Importing Zoological Birds into the United States

Last Modified: April 11, 2024
Owl and Crowned Crane

The USDA defines zoological birds as birds intended to be imported to a zoological facility for breeding, public display, recreational or educational purposes. This definition includes USDA defined- poultry species that are imported for these same purposes to a zoological park.

A zoological park is defined as a professionally operated zoo, park, garden or other place maintained under the constant surveillance of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, for the exhibition of live animals, pigeons, or birds, for the purposes of public recreation or education.


  • Zoological birds must be permanently identified (CFR 93.104a4) and are subject to quarantine on U.S. arrival. 
  • Additional restrictions may be specified on the permit for any zoo avians originating from countries affected with avian influenza (AI) Newcastle disease (ND). A country’s disease status for AI and ND is found on the USDA website, Animal Health Status Regions. These types of imports require more processing time for permits and for inspection logistics. The importer should notify the National Import and Export Services unit before import.
  • Zoological birds must be accompanied by a USDA import permit (application to obtain a permit is form: VS Form 17-129 (73.07 KB)). Processing time for the application is approximately 7 – 10 business days. Applications should be received no less than this time prior to shipment of birds. There is a processing fee which can be paid by check, money order, charge card or by providing a USDA user fee account. For an additional fee, the permit can be amended after issuance by request.
  • A health certificate, issued within 30 days of leaving the country of export, must accompany all zoo bird shipments. A full-time salaried veterinarian of the veterinary competent authority, located in the exporting country, must endorse the health certificate, with English translation. 
  • The following list of health certificates are for countries that have negotiated health requirements with the United States. All other countries of export must use language listed on the model health certificate, listed below.
  • Exporting countries can use the model health certificate (451.45 KB) provided or use their own document which carries U.S. health certificate requirements.
  • A USDA port veterinarian at the first U.S. port of entry must inspect birds (unless stated differently on the import permit). The importer must arrange for this inspection by a USDA port veterinarian at least 72 hours in advance by contacting the USDA port veterinarian at the telephone number listed on the import permit.
    • Zoo birds are required at U.S. arrival, to proceed immediately into 30 days quarantine. There are two USDA quarantines which can be used or the importer can create a private quarantine facility. If a private facility is used, it must be approved by APHIS before an import permit can be issued.  
  • The importer should retain the services of a customs broker to facilitate the importation and, in some cases, the transport of birds from the port of entry to the USDA Animal Import Center. The importer can contact the Import Center for a list of customs brokers to provide this service.

Note: An import permit will not be issued until quarantine arrangements have been finalized.

  • The USDA Animal Import Center will provide an estimate of fees, which includes port inspection, laboratory testing that occurs during quarantine, and the quarantine stay.
  • Zoological avian quarantines must take place at one of the USDA facilities listed below or private quarantine may occur in an APHIS approved zoological facility. 
  • Miami Animal Import Center
    6300 NW 36 Street
    Miami, FL 33122
    (305) 876-2200 (phone)
    (305) 876-2201 (fax)
  • New York Animal Import Center
    474 International Boulevard
    Rock Tavern, NY 12575
    (845) 838-5500 (phone)
    (845) 838-5575 (fax)
  • The zoo requesting the import may ask the USDA to approve housing located on its grounds for quarantine. The zoo should contact Strategy & Policy, Live Animal Imports Team for information on how to gain approval to quarantine imports on zoo grounds.
  • Importers must obtain the approval for a private facility to be used as quarantine prior to applying for an import permit. Information and guidance on obtaining that approval can be received by contacting the Strategy & Policy, Live Animal Imports Team
  • The USDA Animal Import Center will provide the total fee for services for the inspection and quarantine. Estimates of quarantine costs can be found at this link: quarantine fees
  • Contingency Plan requirement:
    • Shipments must have an approved contingency plan in place for ports that will be transited. Importers should work with transited port to obtain approval. Plans should be reviewed annually to maintain approved status.
  • A U.S. import permit to transit must be issued within 30 days of import. The port veterinarian at all U.S. ports of transit will inspect all zoo birds (VS Form17-129 (73.07 KB)).
  • A current veterinary health certificate issued within 30 days of importation and endorsed by a full-time salaried veterinarian of the agency responsible for animal health of the national government of the exporting country. A health certificate with English translation must meet all of the requirements listed above and accompany the shipment. An example health certificate (497.82 KB) is provided.
  • The USDA will monitor transit shipments at the ports of entry. The importer must arrange for USDA services at least 72 hours in advance by contacting the USDA port veterinarian at the telephone number listed on the import permit. Additionally, the import permit lists any approvals, along with any special instructions for the importer and port staff.
  • An import permit is required for zoological birds imported from Canada via air, sea, or land border port.
    • Submit application # VS Form17-129 (73.07 KB) to request an import permit.
  • Zoological birds must be officially identified prior to importation.
  • There are no quarantine requirements for zoological birds imported from Canada into the United States, with one exception: zoo birds vaccinated using influenza strains made of H 5 or H 7, must be quarantined upon U.S. arrival.   
  • Zoo birds must have a veterinary health certificate, endorsed by the Canadian government (CFAI) and issued within 30 days of import. Example of a model health certificate containing requirements from Canada (232.55 KB).
  • USDA will inspect zoo bird shipments at U.S. ports of entry. The importer must arrange for USDA inspection services at least 72 hours in advance by contacting the USDA port veterinarian at the telephone number listed on the import permit.
  • The import/transit permit lists any additional requirements that may be imposed, along with any special instructions. If traveling by land, the importer should call the port by phone and ask to be directed to the assigned USDA veterinarian. The call will assist in ensuring there is a veterinarian available at the port to receive the shipment at the time of crossing. 

In the United States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulates the importation of birds protected by the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 (WBCA). These regulations are part of an international conservation effort to protect some species of wild birds subject to trade. Most non-native U.S. pet birds including parrots, parakeets, macaws, lories, and cockatoos are affected by CITES and the WBCA. However, the budgerigar, cockatiel, and rose-ringed parakeets and peach-faced lovebirds are exempt.

Visit the FWS web site at: to obtain more information and the permit application, if applicable. If you have questions, contact the FWS at (800) 358-2104. Calls from outside the U.S. should use (703) 358-2104. Birds arriving at U.S. ports of entry may need to be inspected by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Inspectors. The FWS lists U.S. Wildlife Inspection Offices. Importers with birds regulated by the FWS should reach out to the office assigned to the port prior to U.S. arrival of birds.

Live Animal Import Permit Team

Contact APHIS' Live Animal Import Permit team if you have questions before you apply for a permit.

For questions about import permits or permit applications:

Live Animal Import Permit Team

APHIS Port Services

For questions about import inspections at a port of entry, quarantine of animals arriving from a foreign country, or requesting approval as a private animal import quarantine facility, contact APHIS Port Services.

Live Animal Import and Export

Contact APHIS' Live Animal Import and Export team for questions about current trade restrictions, or other questions not related to permits.

For general questions related to the import of a live animal:

Live Animal Import and Export