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Cats, dogs and other pets: how to immigrate to the USA with a pet

When you are considering immigrating to the United States, your pet is one of the most important parts of your checklist. Like many other good things in life, it is worth planning ahead for its transportation. The exact process will depend on the health of your pet, the country you are flying from, and the type of animal you are bringing in. Edition Boundless told what you need to know to carry your pet with you.

Photo: Shutterstock

Be aware that there may be additional animal health requirements at your final destination. Once you know where you are going, check with the local authorities on how to bring your pet. Start at the State Department of Agriculture website.

What you need to transport a dog to the USA

Dog importation is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means that these departments may have specific requirements that limit the transmission of infectious or contagious conditions. For the latest information, visit their websites before making any travel plans.

1. Certificate of health status

Your dog should look healthy; you can document her condition by visiting a licensed veterinarian. Some states and airlines require a special health certificate. There is no single template for it, but at its most basic level, it should include the following information:

  • Breed, weight and age.
  • The date of a recent examination confirming that your pet is free of infectious or contagious diseases and is healthy enough to travel.
  • Vaccination record, especially for rabies.
  • English translation of the health certificate.
2. Certificate of rabies vaccination

Even if you are not traveling from a country with a high risk of canine rabies, it is a good idea to get a certificate of canine rabies vaccination, as this information must be provided in some states and for airlines. The CDC also requires you to provide a written or oral statement that your dog has lived in a low-risk country for at least 6 months or since birth. Written statements must be in English or have a certified English translation.

On the subject: Study: Pet Owners Easier Tolerate COVID-19

Generally, if you are from a high-risk country, you can apply for a CDC permit to import dogs. However, effective July 14, 2021, the CDC temporarily stopped a rule banning dogs from entering the United States from high-risk countries. This applies to dogs that have been in any high-risk country in the previous 6 months.

3. Checking for blowfly

If you are traveling from an area where the fly fly exists, ask a licensed veterinarian for a certificate stating that your dog has been tested for larvae. This test must be taken 5 days before traveling to the United States, so plan accordingly. The certificate must state that your dog is not infected with the fly, or has been quarantined, treated and is now healthy.

What you need to transport a cat to the USA

Cats are a little easier to travel with. The CDC and USDA do not require proof of rabies vaccination or additional animal health claims. However, you need to double-check the local requirements of your final destination.

It is recommended that you collect the following documentation before traveling:

  • Health certificate: this document must be issued by a licensed veterinarian and indicate that your cat is healthy and can fly. The certificate should also include the breed, weight, age of your cat, and vaccination information.
  • Proof of Rabies Vaccine: some states and airlines require this vaccine for cats.

How to travel with other animals

What about your ferret, hedgehog or snake? Some animals are not regulated by the CDC, but are still subject to local regulations. For example, ferrets are illegal in California. In addition, not all animals are considered pets: the USDA treats some birds as poultry with different movement requirements. For more information from the USDA visit them Web site and select an animal from the list.

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If you are traveling with a pet that is not a dog or cat, check to see if your pet is subject to CDC and USDA regulations. Then check with your airline and local authorities at your final destination for any additional requirements.

Other things to consider before traveling with a pet

Your travel plans may be affected, among other things, by your airline and country of residence. Here's what you need to know.

Check the airline

Some airlines only allow dogs or cats and only certain types of these animals. Major airlines usually post this information on their website, or you can speak directly with a representative.

In addition, airlines may require:

  • Original health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian and translated into English.
  • Photo of your pet.
  • Cage information if you are sending them (note that some airlines have temporarily suspended pet transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Vaccination records.
  • If your pet is traveling with you in the cabin, check the size of the cage it will be in.
Check the information for your country

It is also important to check the requirements for exporting your pet from the country of origin. Export requirements are set by each country, so start with your country's ministry or department of agriculture to get travel details prior to departure.

In addition, there are various organizations that can help you organize the transportation of your animal. For example, you can use the services IPATA or PetRelocation.

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