Are you traveling to the United States with your pet? Planning your trip in advance is key to avoid problems when entering a country.
It is important that you are aware of the requirements that the United States regarding dog importation. The main requirement for a dog to enter the U.S. is holding a current proof of rabies vaccination.
1. Proof of Rabies Vaccination
Although there are various diseases that pet dogs, cats and ferrets can carry, rabies is the most serious one. The World Organization for Animal Health classifies countries as rabies-free, rabies-controlled or high-risk.
If you are traveling with your dog, it is a good idea to check the classification of the country your pet is leaving and you need to follow the travelling rules of the country that you are entering. You can find a full list of the countries that have been classified as rabies – free here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) of the United States require that dogs imported into the United States are healthy and are vaccinated against rabies before arrival into the country. According to the CDC’s website the same requirements apply to puppies and adult dogs.
The CDC does not require rabies vaccination to pets who are travelling to the United States from a rabies-free country where they have lived for the past 6 months or since birth. However, even if you live in a rabies-free country, it is a good idea to vaccinate your dog against the disease before travelling to the U.S. because most states in this country require that dogs be vaccinated against rabies.
What Should a Proof of Rabies Vaccine Include?
According to the CDC, all dogs entering the United States should be accompanied by a document with all the following information:
• Name and address of owner
• Breed, sex, age, color, markings, and other special characteristics of your dog
• Date of rabies vaccination
• Information of the vaccine product
• Vaccine expiration date
• Name, license number, address, and signature of the veterinarian who administered the vaccine
When Should My Dog Be Vaccinated in Order to Enter the United States?
• Puppies. In order to be allowed entry into the U.S., puppies need to be vaccinated when they are AT LEAST 3 months old and at least 30 days BEFORE entering the United States, for this reason, only puppies who are 4 months or older can travel to the U.S.
• Unvaccinated adult dogs. Adult dogs who have never received a rabies vaccine should be vaccinated at least 30 days BEFORE entering the United States.
• Previously vaccinated adult dogs. Adult dogs who are older than 15 months of age and have received a rabies vaccine in the past can enter the U.S. immediately AFTER receiving a rabies vaccine booster.
2. Pet microchip
The United States does not require that your pet be identified with a pet microchip, but it is recommended that you microchip your pet with a 15 digit (ISO 11784/11785) as a means of identification in case your pet be lost or separated from you.
3. Health certificate by state veterinary administration
A licensed veterinarian must complete and sign a veterinary certificate. This certificate should be in English or be accompanied by a version translated in English. It should identify the animal.
Pet dogs need a tapeworm treatment no less than 24 hours and no more than 5 days before entering the US. It’s not mandatory for pets arriving from some countries, but it is recommended.
Traveling with Your Dog to the United States with Commercial Purposes
If you are travelling with your dog to the United States with breeding or commercial purposes, your dog should meet the same requirements mentioned above.
The same rules mentioned above apply.
European Union Countries Classified as Rabies – Free*: Austria, United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Portugal, Italy, Spain (except Ceuta and Melilla), Greece, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Norway (except Svalbard), Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Iceland.
* For the European Union listed countries, pets that are travelling from rabies – free countries may get an except from the rabies vaccine. However, we recommend you to vaccinate your pet. For the European Union unlisted countries, the rabies vaccine is mandatory.
In the European Union, the Proof of Rabies Vaccine is the EU pet passport.
And you can find more info here if you want to travel with your pet in European Union and here if you want to read some essential tips for travelling with dogs. And if you have a cat, there is an article about “How to travel with your cat.”