What Your Dog Needs to Enter the United States

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 the dog has been in the past 6 months.

All dogs must appear healthy upon arrival. Dogs that arrive sick or injured will be required to undergo veterinary examination and testing at the importer’s expense to rule out diseases that can spread to people.

Documents Required in English

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.

Dog from Countries Without High Risk of Dog Rabies

Dogs that have NOT been in a high-risk country in the past 6 months may enter the United States through any port of entry, and importers are NOT required by CDC to present rabies vaccination documentation. However, when your dog enters the United States, you must provide a written or verbal statement your dog has only been in a country NOT at high risk for at least 6 months or since birth if under 6 months of age. There is no limit to the number of dogs.

Dogs from High-Risk Countries for Dog Rabies

Starting on June 10, 2022, options for bringing dogs from a high-risk country for rabies in the past 6 months will depend on where the dogs’ rabies vaccinations were administered, and the number of dogs being imported. All dogs from high-risk countries must:

  1. Be at least 6 months old.
  2. Have a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Rules vary depending on whether the dog was vaccinated in the United States or in a foreign country (see below).
  3. Have an ISO-compatible microchip for identification listed on their rabies vaccination certificate.
  4. Meet the requirements of either Option A, B, or C below.

Option A: A valid US-Issued rabies vaccination certificate (RVC). There is no limit to the number of dogs with valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificates. Your dog must:

  1. Appear healthy on arrival
  2. Be at least 6 months old
  3. Have an ISO-compatible microchip number listed on their rabies vaccination certificate
  4. Be accompanied by a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate upon arrival
    1. The rabies vaccine must be administered by a US-licensed veterinarian in the United States on or after 12 weeks of age and at least 28 days before arrival if it is the dog’s first vaccination.
    2. Booster rabies vaccines administered in the United States after 15 months of age are valid immediately.
  5. Arrive at one of the 18 airports with a CDC quarantine station:
    • Anchorage (ANC), Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO), San Juan (SJU), Seattle (SEA), and Washington DC (IAD).
  • Important Note: Expired US rabies vaccination certificates will NOT be accepted. If the US-issued rabies vaccination certificate has expired, you must enter using Option B or C (see below).

Option B: Apply for and obtain a valid CDC Dog Import Permit before arrival. CDC will only issue permits for 2 dogs per person during the suspension.

  1. You must apply online for a CDC Dog Import Permit. It is recommended to apply at least 6 weeks before intended travel. Before beginning the process, your dog must:
    • Be at least 6 months old
    • Have a microchip
    • Have a valid foreign rabies vaccination certificate
    • Have a valid rabies serologic titer from an approved laboratory
  2. Arrive at one of the 18 airports with a CDC quarantine station:
    • Anchorage (ANC), Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO), San Juan (SJU), Seattle (SEA), and Washington DC (IAD).

Important Note: Permits will not be issued at ports of entry. Appeals are not permitted.

Option C: For dogs without a US-issued rabies vaccination certificate or a CDC Dog Import Permit. Please note: This is the only option for persons importing 3 or more dogs into the United States.

  1. Appear healthy on arrival
  2. Be at least 6 months old
  3. Have an ISO-compatible microchip number listed on their rabies vaccination certificate
  4. Be accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate upon arrival
    • The rabies vaccine must be administered by a licensed veterinarian on or after 12 weeks of age and at least 28 days before arrival if it is the dog’s first vaccination.
    • Booster rabies vaccines administered after 15 months of age are valid immediately.
  5. Make a reservation at one of the CDC-approved animal care facilities with necessary follow-up services* at importer’s (owner’s) expense.
  6. The CDC-approved animal care facility will determine if the dog has a valid foreign-issued RVC and serology titer.
    • If invalid foreign-issued RVC: dog will be denied entry.
    • If valid foreign-issued RVC: CDC-approved facility will determine if the dog has a valid rabies serology titer**
      • If valid titer: Each dog must be examined and re-vaccinated with a US-licensed rabies vaccine by a USDA-accredited veterinarian at a CDC-approved animal care facility upon arrival at the importer’s (owner’s) expense.
      • If invalid titer or no titer: Each dog must have a reservation to quarantine at a CDC-approved animal care facility for 28 days after the exam and re-vaccination at the importer’s (owner’s) expense.
  • Important Note: Option C is the only option for people with 3 or more foreign-vaccinated dogs. Dogs MUST enter at the airport associated with the CDC-approved animal care facility where they have a reservation, and the reservation MUST be made before arrival in the United States.

*Follow-up services (e.g., examination, re-vaccination, and possible 28-day quarantine) are at importer’s (owner’s) expense.

**Titer must be from an approved lab drawn at least 45 days and no more than 1 year before arrival.

Example Scenarios:
  1. Your adult dog lived in the United States and visited Mexico. This dog may enter the US through any port of entry without proof of rabies vaccination because Mexico is NOT on the list of high-risk countries for dog rabies.
  2. Your puppy has lived in Germany since birth and is coming to the United States. This dog may enter the US through any port of entry without proof of rabies vaccination because Germany is NOT on the list of high-risk countries for dog rabies.
  3. Your adult dog lives in Japan (NOT a high-risk country) but visited China (a high-risk country) within the past 6 months and is moving to the United States from Japan. This dog must meet CDC requirements to reduce the risk of rabies BEFORE arrival because it visited a high-risk country. See requirements for What Your Dog Needs to Enter the United States.
  4. Your 6-month-old puppy lives in the United States, traveled with you to visit family in the Dominican Republic (a high-risk country), and is coming back to the United States. This dog must meet CDC requirements to reduce the risk of rabies BEFORE arrival because it visited a high-risk country. If the dog was vaccinated against rabies in the United States, it may be eligible to return through specific airports with a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate and proof of ISO-compatible microchip. See requirements for What Your Dog Needs to Enter the United States.

In addition to CDC requirements, you must comply with US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and your US destination’s regulations. Regulations of US states or territories 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 USDA.