Facts About Importing Dogs to the United States

A number of special documents from multiple organizations may be necessary when importing dogs to the U.S. The exact documents depend on several factors that include the method of travel, origin, destination, and the dog’s breed. Working together with these agencies when planning to move dogs into the U.S. from other countries can help make the process go more smoothly.


It is essential for the dog to appear healthy upon entry, and depending on the risk of dog rabies in the country of origin, a valid rabies vaccination certificate may also be needed. As with rabies, other diseases such as foot and mouth disease, screwworm, and tapeworm infection can be a concern if dogs are being imported from countries affected by these diseases. A quarantine period may be required for dogs that work with livestock, depending on the country of origin. Additional requirements are in place when the purpose of importing a dog(s) for resale, such as German shepherd puppies imported from Germany.

Depending on what state the dog is going to, there may be additional requirements that can also include local ordinances. Disease activity or lack thereof in the location where the dog is set to arrive is likely to dictate state regulations. Local politics may play a role in local ordinances. Shipping lines and airlines have separate policies on top of local, state, and federal requirements.


It may be a very good idea to check with the agencies involved during the planning period and again shortly before traveling because the requirements could change. Multiple factors can cause changes, including severe weather conditions that impact air travel or shipping lanes and the disease status or prevalence of disease outbreaks in different countries. The agencies include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Customs &  Border Protection, and the Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Multiple agencies and a plethora of policies, regulations, requirements, and documents combine to assure that dogs arriving in the U.S. are healthy and disease-free.  This is important for the health of the general population of humans, dogs, and other animals. It may seem like a lot of hassle to go through, and some of it may seem unnecessary at the time. There is definitely an expense involved both in time and in money when importing dogs, but planning ahead and being knowledgeable about dog importation requirements can help make travel safe for both animals and people.

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