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

Live animal transport containers being loaded on a plane

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulates dogs imported into the United States for resale, whether through retail or wholesale channels or fee-based adoption.  Congress added this section to the AWA in 2008 and APHIS published specific regulations in 2014.  It is the responsibility of the dog’s importer to meet all requirements before bringing the dog into the U.S.

The AWA does not apply to privately-owned dogs not intended for resale.  Information on bringing your pet dog into the U.S. is available on the USDA APHIS Pet Travel Website.


Dogs must be:

  • At least 6 months (180 days) of age at the time of entry into the U.S.
  • Examined by a licensed veterinarian in the country of export, and found to be in good health and free of infectious disease, internal parasites, and external parasites.
  • Vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian at least 30 days before the date of entry into the U.S.
    • Dogs must be at least 84 days of age at the time of vaccination.
    • The vaccination must be current at the time of arrival.
      • 2 and 3 year vaccinations are acceptable, however if the expiration date of the vaccination is not available, a 1 year validity is applied.
    • The 30 day wait does not apply to dogs who were previously vaccinated for rabies after at least 84 days of age without a lapse in rabies vaccination status.
  • Vaccinated for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis (DHLPP) within 12 months of entry into the U.S.
  • Accompanied by 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.
    • We recommend using the APHIS Form 7041: Live Dog Import Health and Rabies Certificate.
    • The certificate must include:
      • The breed, sex, age, color, and other identifying information for the dog (e.g., name, microchip, or tattoo, if applicable).
      • The name, manufacturer, lot number, expiration date, and validity period of the vaccinations.
      • The veterinarian’s license number.
    • The veterinarian must sign all certificates.
  • Accompanied by a valid import permit issued by APHIS, Animal Care.
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Dogs imported for resale for research purposes, or for veterinary treatment and subsequent resale, are exempt from these requirements.  An exemption to the age requirement exists for the import of dogs into Hawaii, as long as they are imported from the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, or Guam.

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Additional Requirements for Dogs Exported From Countries with African Swine Fever (ASF), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), and/or Screwworm

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.

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.

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.
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How to Obtain a Permit

Contact us if you instead require 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

For both options, allow a minimum of 5 business days for processing of your permit application.  Applications are processed Monday – Friday, excluding Federal holidays. The day you submit the application and the date the dog arrives in the U.S. does not count toward the 5 business days.

Incomplete applications or applications with incorrect information will cause delays in processing.  To ensure your application is accurate and complete, please use the Customer Checklist for Live Dog Import Permit Applications.

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Other Federal and State Agencies May Have Additional Requirements

It is the responsibility of the dog’s importer to meet all federal and state requirements for entry.  You may need to meet the requirements of the following government agencies:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): requirements on the importation of dogs
  • Customs and Border Protection: Bringing Pets and Wildlife into the United States
  • The State Veterinarian's office in your destination state:  
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For More Information

Read the Live Dog Import Permit Requirements Under the Animal Welfare Act: Q&A [Tech Note]

Contact Us

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

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