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Frequently Asked Questions | Changes in Importation Process for Dogs Inadequately Immunized Against Rabies

On June 19, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a Federal Register Notice (FRN) titled, “Notice of Changes in Permit Application to Import a Dog Inadequately Immunized Against Rabies.” The notice informs the public that CDC is changing its application process from a paper-based to a web-based application and electronic permit system. This guidance became effective on August 18, 2017.

How do I know if my dog is properly immunized?

Your dog is properly immunized if the following apply:

  • Your dog was at least 3 months old at the first rabies vaccination, and
  • Your dog was vaccinated at least 30 days before traveling to the United States (if first vaccination). If less than 30 days, your dog is NOT immunized against rabies and cannot enter the United States.

Note: Adult dogs (15 months or older) are considered to be immunized if they have a history and record of previous and current rabies vaccinations. They don’t have to wait before traveling.

I am a US citizen/resident traveling abroad with my dog for a few days. Do I need to present my dog’s rabies vaccination certificate when I come back?

Yes.  Always travel with a copy of your dog’s valid rabies vaccination certificate and make sure it is current for the duration of your trip.

Regardless of whether you are a US citizen or resident entering the United States by air, land, or sea, you will need your dog’s current valid rabies vaccination certificate so your dog can re-enter the United States.

I am a US citizen/resident returning to the United States with my dog, but I forgot to bring the rabies vaccination certificate. What should I do?

We recommend that you contact your veterinarian immediately. Ask your veterinarian to email your dog’s valid rabies vaccination certificate to you. You should print it, and then show the certificate to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the US port of entry.  Regardless of whether you are entering the United States by air, land, or sea, you will need your dog’s current valid rabies vaccination certificate, so your dog can re-enter the United States.

I am traveling to the United States. My dog is vaccinated against rabies. What do I need to do to enter the United States with my dog?

To enter the United States by air, land, or sea, your dog must be healthy. And with limited exceptions, be fully immunized against rabies (30 days have passed after last rabies vaccine), and have a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Only valid rabies vaccination certificates are accepted

What do I do if my dog isn’t vaccinated against rabies, but I’m planning a trip to the United States?

It’s important to start planning early, because your travel plans may be disrupted if your dog is not fully immunized. Your dog has to be at least 3 months old to get a rabies vaccination and you must wait at least 30 days before traveling for the vaccine to take effect. After your dog is fully immunized against rabies, you may travel by air, land, or sea into the United States with your dog as long as you have a valid rabies vaccination certificate.

If I receive a permit for my unimmunized dog, how long is the permit valid?

Each permit is valid only for one dog and for the travel dates specified—just one use only. Permits are not reusable.

When will I be able to apply for a permit online?

The online application is available on the Importation forms page. Dog owners and importers should apply online for a Permit to Import a Dog Inadequately Immunized against Rabies at least 10 business days prior to travel.

How can I apply online for a permit?

The online application is available on the Importation forms page. Apply as soon as your travel is arranged and at least 10 business days before traveling to the United States – one permit per dog per trip. Please keep in mind it may take CDC up to 10 business days to respond to your request. CDC reserves the right to deny requests for unimmunized dog permits.

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