Wednesday, October 31st 2018

Bringing Your Dog Back Into the US: How to Get Your Pet Across the US Border

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Bringing your dog on an airplane


*If you are traveling with your pet, odds are that you are flying. If you are driving across the border, you can disregard this first section.

– Check with Your Airline –

Most airlines will allow dogs onboard, however not all do—so check with your airline first to see if dogs are allowed. All airlines have different rules as to how to ship pets across the border. Some airlines have breed restrictions, so make sure to ask them if your particular breed is allowed.

– Flying Your Dog in the Cabin –

Pets will likely fly under the cabin in the cargo section. If airlines do allow you to bring your dog onto the cabin, the crate will have to fit under the seat in front of you, and the dog will have to be able to stand up and turn around inside the crate. This means that barring a puppy or a teacup breed, odds are you cannot bring your dog onto the cabin.

– Standard Rules –

Though the rules do vary from airline to airline, there are some restrictions common to all airlines that allow pets to travel. Your pet must be able to stand up and turn around in their crate. Furthermore, airlines typically require that pets come with health certificates no older than ten days.

– Preparing Your Dog for Travel –

Travel is stressful for pets, therefore it is always best to limit the possible stress. Make sure they are comfortable with the crate first. It is best not to feed a dog two hours before their flight. Ensure that your dog’s nails have been clipped. Dogs can get nervous in a crate and try to claw their way out, which can easily lead to snagging or tearing a nail, bleeding, crying, and other distress. Avoid flights during times of year that are too hot or too cold for your pet in the cabin. Book a flight with as few layovers as possible—direct is best.


– Consider a Pet Relocation Service –

Another option is a pet relocation service. This can be a costly option, but it will remove the hassles of dealing with the logistics yourself. If flying with your pet is not an option, then these services can be lifesavers. Be sure to begin the process of finding an agency well before your move. The relocation service will need adequate time to plan. We recommend giving them around twelve to sixteen weeks to ensure that your pet arrives on time.

– Pricing for Relocating Your Pet –

There are many factors to consider in the pricing of your pet, thus cost estimates are difficult to ascertain. Typically, pricing depends on the weight of the dog and crate, the distance your pet is traveling, the bureaucratic restrictions imposed by the country you are flying into or out of, and any special requirements your dog might have. You will likely have to hold meetings with a representative before you can get a price quote.


– Rabies Vaccine Regulations –

The Rabies Vaccination Certificate is the most important document when it comes to overseas travel. Your certificate must include the following:

  • Your dogs breed, age, sex, and color
  • The date of the rabies vaccination and the date it expires
  • Products used for the vaccination
  • The name and address of the owner
  • The name, address, license number, and signature of the veterinarian who performed the rabies vaccination

*The date of the vaccination can have an impact on whether or not your pet is confined, and the period the dog is confined. If the vaccination occurred less than 30 days before your arrival, your dog may be confined for 30 days until it can be released. You have a say in where the dog is confined.

– Exceptions to the Rabies Restrictions –

There are exceptions to the rabies vaccination. Make sure to know these exceptions, in which case you won’t need a rabies vaccination:

  • If you have a puppy less than three months old, then you are allowed to take the dog into the country without a rabies certificate. However, the puppy will be confined for 30 days until it can receive the vaccination.
  • Countries like Australia are unique because they are rabies free, thus vaccinations are rare. Dogs are allowed to enter the United States without the rabies vaccine if they have lived in Australia since birth, or if they have been in Australia for 6 months. However, they will be confined for 30 days upon arrival.
  • If you’re importing a dog for scientific research, and the rabies vaccine would interfere with that research, you can get a waiver for the rabies vaccine.

– Special Circumstances and Other Requirements–

  • Screwworm is a parasite which infects dogs and other animals. It is only present in certain countries. If you are from a country that is infested with screwworms, then you will require a Screwworm Certificate when entering the United States. You must have this certificate completed by a licensed veterinarian within 5 days of your dog entering the United States.
  • Foot and Mouth Disease is another condition which requires special considerations when bringing your dog into the United States. If you are traveling from a country that is known to have Foot and Mouth Disease, your dog’s fur, feet, and bedding must be clean and free of dirt. Do not bring hay or straw in your dog’s crate. Be sure to bathe your dog as soon as you arrive. Keep your dog from other livestock for at least five days.
  • Dogs which are brought into the country for the sole purpose of breeding are not exempt from these regulations. They are treated just as if they were your beloved pets.


– The Trip to See the Veterinarian –

When you visit your veterinarian, be sure to ask your vet about the following. Then be sure to get a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to have your dog cleared for overseas travel:

  • Vaccinating
  • Blood Tests
  • Ask About Having Your Dog Microchipped for Identification Purposes

– Preparing Your Dog’s Crate –

When you’re flying with your dog, you have to put all pertinent information on the dog’s crate. This ensures that your dog can be found should your luggage be lost or misrouted. Be sure to include your pet’s name with your contact information should be posted on the crate. Including your phone number and email address would be a wise decision. Be sure to attach it securely to your crate, whether by sticking a piece of paper with duct tape, or you can have a local print shop make a sticker.


*For all Rules and Regulations for bringing dogs and other pets into the United States, click here.

When you are entering the United States, your dog will have to be cleared by customs to be allowed into the country. Be sure to have everything prepared accordingly to ensure a speedy entrance for your pet. You will need your proof of vet vaccination, as well as CPB Form 7501 – A document that asks for the basic contact information for you, and a short questionnaire about your dog. To download one, click here. (If you are shipping your dog as cargo, email or fax your copy to whoever is receiving the dog. Also keep a printed copy handy with you when you are crossing the border for any other reasons.)

The airport where you are arriving may not have customs operating all night. Check to make sure that customs will be open when you land to ensure that you or your dog are not waiting there all night.

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