Bringing Pets and Wildlife into the United States
Visitors frequently inquire about traveling with their pets to the U.S. All such imports may be subject to state/municipality veterinary health regulations, federal quarantine, agriculture, wildlife, and customs requirements and/or prohibitions. Pets taken out of the U.S. and returned, may be subject to similar requirements as those entering for the first time. For some species occasionally considered as “pets,” reentry may be prohibited.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) advances a comprehensive border security and management approach, working in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with state, local, tribal, territorial, and international law enforcement agencies to strengthen its ability to safeguard and deter the introduction of foreign animal disease, protect animal welfare, and preclude the spread of communicable diseases.
The CDC serves as the national focus for developing and applying human disease prevention and control, and is responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases (including diseases that can be spread from animals to humans) into the U.S. All dogs and cats imported into the U.S. must be healthy on arrival. If a dog or cat appears to be sick at the port of entry, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner's expense may be required. CDC also requires valid proof of rabies vaccination for dogs arriving from countries at high risk for dog rabies. For more information, please visit the CDC Bringing an Animal into the U.S. website or email CDCAnimalImports@cdc.gov.
The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) is responsible for the control of introduction and spread of infectious disease in regulated live animals and animal products. In addition, Animal Care (AC) is the program under USDA APHIS ensuring the humane treatment of animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act. AC has additional requirements if you are importing dogs for the purpose of resale, such as sales through retail or wholesale channels or adoption for a fee or donation.
USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) has further requirements for dogs traveling (imported) to the U.S. from countries affected by specific diseases. Please visit the APHIS Bringing Dogs into the U.S. website for additional guidance.
Not all animals qualify as pets. USDA APHIS defines a pet as a privately owned companion animal not intended for research or resale and includes the following animal groups only:
*Depending on the type of bird you have, APHIS regulations may vary. Due to the possibility of carrying or transmitting certain diseases to the U.S. poultry industry, some pet birds are regulated as poultry and must meet different requirements. Check current advisories for bird import restrictions on the APHIS Pet Travel Bringing Birds into the U.S. website.
If the type of animal you are traveling with is not listed above, please visit our partner agency website APHIS Imports: Animal and Animal Products, as some animals are restricted from entering the U.S. based on the current animal health related concerns in the region of origin.
It is important to note that African origin rodents, bats, nonhuman primates, and civets may not be imported as pets under any circumstances.
It is critical that your pets meet ALL applicable requirements before travel. Pets excluded from entry into the U.S. will be returned to the country of embarkation at the owner’s expense. While awaiting disposition, pets could be detained at the owner's expense at the port of arrival. For more information about bringing your pet into the U.S. from a foreign country, please visit our partner agency website at APHIS Pet Travel.
CBP highly recommends contacting the anticipated port of arrival before importing a pet or other animal for expeditious processing and to reduce the possibility of unnecessary delays. Visit CBP Locate a Port of Entry for contact information on CBP ports of entry.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is concerned with protecting endangered plant and animal species by overseeing the importation, trade, sale, and taking of wildlife. Some wild species of dogs, cats, turtles, reptiles, and birds, although imported as pets, may be listed as endangered or threatened and could be protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) or any other wildlife laws and regulations such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA), among others.
Endangered and threatened animals and plants, migratory birds, marine mammals, certain dangerous wildlife and products made from them, are subject to import restrictions, prohibitions, and permit and/or certificate requirements. CBP recommends that you contact the USFWS and VS before you depart if you plan to import or export any of the following:
- Wild birds, land or marine mammals, reptiles, fish, shellfish, mollusks, or invertebrates;
- Any part or product of the above, such as skins, tusks, bone, feathers, or eggs; or
- Products or articles manufactured from wildlife or fish.
Information on the import of animal products may also be found on the USDA APHIS Import of Animal Products website at APHIS Imports: Animal and Animal Products.
Considerations for airline travel
You should check with your airline prior to your travel date to find out if there are any additional requirements. Airlines generally require health certificates for traveling pets. In addition, airlines may charge fees or have rules about allowing certain types of pets onboard.
For answers to questions on travel and/or import/export topics, information can also be found at the CBP Info Center:
Find answers at the CBP Info Center
Agency regulations are subject to change. Readers are encouraged to visit CBP and our Partner Government Agency websites frequently for the most current information available. The information provided is for general awareness purposes only.
Publication Number 1366-0221