What is a Valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate?

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Beginning July 14, 2021, there is a temporary suspension for dogs imported from high-risk countries for dog rabies. CDC has the authority to issue a CDC Dog Import Permit for US citizens and lawful residents relocating from high-risk countries to bring their dogs into the United States. Such permits will be issued on an extremely limited basis.

First 90-Day Transition Process
From July 14 through October 14, 2021, dogs coming from high-risk countries  with CDC Dog Import Permits can enter the United States at one of these 18 airports: 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).

After October 14, 2021, dogs coming from high-risk countries with CDC Dog Import Permits must enter only at approved ports of entry.

All dogs imported into the United States must be healthy on arrival.

Dogs that have not been in a high-risk country in the previous 6 months are not required by CDC to present a rabies vaccination certificate or other paperwork, but vaccination against rabies is recommended.

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

People applying for a CDC Dog Import Permit must have a valid rabies certificate showing their dog is vaccinated for rabies and fully immunized. It takes 28 days for the rabies vaccine to fully immunize and protect your dog. Any documents must be in English or have a certified English translation and must be filled out by the same veterinarian who administered the rabies vaccine.

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.

All documents must be complete and accurate at the time of arrival.

  • 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 vaccination with at least one vaccine given after 3 months of age and one current booster rabies vaccination. 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
  • Dog’s breed, sex, date of birth (approximate age if date of birth unknown), color, and markings
  • Dog’s microchip number
  • Date of rabies vaccination and vaccine product information and product expiration date
  • 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 in lieu of a valid rabies vaccination certificate:

  • Rabies antibody titer values or serologic test results
  • Veterinarian exemption letter
  • Health certificate or pet passport with no proof of rabies vaccination

If your dog has been in a high-risk country in the past 6 months and does NOT have a valid CDC Dog Import Permit before arrival, your dog will be denied entry upon arrival in the United States. If denied entry, your dog will 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 departed the United States and traveled to Ghana. Now you are returning to your home in the United States. Your country of departure is Ghana—not the United States— because Ghana is where your last trip began. This is true even if you have 1 or more connecting flights on the way back to the United States.

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 have additional requirements from USDAexternal icon.