Moving to the United States with pets in tow? Starting March 1, 2023, all foreign-vaccinated dogs entering the United States from high-risk countries for dog rabies must have a valid CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record and a CDC Dog Import Permit or a reservation at a CDC-approved animal care facility. The CDC will not accept foreign-issued pet passports or other certificates for foreign rabies vaccinations.
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What to Know Before Moving Dogs and Cats to the United States
Microchip and Vaccinations
Make sure your pet meets these basic requirements so you can begin the import process.
The US requires import documentation that your veterinarian must complete.
Once in the United States, your pet may require ground transportation.
United States Import Requirements and Timeline
Microchip and Vaccinations
Time frame: we recommend starting at least 30 days ahead
All pets entering the United States must be vaccinated against rabies. Not all states require a microchip for entry, but PetRelocation always recommends having your pets microchipped.
How to start the process of moving your pet to the United States
Make sure your pet is vaccinated against rabies. While most states within the United States will accept any valid rabies vaccination, some may require a vaccine older than 21 days. Pets should travel with an original Rabies Certificate signed by the vet.
Other recommended vaccines and veterinary requirements include:
- We recommend all pets have a microchip before entering the United States. The US accepts both AVID and ISO microchips.
- Dogs: Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHLPP) and Bordetella.
- Cats: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP).
These should be valid at the time of import and administered no less than two weeks before the export date for maximum effectiveness.
Time frame: within 10 days of travel
At this stage, we provide detailed templates for your veterinarian and answer any questions regarding the proper completion of all forms.
Proper paperwork prevents hangups at customs
All pets need a health certificate stating they are healthy and fit to fly. Your vet must complete this certificate within ten days of travel.
It's likely that no special import rules apply to your state beyond the general US pet import rules. However, if you're moving to one of the states below, take a look to learn more.
Ground transportation (and why you may need it)
Long drives across country
Once in the United States, or if you are traveling only within the United States, your pets may need to travel by ground transportation. This would depend on several factors, including destination, current weather, breed, and size of your pet.
Flight restrictions for certain pets
Traveling within the United States with your pet may come with its own restrictions. Therefore, ground transportation may be the best option. Airlines may restrict flights within the United States based on the following:
- Breed: if your pet is considered a "snub nose" pet, it may not be able to fly within the United States.
- Size: not all domestic flights within the US can carry larger pets.
- Weather: weather embargoes, especially in the summer, may restrict your pets' flights.