I'm moving from Germany to California with my dog. She's originally from the USA, but we've been in Germany for three years.

What do I need to do to travel back to the USA with my dog (10 lbs Chihuahua)?

She is microchipped, has a European pet passport, and is confirmed as an in-cabin pet on our flights (operated by Lufthansa). We're flying into SFO.

What can I expect from US Customs? Do I require any further documentation?


2 Answers 2


You've found one link but basically you just didn't link others:

CDC also has information on what to expect when traveling with pets as well as some information on Foreign Born and a few other sites.

Long story short the procedure for bringing pets through customs is fairly simple you present your pet and all the documentation pertaining to its health to a US Customs officer and your pet may be examined and if nothing is found then you just continue on your way.

  • I have a "European Pet Passport" - is that enough documentation? It has sign-offs for rabies vaccine and "good health for travel."
    – nibot
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 19:31
  • @nibot As long as a US Customs official can read in English that your pet is Rabies and Screwworm free you should be fine.
    – Karlson
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 19:32
  • 2
    Also, for anyone moving to Hawaii, the Aloha State imposes a quarantine on dogs and cats.
    – choster
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 20:13
  • @choster True but we're talking about California in this question.
    – Karlson
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 20:27
  • 2
    @Karlson Yes, hence "Also, for anyone moving to Hawaii…." I thought I would mention it since the question title asks about the entire USA.
    – choster
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 20:52

I did the following things to prepare for my transatlantic journey with my little dog:

  • Went to the vet. My dog's rabies shot had recently expired, so she got a new one. This was noted in my dog's "European Pet Passport" that we had gotten on an earlier vet visit.
  • I phoned Lufthansa to add an in-cabin pet to my reservation. (Later, at the airport I paid a 70 EUR fee for this.)

Upon arriving at San Francisco International Airport, there were no additional formalities. I went into the "I have stuff to declare" line at customs after the baggage claim and said I had a dog. The inspectors didn't take one look at my dog. They did ask whether I had any dog food and asked to look at it -- after a glance at the bag, they declared that OK too.

So: the whole process was totally easy and painless. It turns out that traveling between Europe and the U.S. with a small dog is not a very big deal.

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