Questions and Answers about the Final Rule on Regulations for the Importation of Nonhuman Primates (42 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Part 71.53)

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a final rule on February 15, 2013, detailing changes to the regulations for importation of nonhuman primates (NHPs) into the United States. The regulations clarify the process for importing NHPs and explain all requirements importers must take to prevent the spread of disease from NHPs to humans. The final rule is effective as of April 16, 2013.

The term “nonhuman primate” means all nonhuman members of the order Primates, including, but not limited to, animals commonly known as monkeys, chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, gibbons, apes, baboons, marmosets, tamarins, lemurs, and lorises.

These regulations are in place to protect U.S. residents from infectious diseases that can spread from NHPs to humans.

NHPs may carry infectious diseases that are dangerous and sometimes fatal to humans. These infections include those caused by Shigella, Salmonella, Ebola, herpes B virus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (which cause tuberculosis, or TB), yellow fever virus, and many others. People working in temporary and long-term NHP holding facilities or involved in transporting NHPs (e.g., cargo handlers and inspectors) are especially at risk for infection.

CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) is responsible for carrying out regulations for the importation of NHPs. Since 1975, the importation of NHPs has been allowed only for scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes. DGMQ regulates the importation of NHPs with help from federal partners.

These regulations apply to any person importing a live NHP into the United States, including currently registered importers and any person or organization applying to become a registered importer, as well as any person or organization importing NHP products.

All NHPs imported into the United States must be held in a U.S. quarantine facility for 31 days after arrival. During this quarantine period, the NHPs are tested for tuberculosis and monitored for signs of illness that could represent a zoonotic disease (a disease that can spread from animals to humans). NHPs that die of any cause other than trauma during the quarantine period must have additional testing performed. Quarantine requirements for imported NHPs are designed to prevent these diseases from spreading to the public.

No one will be allowed to bring a monkey or other NHP into the United States to be kept as a pet, even if the person already had the pet before leaving the United States. To avoid having a pet monkey or other NHP taken away upon returning to the United States, travelers should make other arrangements for the care of their pets rather than taking them along when traveling outside of the United States. Prospective travelers should also be aware than many states or local jurisdictions prohibit keeping a monkey or other NHP as a pet. Prospective travelers should be aware of the legal requirements for keeping a pet monkey or other NHP in their home state or local jurisdiction before making arrangements for care when traveling outside the United States.

Monkeys and other NHPs may not be imported as pets under any circumstances.

These updated regulations do not change the current requirement that NHPs be imported only for scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes. These restrictions also apply to the re-importation of NHPs that originated in and are returning to the United States.

CDC regulations regarding the importation of NHPs were developed to address the health risk they pose to humans. 42 CFR 71.53 was originally published in 1975. Over time, various nonregulatory practices have been implemented to prevent the spread of infectious diseases from NHPs to humans. The purpose of the update is to consolidate and formalize the many changes in practice that have been used to manage the importation of NHPs.

The final rule extends existing requirements for the importation of some species of NHPs to include all species of NHPs, adds some new requirements for the importation of NHPs, and eliminates special permits that were previously required for some NHPs.

The regulations:

  • Expand filovirus testing to include all Old World NHPs (native to Africa and Asia) to decrease the risk for potential outbreaks. Filoviruses can cause severe hemorrhagic fever and include Ebola virus and Marburg virus.
  • Require all importers to develop and institute worker protection plans.
  • Remove quarantine requirements for laboratory-to-laboratory and zoo-to-zoo transfers that meet certain criteria.
  • Require standards for in-transit shipments while NHPs are moving through the United States, including added infection control responsibilities for brokers involved in these shipments.
  • Require that imported NHPs enter the United States through ports where CDC Quarantine Stations are located, unless written approval is obtained in advance.
  • Require animal acts that include NHPs to register with CDC.
  • Add requirements for crating, caging, and transport to protect staff and importers from exposure to disease from NHPs before they enter into quarantine.
  • Require a permit for the importation of NHP products, such as trophies and biological samples, unless documentation is provided that the product has been rendered noninfectious through an approved method.
  • Simplify the importation process by removing the requirement that a separate special permit for certain NHPs be renewed every 180 days. All registrations will be renewed every 2 years.

For more details regarding these key updates, please review the Q&A for Importers or visit the Final RuleExternal.

The final rule is effective on April 16, 2013.

HHS/CDC reviewed and responded to all public comments received on the NPRM. To view the responses, please see section III of the final ruleExternal.

For more information and to read the final rule on importation of NHPs, visit the Federal RegisterExternal.