What Your Dog Needs to Enter the United States

EricPet Ownership, Safety, Tips, TravelLeave a Comment

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Starting August 1, 2024, the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will implement new regulations for dogs entering the United States, impacting both U.S. residents and international travelers. These changes, aimed at enhancing public health and safety, require careful preparation and adherence to specific guidelines. Here’s a comprehensive overview of what your dog needs to enter the United States.

General Requirements for All Dogs

To bring your dog into the United States, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Age Requirement: Dogs must be at least six months old at the time of entry. This marks a significant change from previous regulations, where younger puppies were allowed.
  2. Microchip Identification: Your dog must have an International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-compatible microchip implanted before any required rabies vaccination. The microchip number should be documented on all required forms and veterinary records.
  3. Health Certification: Dogs must appear healthy upon arrival. If a dog shows signs of illness or carries a disease contagious to humans, isolation, veterinary examination, and additional testing may be required at the importer’s expense.
  4. CDC Dog Import Form: Complete and submit this form online ideally 2-10 days before arrival. You must upload a clear photograph of your dog showing its face and body. There is no charge for submitting this form, but it must be accurate, including the port of entry where the dog will arrive.

Additional Documentation Based on Rabies Vaccination and Travel History

The specific documents required vary based on where your dog has been in the last six months and where they received their rabies vaccination.

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For Dogs Vaccinated in the United States

  • High-Risk Countries: If your dog has been in a high-risk country for rabies within the last six months, you need a Certification of U.S.-Issued Rabies Vaccine form endorsed by the USDA before departure. During a transition period ending July 31, 2025, a USDA-endorsed export health certificate can also be used.
  • Low-Risk or Rabies-Free Countries: A Certification of U.S.-Issued Rabies Vaccine form or a USDA-endorsed export health certificate documenting the dog’s age, microchip number, and valid rabies vaccination is required.

For Foreign-Vaccinated Dogs from High-Risk Countries

  1. Certification of Foreign Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Form: This must be completed by your veterinarian and endorsed by an official veterinarian in the exporting country.
  2. Rabies Serology Titer: A valid titer must be obtained from a CDC-approved laboratory, or the dog must be quarantined for 28 days at a CDC-registered facility if it does not have a valid titer.
  3. Reservation at a CDC-Registered Animal Care Facility: Required for examination and possibly quarantine.
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Preparing for Travel

60 Days Before Travel:

  • Ensure your dog will be at least six months old on the day of travel.
  • Verify your dog is microchipped and that the microchip number is listed on all veterinary records.
  • Schedule a rabies vaccination (or booster) for your dog.

30 Days Before Travel:

  • Obtain the Certification of U.S.-Issued Rabies Vaccination form or USDA-endorsed export health certificate.
  • Make a reservation at a CDC-registered animal care facility if required.

2-10 Days Before Travel:

  • Complete the CDC Dog Import Form online and upload a clear photo of your dog.
  • Ensure all information is accurate, including the microchip number and the port of entry.

Day of Travel:

  • Print copies of the CDC Dog Import Form receipt and all necessary documentation.
  • Present these documents to the airline and upon arrival to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

The Impact of New Rules

These new regulations emphasize safety and health, requiring more thorough preparations and additional documentation. Les Oakes, owner of Sevenoaks Animal Logistics, noted the change from allowing eight-week-old puppies to requiring a minimum age of six months, which adds pressure on breeders and delays the process for new pet owners in the U.S. Despite these challenges, the rules are seen as beneficial for preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases and protecting public health.

By adhering to these guidelines and ensuring all necessary preparations are made, you can help make your dog’s entry into the United States as smooth as possible. For more detailed information and updates, visit the CDC’s dog importation webpage.

Stay informed and prepared to ensure your pet’s safe and healthy entry into the United States under the new regulations. If you have any questions or need further assistance, contact CDC-INFO at (800) 232-4636.

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