How To Import Dog And Cat Into The US

Your how-to guide on pet imports into the US

import dog and cat

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 US 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.

Are you accompanying your pet across the border and want to know what is required? Download our infographic here.

As of July 19, 2021, Canada has opened the land border to US citizens and residents, provided they are fully vaccinated, have a negative COVID test and have a quarantine plan in place. The US land border remains closed to Canadians for non-essential travel. We recommend federal and state/provincial border restrictions be reviewed.

Parties Involved:

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

Main Regulations:

  • As of July 14th, 2021, the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) has halted the import of dogs from Countries know for their high risk of Rabies.
  • Your pet will undergo a visual inspection at the border to ensure it is free of disease and well enough to travel.
  • In the US, 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 US consignee) as a pet

Import Fundamentals:

  • Duty and tax must be paid upon importation into the US for all goods valued at $800.00 USD and greater.
  • The rate of duty is determined by the tariff of the commodity being imported, the value of the goods and, 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 of, 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.

FAQ: Pet, Dog, Cat Imports

How Much Does It Cost To Import A Dog From Canada Into The US?
If you are importing a pet into the US for commercial purposes, you will be required to act as the importer of record and submit a formal entry to US Customs. Every commercial shipment into the US is subject to duty and tax payment, calculated at the time of import (unless the goods are entering under a free trade agreement).
What Documentation Is Required?

For personal pets entering the US:

  • Rabies vaccination certificate (Dog’s and *Cats 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 the US)
  • Proof of age
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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