Recently two cats, Sunny and Lucky, flew on Lufthansa into Denver, Colorado from Dublin, Ireland. In order to relocate to the United States they first had to meet the export requirements from their country of departure. In addition, they needed a health certificate containing the pet’s vaccination records and statement that each pet is in good health enough to fly. Sunny and Lucky had a water bottle attached to their crate which is a good idea when flying so that a pet can access water at any time and not have it spill anywhere. En route they spent the night at the Frankfurt Animal Lounge.
This post outlines the conditions and requirements when importing pets into the United States. With the exception of pets entering the state of Hawaii, there is no quarantine for pets arriving in the US from overseas at this time. All cats and dogs are subject to inspection at ports of entry for evidence of infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
The U.S. Import Requirements for Dogs and Cats:
1) International Health Certificate – Within 10 days of departure your vet will need to issue an International Health Certificate as required by all airlines. This certificate states that your pet is in good health and approved to fly.
2) Rabies Vaccination & Certificate – In general, it is required that dogs be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry, except for puppies younger than 3 months and dogs originated or located for 6 months in areas considered to be free of rabies. Dogs and cats coming from areas not free of rabies must be accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate. If a vaccination has not been performed, or if the certificate is not valid, the animal may be admitted if it is confined immediately upon arrival at a place of the owner’s choosing. The dog must be vaccinated within four days after arrival at the final destination, but no more than 10 days after arrival at the port of entry. The animal must remain in confinement for at least 30 days after being vaccinated.
3) Dogs: Screwworm Policy – The USDA pet import policy allows dogs from screwworm affected countries to enter the country if the following requirements are met: 1. Health certificate issued prior to the flight (International Health Certificate) needs to include that the dog(s) were inspected for screwworm within 5 days preceding shipment to the U.S. AND dog(s) were found free of screwworm
4) Additional Information:
** Depending on the breed of pet some individual US cities and states ban certain breeds such as Pit Bulls or exotic cats for example.
** Customs – some airports in the US require a customs broker to do the clearing and others do not (owner can do it him/herself)
** Birds – this does require prior permission from USDA and CITES / special permitting depending on species or type of bird