What Pet Travel Documents Are Needed to Travel to the United States?
The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) both regulate cats, dogs, and other pet animals entering the country. However, many individual states also have health-related rules you’ll need to follow. You can check on that by visiting the USDA’s page for dogs or cats and clicking on your destination state from the drop-down menu.
Don’t overlook this step, because some states require a health certificate, whereas the federal agencies do not. (For that matter, some airlines also require a health certificate for traveling pets.)
USDA/CDC rules depend on where your pet has been living. If you don’t comply with these import requirements, there will be delays and headaches when your pet tries to enter the US.
For pet dogs, no health check is required, unless you happen to be coming from a country where screwworm or foot and mouth disease exist (see below).
Although the Veterinary Services division of USDA/APHIS does not require a general health certificate or a rabies vaccination certificate, the CDC reserves the right to visually inspect your kitty at her port of entry. The CDC’s primary concern is preventing infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans from coming into the country.
All dogs brought to the United States to be sold or adopted must have an import permit issued by the USDA. They must be vaccinated for rabies and distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus. They must also be at least 4 months of age. Learn more information about this here. Or you can view the common questions and answers about an import permit by following this link.
To acquire an import permit, you must fill out the application and submit to APHIS. You can receive the application by reaching out to APHIS. Here is their contact information:
Cats do not require an import permit.
Dogs arriving from countries with a High-Risk for rabies are required to travel with a valid rabies vaccination certificate.
Dogs arriving from low-risk or rabies-free countries are not required to have proof of rabies to enter the United States. However, most individual states require dogs to be vaccinated for rabies.
Cats are only required to have proof of rabies vaccination for specific states. You can learn about state-specific regulations for cat pet travel here.
Dogs used in the handling of livestock and being moved from outside the areas outlined below must have a tapeworm treatment administered by a licensed veterinarian before entering the United States. They are also subject to inspection and possible quarantine. Here are the areas excluded from this treatment: Canada, Mexico, regions of Central America and the West Indies.
Foot and Mouth Disease
Pets being imported from countries affected with foot and mouth disease are encouraged to take additional precautions to prevent bringing foot and mouth disease into the United States. These precautions are:
- Feet, fur, and bedding should be free of any dirt or mud
- The pet's bedding should not have any straw or hay in its bedding
- The pet should be bathed as soon as they arrive
- The pet should be separated from any livestock for at least 5 days after arriving in the US
You can find a list of countries that may be affected by foot and mouth disease here.
Dogs are not required to have a Blood Titer Test for travel to the United States.
Cats are not required to have a Blood Titer Test for travel to the United States.
Dogs will need a certificate verifying that they have been inspected within 5 days of departure for the US and that they:
- are not infested
- were infested, but have since been treated and are now free from screwworm
The certificate must be signed by a local, full-time, salaried veterinary official.
Below are countries where screwworms are present: Angola, Argentina, Bhrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Congo, Democratic Republic, Dominican Republic, Easter Island, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, French Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Macau, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paracel Islands, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Spratly Islands, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Photo of Pet
You're not required to have a photo of your pet to transport them to the United States. (We bet you have plenty of those on your smartphone should you need one!)