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 preventing the importation of dog rabies into the United States. CDC experts collect and analyze rabies information around the world to determine a country’s risk for rabies.

Dog rabies was eliminated from the United States in 2007 and is under control or not present in some other countries. However, over 100 countries do not have it controlled, and dogs coming from these high-risk countries can import this disease into the United States.

There is a temporary suspension for dogs entering the United States from countries that CDC considers high-risk for dog rabies.

On an extremely limited basis, CDC has the authority to issue a CDC Dog Import Permit to bring a dog from a high-risk country.

Dogs vaccinated in the United States by a US-licensed veterinarian are eligible to re-enter the United States from a high-risk country without a permit if the dog 1)  has a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate, 2) has proof of a microchip, 3)  is at least 6 months old, 4) is healthy upon arrival, and 5) arrives at an approved port of entry. Expired US-issued rabies vaccination certificates will not be accepted. If the US-issued rabies vaccination certificate has expired, you must apply for a CDC Dog Import Permit, if eligible.

If you wish to bring a dog that was vaccinated outside the United States from a high-risk country, you must apply for a CDC Dog Import Permit at least 30 business days (6 weeks) before you intend to enter the United States.

No CDC Dog Import Permits are issued upon arrival. Dogs that arrive from high-risk countries without a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate or a CDC Dog Import Permit will be denied entry and returned to the country of departure at the importer’s expense.

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 rabies-free country (not on the list of high-risk countries) are NOT required to present a rabies vaccination certificate or CDC Dog Import Permit to enter the United States. However, when you enter the United States, you must provide written or verbal statements that the dogs lived in a country that is NOT high risk for at least 6 months or since birth.

Written statements and any documents must be in English or have a certified English translation. A certified translation is a signed statement on professional letterhead issued by a licensed translator declaring that the translation is an accurate and true representation of the original document. The translation must include the name, address and contact information of the translator and have a signatory stamp or elevated seal with the translator’s license number included. A certified translation service provider can be found online.

  • Example: Your adult dog lived in the United States and visited Mexico. This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate or CDC Dog Import Permit, because Mexico is NOT on the list of high-risk countries 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 or CDC Dog Import Permit, because Germany is NOT on the list of high-risk countries for dog rabies.
  • Example: Your adult dog lives in Japan (not a high-risk country) but visited China (high-risk country) within the past 6 months and is moving to the United States from Japan. This dog is not eligible for entry without advance written approval (CDC Dog Import Permit) because it visited a high-risk country.
  • Example: Your 6-month-old puppy lives in the United States, traveled with you to visit family in the Dominican Republic (high-risk country), and is coming back to the United States. If the dog was vaccinated against rabies in the United States, it may be eligible to return with a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate and proof of microchip. To be eligible, the dog must be at least 6 months old and must have been vaccinated on or after 12 weeks of age at least 28 days before arrival.
  • Example: Your adult dog lives in the United States, traveled with you on a vacation in Russia, and is returning to the United States. The US-vaccination expired, so you had the dog revaccinated in Russia. This dog is not eligible for re-entry because it traveled to a high-risk country during the suspension without a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate. To avoid this problem, be sure to vaccinate and microchip your dog in the United States before traveling if you intend to return to the United States with your dog.

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