Bringing Pets to the US: FAQs

HomeUS Visa & ImmigrationBringing Pets to the US: FAQs

Here are some common frequently asked questions and answers regarding bringing pets into the United States from overseas.

Is it true that foreigners are not allowed to bring in pets?

No, it is not. Foreign visitors are allowed to bring pets to the US, but they are subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, wildlife, and customs requirements and prohibitions. Pets (except for pet birds) taken out of the United States and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time.

Does the US require health certificate for the pets I am bringing into the US?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not require general certificates of health for pets to be brought into the United States. However, airlines may require health certificates for traveling pets, and health certificates may be required for entry into some states. Check with officials in your state of destination and with your airline prior to your travel.

What are the general requirements to bring in pet dogs to the US?

Although certificates of health are not required, pet dogs are inspected at ports of entry. Pet dogs may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans. If a dog appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian, at the owner’s expense, might be required at the port of entry.

In addition, travelers with dogs originating from areas not free of rabies must bring a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Dogs not accompanied by proof of rabies vaccination may be admitted if the importer completes a confinement agreement and confines the animal until it is considered adequately vaccinated against rabies (the vaccine is not considered effective until 30 days after the date of vaccination).

Do cats require rabies vaccination certificate?

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 always check with state and local health authorities at your final destination.

Can we still bring in birds?

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) implements strict regulations regarding the importation of birds. To import a pet bird of non-US origin for personal pleasure of the individual owner, the owner must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Obtain a USDA Import Permit
  • Provide a current health certificate issued by a full-time salaried veterinarian employed for the agency responsible for animal health of the national government in the exporting country of origin.
  • Quarantine the bird for 30 days, at the owner’s expense, in a USDA animal import center.

Can monkeys be brought in?

Monkeys and other primates may be brought into the United States for scientific, educational or exhibition purposes by importers who are registered with the CDC. However, they may not be brought in as pets.

What about turtles, snakes, or lizards?

CDC does not regulate snakes or lizards, but does limit imports of small turtles. Those with a carapace (shell) length of less than 4 inches may not be imported for any commercial purpose. An individual may import as many as six of these turtles for noncommercial purposes.

Are there any restrictions in Rabbits, Guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets and other pet rodents bring in as pets?

Currently there are no restrictions or requirements on these animals if brought in as pets.

Where can I find more information and requirements about bringing in pets?

Please visit the CDC website and the US Fish and Wildlife Service website for more information.



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