Moving Pets to Japan! - Import Rules

The land of the raising sun, Japan stands as the capital and ruling monarch of Asia. Japan has its own culture and tradition of art, heritage, and martial art, completely distinct from rest of the oriental nations. Japan has the lowest crime rate and has no stringent religious obligations. So the tourists are free to take photographs of the shrine and other religious symbols. Tourists enjoy visiting the national park the grand natural forest museum, Buddhist shrine, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the hifi Akhiabara, the complete technologically controlled supermarket. The Japanese people are deeply rooted in their culture and are proud of their rich heritage. They normally speak in Japanese and English is not commonly accepted.

Earlier in time, pets were meant to guard the livestock and for providing services, like the dogs for visually impaired. But of late, the attitude towards pets in Japan has changed. Japanese bred dogs are catching a great demand in world market. It is rumored, that these dogs can also be trained in Japanese martial arts. There are many training schools for these dogs. The elite Japanese buy dogs and get their pets admitted in these training centers. All pets in Japan have to be immunized and registered with the local authorities. Many cats and dogs (especially cats) are considered as lucky charms in Japan.

The sudden raise of liking towards pets has resulted in import of pets to the Japanese market, as well as the huge demand for expats who are relocating to Japan with their pets. To regulate the inflow and to safeguard the health of the Japanese people and animals, the government has laid down instructions regarding the import of animals, which holds the same for tourists wishing to bring their pets to Japan. All customers who are sending their pets to Japan, have to contact the quarantine officers 40 days prior to their arrival, and give all the details of the date of their arrival, the breed of the pet & number of animals likely to arrive with you. Please note, that not all hotels in Japan, accept pets in their premises. So while going to Japan with your pet, it is always advised to stay in private residence.

The Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) is the official source of information regarding the import and export of pets in Japan. Their very helpful English website may be found here.

It is imperative that people who wish to import their pet to Japan consult the AQS website and make the proper coordination directly with the AQS in order to avoid any misunderstandings. The personnel in AQS have proved to be very helpful and they encourage direct communication through email or fax. For Narita airport arrivals, AQS can be reached at:

Terminal 1: FAX 81-476-30-3011; Email:
Terminal 2: FAX 81-476-34-2338; Email:

Please note, , this process will take at least seven (7) months from the date of the first rabies vaccination, so advance planning is critical.

The animal must have microchip identification. This must be done before the rabies vaccinations. The only microchips that can be read at Japan AQS facilities are ISO 11784 and 11785 Standards. For any other chips, you must bring your own microchip reader.

After receipt of the microchip, the animal receives the first of two rabies vaccinations. These must be inactivated rabies vaccinations. Be sure to obtain certification of the period of validity for the particular vaccinations that you obtain (some are good for two years, others for only one). The pet must be at least 90 days old at time of first vaccination.

The animal receives a second vaccination at least 30 days after the first vaccination.

Anytime after the second vaccination, the animal must receive a Fluorescent Antibody Viral Neutralization (FAVN) Blood Test to ensure that the rabies vaccinations have provided adequate rabies antibody levels, and must be approved by a facility approved by the Government of Japan. Approved sites are listed at the AQS website (currently there are only two in the U.S.).

No later than 40 days before arrival in Japan, you must fax a formal notification to AQS on an Import Application Form. This notification form and all other recommended certificates and forms can be found here. AQS will send an acknowledgment upon receipt of the form.

Obtain a health certificate for the animal verifying that it is free of rabies and, in the case of dogs, leptospirosis. The certificate must be approved by the national government in the country of export (USDA's APHIS if coming from the U.S.).

On arrival be prepared to present completed forms "A" and "C" from the AQS site, Acknowledgment of Advance Notification (40 days), and completed Import Quarantine Application.

Animals that arrive with all documents in order, including readable microchip, are normally cleared at the airport in under four hours although AQS states within 12 hours on their website.

Animals that arrive without the appropriate health certificate, without making advance notice to AQS, without a readable microchip ID, or without the proper blood test and 180 day waiting period, will be subject to additional quarantine periods, or possibly deportation upon arrival in Japan.

Please note, for pets transiting Japan, even for overnight stays, Japanese importation laws do not apply. Each individual airline is responsible for transit pets through Japan. It is important for persons transiting Japan to make close coordination with the airline to ensure that all necessary requirements are met.


PetRelocation Team




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