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 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@petrelocation.com 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@petrelocation.com 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 cquezada@petrelocation.com 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@petrelocation.com 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

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!
Reply

By maegan@petrelocation.com on July 23, 2018 at 11:36 am

Hi Morgan! In order to import your pet into the US, your pup will need a health certificate from your vet in Portugal within 10 days of arrival stating he is fit-to-fly. Is your pet traveling attached to your plane ticket as in-cabin or excess baggage? If so, you will need to clear customs for your pet once you arrive. If you'd like more info about our services and how your cat can safely travel on their own plane ticket, please fill out our Arrange A Move form. Hope this helps!
Reply

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
Reply

By maegan@petrelocation.com on July 23, 2018 at 11:33 am

Hi - thanks for your question! Was your cat traveling in-cabin with you? We only facilitate pets traveling as "manifest cargo" on their own plane ticket so we have not experienced this type of form problem before. Our best suggestion would be to reach out to KLM directly via email here to explain what happened and get in writing whatever it is they are requiring. That way, it can be printed out to present at check-in to avoid it happening again. If you'd like more info about our services and how your cat can safely travel on their own plane ticket, please fill out our Arrange A Move form. Hope this helps!
Reply

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.
Reply

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!
Reply

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?
Reply

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.
Reply

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