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U.S. Dog Import Ban: Understanding the CDC’s Temporary Suspension of Dog Imports

A dog in a kennel prepared for importation into the U.S.
The CDC has put a temporary ban on importing dogs from countries at high-risk for rabies. Learn more about how to apply for an import license and import a dog correctly.
June 21, 2021
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Last Modified: March 8, 2024

The U.S. dog import ban was put in place In an effort to safeguard public health and the well-being of domestic animals from countries considered at high-risk for dog rabies. 

The current dog import ban, which went into effect August 1, 2023, is an extension of a temporary suspension that went into effect in 2021. The suspension was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to an influx of falsified rabies certifications, and currently impacts 110 countries and territories worldwide. 

Learn more about the CDC’s dog importation ban, including how long it’s expected to last, what countries are affected, and how to apply for a dog import license.

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What is the Dog Import Ban?

The CDC initiated the dog import ban in response to a sudden increase in the number of dogs imported into the U.S. that were deemed ineligible for entry. 

In 2021, the CDC noticed an increase in the number of importers circumventing dog import regulations – specifically rabies certificates. In fact, despite a decrease in global travel due to the pandemic, they found a 52% increase in falsified or fraudulent rabies certifications in 2020, compared to the previous two years. 

The temporary travel ban targets dogs coming from:

  • Countries classified as high-risk for dog rabies by the CDC
  • Countries that are not classified as high-risk, but the dogs have been to a high-risk country in the past 6 months

The dog-maintained rabies virus variant (DMRVV) has been eradicated in the U.S. since 2007, hence the strong response from the CDC to ensure it stays that way.

How Long Will the Dog Import Ban Last?

Initially set on July 14, 2021, the ban has been extended multiple times: first on June 10, 2022, and again on August 1, 2023. The most recent extension is due to expire on July 31, 2024, unless extended further.

Importers should stay informed about potential extensions or modifications of this timeframe by consulting official CDC announcements.

What Countries Are Affected by the CDC Dog Import Ban?

Dogs from 110 countries and territories are subject to the temporary suspension, as these countries have been deemed “high-risk” by the CDC. These countries are spread across five different continents, with countries in Africa accounting for nearly half.

Countries at High-Risk for Rabies

ContinentNumber of CountriesPercentage of Countries
Africa5449%
Asia3834%
South & Central America1312%
Europe33%
North America22%

Africa

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Ceuta
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini (Swaziland)
  • Ethiopia
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire)
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Melilla
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Rwanda
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Tanzania (Including Zanzibar)
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Western Sahara
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Asia

  • Afghanistan
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Cambodia
  • China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan)
  • Georgia
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Nepal
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

Europe

  • Moldova
  • Russia
  • Ukraine

North America

  • Cuba
  • Haiti

South & Central America

  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela
A dog denied entry into the U.S. due to the dog import ban

How to Import a Dog During the Travel Ban

To import dogs from high-risk countries, the CDC mandates one of the following:

  • Advance written approval through a CDC Dog Import Permit
  • A reservation at a CDC-approved care facility
  • A U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate 

Permits may be issued for up to two foreign-vaccinated dogs per applicant during the suspension, but denials of a permit are final and may not be appealed. 

The application must be submitted at least 40 business days before intended U.S. entry. Dogs lacking proper documentation upon arrival will be denied entry and returned at the importer’s expense. Additionally, importers should verify all federal, state, and local regulations and vaccination requirements.

Expired U.S.-issued vaccination certificates will not be accepted. Instead, the dog must get a booster dose outside the United States and be accompanied by the CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record, if coming from a high-risk country.

Need to import dog food? We can handle that too. Check out our article to learn more.

How to Apply for a CDC Dog Import Permit

To navigate the U.S. dog import ban, importers must adhere to several requirements when applying for a dog import permit:

  1. Age: A dog must be at least 6 months old to qualify for an import permit. 
  2. Vaccination: Dogs must be at least 12 weeks old to receive the rabies vaccine, ensuring they are mature enough for the vaccine to be effective. Additionally, the vaccine must be administered at least 28 days before entering the U.S. to ensure full immunization. Proof of vaccination must be presented in the form of a valid rabies serologic titer from an approved laboratory. 
  3. Microchip: The microchip can be from any country, must be compatible with the International Standards Organization (ISO), and the chip number must be listed on the vaccination and microchip record.
  4. Valid Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record: This form ensures that the two requirements above have been met, and includes additional details about the dogs vaccination record and microchip information.
  5. Photographs of the Dog’s Teeth: The import permit must be accompanied by two photographs of the dog in question’s teeth, taken within 10 days of the permit application. These photos must show a front view of the upper and lower teeth, as well as a side view of upper and lower teeth.
  6. Passport Photo: No, not of the dog. Instead, include a clear photo of the permit applicant’s passport.

Once approved for a permit, the dog must enter the country through one of 18 approved entry points:

  • Anchorage (ANC)
  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Minneapolis (MSP)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Juan (SJU)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Washington DC (IAD)

Dogs arriving from a high-risk country without a US-issued rabies vaccination certificate or CDC Dog Import Permit, must arrive at one of the following ports of entry with a CDC-approved animal care facility

  • Atlanta, GA (ATL)
  • Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
  • Miami, FL (MIA)
  • New York, NY (JFK)
  • Washington, DC (IAD)
  • Philadelphia, PA (PHD)

You’ll need to make a reservation for an exam and revaccination, and if you’re unable to provide rabies serology titer results before arrival, you must also make a reservation for a 28-day quarantine after revaccination.

Navigate the Dog Import Ban with USA Customs Clearance

The temporary dog import ban represents a critical measure in the ongoing effort to protect public health and ensure the safety of domestic and imported dogs. But that doesn’t mean that complying with all of the rules and regulations is simple. 

Always consult the latest guidance from the CDC and other relevant authorities to stay informed of any changes or updates to the import regulations. Don’t want to go it alone? Consult with one of our Licensed Customs Brokers.

At USA Customs Clearance, we can walk you through the entire import process, ensuring you have the correct information, documentation, and can clear U.S. Customs seamlessly. Have questions? Give us a call at 855-912-0406 and speak with one of our experts.

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