CDC Important Changes to Imports of Dogs from High Rabies Countries to the United States

Dog from High Rabies Country
Courtesy of Pixabay

On July 14, 2021, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), imposed an import permit requirement for dogs entering or reentering the United States after having been in countries classified as having a high risk of rabies (see list below). This restriction includes dogs who have resided in, have visited, or have cleared customs and entered a high-rabies country within 6 months of import. Pet owners must provide a verbal or written statement attesting that their dog has not been in a high-rabies country for the preceding 6 months even if it is entering the United States from an approved country.  

The reason for the legislation was to prevent the introduction of rabies into the country in light of a recent rabies incident. The legislation has been extended to January, 2023.

Initially, many restrictions were imposed on pet owners wanting to import their dogs to the United States. To qualify for these permits, vacation travel was not an acceptable excuse, nor was adoption or rescue.

A lot of restrictions have been lifted, and the purpose of travel is no longer relevant to the CDC. Additionally, pet owners have three options available to them when importing their dog.

Here are the most recent changes to this legislation:

Option 1: No import permit required.

Your dog will not need an import permit if it meets the following qualifications:

  1. Your dog must be healthy.
  2. Your dog must be more than 6 months of age.
  3. Your dog must have proof of a current rabies vaccination administered in the United States (rabies certificate – see below).
  4. Your dog’s microchip number must be on the rabies certificate.
  5. Your dog enters the United States at an approved port of entry.

Option 2: Apply for an Import Permit.

Pet owners can apply for an import permit from the CDC if your dog meets the following qualifications:

  1. Your dog is healthy.
  2. Your dog is at least 6 months of age.
  3. Your dog has a valid and current rabies certificate issued by a non-US veterinarian.
  4. Your dog has proof of a microchip recorded on the rabies certificate.
  5. Your dog has a valid rabies titer test administered a minimum of 45 days prior to import.
  6. Your dog enters the United States at Enters the United States at an approved port of entry. (Anchorage (ANC), Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO), San Juan (SJU), Seattle (SEA), and Washington DC (IAD).

Applications must be received online a minimum of 30 business days (6 weeks) in advance. Permits are valid for 3 or less personal dogs per permit. Denied permits cannot be appealed. One permit per person per year is permitted.

Home quarantine will be required for this option to arrange for revaccination within 10 days of arrival. Dogs are released at customs clearance. Violations will cause the denial of future applications for permits.

Option 3: Register your dog at an Animal Care Facility

To qualify for this option, you are importing 3 or more dogs per person OR your dog has a current rabies certificate that is not issued by a licensed veterinarian in the United States. Your dog must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Your dog is healthy.
  2. Your dog is at least 6 months of age.
  3. Your dog has a valid and current rabies certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in a foreign country.
  4. The rabies vaccine must be administered a minimum of 28 days prior to entry unless it was a booster in which case, the 28-day wait does not apply.
  5. Your dog has proof of a microchip that is recorded on the rabies certificate.
  6. Your dog enters the United States at a point of entry where animal care facilities are available.

Dogs entering the United States under this option do not need to provide rabies titer test results; however 28 days of quarantine will be imposed if valid results of a rabies titer test is not available.

After entering the United States, the CDC will validate both the rabies certificate and the titer test results (if results are available). All dogs will be examined and revaccinated for rabies at the Animal Care Facility. Those dogs without titer test results or those whose titer tests are invalid will be quarantined for 28 days and retested. All reservations for quarantine must be made before entering the United States. (refer to URL in the bullet above).

Note that, in all three options, a valid rabies certificate must be provided*. If a valid, current rabies certificate is not available or the certificate is incomplete or invalid, your dog will be returned to the origination country on the next available flight.

*Rabies certificates must be issued in English or be accompanied by a certified translation and include the following information:

  • Name and address of owner
  • Breed, sex, date of birth (approximate age if date of birth unknown), color, markings, and other identifying information for the dog
  • Date of vaccination and vaccine product information (manufacturer, batch #, etc.)
  • Date the vaccination expires
  • Name, license number, address, and signature of veterinarian who administered the vaccination
  • Your dog’s microchip number

Countries that the United States has classified as having high risk of rabies:

AFRICA: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic,
Chad, Comoros, Côte D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt
(Temporary importation suspension of dogs from Egypt until further notice), Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini (Swaziland), Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

AMERICAS AND EASTERN CARIBBEAN: Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

ASIA: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan),
Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Moldova, Mongolia,
Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor),
Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.

All pet owners should be aware that the CDC has made these important changes for the import of dogs from high rabies countries. Any questions regarding this post can be sent to [email protected].

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