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CDC Health Information for International Travel 2008

Rabies and Pet Travel
This information is current as of today, January 14, 2009 at 13:57

Updated: October 02, 2008

CDC Reflects on World Rabies Day – September 28, 2008
Rabies and Pet Travel

Cat sitting on a suitcase

In the United States, many people take their dogs, cats, or ferrets for routine rabies vaccinations, but forget to think about why this is important. World Rabies Day 2008 reminded us that routine vaccinations are important, because rabies is a serious and deadly disease for pets and people alike. Fortunately, the risk for getting rabies in the United States is low. This is in part due to vaccinating dogs as well as stray animal control. However, this is not the case in some countries. Rabies in dogs, or ‘canine rabies,’ is still common in certain areas of the world, including parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Because the risk of rabies varies in different areas of the world, it is important for pet owners to understand the rules and restrictions of each destination country before they travel with their pets.

If you are traveling outside of the US with your pet, you should be aware that each country has one or more government agencies which impose animal importation requirements that need to be met by the pet owner or importer. Information about pet import restrictions and requirements in foreign countries can be found through the American Embassy in the destination country. To locate specific embassies, please visit the Department of State

Vet examining a dog

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works hard to prevent canine rabies from entering the United States. If you are bringing a pet animal into the US you should be aware that CDC requires rabies vaccination for dogs unless the dog is being imported from a country considered “rabies-free” by the World Health Organization (please see Table 4-14 in Chapter 4 of CDC’s “Health Information for International Travel”, also known as the “Yellow Book”). The dog must be accompanied by proof of a valid rabies vaccination certificate. For puppies that are too young to be vaccinated, CDC requires that an agreement be signed to keep the puppies separated from people and other animals until it can be vaccinated properly. For information about importing other animals, please visit the CDC Traveling with Pets website.

In addition to CDC regulations for rabies, each state has its own regulations for entry, which may include additional rabies vaccination requirements, health certificates, or other vaccinations. Regulations for each state can be found on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website. To control other diseases that may be imported with pets, the USDA, FDA, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have additional requirements for pet travel.

More information about rabies, guidelines for pet travel, and other animal associated hazards can be found at:

Siberian husky puppy
  • Page last updated: October 02, 2008
  • Content source:
    Division of Global Migration and Quarantine
    National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases
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