How to Bring a Pet Into the United States

If you plan to immigrate into the United States, or if you brought home an exotic pet, you may run into a bit of business with customs. All animals imported to the United States must pass strict requirements to assure the safety of people and animals already in US territory. If you’re into importing pet animals, or if you plan to bring home a pet animal from another country, here are some tips to help you bring them in safely.

General Precautions

Here are some important things to keep in mind when you’re importing a pet into the United States:

The animal must be carried and transported in the most humane way possible.

All pet animals which are prohibited from import into the United States must either be re-exported or disposed of in a humane and legal way.

Some airlines may require identification, health certificates, and other important documents to allow a pet to board the plane.

Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs are among the most common animals brought into the United States, and the Department of Agriculture takes special precautions on pet cats and pet dogs imported into US territory.

Observation and quarantine. Cats and dogs must be free from diseases like rabies or viral infections, and must pass strict requirements and tests by an accredited and licensed veterinarian.

Vaccination. Owners must present a document that shows that the pet has been vaccinated with the required medications, especially anti-rabies shots.

Prohibition. The Department of Agriculture prohibits the entry and sale of products made from cat or dog fur.

Customs duty. Wherever applicable, pet cats and dogs are exempt from customs duty.

Pet Rodents (Hamsters, Rabbits, and Ferrets)

The Center for Disease Control and the US Fish and Wildlife Service do not impose restrictions and rules on the import of pet rodents, as long as they are kept for personal use. There are times though that the airline or port officials may reserve the right to refuse entry to pet rodents that are not in good condition, or show symptoms of disease.

Fish, Birds, and Other Wildlife

Wildlife, especially birds and endangered species, are prohibited by federal laws to be transported across states if they violate standing state or international laws. Customs reserves the right to quarantine or seize animals which pose a significant risk to people or to existing wildlife, or if products made from their parts are considered illegal by any international trade and environmental agreements.

Restrictions and regulations about pets do not intend to keep you from bringing them into US territory; instead, they exist to keep everyone safe. With these tips to help you bring your pet into the United States, you don’t have to worry about an animal compromising everyone’s health and well-being.