New Ruling on Dog Rabies Vaccination Requirements for Entry to the US

Pet vaccination requirements changing for USThe United States (US) is one of the most pet friendly countries in the world. Dog passports need only to document proof of rabies vaccination at least 30 days prior to entering the country. Presently, dog owners and importers transporting unvaccinated dogs into the United States, or those who can not meet the 30 day requirement, can apply for home confinement for 30 days. During this time, their dog must be vaccinated for rabies and it must be kept in isolation, away from other rabies-carrying animals. It must be leashed and muzzled when removed from the designated premises during the period of confinement. The same opportunity applied for puppies under 3 months of age who were not old enough for rabies vaccinations when entering the US.

Effective August 11, 2014, the rules for dog vaccination requirements will be changing. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) will require pre-approval of all requests for home confinement for dogs who have not been vaccinated for rabies when entering the United States from a country which is not considered by the US as rabies-free*.  And, as puppies are not given their rabies vaccinations until 3 months, and there is a 30 day waiting period after the initial vaccination, this means that puppies from non-rabies-free countries cannot be imported to the US until the age of 4 months.

The legislation was written out of concern for the number of home confinements that were issued in 2013 and the first half of 2014. Many importers are not adhering to the rules of the confinement and the number of home confinement requests is growing substantially. After August 11, the CDC will consider each case individually and encourages owners and importers to have their dogs vaccinated at least 30 days prior to import to avoid problems at the point of entry.

*Countries considered by the US as rabies-free.

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New Ruling on Dog Rabies Vaccination Requirements for Entry to the US — 72 Comments

  1. Pam – where are you flying to Florida from? If it is from another US State, then your dog will enter the State; however, Florida law requires that dogs and cats have current rabies vaccinations. If you are traveling internationally, then a rabies booster is recommended and can be required depending on the country you are entering the US from. There is more information on this page:

  2. I am flying to Florida. My dog has only on (1) rabies vaccine at 6 months of age. Instead of getting second booster in (1) year, I did titers showing he has the antibodies from just (1) rabies vaccine. Will Florida accept?

  3. hello, I’m traveling with my 2 months old puppy from Brazil to USA. He has not get the rabies vaccine because he is still too little. I read there is a permit application I can fill out and if gets approve I can bring my puppy to USA. But I don’t know if the airport at Brazil would approve it or let me take the puppy out of Brazil with this permit. The permit is APPLICATION FOR A PERMIT TO IMPORT A DOG INADEQUATELY IMMUNIZED AGAINST RABIES. I can also wait the 4 months but my puppy is Siberian husky and all this age they would be to large to travel with me in the cabin, he would have to go as cargo ( under the plane). And I’m not too comfortable by putting him under the plane.
    What can I do?
    Thank you

  4. Sophia – according to Germany’s regulations, no unvaccinated puppy may enter or transit Germany. The puppy must be microchipped and vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 12 weeks of age and wait for 21 days before transiting. Lufthansa’s pet policies should support this regulation. (don’t know where you heard that the 21 day wait could be waived..) As with Spain, no unvaccinated puppy can enter the country, would have to research transiting. It is also better for the puppy’s health to wait as it will be traveling in the cargo hold.

  5. OMG thank you so much for answering all these questions!
    Lufthansa and CDC question:

    I am trying to know if a 12-week old German Shepherd puppy can travel from Barcelona to Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt to Miami on Lufthansa with no rabies certification, flying cargo, with me as the passenger, on my two flights. Same question with an 8-week old pupppy. I have not bought the puppy yet as i am so confused with Lufthansa Spain, Lufthansa Germany and the CDC’s conditions all at once. Wait for it: the puppy will be bought in France from a breeder, fly from Spain cause of hubby’s family, transit through Germany cause Lufthansa and to Miami, final destination as a port of entry.

    From what I read from the CDC, I believe it can. From Lufthansa, no clue!
    Lufhansa Barcelona and Lufthansa Germany tell me opposite things as the airline conditions are different from the CDC’s. I am going crazy with trying to know who is right and what exact age and weight the puppy has to be. My puppy will probably be above 8kgs so it has to fly cargo on Lufthansa. (They have a mx 8kgs limit for in cabin flights.. yack, poor thing). Flying cargo is only possible at 12 weeks minimum for a puppy by Lufthansa regulations.

    QUESTION: If my puppy is between 12 weeks and 3 months, it does not need rabies, is this correct? That is my first question.
    Second, does it need a microship if it is 12 weeks only? (on top of the pet passport, the health certificate for the airline and the first vaccinations, and the breeders’ contract of course)
    Third, can Spain or Germany in transit require the rabies vaccination at 12 weeks old? They should not but..rabies-vacination is sacred in Europe when you start travelling. If they do, I think I don’t need the 30 days wait thing for the US. But do i need it for Spain and Germany? Or do they only go by the destination country: thee US?

    I would need this rather urgently as i am trying to buy the puppy from Europe now (*from a rabies-free country) and need to ad the animal on the flight. Yet, I will buy the puppy only if i can be sure if it can travel with me.

    Thank you SOOOO much for your clarification, again.


  6. Bev – that is a good question for your veterinarian. Your puppy must be fully vaccinated for rabies and wait for 30 days before entering the US. If your puppy is receiving a series of rabies shots it may not be fully vaccinated until August 17 and will need to wait until September 17 to travel. Best to ask the CDC at

    If you are laying over for 7 hours in Germany, you will need to contact your airline to confirm they will hold your puppy if it is flying in the cargo hold. If you need to change airlines, there will be further requirements.

