Bringing a Dog into the United States

All dogs must appear healthy to enter the United States. And depending upon what country the dogs are coming from, they may need a valid rabies vaccination certificate.

The rules for bringing your dog into the United States are covered under US Regulations (see Rabies vaccine certificate required when coming from these countriesbelow).

These rules apply to all dogs, including puppies, service animals, and emotional support dogs. These rules also apply whether you are (1) just visiting the United States with your dog, (2) importing dogs into the United States, or (3) traveling out of the United States and returning with your dog after a temporary visit, such as a vacation or holiday, or for shopping or visiting friends and relatives. If you do not follow CDC’s rules, your dog may not be allowed to enter the United States.

Where is Your Dog Coming From?

A small, curly-haired, light brown dog sitting in a dog carrier backpack with his head sticking out on the seat of an airplane

Photo credit: Audilis Sánchez, CDC

The rules for bringing your dog into the United States depend on where you are coming from.

Different types of rabies exist in many mammals, but CDC focuses on importing dog rabies into the United States from certain high-risk countries. CDC experts collect and analyze rabies information around the world to determine a country’s risk for rabies.

Dog rabies was eliminated in the United States in 2007 and is under control in some other countries. However, many others do not have it controlled, and dogs coming from these countries can import this disease into the United States.

Dogs coming from a high-risk country will need a rabies vaccine certificate. High-risk countries have the greatest chance of importing dog rabies into the United States.

  • Example: Your adult dog lived in the United States (no-known–risk country) and visited Ghana (high-risk country) for any period of time. Before returning to the United States, your dog must have a valid rabies vaccine certificate. Be sure to get your dog vaccinated before you travel and take the papers with you.
  • Example: You are purchasing a puppy from Russia (high-risk country) on the Internet. Before entering the United States, your puppy must have a valid rabies vaccine certificate.
A young bulldog puppy standing in a blue and white dog travel crate

Photo credit: Michelle Decenteceo, CDC

Dogs coming from a low-risk or no-known rabies risk (free of dog rabies) are NOT required to have a rabies vaccination certificate to enter the United States. However, when you enter the United States, you must provide written or oral statements that the dogs lived in a country with low or no risk for at least 6 months or since birth.

  • Example: Your adult dog lived in the United States (no-known–risk country) and visited Mexico (low-risk country). This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate, because Mexico is low risk for dog rabies.
  • Example: Your puppy has lived in Germany since birth and is coming to the United States. This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate, because Germany has no-known risk for dog rabies.

Rabies Vaccine Certificate Required When Coming From These High-Risk Countries

Updated January 29, 2019

These countries and political units are considered high risk for importing dog rabies into the United States. Any dogs coming from these countries must have their valid rabies vaccine certificates to enter the United States.

Africa

  • Algeria, Angola
  • Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi
  • Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti
  • Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia
  • Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho, Liberia, Libya
  • Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique
  • Namibia, Niger, Nigeria
  • Republic of the Congo, Rwanda
  • Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland
  • Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Togo, Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Western Sahara
  • Zambia, Zimbabwe

Americas & Caribbean

  • Belize, Bolivia, Brazil
  • Colombia, Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana
  • Haiti, Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela

Asia and the Middle East, Eastern Europe

  • Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar)
  • Cambodia, China
  • Georgia
  • India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos, Lebanon
  • Malaysia, Moldova, Mongolia
  • Nepal, North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan, Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria
  • Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Turkey, Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

If you want to learn more about how the United States determines risk for importing dog rabies, visit CDC’s Rabies Branch.

What is a Valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate?

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

All dogs coming from the high-risk countries (see Rabies vaccine certificate required when coming from these countries) must have a valid rabies certificate showing they are vaccinated for rabies and fully immunized. It takes 28 days for the rabies vaccine to fully immunize and protect your dog.

  • All dogs vaccinated against rabies for the first timemust 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 vaccinations (with the first given after 3 months old) and have a record of all booster rabies vaccinations. With this record, adult dogs don’t need to wait 4 weeks before traveling.

Like your passport, your dog’s rabies 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
  • Breed, sex, date of birth (approximate age if date of birth unknown), color, markings, and other identifying information for the dog
  • Date of rabies vaccination and vaccine product information
  • 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

  • Rabies titer values or serology
  • Veterinarian exemption letter
  • Health certificate or pet passport with no proof of rabies vaccination

If your dog does NOT meet CDC requirements, your dog may be denied entry upon arrival in the United States. If denied entry, your dog may 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 leave from the United States and go to Ghana, and now you are coming back to your home in the United States. Your country of departure is Ghana—not the United States (even if you have 1 or more flight legs or stops along the way).

For research purposes, there are limited exemptions for dogs coming into the United States. If you have any questions, contact CDCanimalimports@cdc.gov. CDC strongly encourages dog owners to have their dogs vaccinated against rabies before arriving in the United States.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/dogs.html

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