contact us if you have more questions about moving pets to the United States (or anywhere else), and happy traveling!

Author:

PetRelocation Team

Topic:

Ask the Experts

Pet:

Cats, Dogs, Birds

Country:

United States

Comments

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By Morgan A O'shea on July 20, 2018 at 5:46 pm

Hi I am trying to bring home a dog from Portugal back to Massachusetts. The dog already has all of his vaccinations and pet passport with everything listed and cleared by the vet. Not sure what i need to do when entering Boston with my dog. Any help would be appreciated!
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By inge on July 18, 2018 at 2:52 am

On 11July, we wanted to take our cat from Brussels (via Amsterdam) to San FRancisco with KLM. All was arranged, booked and paid for (400eur). At check in they refused our cat because we could not present a authorisation of transport for our pet (necessary according to KLM, and issued by CDC). Passport and medical info was oke. but it seems there is an embargo and with this 'autorisation' our cat could travel. Called to CDC from the airport, and they mentioned that this autho was not necessary. But KLM did not move and refused the cat anyway. So we had to leave it behind with my parents. :-( Do you know where we can find this special form so KLM does not refuse my parents and th cat next time.? thank you
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By Rafael on July 17, 2018 at 2:41 pm

Do you have any experience exporting French Bulldogs from Dublin Ireland & shipping to JFK Airport, New York?Appreciate any assistance.
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By maegan@petrelocation.com on July 20, 2018 at 12:37 pm

Hi Rafael! Yes, there are safe ways to move Frenchies, but there is always a bit of a risk with this breed. In order to relocate your pup internationally, we will need to wait until it is cooler than 80 degrees at all points of the journey. We typically only recommend having bulldogs travel between the months of November – March. Check out our tips for moving snub-nosed breeds here. If you'd like to get a quote for our services, please fill out our Arrange A Move form here. Looking forward to speaking with you soon!
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By Katherine Cook on July 16, 2018 at 6:18 pm

I have a question..my son is going through a divorce and his exwife wants to take my sons dog back to Michigan ..the chip and the dog are in his name..wont she have to show proof of ownership?
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By maegan@petrelocation.com on July 20, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Hi Katherine! It depends on where the pup is moving to and from and what the customs offices are looking for in terms of import.
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By Abbe Henkel on July 9, 2018 at 11:45 am

I am planning on importing a puli puppy from England (Heathrow via British Air) to the USA in August. The UK requires certified/authorized shippers for pets to fly out of the UK. Do you fit the description of authorized shippers for the UK? Please reply via email tooetpulik@aol.com
Reply

By cquezada@petrelocation.com on July 10, 2018 at 8:14 am

Hi Abbe! Yes, we do. And we have moved many pets to and from the UK. In fact, we have a dedicated team for all UK moves. If you'd like to speak with a consultant, please fill out this form and someone will contact you soon!
Reply

By Martina on June 29, 2018 at 5:25 pm

Hello, I am moving from the Czech Republic to USA (Utah) with my Brittany. Is there a form for the Health certificate that my local (Czech) vet needs to fill out? The only form I was able to find was the USDA form(https://www.petrelocation.com/uploads/files/general/APHIS7001.pdf)issued by the US governemnt. This form asks for the USDA accreditation number and the license number, which the Czech vet does not have.In other words, what form does my Czech vet need to fill out so that my dog can be admitted into the US? Is there a certain accreditation my Czech vet needs to have in order to be considered valid?Please, advise.Thank you,Martina
Reply

By maegan@petrelocation.com on July 3, 2018 at 9:28 pm

Hi Martina! The information you are looking at is for pet's being imported into the Czech Republic from the US. When bringing your pup to the US, it is not required that they get a rabies vaccination, as your country is rabies-free, but it is definitely recommended in order to avoid delays with customs. Then your vet in Czech Republic will need to fill out a health certificate on their letterhead within 10 days of travel stating your dog is fit-to-fly. Our team would be happy to advise so if you need any help arranging your move, please fill out our form here. Thanks!
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By Jane Huber on June 25, 2018 at 11:20 pm

I have 5 cats ...... would I be allowed to emigrate to the U.S. with them? Regards Jane
Reply

By maegan@petrelocation.com on July 3, 2018 at 9:24 pm

Hi Jane! Yes, you can definitely relocate to the US with your 5 cats. Most pet safe airlines only accept 5 pets per flight, so you'd want to make sure you are giving yourself enough time to plan their relocation. If we can be of assistance with your relocation, please fill out our Arrange A Move form here. Looking forward to speaking to you!
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By brioche869 on June 15, 2018 at 4:40 am

Hi, thanks for the information. I am wondering if I can take my cat from France to Seattle, WA for a couple of years and then go back to France. Thanks.
Reply

By maegan@petrelocation.com on July 3, 2018 at 9:22 pm

Hi! Yes, you can definitely do that! We just suggest keeping your pet's vaccinations up-to-date. If you get an EU Pet Passport while in France, it will make re-import easier if the vaccinations given by your French vet are still current by the time of the relocation. Hope this helps!
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