I am moving to California from Ukraine. I know the exact requirements from Ukranian part, but what about USA part and especially California? What is the exact list of requirements for the cat?

  • You'll get in more trouble for importing Ukrainian vegetables than you will domestic animals.
    – yurisich
    Commented Nov 5, 2011 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


It appears that the requirements to import a cat to the U.S. may not be too onerous. The guidelines I have found for importing cats to the United States seem to indicate that they must simply be healthy; it appears there may be surprisingly little paperwork involved.

I just called the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on the phone to ask about importing a cat from Ukraine. They confirmed that there should "not be too much worry" about importing a healthy cat, but referred me to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which has jurisdiction over animal importation to the U.S., and to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The CDC contact information is:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30333
TTY: (888) 232-6348
New Hours of Operation
8am-8pm ET/Monday-Friday
Closed Holidays
[email protected]

And the phone number for California Department of Food and Agriculture is +1(916)654-1447.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says:

A general certificate of health is not required by CDC for entry of pet cats into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. However, pet cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans. If a cat appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner's expense might be required at the port of entry.

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 it is a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination.

All pet cats arriving in the state of Hawaii and the territory of Guam, even from the U.S. mainland, are subject to locally imposed quarantine requirements.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection department has some scary words:

Pets excluded from entry into the United States must either be exported or destroyed. While awaiting disposition, pets will be detained at the owner's expense at the port of arrival. USDA does not inspect or detain pets at U.S. ports of entry.

However, they also seem to indicate that the requirements are not too complicated beyond simply having a healthy cat:

The U.S. Public Health Service requires that pet dogs and cats brought into this country be examined at the first port of entry for evidence of diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

The State of California website says simply:

All domestic cats must be healthy. A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), also known as a health certificate, is recommended.

You should also check the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s "Importation of Pets and Other Animals Into the United States" web site.

Be sure to call your airline(s) to ask about the airline's requirements for transporting your cat. You will probably have to reserve a spot for the animal on the airplane (even if it is traveling with you as "carry on") and pay a fee. If your itinerary includes flights operated by multiple different airlines, you will have to contact each of them individually, and probably pay a fee to each of them too.

Also be sure to check the requirements of any intermediate stops in your itinerary. For example, it may not be possible to bring your pet through Ireland or the UK (or other islands).

Obtaining an English-language health certificate with a stamp and signature from a vet might be helpful.

  • 3
    Thanks a lot, you was right. Now I am here in California with my cat, there were no troubles at all.
    – Restuta
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 2:53
  • Great! Welcome to California!
    – nibot
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 13:08
  • Did you need any paperwork at all?
    – nibot
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 13:08
  • Yes, I need to receive a general certificate of health, because it was required by the Ukrainian side. No paperwork from the US part at all.
    – Restuta
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 19:47
  • What visa is your cat on? :)
    – oneworld
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 22:38

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