United States Ban Dogs from High Rabies Countries – What You Need to Know

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR DOGS ENTERING OR RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES FROM COUNTRIES CLASSIFIED AS HIGH-RISK OF RABIES

Dogs from High Risk Rabies Countries banned from US
Kim Hester – Pixabay

Effective July 14, 2021, the Center for Disease Control(CDC) imposed a temporary ban on dogs* entering the United States after having been in countries classified by the United States as having a high risk of rabies anytime within the past 6 months.  This includes dogs who have resided in, visited, or cleared customs and these countries within 6 months of import. Dogs intending to enter or reenter the US from these countries will have 3 options available to them.

*Cats are not included in this ban.

Click here for high rabies countries.

Why is the CDC banning dogs from high rabies countries?

Rabies is a serious disease that kills almost 60,000 people worldwide each year. Once symptons show, there is no cure. Government agencies responsible for the import and export of live animals take this disease very seriously. The US has been free of canine rabies virus variant (CRVV) since 2007. Since that time, only 3 dogs with CRVV have been imported to the United States. On June 10, a shipment of 34 animals, including 33 dogs and one cat, entered the United States from Azerbaijan at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. One of those dogs was adopted and, after showing tell tale signs of rabies, was diagnosed with CRVV. As a result, a large scale effort to track exposure of the dog to other humans and animals everywhere along the transport in multi cities and countries has commenced.

Ninety nine percent of all deaths in humans from rabies is as a result of a dog bite. In 2020, there was a 52% increase in the number of dogs that were ineligible for import to the United States, and 60-70% of all fraudulent/inaccurate rabies documentation were from dogs originating in high rabies countries.

When a dog is refused entry to the United States, it is returned to its origination country. The cost of returning the dog is born by the owner or the airline. In these cases, dogs are sometimes held in facilities that are not in accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Act, and are subject to lack of heating and air conditioning, warehouse equipment and machinery and sometimes the provision of sanitary needs is lacking.

When dogs are abondoned by their owners and the airline refuses to bear the cost of return, the responsibility falls on the Federal Government to bear the costs. The cost for housing, care, and returning improperly vaccinated dogs ranges between $1,000 and $4,000 per dog depending on the location and time required until the next available return flight. During the pandemic, airline service has been reduced, further increasing costs to house and provide veterinary care for these dogs.

How long will the ban last?

The CDC estimates that this ban will be in effect for approximately one year while plans to properly handle dogs who are denied entry are put in place. UPDATE: the CDC has just extended the ban until January of 2023.

Import permits will be approved on a very select basis and cannot be appealed. The CDC’s decision on whether your pet will be approved for a permit will be final.

Option 1 – No Permit Required

For all dogs entering the United States who have proof of a current rabies vaccination that was administered by a licensed veterinarian, an import permit is not required. Dogs meeting this requirement can enter the United States without if the following requirements are met:

  • Your dog has a rabies certificate* proving a current rabies vaccination administered by a licensed veterinarian in the United States.
  • Your dog has proof of an ISO-compatible microchip recorded on the rabies certificate.
  • Your dog is at least 6 months old.
  • Your dog is healthy upon arrival.
  • Your dog enters the United States at an approved port of entry.

Your dog will be inspected upon entry and released to you pending it has no health issues.

*The certificate must substantiate that the vaccination was administered to your dog not younger than 12 weeks of age and at least 28 days prior to import for primary vaccination (see below for definition of primary vaccination)

Option 2 – Import Permit

To qualify for this option, you must be importing less than 2 dogs per person and your dogs must meet the following qualifications:

  • Has a valid and current foreign rabies certificate*.
  • Has proof of a microchip recorded on the rabies certificate.
  • Is at least 6 months of age.
  • Has a valid rabies titer test administered a minimum of 45 days prior to import.
  • 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).

Home quarantine will be required for this option to arrange for mandatory revaccination within 10 days of arrival. Dogs are released at customs clearance. All dogs entering the United States with an approved import permit who are vaccinated outside of the US must be revaccinated within 10 days of arrival.

Violations will cause the denial of future applications for permits.

*The certificate must substantiate that the vaccination was administered to your dog not younger than 12 weeks of age and at least 28 days prior to import for primary vaccination (see below for definition of primary vaccination)

How can pet owners apply for an import permit?

Import permits will only be issued by the CDC on a very limited basis. Pet owners must apply for the permit online at https://www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/apply-dog-import-permit.html  

Applications must be received a minimum of 30 business days (6 weeks) in advance. Permits are valid for 2 or less personal dogs per permit. One permit per person per year.

The following information must be submitted with the permit:

  • Proof of microchip AND
  • Proof of age (must be over 6 months to enter the United States from a high-rabies country) AND
  • Photo of identification page of the importer’s US passport or Lawful Residence card AND
  • Photo of full body and face of your dog AND
  • Clear photographs of your dog’s teeth:
  • front view of upper and lower teeth
    • side view of upper and lower teeth
  • FOR PETS WITH PROOF OF RABIES VACCINATION ADMINISTERED OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES:
    • A valid rabies vaccination certificate from a non-U.S.-licensed veterinarian. The certificate must substantiate that the rabies vaccination was administered to your dog not younger than 12 weeks of age and at least 28 days prior to import for primary vaccination (see below for definition of primary vaccination). The certificate must be in English or accompanied by a certified English translation*.

