Relocating to Japan?  Know Your Microchips & Rabies Vaccination Brands


I am considering pet travel relocating my pet cat to pet friendly Japan, where there is a possibility that we will move in the future. I have read the Japanese pet import regulation and I have two questions:

  • The regulations require an microchip that is ISO 11784 or 11785 compatible. My pet has an 9 digit chip, and therefore, I will ask my vet to implant a new one which is ISO compatible. I am however not sure about which chip should I choose. Are both 10 digit and 15 digit chips ISO compatible?
  • The regulations require that the rabies vaccine must be an inactived vaccine (not recombinant) follownig the world organization for animal health OIE stanrdards. I checked the vaccine that my vet used the last time and it is not inactivated. Could you please tell me what manufacturers / brands of rabies vaccines for cats follow the OIE standard so that I ask my vet to use it when I start the paper work?  Many thanks, Ashraf.

Ashraf, you've really done your homework!  We can't stress enough to people considering an international move that it is a good idea to plan ahead and read through all of the paperwork carefully well in advance in order to avoid last minute surprises or delays.  Both of your questions are great ones, and I'll try to address them thoroughly.

ISO Microchips and Pet Travel

The nine digit chip you refer to is most likely the older style of AVID chip, that is in a format of numerical XXX*XXX*XXX.  This chip style is only acceptable in a few countries (for example, Hong Kong) and is not ISO compatible.  Nearly all chips these days that are produced are ISO compatible, with the exception of the 9-digit AVID chip.  Most 10 to 15 digit chips are ISO compatible, but it's important to check the actual chip frequency to be sure.  A great brand you might consider checking out is the ResQ chip, which is ISO compatible and can be read by nearly all ISO-compatible scanners.  Another bonus to the ResQ chip is that it has a free online registration system called PetLink which you can update whenever you move.  Most microchip companies charge an annual fee for your pet's online database to stay updated. 

You can check online to see if your vet carries ResQ.  If not, they can always order it, or see what kind of chips your vet has.  Most of the time the chip will say somewhere on the box if it is ISO 11784 or 11785.

Finally, be sure to have your vet indicate on the paperwork that your pet has two chips -- one ISO compatible and one that is not.  Sometimes in Japan and other countries, they will scan for the chip and pick up the incompatible chip anyway, causing confusion about the number on the paperwork being wrong (because your vet has put down the number for the new chip!).  If you have both numbers on all paperwork (including the rabies certificates, blood test form, and health certificate), you'll have your bases covered.

Rabies Vaccines - Live vs. Killed, Active vs. Inactive

It is very difficult to find a veterinarian who will give a live rabies vaccine these days, however it does happen occasionally.  I would recommend asking your vet ahead of time (before the vaccination is given) what kind of vaccine it is.  They should know -- if they don't, have them give you the name brand and you can search on the internet to find out what kind it is.  One common killed or inactive vaccine is Merial's IMRAB3 (a three-year vaccine, which Tokyo will recognize for one year).  Another inactive vaccine is the Defensor1 (thanks to our Twitter friend, Dr. Tobiassen, who writes about veterinary medicine on for her recommendation).

Contact PetRelocation if you need help relocating your pet safely!


PetRelocation Team




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