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How to Bring Dogs into the United States for Commercial Sale or Adoption


Importing dogs into the United States for resale, whether through retail or wholesale channels or fee-based adoption, is covered under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Congress added this section to the AWA in 2008 and APHIS published specific regulations in 2014.

Animal Care Requirements to import dog(s) into the U.S. for resale purposes

The dog must be:

  • in good health

  • vaccinated for rabies and distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus (DHLPP)

  • at least 6 months of age
Specific paperwork must accompany the dog on its trip to the U.S.  This includes:

  • a  health and rabies vaccination certificate issued in English by a veterinarian with a valid license to practice veterinary medicine in the country of export; and

  • an import permit issued by APHIS (See How to Obtain a Permit below.)

The AWA provides exceptions to these requirements for dogs imported for resale for research purposes or for veterinary treatment and subsequent resale. Also, the AWA provides an exception to the 6 month age requirement for dogs imported to Hawaii from the British Isles, Australia, Guam, or New Zealand.

Dogs for Commercial Sale or Adoption coming from countries affected with African Swine Fever (ASF)

Effective August 16, 2021, dogs imported for commercial sale or adoption must meet requirements from APHIS Animal Care (listed above) and APHIS Veterinary Services (described below) per the Federal Order for Importation of Live Dogs for Resale from Regions Where African Swine Fever (ASF) Exists or is Reasonably Believed to Exist.

Find out whether the country you are importing dogs from is affected by ASF.

Commercial Dog Import: ASF Federal Order Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

To comply with APHIS Veterinary Services’ ASF requirements, the shipment of dog(s) must meet the following conditions:

  • The dog(s) and their shipping crate/container must be free of dirt, wood shavings, hay, straw, or any other organic/natural bedding material.

  • All bedding that accompanies the dog(s) during transit must be properly disposed of at the U.S. post-entry point(s)* of concentration.

  • Each dog must have an ISO-compliant microchip implanted, and the individual microchip number must be verified immediately before each animal is bathed.

  • Each dog must be bathed at the U.S. post-entry point(s) of concentration within 2 calendar days of arrival in the United States. Bathing must be documented in Part 2 of the Veterinary Services Dog Import Record.**

*U.S. post-entry point(s) of concentration are the first location where shipments of imported dog(s) are directly moved to following arrival at the U.S. port of entry.

**Required forms for documentation purposes will be provided by APHIS Animal Care when the import permit is issued.

Additional Requirements

Screwworm

Dogs traveling from countries or regions where screwworm is known to exist may enter the United States if they are accompanied by a certificate signed by a full-time salaried veterinary official of the region of origin stating:

  • The dog has been inspected for screwworm within 5 days prior to shipment to the United States; and
  • The dog is either free from screwworm OR
  • The dog was infested with screwworm, held in quarantine, and treated until free from screwworm prior to leaving the region.

Foot and Mouth Disease

Dogs coming from a country that is not declared free of foot and mouth disease must meet the following requirements:

  • Their fur and bedding must be free of excessive dirt, hay, or straw. 
  • The dog should be bathed as soon as it reaches its destination and kept separate from all livestock for 5 days after entering the United States.
  • Dogs used in livestock handling that are imported from any part of the world except Canada, Mexico, and certain regions of Central America and the West Indies should have no evidence of tapeworm infection.

How to Obtain a Permit

There are two options for obtaining a permit:

1. Use  APHIS eFile to apply for a permit online. This is the fastest option.  The system includes a prescreening assistant to help you determine required documentation.

2. Contact APHIS Animal Care to request a paper copy of the permit application form:

USDA APHIS Animal Care
Attn: Live Dog Import Permit Team
2150 Centre Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Phone: (816) 737-4223
Fax: (970) 494-7461
E-mail: ac.dogimport.mailbox@usda.gov

We require a minimum of 5 business days to process your application. Please also allow time to correct any problems with your application. Our business days are Monday – Friday, excluding Federal holidays. The day you submit the application and the date the dog arrives at the port of entry does not count towards the 5 business days.

Related Links

Additional Information

The links below provide additional information on the requirements and exceptions under the AWA, and complying with other applicable Federal, state, and local laws and regulations. We encourage you to read through these materials to gain an understanding of the regulations and help you determine whether you need an import permit from Animal Care before importing dogs into the United States.

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