Frequently Asked Questions on CDC Suspending Dogs from High-Risk Countries for Dog Rabies

General FAQs

The current importation suspension continues to be extremely successful in addressing dog importation problems seen in prior years.

Rabies is fatal: Rabies is over 99% fatal and is 100% preventable. The United States eliminated dog rabies in 2007, but dog rabies is not controlled in over 100 countries—creating a risk to the United States from imported dogs. Through regulations, CDC strives to prevent reintroducing dog rabies to protect America’s families, communities, and their pets. Preventing the importation of infected dogs into the United States is a public health priority. Each rabid imported dog could infect people and other animals and can cost more than half a million dollars to contain.

Why it’s important now: Since 2015, four rabid rescue dogs were imported into the United States. Historically, about 300 dogs annually have been denied entry to the United States due to inadequate paperwork. However, between January and December 2020 (during the COVID–19 pandemic), CDC documented an increase from previous years with more than 450 instances of incomplete, inadequate, or fraudulent rabies vaccination certificates for dogs arriving from high-risk countries.

The increase in the number of dogs inadequately vaccinated against rabies that importers attempted to bring into the United States created a public health risk of importing dog rabies. The public health management of these dogs was also unsustainable during the current COVID–19 pandemic.

Protect dogs and people: With this extension, CDC has expanded eligibility for importation from high-risk countries to all people, provided the dogs meet the requirements. CDC has improved the importation process to prevent the reintroduction of dog rabies into the United States and better protect the health and safety of dogs being imported and their US families and communities.

Unless your dog has a current US rabies vaccination certificate, CDC recommends you don’t travel with your dog to a high-risk country. The virus can infect your dog,  and once signs of illness appear, your dog will die. Rabies is also fatal in people.

Be sure to have your dog vaccinated against rabies and microchipped in the United States before leaving the United States, or your dog will be denied entry and returned to the country of departure at your expense.

Dogs older than 6 months of age with valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificates and proof of ISO-compatible microchip are exempt from the suspension—they can enter the United States without a permit but must enter at one of 18 approved airports.

Expired US rabies vaccination certificates will not be accepted. If the US-issued rabies vaccination certificate has expired, you must get a foreign rabies vaccination certificate before your arrival and follow the rules for 1-2 dogs or 3 or more dogs.

You must get a rabies vaccination for your dog in the country where it is located. The vaccine must be given when the dog is at least 12 weeks old and at least 28 days before your dog will arrive in the United States. If you are importing 1-2 pet dogs, follow the rules for 1-2 dogs. There are different rules for 3 or more dogs.

The rules depend on whether your dogs have valid, current US rabies vaccination certificates or foreign rabies vaccination certificates. If your dogs have foreign rabies vaccinations, the rules differ for 1–2 dogs or 3 or more dogs.

Dogs older than 6 months of age with valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificates and proof of ISO-compatible microchip are exempt from the suspension—they can enter the United States without a permit but must enter at one of 18 approved airports.

Expired US rabies vaccination certificates will not be accepted. If the US-issued rabies vaccination certificate has expired, your dogs must get a foreign rabies vaccination before arrival, and the rules differ for 1-2 dogs and 3 or more dogs.

If applying for a permit, your application with all supporting documents should be submitted at least 30 business days (6 weeks) before your anticipated travel date. Submitting an incomplete application can result in delays in receiving your permit.

Go to the Bringing a Dog into the United States website and answer the questions in the flow process. Click on the link for 1 to 2 dogs or 3 or more dogs.

Your dog will be denied entry and returned to the country of departure at your expense.

Follow the rules for importing 3 or more dogs. You aren’t eligible for a permit for more than 2 dogs, but you have 2 other pathways for importing dogs into the United States.

If you follow the rules, you can bring in 1–2 dogs or 3 or more dogs from high-risk countries.

No. The dog may be shipped via cargo. The dog’s rabies vaccination certificate or CDC Dog Import Permit should be submitted to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when filing the formal entry for the dog. If you are applying for a CDC Dog Import Permit for a dog you will ship via cargo, list the owner (yourself) as the Permit Holder on the application.

Permit FAQs

Follow the rules for importing 1–2 dogs from a high-risk country.

No. Permits will NOT be issued at a port of entry.
However, if your dog has a current, valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate and ISO-compatible microchip and is at least 6 months old, your dog may enter without a permit at the 18 airports with CDC Quarantine Stations.

If your dog doesn’t have a US-issued rabies vaccination or if it has expired, you will have to prepare before travel to follow the rules for 1–2 dogs or 3 or more dogs. Otherwise, your dog will be denied entry and returned to the country of departure at your expense.