  7. I am visiting South Africa from the United States. I have a puppy that was born in South Africa on April 6, 2017 and received his rabies vaccination on July 15, 2017. He is due for a rabies booster on August 17, 2017. He also received his 5 in 1 vaccination and received medication for deworming on July 15.

    We are flying to the U.S. on August 22, 2017 with one 7 hour stop in Frankfurt, Germany. Is the first rabies vaccination enough for him to have entry to the U.S. or does he need to wait 30 days after the booster. The info I have seen is confusing.

  8. Twyla – it depends on your airline. Don’t believe that Delta or American will require, but United may.

  9. Hello,

    My puppy will be 11 weeks old (just shy of 3 months) at date of domestic travel from Detroit to Houston, USA. He has had all shots except rabies, as he won’t yet be 3 months old. Will he be allowed to travel in-cabin with me? I am flying with United Airlines. Thanks

  10. Sandra – according to Ireland and Spain’s legislation (as this is decided on the country level whether to derogate from EU legislation), a puppy or kitten should have their rabies vaccination no sooner than 12 weeks of age. (in the US, Canada and other countries, it is 3 months) We are not veterinarians; however, this is considered the time when the antibodies passed from the dam begin to weaken. No puppy can enter Ireland and Spain without first being microchipped, then being vaccinated for rabies. Depending on the country of origin, a titer test may be required or not. This test, if required, cannot be given sooner than 30 days after the initial (primary) vaccination and will measure the level of rabies antibodies in the puppy’s blood.

    As for Japan, the puppy or kitten must be vaccinated for rabies twice within a 12 month period prior to entry and not before 3 months of age unless it is entering Japan from another country that Japan considers as rabies-free. ( A titer test is also required to enter Japan if entering from a non-rabies-free country.

    If levels of antibodies are not 0.5 IU/ml or better, the puppy or kitten must be revaccinated and wait for 30 days before having the titer test again.

    Granted, that there are cases where immunity to the antibodies skews the results (again, we are not vets), however, not vaccinating for rabies is not an option if you want to import your puppies to the countries you have listed and also to every country in the world with the exception of Jamaica.

    Hope we addressed your question.

  11. I am getting conflicting information on when to vaccinate puppies for rabies, when shipping to Ireland, Spain and Japan. EU requires at 3 months on age, with a waiting period of 21 days prior to shipment. However, I have been told that the Dam’s rabies immunity impacts the titer level of the puppies getting their shot and it’s a waste of money.
    I am confused.

  12. Tina – yes, the 21 day wait does not apply as long as your pet’s previous vaccination had not expired when the booster was given.

  13. Hi,
    my dog was previously vaccinated against rabies while ago and we re-vaccinated him recently. Can we take him to USA in less than 30 days wait ( because it’s not his first vaccination against rabies)?
    we are traveling from Canada to California.
    Thank you

  14. Hello Luiza – you do not need to re-vaccinate your dog because its current rabies vaccination is still valid. It is OK if the microchip date is the same as the vaccination date. It does not matter how old your dog is when entering the US or if it is neutered or not. It should be healthy and fit to travel.

  15. Hi!
    I want to bring my dog from Romania to USA where I leave.
    My question is: if my dog already had his rabies shot in October 2016 do I need to revaccinate him if I will travel in May 2017? It is ok if the microchip date is exactly the Same Date for the rabies shot? I know he can’t have a rabies shot before having the microchip but having the same date it is ok?
    Another question I have is: does it matter how old the dog is? Mine is 11.5 years. Does it matter if he is fixed or not? Mine isn’t.
    Thank you for your help in advance.

  16. Hi Jane – if you are entering the US with a puppy that is originating from a country that the United States considers as rabies-free, you do not need to wait for 30 days after rabies vaccination. The puppy will be subject to export requirements of the origination country, however. If you are originating from an EU country, there may be a 21 day wait required.

  17. If I’m traveling with a puppy under 4 months of age from a rabies-free country but it HAS been vaccinated for Rabies already, do I have to wait 30 days before bringing him to US?

  18. Maria – if your puppy is flying in and out of the US on the same airline, then it should transit the US and does not need to conform to US regulations. Confirm this with the airlines if it is traveling as checked baggage or air cargo. If it is traveling with you in the cabin, you will stay in the secure area of the terminal until your next flight. Again, you must stay on the same airline in and out of the US.

  19. I’m bringing back a dog to Canada from El Salvador. She’s only 2 months and is still to young to get the rabies vaccine. I’ll be stopping in the USA. Will I have problem if she doesn’t have the rabies vaccine?

  20. Tyler – all dogs over the age of 4 months must be vaccinated for rabies to enter California. Your puppy will be able to clear customs because it is coming from a country that the US considers rabies-free, but will need to be vaccinated for rabies once it gets here. We would note that an export permit is required for your puppy to leave Singapore. You should verify that the vaccination is not needed to leave the country.

  21. Kat – your Shepherd does not need to be re-vaccinated; the US recognizes the 3 year rabies vaccination. Not sure what country you are entering the US from, but a rabies certificate is a standard thing that you vet has that reflects the manufacturer of the vaccine, the expiration, the batch number, etc. As for a health certificate, ask your airline whether this is required. It can be an international health certificate but it needs to be in English or bi-lingual with one language being English. You can find regs to enter the US with your pet here:

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