Cats and dogs can be imported to the United States of America (USA) from most countries. Requirements for entry into the USA with cats and dogs depend on your country of origin. All pets arriving in the USA must be declared to customs, but no quarantine is required provided that your cat or dog meets the entry requirements, and is in good health upon inspection. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) oversees the import of animals, including pets, to the USA. Since 14 July 2021, a ban was imposed on dogs entering the USA from high risk rabies countries. This ban is expected to end in July 2022. In addition to CDC regulations, if you’re taking a cat or dog to the USA, they must also meet pet import criteria set by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as any specific rules in place in your destination State.
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State Specific Entry Requirements
As well as adhering to CDC and USDA pet import regulations, you must also check that the State you are travelling to in the USA doesn’t have any specific pet import rules in place. You can check if this is the case by using the USDA tool.
- If you’re taking a dog to California, you must provide proof of Rabies Vaccination. You can’t take a ferret to California.
- Cats and dogs entering the territory of Guam, must spend time in quarantine
- Hawaii is the only rabies free state in the USA, so cats and dogs must be vaccinated and spend time in quarantine on arrival
- All pet arrivals in Florida must provide proof of Rabies Vaccination, as well as an official Veterinary Certificate issued within 30 days of arrival
- Any dogs and cats entering New York (NY) must have proof of Rabies Vaccination and an official Veterinary Certificate issued within 30 days of arrival. The Veterinary Certificate isn’t required if you’re pet will be in NY for less than 30 days. An EU Pet Passport isn’t accepted for pets arriving in New York
So, the requirements for entry to different US states varies greatly. As well as the standard CDC and USDA policies, you have to ensure you meet the regulations set by your destination state when taking your pet cat or dog to the USA
Entering the USA with a Dog from a High Risk Rabies Country
With effect from 14 July 2021, if your dog is arriving from one of the high risk countries detailed by the CDC, or has visited one of these countries in the last 6 months, you can’t currently take your dog to the USA.
However, if you have good reason to take your dog to the USA from one of the high risk countries, or have visited one in the last 6 months, you can apply to the CDC for a special Import Permit. Be aware that these permits are only issued on an extremely limited basis.
The ban on dog imports from high risk countries to the USA is expected to end in July 2022.
Entering the USA with a Dog from a Low Risk Rabies Country
If the country you are travelling from isn’t on the high risk list, and you haven’t visited one of the high risk countries in the last 6 months, you can take your dog to the USA without a Rabies Vaccination Certificate or CDC Dog Import Permit.
However, when you enter the United States, you must provide written or verbal statements that your dog lived in a country that is NOT high risk for at least 6 months or since birth. Written statements and any documents must be in English or have a certified English translation. 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.
Dogs arriving in the USA from a Screwworm Risk Country
While the CDC has imposed a ban on dog import from high risk rabies countries, the USDA pet import rules are strict for dogs arriving from countries where screwworm is present.
If you’re taking your pet dog to the USA from a country or region where screwworm is known to exist, your dog may enter the USA if they are accompanied by a certificate signed by a veterinary official of the region of origin, stating:
- The dog has been inspected for screwworm within 5 days prior to shipment to the United States; and
- The dog is either free from screwworm OR
- The dog was infested with screwworm, held in quarantine, and treated until free from screwworm prior to leaving the region
You must ensure that USDA pet import rules for screwworm are met before taking your dog to the USA.
Taking a Cat to the USA
A Health Certificate isn’t required by the CDC for cats imported to the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. However, pet cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the USA if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans. If a cat appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense might be required at the port of entry.
Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. However, some states require vaccination of cats for rabies, so it is a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination, before taking your cat to the USA.
All pet cats arriving in the state of Hawaii, and the territory of Guam, even from US mainland, are subject to locally imposed quarantine requirements. You can check for requirements in the destination state by using the USDA tool.
Always protect your pet against biting insects when in a foreign country, and remember to leave a review if you’ve travelled to the USA with your pet!