What is a Valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate?

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As of July 14, 2021, there is a temporary suspension for dogs entering the United States from high-risk countries for dog rabies. This includes dogs arriving from countries not at high risk if the dogs have been in a high-risk country in the past 6 months.

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 a limited basis.

UPDATE: Effective December 1, 2021, dogs vaccinated in the United States by a US-licensed veterinarian may re-enter the United States from a high-risk country without a CDC Dog Import 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.

UPDATE: Effective December 1, 2021, all dogs that have been in a high-risk country in the past 6 months may only enter the United States through an approved port of entry, which includes all 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).

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

Dogs that have not been in a high-risk country in the past 6 months are not required by CDC to present a rabies vaccination certificate or a CDC Dog Import Permit—and can enter the United States at any port of entry, but must be healthy upon arrival and 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

For dogs vaccinated in the United States

Dogs over 6 months of age with valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate and proof of microchip are exempt from the suspension—they can enter the United States without a permit. Dogs vaccinated outside the United States must have a CDC Dog Import Permit to enter the United States. To re-enter the United States, dogs with a US rabies vaccination certificate must

  • Appear healthy on arrival
  • Be at least 6 months old
  • Have a microchip with numbers listed on their rabies vaccination certificate
  • Provide proof of a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate upon arrival
    • 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. It takes 28 days for the rabies vaccine to fully immunize and protect your dog.
    • Booster rabies vaccines administered in the United States after 15 months of age are valid immediately.
    • Note: Expired US-issued rabies vaccination certificates will not be accepted. If a US-issued rabies vaccination certificate has expired, dogs must have a CDC Dog Import Permit, if eligible.
  • Arrive at an approved port of entry

For dogs vaccinated outside the United States

For dogs vaccinated outside the United States, you must apply for a CDC Dog Import Permit at least 30 business days (6 weeks) before intended travel.

Requirements for all rabies vaccination certificates (US and foreign)

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 vaccination 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

Your dog will be denied entry if it has been in a high-risk country in the past 6 months and doesn’t have:

  1. a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate and microchip; or
  2.  a  CDC Dog Import Permit.

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.