      AND

      Serologic evidence of rabies vaccination from an approved rabies serology laboratory (RNATT – rabies titer test) with results greater than >0.5IU/mL. RNATT must be administered a minimum of 30 days after the primary vaccination (see below for definition of primary vaccination). Samples must be sent to approved labs in China, Korea, France, United Kingdom or Mexico. Test results must be in English. Test is valid for one year. Pets can enter the US no sooner than 45 days after the date the blood was drawn for the test. For dogs entering the US sooner than 45 days or without rabies titer test results, see option 3.

Option 3 – Registering 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:

  • Is healthy
  • Is at least 6 months of age
  • Has a valid and current rabies certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in a foreign country. The 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.
  • Has proof of a microchip that is recorded on the rabies certificate.
  • 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 in this case.

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 last bullet above).

Primary Vaccination
There are two scenarios where your pet will receive a primary vaccination:

  • It is the first rabies vaccination your pet has ever received after a microchip was implanted.
  • Your pet’s previous rabies vaccination had expired when this vaccination was administered (even for a day).

If your origination country is classified as a high-rabies country, then the primary vaccination must be given at least 28 days prior to entry to the United States, not counting the day of the vet visit.

All subsequent rabies vaccinations are considered booster vaccinations. Booster vaccinations are not subject to the 28-day wait if they are administered in the United States before the previous vaccination expires. Be sure and have rabies certificates for both vaccinations.

*A licensed translator will issue a signed statement on professional letterhead incuding the name, address, and contact information of the translator attesting that the translation is true and accurate representation of the original document. The certified translation must have a signatory stamp or elevated seal with the translator’s license number included. A certified translator service can be found online.

Rabies Certificates

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 rabies vaccination and vaccine product information
  • Date the vaccination expires
  • Name, license number, address, and signature of veterinarian who administered the vaccination
  • Your pet’s microchip number (required if your pet received its rabies vaccination in a high-rabies country)

The certificate must be in English or accompanied by a certified translation into English.

What happens to dogs who do not conform with the new ban?

Any dog from a high-risk country arriving without advance written approval from the CDC will be excluded from entering the United States and returned to its country of origin on the next available flight, regardless of carrier or route. Dogs will also be returned to their origination country if they arrive at a port of entry without a live animal care facility (see above) or if the dog presented does not match the description of the dog listed on the permit or if the documentation proves insufficient.

Pet owners who are planning to return to the United States from high-risk countries should take note of this ban as it will affect their return to the States. Be sure your pet’s rabies vaccination was administered in the United States and does not expire during your visit.

More information can be found here.


Comments

United States Ban Dogs from High Rabies Countries – What You Need to Know — 9 Comments

  1. Hi AZ – if you are staying with the same airline company in and out of the US, then you will stay in the secure area of the airport until you board your next flight and your pets will transit the US. CDC requirements will not apply in this case. If you are changing airline companies in the US or if you clear customs for any reason, your pets will be subject to CDC requirements.
    Susan

  2. Hello. I hope you’re well.

    I’m hoping you could help me?

    I’m flying from Phuket to Mexico (but will transit in USA) with my small dog and cat in the airline’s cabin.

    As I’m only transiting in the USA for a few hours to then board my next flight to Mexico. Do you know if I need to bring my pets through customs and immigration and collect my bags like I will have to or can I possibly leave them while I go through immigration and collect my bags and then re-check in to board my flight to Mexico? I’m trying to avoid applying for a CDC permit as I’m not actually staying in the USA, only transiting.

    Thank you very much for your help. ?

  3. Try a close country, Thailand for example, they are not banning nor is Canada, get to a Thailand airport and land in Canada, then rent a car?

  4. We are USA Citizens. We have lived in Mozambique and Malawi for 6 years and are returning to the states to retire in February 2022. I have two family dogs that I have had for 5 years and want to bring back with us. Are we eligible to apply for the CDC permit? IF we can follow all instructions of CDC, are they actually issuing permits from high risk countries?

  5. Sofija – if Ruby (your dog) cleared customs and entered Turkey, then, yes, she is subject to the ban as Turkey is classified as a high-rabies country. If the airline is holding Ruby in a secure area and will board her to the US without clearing customs, then she is not subject to the ban.
    Susan

  6. Hi.

    I’m traveling back to US from Croatia where we spent 2.5months with the family (left on June 22nd). On our (unsuccessful) return to the US, we got held at the airport in Istanbul. We haven’t left the premises but Ruby had to get re-checked. Does that count as being in a high risk country?

  7. Asli – the only suggestion that we have at this point is to send your dog back to the US prior to July 14th. The CDC is not going to be generous with import permits for dogs entering from high-rabies countries. The only other option would be to export your dog to a rabies-controlled country for a 6 month residency.
    Susan

  8. They released that suspension while I am in Turkey for vacation. I will come back to The US in August and according to the ban as a short term traveller, I cannot apply for the permit and cannot bring my dog back home from Turkey. I emailed to CDC and asked about my situation but they only sent a canned response. Do you have any idea what is the situation for people like me? Left the US before the ban but coming back after the ban. There is no solid information unfortunately and I do not know what to do?

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