What is a Valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate?

A public health worker wearing a white shirt with black and yellow epaulets reviews a rabies vaccine certificate on a clipboard while looking at a Golden Retriever sitting inside a dog travel crate

Photo credit: Derek Sakris, CDC

All dogs coming from the high-risk countries (see Rabies vaccine certificate required when coming from these countries) must have a valid rabies certificate showing they are vaccinated for rabies and fully immunized. It takes 28 days for the rabies vaccine to fully immunize and protect your dog.

  • All dogs vaccinated against rabies for the first time must be vaccinated at least 4 weeks (28 days) before traveling.
  • Puppies must NOT be vaccinated against rabies before they are 3 months (12 weeks or 84 days) old. The rabies certificate must include the puppy’s age or date of birth.
  • Adult dogs (15 months or older) must show a history of previous rabies vaccinations (with the first given after 3 months old) and have a record of all booster rabies vaccinations. With this record, adult dogs don’t need to wait 4 weeks before traveling.

Like your passport, your dog’s rabies certificate should not expire during your trip. Check to make sure it will be current for the duration of your trip.

The rabies vaccination certificate must include all of the following information:

  • Name and address of owner
  • Breed, sex, date of birth (approximate age if date of birth unknown), color, markings, and other identifying information for the dog
  • Date of rabies vaccination and vaccine product information
  • Date the vaccination expires
  • Name, license number, address, and signature of veterinarian who administered the vaccination

CDC does NOT accept these items as proof of rabies vaccination

  • Rabies titer values or serology
  • Veterinarian exemption letter
  • Health certificate or pet passport with no proof of rabies vaccination

If your dog does NOT meet CDC requirements, your dog may be denied entry upon arrival in the United States. If denied entry, your dog may be sent back to the last country of departure at your expense. Country of departure is where the last trip originated—not where the dog was born.

  • Example: You and your dog leave from the United States and go to Ghana, and now you are coming back to your home in the United States. Your country of departure is Ghana—not the United States (even if you have 1 or more flight legs or stops along the way).

In addition to CDC regulations, you must comply with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and your destination state’s regulationsexternal icon, 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 icon.