Where is Your Dog Coming From?

A small, curly-haired, light brown dog sitting in a dog carrier backpack with his head sticking out on the seat of an airplane

Photo credit: Audilis Sánchez, CDC

The rules for bringing your dog into the United States depend on where you are coming from.

Different types of rabies exist in many mammals, but CDC focuses on importing dog rabies into the United States from certain high-risk countries. CDC experts collect and analyze rabies information around the world to determine a country’s risk for rabies.

Dog rabies was eliminated in the United States in 2007 and is under control in some other countries. However, many others do not have it controlled, and dogs coming from these countries can import this disease into the United States.

Dogs coming from a high-risk country will need a rabies vaccine certificate. High-risk countries have the greatest chance of importing dog rabies into the United States.

  • Example: Your adult dog lived in the United States (no-known–risk country) and visited Ghana (high-risk country) for any period of time. Before returning to the United States, your dog must have a valid rabies vaccine certificate. Be sure to get your dog vaccinated before you travel and take the papers with you.
  • Example: You are purchasing a puppy from Russia (high-risk country) on the Internet. Before entering the United States, your puppy must have a valid rabies vaccine certificate.
A young bulldog puppy standing in a blue and white dog travel crate

Photo credit: Michelle Decenteceo, CDC

Dogs coming from a low-risk or no-known rabies risk (free of dog rabies) are NOT required to have a rabies vaccination certificate to enter the United States. However, when you enter the United States, you must provide written or oral statements that the dogs lived in a country with low or no risk for at least 6 months or since birth.

  • Example: Your adult dog lived in the United States (no-known–risk country) and visited Mexico (low-risk country). This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate, because Mexico is low risk for dog rabies.
  • Example: Your puppy has lived in Germany since birth and is coming to the United States. This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate, because Germany has no-known risk for dog rabies.

In addition to CDC regulations, you must comply with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and your destination state’s regulationsExternal, which are often more strict than federal regulations. Please be aware that dogs imported for commercial (resale or adoption) purposes have additional requirements from USDAExternal.