U.S. Dog and Cat Importation Requirements
Domestic dogs and cats must be free of evidence of diseases communicable to humans when examined at the port of entry. If the animal is not in apparent good health, further examination by a licensed veterinarian may be required at the owner’s expense.
Dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entering the United States. This requirement does not apply, however, to puppies or kittens less than three months of age or to dogs and cats originating or located for at least six months in areas designated by the U.S. Public Health Service as being rabies-free.
The following procedures pertain to dogs arriving from areas that are not free of rabies:
A valid rabies vaccination certificate should accompany the animal. This certificate should be in English or be accompanied by a translation. It should identify the animal, the dates of vaccination and expiration, and be signed by a licensed veterinarian. If no expiration date is specified, the certificate is acceptable if the date of vaccination is no more than 12 months before the date of arrival.
If a vaccination has not been performed, or if the certificate is not valid, the animal may be admitted if it is confined immediately upon arrival at a place of the owner’s choosing. The dog must be vaccinated within four days after arrival at the final destination, but no more than 10 days after arrival at the port of entry. The animal must remain in confinement for at least 30 days after being vaccinated.
If the vaccination was performed less than 30 days before arrival, the animal may be admitted but must be confined at a place of the owner’s choosing until at least 30 days have passed since the vaccination.
Young puppies must be confined at a place of the owner’s choosing until they are three months old, then they must be vaccinated. They must remain in confinement for 30 days.
Dogs and cats that arrive in Hawaii or Guam, both of which are free of rabies, are subject to the state’s or territory’s quarantine requirements, in addition to whatever other Public Health Service requirements, above, apply.
Dogs, cats, and turtles are free of duty. Other pets imported into the United States, if subject to a customs duty, may be included in your customs exemption if they accompany you and are imported for your personal use and not for sale.
Mexico Boarder Crossing and Pets
Many visitors to Mexico find it more convenient to leave pets at veterinary boarding facilities in Texas border cities. For pets taken into Mexico and returned to the U.S., owners must present a rabies vaccination certificate dated not less than one month nor more than 12 months previously, and International health Certificate (form 77-043) signed by a veterinarian stamped (fee $20) at the border or at the Mexican consulate where tourist cards are obtained.
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