A Complete Guide to Bringing Pets to the USA

bringing pets to the usa

The United States is known for being a pet-friendly country, welcoming companions around the world. However, the process of bringing a pet to the USA is much easier than in other countries. But as a pet owner, you must understand the regulations before relocating your pet to the USA to ensure your pet’s health and safety. Although the pet import procedure of the United States of America is considered simple, pet owners still need to take precise steps to import dogs, cats, and other pets. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to bring your beloved pet to the USA.

Things to Know Before Bringing Pets to the USA

Pet Passport: You probably have a plan for your own passport, but your animal companion needs one too. All pets traveling to the United States need a passport. A pet passport includes essential information such as the pet’s microchip number, rabies vaccination details, and any other relevant health certificate. Obtaining a pet passport for your furry friend is an essential step in the process of bringing them to the USA. 

Pet Training: Preparing your pet for travel to the USA involves essential steps to ensure a smooth journey for you and your furry companion. Basic training is essential for your pet, teaching commands like sit, stay, come, and heel, which proves invaluable in bustling airports or crowded areas. Also, crate training is important for air travel. Introduce your pet to their travel crate well in advance to make it comfortable and familiar. When selecting a travel crate for your pet, ensure that it meets the size and safety requirements specified by your chosen mode of transportation.

United States (US) Pet Entry Requirements

The USA imposes specific regulations on pet entry to ensure the safety of both pets and humans. These requirements include vaccination, health certificate, and rabies antibody titer test. Below, we have explained the pet requirements to enter the USA:

Pet Microchipping

Pets entering the United States from most destinations don’t need to be microchipped. Even though it isn’t needed, we, as an international pet shipping company, recommend that you microchip your pet, as the microchip may be mandatory in your country of origin. Also, please keep in mind that a microchip is needed for almost all the other countries around the world, and therefore, it is best to have one for future travels.

Vaccinations are Needed To Bring A Pet To The US

Vaccinations are mandatory when bringing a pet into the United States. The specific vaccines needed depend on the type of pet and its country of origin. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that if you are transporting your dog and cats to the USA, they must be healthy. Generally, dogs must be vaccinated against rabies. While rabies vaccination is not required if your dog is transported from a rabies-free country.

Rabies Antibody Titer Test must be Conducted

Before importing pets to the USA, a rabies antibody test must be conducted only for dogs that have been in a high-risk country in the past 6 months. This test should be done at least 45 days and no more than 1 year before the arrival.

Note: The CDC is extending its temporary suspension of dog importation from high-risk dog rabies countries until July 31, 2024. This suspension includes dogs arriving from countries without a high risk of rabies if they have been in a high-risk country in the past six months.

Health Certificate from a Certified Veterinarian

Dogs, cats, and other pets entering the United States must be accompanied by an official veterinary health certificate, which was issued no more than 10 days before the pet’s arrival. The health certificate must be endorsed by a government veterinarian of the country of origin.

Note: Pet cats entering the United States don’t require a health certificate. However, We recommend the health certificate as most airlines won’t accept cats and dogs without an official health certificate.

Screwworm Inspection(Dogs Only)

Before your dog travels to the United States from the following countries, it must be inspected for certain screwworms within five days before entering the United States. Your veterinarian must verify that your pet has been inspected for screwworm, and the results must be negative.

Screwworm Countries: Angola, Argentina, Aruba, Bahrain, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Liberia, Macau, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, UAE, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Tapeworm Treatment (Dogs Only)

To bring a dog into the United States, you need to ensure it is free from tapeworms, which can pose health risks to dogs and other animals. All dogs, especially those used on farms, must receive tapeworm treatment from a licensed veterinarian before entering the USA. Some countries, such as Canada, Mexico, West Indies, and Central American countries, don’t require tapeworm treatment.

Requirement For Other Pets

Other species of rodents, rabbits, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles imported into the United States do not require rabies vaccination. However, these pets should travel with health certificates issued before travel.

US Pet Quarantine Regulations

Quarantine is another crucial aspect of pet travel for rabies-free countries, just like the USA. Quarantine ensures that dogs and cats entering the country are not carriers of diseases that could pose a risk to local animals or humans. The length and specifics of the quarantine period can vary depending on the state in which you are travelling. However, most of the US states do not require quarantine for dogs and cats if you meet all the documents and requirements. 

Breeds Banned in the USA

banned dogs in USA

Navigating the maze of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in the United States can be daunting. These laws, varying significantly by state and municipality, target certain dog breeds in the name of public safety. The list of commonly targeted breeds includes:

  • Pitbull
  • Bullmastiff
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Dogo Argentino,
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Cane Corso
  • Rottweiler
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Siberian Husky
  • Presa Canario
  • Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Wolf Hybrids
  • Akita
  • Chow Chow

These breeds often have restrictions or bans due to perceptions about their temperament and physical capabilities.

Airline Regulations

When bringing a pet to the USA, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the airline’s specific regulations regarding pet travel. This includes requirements for carriers, documentation, and any additional fees. Each airline has its own set of policies and procedures for pet travel, so be sure to contact your chosen airline well in advance of your travel date to inquire about their requirements. Additionally, consider factors such as pet size and breed restrictions when selecting an airline for your journey.


Bringing your beloved pet to the USA requires careful consideration of various regulations and procedures to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey for both you and your furry companion. Whether you are relocating your pet to the USA or simply planning a vacation with your pet, proper preparation is key to a successful trip. By familiarizing yourself with the entry requirements outlined in this guide can make it easier for you to understand the process. With proper preparation and attention to detail, you can look forward to enjoying the company of your pet in the pet-friendly environment of the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a pet passport to bring my pet to the USA?

Yes, all pets travelling to the United States require a passport or some kind of printed documentation containing information like microchip details and vaccination records.

What vaccinations are mandatory for bringing pets into the USA?

The specific vaccinations needed depend on the type of pet and its country of origin. Generally, dogs must be vaccinated against rabies, while other vaccinations may also be required.

Is a rabies antibody titer test necessary for bringing pets to the USA?

A rabies antibody test is required for dogs that have been in high-risk countries in the past 6 months.

Are there breed restrictions for bringing pets to the USA?

Yes, certain breeds may face restrictions or bans under breed-specific legislation (BSL), which varies by state and municipality. Commonly targeted dog breeds include Pitbull, Rottweiler, and others.

What are the quarantine regulations for pets entering the USA?

Most US states do not require quarantine for dogs and cats if all necessary documents and requirements are met. However, quarantine regulations may vary by state.

What should I know about airline regulations for pet travel to the USA?

Each airline has its own set of regulations regarding pet travel, including carrier requirements, documentation, and fees. It's essential to contact your chosen airline well in advance to understand their specific requirements.

How can I ensure a smooth journey for my pet to the USA?

Proper preparation is necessary to ensure a smooth journey for your pet to the USA. This includes obtaining a pet passport, fulfilling vaccination requirements, and understanding airline regulations.

Dr Matthew Murdoch

Dr Matthew Murdoch

Veterinary Surgeon, Director

Dr Matthew is a UK-trained practicing Veterinarian and a globally recognized expert in pet travel who is committed to providing safe and smooth journeys for your beloved pets. His compassion and care for animals are second to none.