Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regulations require that dogs must be healthy to enter the United States. And with limited exceptions, dogs must be immunized against rabies and have a valid rabies vaccination certificate. These requirements apply equally to all dogs, including puppies and service animals.
Rabies vaccination is required for all dogs entering the United States from a country where rabies is present like Canada. Puppies must not be vaccinated against rabies before they’re 3 months old. So the youngest that a puppy can be imported into the United States is 4 months old.
Dogs that have never been vaccinated against rabies must be vaccinated at least 30 days before arrival. Adult dogs older than 15 months of age that previously received a rabies vaccination given no earlier than 3 months of age and that has since expired may be imported immediately after booster vaccination, without the need to wait 30 days.
Dogs must be accompanied by a current, valid rabies vaccination certificate that includes the following information:
- Name and address of owner
- Breed, sex, age, 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
These requirements apply to all dogs, including service animals such as guide dogs for the blind.
If you trully wish to import your dog from Canada, who may, however, ask for an
unimmunized dog permit.
Bringing an Unimmunized Dog into the United States
What is an unimmunized dog?
An unimmunized dog has either NOT been vaccinated or was first vaccinated when LESS than 3 months old or LESS than 30 days before arriving in the United States.
Unless an unimmunized dog is coming from a rabies-free country, you must apply for an unimmunized dog permit to bring your dog into the United States.
What is an unimmunized dog permit?
Under limited circumstances, CDC may issue an unimmunized dog permit (formerly referred to as a dog confinement agreement). This permit allows unimmunized dogs into the United States when requested in advance and when certain conditions are met.
This permit will include a confinement agreement, which is a legal document stating you will confine your dog in the United States until your dog is fully immunized against rabies. Confinement means restriction of an animal, by the owners or their agent, to a building or other enclosure isolated from people and other animals (except for contact necessary for its care). The dog must be muzzled and kept on a leash when outside the enclosure. State officials will monitor compliance.
How to apply for an unimmunized dog permit
Apply online for an unimmunized dog permit—one permit per dog. Apply as soon as your travel is arranged and at least 2 weeks (10 business days) before traveling to the United States. Be sure to allow time to receive the permit before you travel. No permits are given upon arrival.
How to submit permit applications
Read instructions on how to submit permit applications.
Conditions for getting a permit
When deciding whether to grant a permit, CDC will consider specific criteria, such as the number of dogs, frequency of dog importations by importer, past compliance, country where the dog has lived, length of stay, and other risk factors. Allow up to 2 weeks or 10 business days for CDC to respond to your request.
Unimmunized dog permits are given only to US residents and visitors staying 30 days or more in the United States. It takes 30 days for a dog to be fully immunized. CDC will NOT issue an unimmunized dog permit for a temporary visit less than 30 days (for example, a vacation or holiday and for shopping or visiting friends and relatives).
CDC reserves the right to deny requests for unimmunized dog permits.
Approved permit applications
If your application is approved, CDC will email the permit to you. Only one permit per dog, per trip. The permit is good until the expiration date. If your itinerary changes, you must email changes to CDCanimalimports@cdc.gov along with your permit number. CDC will revise the permit and resend to you.
Upon arrival at the US port of entry
- You must provide a printed copy of your permit to a US Customs and Border Protection officer.
- Your dog will be inspected to verify tif he is indeed healthy and if his appearance and age match the description on the permit.
If not, your dogs may be denied entry.
You must also comply with regulations from both the US Department of Agriculture and your destination state. See ASPHIS’ Pet Travel site.
CDC strongly encourages dog owners to have their dogs vaccinated against rabies before arriving in the United States and travel with a copy of their valid rabies vaccination certificate. CDC regulations serve to protect you, your dogs, and your community. Rabies is a serious disease, and there is no cure.
Send any questions about importing unimmunized dogs to CDCanimalimports@cdc.gov.