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

Add a Comment

By Scott on October 9, 2018 at 7:32 am

Thanks for the great info provided.I did have a question though. How do people recommend handling restlessness and need for bathroom breaks during the flights?All opinions and tips are appreciated!
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on November 13, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Hi Scott! We typically recommend exercising your pet prior to departure to release some nervous energy. In terms of potty breaks, we suggest layering bedding in the crate in case there is an accident, your pet can move one layer aside and still have a dry place to sit. Here are some other tips for preparing for your pet's move day. Hope this helps!
Reply

By Agata Wojtaszewska on October 8, 2018 at 11:10 am

Hi I would like to buy a puppy in Poland from a breeder but that means that a puppy will most likely be younger than 3 months old. I read that it's possible. Please, advise what forms are necessary if possible. Thank you.
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on November 13, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Hi Agata! From what we understand, the minimum age to vaccinate a pet is 12 weeks old. Then your pet must wait 30 days before import. Since Poland is technically "rabies-free" you might be able to import with only a fit-to-fly health certificate issued within 10 days of travel, but this could cause issues with customs upon entry. We wouldn't suggest entering the US without a valid rabies vaccination. Hope this helps!
Reply

By Michelle Stewart on October 6, 2018 at 9:33 am

I want to move my papillon 9 month old puppy from China to the USA. What do I need to do in order to make this happen in under 30 days?
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on November 13, 2018 at 2:27 pm

Hi Michelle! The process of exporting pets from China is very tricky. Feel free to check out this post on China pet relocations and being prepared. Hope this helps!
Reply

By Xitlalie on September 22, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Hello , I have a golden retriever dog thats 5 months , he weighs 14 kg but with his transport cage he weighs 20-25 kg , I would like to ship him from Mexico to Chicago , how much would that cost me ?
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 26, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Hi Xitlalie! Thanks for your question, we'd be happy to help. There are a number of variables that effect the price of a pet relocation and each of our moves are customized to fit the needs of our clients. If you can fill out our arrange a move form, a consultant will reach out to you soon with more information. Looking forward to speaking with you!
Reply

By prajakta on September 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

I m planning on relocating my 6 year old pug from India to USA. Could you please tell me how much it will cost . Would appretiate any kind of further Assistance.
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 12, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Hi Prajakta! Relocating snub-nosed breeds like pugs can be a bit difficult so we recommend reading through these tips before your pup's move. Also, there are a number of variables that go into planning a pet move (size of animals, move date, distances to and from the airport, etc.) and each of our moves are customized to fit the needs of our clients & their pets. In order to get an accurate estimate, please fill out our Arrange A Move form and a consultant would be happy to reach out to you to discuss your options. Looking forward to speaking with you soon!
Reply

By Kelley on September 9, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Good afternoon,I would like to bring my 3 cats back to the USA from Japan. Do you have any idea how much this would cost, or if they have to be shipped as cargo? I really do not want to have to rehome them.Thank youKelley
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 10, 2018 at 11:53 am

Hi Kelley! When using our services, we do relocate pets unaccompanied as "manifest cargo" so they travel on their own plane ticket -- this is perfectly safe as long as your cats are healthy. There are a number of variables that go into planning a pet move (size of animals, move date, distances to and from the airport, etc.) and each of our moves are customized to fit the needs of our clients & their pets. In order to get an accurate estimate, please fill out our Arrange A Moveform and a consultant would be happy to reach out to you to discuss your options. Looking forward to speaking with you soon!
Reply

By Nick on August 23, 2018 at 8:27 am

Hi Pet Relocation, Thanks for all the great information. I would like to bring a pet turtle from China to the US,specifically Massachusetts. I think he is a red-eared slider. Do you think that is possible?
Reply

By Christina at PetRelocation on August 28, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Hi Nick,

Thanks for your question! Yes, this is possible. You will need to meet both the import requirements for the US for reptiles and the export requirements for China, including providing one passport per pet. Make sure and check with your local government to confirm additional export requirements you will need to meet for moving a turtle. You can always fill out our Arrange a Move form if you would like a complimentary consultation. Hope this helps!
Reply

By Reem on July 29, 2018 at 10:19 am

We would like to transport our dog from Jordan to USA (New Jersey) what qualifications will we have to meet to do this?
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on July 30, 2018 at 9:52 am

Hi Reem! As the article above suggests, your pets will need a valid rabies vaccination (at least 30 days old) by time of import and a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel by your vet in Jordan. Hope this helps!
Reply

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