Some dogs are great travel companions, but you must still do your homework and make preparations to ensure the trip goes smoothly. You must also follow strict rules and regulations when traveling with your dog, and failure to do so may result in difficulties at your final destination. This article provides useful information to help you navigate travel preparations for your dog.
Traveling with your dog to a different state
When traveling with your dog in the United States, you must know the animal health requirements for your final destination, and each state has different requirements. Once you know your travel details, contact your veterinarian, who will help ensure that you meet all travel requirements for your dog. Potential factors include obtaining a health certificate, updating vaccinations, and performing certain diagnostic tests. If you or your veterinarian have questions, you can contact the State Veterinarian’s office in your destination state.
Taking your dog to another country
Each country sets requirements for dogs entering their territory, which can change at any time, so you must verify the country requirements each time you travel with your dog. You must also consider that airlines and shipping lines have their own dog transportation policies, in addition to federal, state, and local government requirements. Ensure you check with your travel provider to determine these requirements, and plan ahead to ensure you can meet the return requirements to the United States.
Bringing your dog into the United States
Dogs entering the United States may be subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), as well as other federal agencies, and may need to meet additional requirements, depending on the destination state. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently has a temporary suspension for dogs imported from high-risk countries for rabies that extends through July 31, 2023. The rules for bringing your dog into the United States depend on the country where your dog was living for the last six months. All dogs must be healthy when they arrive, and those appearing sick or injured will require a veterinary examination and testing at the owner’s expense to ensure they aren’t carrying any diseases transmissible to people. Other requirements include:
- Dogs from countries that are not high risk — Dogs who have not been in a country at high risk for rabies in the past six months may enter the United States through any port of entry, and will not need rabies vaccination documentation. However, they will need proof, in the form of a written or verbal statement, that they have not been in a high-risk country for the last six months, or from birth if the dog is younger than 6 months.
- Dogs from high-risk countries — During the CDC’s temporary suspension, dogs who have spent the last six months in a country at high risk for rabies must follow strict guidelines, depending on where they received their rabies vaccination and the number of dogs entering the country. All dogs must:
- Appear healthy on arrival
- Be at least 6 months old
- Have a valid CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip record or U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate
- Have an International Standard Organization (ISO)-compatible microchip
- Dogs from high-risk countries vaccinated in the U.S. — In addition to the requirements for all dogs from high-risk countries, U.S.-vaccinated dogs must have a valid U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate, and must arrive at a CDC quarantine station.
- Dogs from high-risk countries vaccinated in a foreign country — In addition to the requirements for all dogs from high-risk countries, a dog who was vaccinated for rabies in a foreign country must have a CDC Dog Import Permit, which requires a CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record and a valid rabies serologic titer from an approved laboratory. You should apply at least eight weeks prior to your departure date to ensure the testing can be completed. In addition, you must arrive at a CDC quarantine station.
- Dogs from high-risk countries without appropriate documentation — For dogs without a U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate or a CDC Dog Import Permit, and for people importing more than two dogs, the following requirements must be met:
- The requirements for all dogs from high-risk countries
- A valid CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record
- A reservation at a CDC-approved animal care facility at your own expense
- Arrival at the port of entry where the CDC-approved animal care facility is located—they will determine if the dog’s CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record is valid. If the record is invalid, your dog will be denied entry. If valid, they will determine if your dog’s serology titer is valid:
- Valid — If the titer is valid, your dog must be examined and re-vaccinated with a U.S.-licensed rabies vaccine by a USDA-accredited veterinarian at the CDC-approved animal care facility, at your expense.
- Invalid — If the titer is invalid, your dog must quarantine at the facility for 28 days and be re-vaccinated at your expense.
FAQs about traveling with your dog
The following are some common questions from dog owners traveling with their four-legged friend:
- How do I obtain a health certificate? — A USDA-accredited veterinarian can issue a health certificate for your dog.
- Does one health certificate work in all countries? — No. Each country establishes its own set of health certificate requirements.
- How long will meeting the requirements for traveling with my dog to another country take? — The process can take weeks or months, depending on the destination country’s requirements. Start preparing as soon as possible.
- Where can I get additional information if I have further questions? — If you need additional help or information, contact your USDA Endorsement Office.