Dog And Cat Importing Into The U.S.


By Pacific Customs Brokers, Pacific Customs Brokers 2020-08-12

Your how to guide on pet imports into the U.S.

When importing puppies, dogs, kittens, or cats, you must know what is involved in the process. Many parties such as Customs and other Partner Government Agencies have regulations that must be followed.

Accompanying (self transporting) your personal dog or cat across the border that was purchased in Canada and bringing it to the U.S. does not require a formal entry. However, shipping your personal pet (unaccompanied) does. Importing a dog that is for resale is considered a commercial importation and requires a formal entry as described on this page.

Note: During the COVID Pandemic, the border between Canada and the U.S.  remains closed to non-essential travel. This is affecting U.S. buyers of animals’ bred in Canada. as they are unable to drive across the border to pick them up. Many people are wondering how they can bring their pets to the U.S.

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Parties Involved:

  • Customs & Border Protection  (CBP)
  • Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) APHIS Animal Care
  • Customs Broker
  • Shipping Company

Import Fundamentals:

  • Your pet will undergo a visual inspection at the border to ensure it is free of disease and well enough to travel
  • In the U.S., each state and city authority may have specific restrictions. Please see your area’s restrictions before importing
  • It is recommended that you begin the import process 30 days before the date of importation to allow all parties to prepare
  • Dogs and puppies imported for the purpose of resale must be
    1. At least 6 months of age.  (personal pets are exempt)
    2. Vaccinated for rabies and distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus (DHLPP) (this is not required for Cats)
    3. Accompanied by a Health Certificate and Rabies vaccination certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian in the country of export (Canada)
    4. Obtain an import permit from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) which may outline additional requirements based on the breed
  • Dogs and Puppies not for resale must be accompanied by written statements on Seller/Breeder letterhead as follows: 
    1. Dog/puppy lived in a low or no risk rabies country for at least 6 months or since birth 
    2. Dog/puppy is being sold to (name of U.S. consignee) as a pet
  • Duty and tax must be paid upon importation into the U.S. for all goods valued at $800.00 USD and greater
  • The rate of duty is determined by
    1. The tariff of the commodity being imported
    2. The value of the goods
    3. The origin of the goods
  • Certain import documentation is required to be presented to the border services officer at the port of entry
    1. Bill of Sale or Customs Invoice 
    2. Health Certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian with their veterinarian license number no more 5 days prior to the date of travel
    3. Personal pet and rabies statements (see above)
  • Your import may be subject to a customs review, inspection, or audit prior to, at the time, or after the importation. Additional fees may be imposed by the Customs for these services
  • You are required to keep your import records for five years following the date of import and can be audited by Customs at any point during this time

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FAQ: Pet, Dog, Cat Imports

1. How much does it cost to import a dog from the US into Canada?

If you are importing a pet into the U.S. for commercial purposes, you will be required to act as the importer of record and submit a formal entry to U.S. Customs. Every commercial shipment into the U.S. is subject to duty and tax payment, calculated at the time of import (unless the goods are entering under a free trade agreement).

Need help understanding the duty rate on your pet import? We can help

2. What documentation is required?

For personal pets entering from the U.S.:

  • Rabies vaccination certificate (Dog’s and *Cat’s older than 3 months of age) (if your pet does not meet these requirements you will be required to have it vaccinated within two weeks of entering into Canada)
  • Proof of age

For Commercial, pets entering from the U.S.:

  • A Rabies vaccination certificate (Dog)
  • A commercial invoice that lists the value of the import
  • A dog import permit (If the dog is younger than 8 months old or older than 8 months and being imported on a temporary basis for a show or competition)

Cat’s entering Canada from the U.S. that are accompanied by their owner are not categorized as ‘personal’ or ‘commercial’ as with dog imports. No other documentation is required other than a rabies vaccination.

3. Do you have to pay duty on a puppy or kitten/cat?

Personal pet imports are duty-free.

Commercial animal importations require a value for customs and therefore duty.


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