Most healthy domestic pets can be brought to the United States with the proper paperwork. (CBP highly recommends contacting the anticipated port of arrival before importing a pet or other animal for expeditious processing and to reduce the possibility of unnecessary delays.) If you are bringing a pet to the United States, you need to make sure you are following the required regulations for traveling with a pet. Here’s how to make sure you—and your pet—are in compliance.
What animals are considered pets?
A pet is defined as a privately-owned companion animal not intended for research or resale and includes the following animal groups only:
- Rodents (It is important to note that African-origin rodents, bats, nonhuman primates, and civets may not be imported as pets under any circumstances.)
- Hedgehogs and Tenrecs
- Birds (Depending on the type of bird you have, APHIS regulations may vary. Due to the possibility of carrying or transmitting certain diseases to the US poultry industry, some pet birds are regulated as poultry and must meet different requirements. Check current advisories for bird import restrictions on bringing birds into the US.)
What if my pet is not listed?
If the type of animal you are traveling with is not listed above, see USDA: Imports—Animal and Animal Products, as some animals are restricted from entering the US based on the current animal health-related concerns in the region of origin.
What condition does my pet need to be in?
Your pet must be healthy on arrival. For example, all dogs and cats imported into the US must be healthy on arrival, and if they appear to be sick at the port of entry, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense may be required. The CDC also requires a valid proof of rabies vaccination for dogs arriving from countries at high risk for dog rabies.
I’m from a country with a high risk for rabies. Can I bring my dog?
Beginning July 14, 2021, there is a temporary suspension for dogs imported from countries that CDC considers “high risk” for dog rabies. For more information, visit the CDC website or email email@example.com.
Additional Outside Resources
- CDC: Bringing an Animal into the United States
- CDC: Bringing a Dog into the United States
- USDA: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Pet Travel
- USDA: Bringing Pet Birds into the United States
- USDA: Imports—Animal and Animal Products
- CBP Ports of Entry Contact Information
We Can Help!
Don’t know where to start? The immigration attorneys at Richards and Jurusik have more than 20 years of experience in US immigration law. If you have questions about your particular situation, contact us for a free assessment of your US immigration matters.