Travel to the United States with Pets

Author Veterinary Consultant
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Travel to the United States with Pets

Travel to the United States with Pets

As of July 2021, there is a temporary ban on the entry of dogs from nations with a high risk of canine rabies. More details can be found here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US Department of Health and Human Services has the authority to issue entry permits for US citizens and residents returning from high-risk rabies countries. These permits will only be issued in highly restricted cases.

For temporary stays, you can import no more than three dogs at a time. If you plan on importing multiple dogs, you must confirm that they will be participating in a competition or exhibition, which will allow you to exceed the limit.

US Import Requirements for Dogs'

  • All dogs must appear healthy on arrival.
  • Pets must be at least 6 months old, as confirmed by a photo of their teeth.
  • Every dog traveling to the US needs to be properly microchipped
  • To safely enter the US, your pet must have a valid rabies vaccination certificate, with the following crucial information:
    • The name and address of the owner;
    • The breed, sex, date of birth (approximate age if date of birth is unknown), color, and name of the pet;
    • The ISO-compatible microchip number;
    • The date of the rabies vaccination (vaccine type, lot number, and expiration date);
    • Vaccination expiration date;
    • The full name, license number, address, and signature of the veterinarian who administered the vaccine;
    • Animals must be accompanied by their valid rabies vaccination certificate issued by an authorized laboratory, in case of vaccinations taken place outside the US.

Before entering the United States, a pet must be tested for rabies antibodies, 30 days after its most recent vaccination and at least 45 days before the intended entry date into the US.

Animals without a history of rabies vaccination must receive the first shot at least 3 months of age and at least 28 days before their intended departure date.

Adult dogs (15 months or older) need to have a record of past rabies vaccinations, with one dose given after they were 3 months old and one recent booster shot. With this proof of vaccination, adult dogs are not required to wait 4 weeks prior to traveling.


All animals traveling to the United States without a valid permit from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will be returned to their country of departure at the importer's expense.

In order to request a CDC Dog Import Permit, please send an email to CDC at least 30 days (6 weeks) before your intended entry into the United States. This permit is required for all animals wishing to enter the US from a high-risk rabies country.

US Import Restrictions for Cats

Cats are not required to present a rabies vaccination certificate to enter the US, as set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nonetheless, different states may mandate rabies vaccination for cats, so it is advisable to check with the relevant local health authorities at your intended destination.

It is worth noting that cats arriving in Hawaii or Guam may be subject to locally imposed quarantine measures, regardless of whether you are traveling to the continental US or not.


What is necessary to move pets for commercial purposes?
In case of importing dogs with the intention of reselling or adopting them out to new owners, they must also satisfy the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements in addition to the standard rules and procedures established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Is it mandatory to vaccinate my cat to enter the United States?
Cats are not obligated to present a rabies vaccination certificate for their entry into the US, as per the rules set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nevertheless, certain states within the US may dictate that cats be vaccinated for rabies. As such, it would be prudent to consult with the relevant local health officials at your final destination regarding the prevailing protocols on the matter.
Must I obtain a CDC Dog Import Permit if my dog is transiting through Russia during its rabies-free-country-to-US journey?
Dogs arriving in the US from countries with low levels of rabies can travel in transit to the United States via Russian airports without the need for a valid CDC Dog Import Permit. But this is only possible if your dog has remained within the borders of a country with a low rate of rabies for the previous six months and shall not have crossed any customs points in Russia throughout its journey.
Useful tips

Cats are subject to inspection at points of entry and might be denied entry into the United States if they exhibit signs of a contagious disease that can be transmitted to humans.

For this reason, it would be beneficial to verify the rules of your airline and research the regulations for animal importation at your intended point of entry.

It is also recommended to consult with the website of the US Embassy or a local animal control center for additional information.