How to Immigrate to the US with your Pet

Most pet parents consider their furry friends to be part of the family. In fact, in many households, pets are considered babies. At such times, when you are travelling on holiday, moving to the US, or planning a lengthy trip to another country, it stands to reason that you will not leave or abandon your pets but will take them with you.

If you’re planning a permanent shift to the US, it makes sense to start planning everything. Along with your immigration documents, residence checks, passports, and other formalities and documentation, you will also have to start your pet migration paperwork. Planning will ensure you have all the information, vaccine doses, pet passports and more in hand before your travel date.

Many times, pet transport and travel processes vary depending on the home country’s origin. However, it is best to have the information beforehand and start the documentation and paperwork early to avoid any last-minute hassles and running around.

Let’s look at immigrating to the US with your dogs, cats, and other animals.


The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) regulate dogs migrating to the US. There are usually requirements specific to the migratory country, contagious conditions, and infection risks to other animals.

Dog Health Certificate:

Your furry friend should be healthy, look healthy, and have a health certificate from a verified veterinarian. The health certificate should have the following:

  • Dog name, owner name
  • Breed, age, and weight
  • Date of the last examination
  • Doctor’s recommendation for travel (with a negative for rabies and screwworm)
  • Vaccination records
  • English language translation of the health certificate


Cats are slightly easier to travel with than dogs. While also regulated by the CDC and USDA, cats do not require rabies vaccination certificates or other additional health certificates and vaccinations. However, it is best to check about any different types of health records, medications, and vaccinations your cat may need.

Cat Health Certificate:

Like the health certificate for dogs, the cat health certificate should be issued only by a licenced and verified veterinarian. This health certificate should be in English, have the travel recommendation by the doctor, and state that your cat is up-to-date with all the vaccinations, injections, and medicines. Further, the health certificate should include the cat’s name, owner’s name, breed, size, weight, and gender.

While the CDC and USDA may not need a rabies certificate for cats, many airlines and lay-over countries may require a rabies certificate. It is best to get all the detailed information and start your pet on the doses and injections asap to avoid any unnecessary complications later on.

Other animals:

While the most common pets are dogs and cats, many migrants to the US also have pets like birds, ferrets, hedgehogs, and even snakes. Some animals have stricter regulations than others, with the CDC publishing a list of animals, their limitations, restrictions, and requirements. For example, while birds are allowed in California, ferrets are prohibited. It is best to know all these regulations before planning your shift to the US.

In the US, not all animals are recognized as pets. For instance, some birds may be classified as poultry and not pets. The regulations for these animals differ depending on their classification by the CDC.

If you’re thinking of immigrating to the US with an animal that isn’t a dog or a housecat, it is best to read up on the animal regulations by the USDA and CDC and prepare accordingly. To ensure you have all the pet information, go to the USDA and CDC websites, select your preferred animal from the dropdown menu, and get ready with all the documentation and paperwork. You may also have to check with your airline for any additional paperwork, certifications, or medications.

Other regulations:

While you will undoubtedly look into your pets’ welfare, there are other regulations to consider while migrating from one country to another. Some airlines have stringent policies about animal crates. If you have a dog, cat, or another animal, you should call the airline in advance (once you have booked your tickets) and get all the information required for the crates, height requirements, weight and size allocations and more.

Many times, some pet parents book the passage for their furry friends in advance, so there is no issue with the weight requirements of the crate, your animals’ belongings, and any other food and water requirements.

Note that when you are travelling with your pet, you must carry all the vaccination records, pet passport, travel records, documents, and crate requirement papers with you during the trip.