Bringing your pets to the United States along with you for vacation or a trip is a fairly straightforward process and these are the basics you need to know. This guide only applies to dogs and cat since all other animals, including birds and fish, require a completely separate (and much more complex) process.
- You can begin researching information about importing animals other than dogs and cats by reading over the USDA’s import requirements.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets start with some of the basics of bringing your pet to the US.
Nation Of Origin Isn’t (Usually) A Factor
The US customs officials who will greet you and your pet at the border won’t care where your pets are flying in from, provided you have a valid visa or are a US citizen yourself. That makes it a bit easier than traveling with your pets to Europe from the US, aside from individual state requirements that may apply. Be sure to check the official government website of US state you’ll be flying into for any additional information.
- USA.gov has a complete list of all the official state government websites.
- Do not use any natural bedding in the crate like straw or hay which will greatly complicate your pet’s entry into the United States.
- If you’re coming from any of the countries on this list where screwworm is a problem you’ll need paperwork 5 days prior showing your animal isn’t infected.
- Pets being imported into Hawaii or Guam will be quarantined for 5 days (up to 130). Dog Jaunt has good information on how to reduce that time to a few hours.
Also, it’s important to be aware of any breed restrictions (i.e. pit bull) that may exist in the local city or county you’ll be visiting.
Dogs – You’ll need proof of rabies vaccination 30 days before arrival. Puppies too young (3 months or less) to be vaccinated must be accompanied by a confinement agreement [PDF].
- Un-vaccinated dogs will be given the required shots and quarantined for 30 days. (Don’t do that to your pet, get the shots!)
Although dogs from some rabies-free countries may be imported without proof of vaccination it’s in your pet’s best interests to show documentation when asked for it. It’s better to have the appropriate paperwork rather than risk a lengthy quarantine.
Cats - Don’t require any specific vaccinations although some airlines require a veterinarian signed document stating that your pet is in good health. It’s a good idea to have one either way and good assurance in case anyone asks.
Call To Confirm The Requirements
Don’t take the risk that these requirements will have changed or that your pet may be under special restrictions so call to confirm with the Centers of Disease Control. Let them know your travel plans and dates in order to find out exactly what you’ll need and be sure to write it all down. Bringing most pets to the US with you isn’t difficult but takes advanced planning and preparation to get the right paperwork. Start at least 2 months in advance of when you think you’ll be traveling and budget out for several vet visits as well as the extra ticket for your pet.