Dogs from high-risk countries that arrive without a permit or US-issued rabies vaccination certificate must have a reservation at an approved animal care facility for revaccination and release if the dog has a valid rabies serologic titer from an approved laboratory, or for revaccination and 28-day quarantine if the dog doesn’t have a valid titer. Dogs without a reservation will be denied entry and returned to the country of departure at the owner’s expense.

Because of the high-volume of applications, it can take up to 30 business days or 6 weeks to process a complete and valid permit application. However, if required information is missing from the application, the process can take longer. We will respond to you within 6 weeks.

The permit is valid from 14 days before planned date of arrival until 90 days after planned date of arrival.

Provide the complete physical address (not a Post Office Box) in the United States where the dog is expected to stay during the first 10 days in the United States. The address does NOT need to match the owner’s address on the rabies vaccination certificate.

If you haven’t finalized your dog’s travel itinerary, you may submit an application leaving fields 32-34 blank. Enter into the application the earliest date you anticipate the dog will arrive into the United States and your best guess at which port of entry the dog will arrive through. If approved, the permit will be valid for 30 days after the date you enter and is valid for entry at all 18 airports with CDC quarantine stations, regardless of which one you list on the application.

Submit the application at least 30 business days (6 weeks) before your dog’s anticipated travel. If your dog’s arrival date changes to fall outside of the period of validity after your application has been submitted, notify CDC immediately at CDCanimalimports@cdc.gov.

Yes. CDC no longer requires the applicant to provide proof they are an eligible importer.

Yes, your dog is eligible for a permit if it was rabies-vaccinated in a foreign country and meets the requirements.

Dogs older than 6 months with valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificates and proof of ISO-compatible microchip don’t need a permit to enter the United States—they are exempt from the suspension. Bring your dogs’ US-issued rabies vaccination certificates with you.

Expired US rabies vaccination certificates won’t be accepted. If the US-issued rabies vaccination certificate has expired, you must get a foreign rabies vaccination certificate before your arrival in the United States and follow the rules for 1-2 dogs or 3 or more dogs.

No. Your dog’s microchip can be from any country, but it must be ISO-compatible (International Standards Organization).* However, the microchip number must be listed on the rabies vaccination certificate, or a separate document, such as a veterinary record, or a printout from the website where you registered the microchip.

*Check with the microchip company or your vet to determine whether your dog’s microchip is ISO-compatible.

No permit is needed if a dog from a non–high-risk country for rabies transits through a high-risk country without going through customs clearance on its way to the United States. The dog can enter any US port of entry—as long as the dog is healthy upon arrival.

However, if the dog goes through customs while transiting through the high-risk country, the dog is required to meet CDC entry requirements for dogs from high-risk countries. Customs clearance in the high-risk country is the key determining factor.

Customs clearance in the United States is the key determining factor.

Dogs that don’t go through customs clearance when transiting through the United States don’t need to meet CDC entry requirements. They can transit through any US port of entry without a permit. Dogs traveling in cargo usually don’t go through customs clearance while in transit.

However, if the dogs go through US customs (such as hand-carried baggage or as checked baggage) before transiting to their final destination, then they are subject to CDC’s temporary suspension of dogs from high-risk countries for rabies.

Dogs from high-risk countries with foreign rabies vaccination certificates aren’t permitted to transit through the United States on passenger flights (as hand-carried or checked-baggage) if they are required to go through customs clearance before boarding the next flight. These dogs will be denied entry to the United States and will be returned to the country of departure.

No. Currently, there are no approved land border ports of entry. Dogs coming from high-risk countries must arrive at one of the 18 approved airports with a CDC Dog Import Permit or a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate, or through an approved animal care facility if the dogs don’t have a permit or US-issued rabies vaccination certificate.

For dogs vaccinated for the first time and for dogs younger than 15 months old: Submit a current rabies vaccination certificate showing the rabies vaccine was given on or after the dog was 12 weeks old and at least 28 days before the arrival date.

For dogs older than 15 months with booster vaccinations: Submit a current rabies vaccination certificate and at least one previous certificate for a rabies vaccination given on or after the dog was 12 weeks old. Enter the date of the most recent rabies booster into the application and submit the two certificates with the application as required supporting documents.

Nothing. CDC no longer requires the applicant to provide proof they are an eligible importer.

Yes, if you get a foreign rabies vaccination certificate for your dog before your arrival and follow the rules for 1-2 dogs or 3 or more dogs.

All people 18 years old and older are eligible to apply for a permit to bring in 1-2 dogs from a high-risk country for dog rabies. CDC no longer requires the applicant to provide proof they are an eligible importer.

