While importing animals to the United States is a relatively straightforward process, pet parents should understand the range of documentation required. With the exception of Hawaii, there is no quarantine; this will cut down significantly on the amount of preparation you will need to complete prior to your move or vacation. However, importing pets still requires careful planning. See below for animal-specific requirements.
When importing dogs to America, you will need a veterinarian-issued health certificate. This certificate will state that your pet is fit to fly, and it must be completed within ten days of travel. Though not required to enter the United States, this documentation is essential for most airlines. Additionally, it is recommended that dog owners obtain a subcutaneous microchip prior to entering the country. This small, inexpensive piece of technology will serve as your dog’s lifelong identification tag.
Dogs also need proof of rabies vaccination if you are traveling from a country where rabies is present. Additionally, optional vaccines include Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Para-influenza, and Bordetella. Talk with your veterinarian about which is essential for your pet. If you originate from a country affected with screwworm, the dog must be accompanied by a certificate signed by a full-time veterinary official stating that the dog has been inspected for screwworm within five days of shipment to the United States. The certificate must clearly state that the dog is either free from screwworm or has screwworm and should be quarantined until treatment is complete.
Importing cats is slightly easier than bringing dogs into the United States. You must obtain a veterinarian-issued health certificate stating your pet is healthy and fit to fly. This should be completed within ten days of travel. Again, this is not required by the CDC or the USDA, but is likely required by your individual airline. Cats are also not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation, but some individual states require this vaccine. Check with the state and local health authorities at your final destination to ascertain exactly what is required. Additionally, optional vaccines include Feline enteritis, Rhinotracheitis, and Calicivirus.