I'm moving to the US this year (from a rabies free country) and I have cats and dogs. I have been in touch with the agricultural authority in the US and I have read the CDC website as well as the state specific website.

But nowhere could I find a specific to do list with links to the necessary forms to fill in. I want to avoid quarantine. I've exchanged several emails with a person in charge in the US and it's still not clear what exactly I have to do.

Does anyone here know exactly what I have to do and where I can download the forms that the vets in the country of origin need to fill in?

I think it's bizarre that there is no government website with a step by step guide and the necessary (empty) forms for download.

  • Remember that you need to consider state, as well as federal, requirements. For example, your dogs may need to be vaccinated against rabies to meet state requirements. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 2 '16 at 14:41
  • cdc.gov/importation/pdf/dogimportation_us-canada.pdf summarizes the rules and should cover you for entering any state except Hawaii. You may need to have your rabies certificates translated into English. – Michael Hampton Jul 2 '16 at 14:51

The US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services offers the following guidelines:


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has regulations on the importation of dogs and cats into the United States. To protect public health within the United States, importers who bring dogs to the United States must make sure that their dogs are adequately vaccinated against rabies before arrival. There are three (3) federal Agencies that have regulations that pertain to the import of dogs. They are: USDA Veterinary Services (VS), USDA Animal Care (AC) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In general, all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies after three months old and cannot be imported until at least 30 days after vaccination. The CDC allows unvaccinated dogs to be imported without proof of a rabies vaccination if they have lived in a country that is considered rabies free for a minimum of six months or since birth. The Animal Care has rabies regulations for dogs imported into the Continental United States or Hawaii for the purpose of resale, adoption or rehoming. Consult the Animal Care for definitive information on their requirements. Access those requirements Here: Importers may need to obtain a confinement agreement from the CDC, for puppies prior to U.S arrival. Entry may be refused if dogs/puppies arrive without this agreement or vaccination. We strongly suggest that you visit the CDC web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/dogs.html or call them at 1-800-232-4636, for more information on their regulations.

The CDC regulations pertaining to cats can be found by following this link: http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/cats.html

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has certain restrictions on the importation of dogs. Collies, shepherds, and other dogs that are imported from any part of the world except Canada, Mexico, and regions of Central America and the West Indies and that are to be used in the handling of livestock must be inspected and quarantined at the port of entry for a sufficient time to determine their freedom from tapeworm.

APHIS VS requirements for all dogs imported or returning from countries affected with screwworm:

Pet and other types of dogs (commercial, breeding, etc.) that are returning, and/or are presented for US entry, from countries or regions where screwworm is known to exist, may enter the US if they meet the following requirements:

The dog must be accompanied by a certificate signed by a full-time salaried veterinary official of the region of origin stating that the dog has been inspected for screwworm within 5 days prior to shipment to the United States.

The certificate must state that the dog is either free from screwworm or was found to be infested with screwworm and was held in quarantine and treated until free from screwworm prior to leaving the region.

Other General Information for Pets

For an overview of the process of traveling with your pet, watch this short video.

In order to expedite entry into the United States, we suggest that you do not use straw, hay, grass, or other natural bedding. Our Plant Protection and Quarantine Division does not allow the importation of these materials as they may harbor various plant pests.

We also suggest you contact your State, county, municipal authorities for local restrictions on importing dogs. Some airlines require health certificates for dogs traveling with them. You should contact the airlines prior to your travel date.

Pet owners importing cats and dogs into Hawaii can follow the State’s 5-Day-or-Less Quarantine Program protocol, which includes a 120-day waiting period prior to arrival in Hawaii and a provision for cats and dogs to be directly released to their owners at Honolulu International Airport after inspection. Cats and dogs that don’t meet all of the 5-Day-or-Less program requirements will be quarantined for up to 120 days upon arrival in Hawaii. For more information, please visit the website for the Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture at: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/aqs/animal-quarantine-information-page/.

All cats and dogs are subject to inspection at ports of entry for evidence of infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

As a help to both domestic and international travelers, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals web site has a wealth of pertinent information.

Owners of dogs imported from countries or regions affected with Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) are advised to take the following precautions to prevent the introduction of FMD from pets entering the United States:

The feet, fur, and bedding of the pets should be free of any excessive dirt or mud.

  • The pet's bedding should be free of any straw or hay, or other natural bedding.
  • The pet should be bathed as soon as it reaches its final destination.
  • The pet should be kept separate and apart from all livestock for at least 5 days after entry into the United States.

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