CDC no longer considers the purpose of the dog importation. Dogs intended for adoption, resale, transfer of ownership, or any other purpose may be eligible for entry provided they meet the requirements as described in the flow process on Bringing a Dog into the United States.

Yes, your dog is eligible for a permit if it was rabies-vaccinated in a foreign country and meets the requirements. If your dog has a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate, your dog may re-enter the United States without a permit through the 18 approved airports with a CDC quarantine station. For details on how to enter, see the flow process on Bringing a Dog into the United States.

No. During the temporary suspension, dogs arriving from a high-risk country with a CDC Dog Import Permit can only enter the United States through the 18 approved airports with a CDC quarantine station. If you don’t follow these instructions, your dog will be denied entry and returned to the country of departure at your expense.

The permit is embedded in the body of an email, and the Permit Holder is required to present a paper or digital copy of the email during travel.

Serology Titer FAQs

Yes. However, you must submit the results of the titer as part of your CDC application. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to have the titer sample collected (at least 30 days after the dog’s initial vaccination) and sent to the laboratory, get the results (which can take 3-5 weeks), and submit your application to CDC at least 6 weeks before the date you intend for your dog to travel.

Apply at least 6 weeks before you intend for your dog to travel—and make sure the travel date on the application is at least 45 days after the titer sample was drawn.

CDC only accepts rabies serology results from the approved laboratories, including some US laboratories, listed on our website. CDC will NOT accept results from any laboratories other than the ones listed on our webpage.

Have a local veterinarian collect the titer sample and ship it internationally to one of the approved laboratories.

  • Titers must be drawn a minimum of 30 days after the dog’s initial vaccination and at least 45 days before US entry.
  • Dogs due to receive rabies vaccination boosters may have their titers drawn at any time, but titers are most easily detected at least 30 days after vaccination.

The titer test is valid for 1 year from the date the sample was drawn.

  • Titers must be drawn a minimum of 30 days after the dog’s initial vaccination and at least 45 days before US entry.
  • Dogs due to receive rabies vaccination boosters may have their titers drawn at any time, but titers are most easily detected at least 30 days after vaccination.

If a US rabies vaccination certificate is still valid, a titer test and a CDC Dog Import Permit are not required, even if a dog received a foreign vaccine booster after the US vaccine was given.

Airline FAQs

Yes. Airlines can verbally confirm travel history of dogs or have importers sign a form that states dogs were not in a high-risk country during the past 6 months. For dogs that were in a high-risk country, airlines should check they are traveling with a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate or a CDC Dog Import Permit or confirm with the importer that the dog has a reservation at an approved animal care facility.

Airlines should confirm with the importer that dogs from high-risk countries have a reservation at an approved animal care facility if the dogs do not have a valid CDC Dog Import Permit or valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate.  If the dogs don’t have a reservation, the airline should deny boarding to the dogs and instruct the passenger to either apply for a permit or make a reservation at an approved facility before allowing the dogs to board the flight.

During the suspension, dogs with a US-issued rabies vaccination certificate or CDC dog import permit arriving from high-risk countries may enter the United States through any of the 18 approved ports of entry with a CDC quarantine station.

Dogs without a US-issued rabies vaccination certificate or CDC Dog Import Permit arriving from high-risk countries must enter through a port of entry with an approved animal care facility and must have a reservation in advance.

Airlines should deny boarding to dogs from high-risk countries on flights to unapproved US ports of entry.

Airlines, at their discretion, may waive cancellation fees in such circumstances. Waiving cancellation fees for these situations will reduce the number of dogs denied entry to the United States, reduce the number of dogs needing to be returned to the country of departure, and relieve stress for passengers, airline staff, and port partners.

CDC regrets any distress the temporary suspension may cause but emphasizes the suspension will help CDC and partners prevent the importation of rabies to the United States.

Cruise Ship Travel

Cruise ships only allow service dogs aboard their ships.

Yes, a permit is needed if the dog was vaccinated against rabies outside of the United States. CDC strongly recommends cruise ships require passengers to show their CDC Dog Import Permits or valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificates before allowing dogs to board the ship.

Yes, a permit is needed if the dog was vaccinated against rabies in a foreign country. CDC strongly recommends cruise ships require passengers to show their CDC Dog Import Permits or valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificates before allowing dogs to board the ship.

Yes, service dogs with a valid CDC Dog Import Permit or valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate can disembark at any US cruise ship port of entry—but this only applies to service dogs arriving on cruise ships.

NO, a CDC Dog Import Permit is not required if you and your service dog remain on a cruise ship (do not disembark) when it stops at a high-risk country.