The US has been tinkering (for the good) with their canine importation rules for the past few years, primarily in response to concerns about importing rabid dogs. The US had just announces a new set of rules for importing dogs, that come into effect August 1, 2024. The new rules aim to provide more assurance that imported dogs are properly vaccinated against rabies, to reduce the risk of falsified documents (a known problem in many of these cases).

The rules vary depending on the rabies risk in the country of origin, but they’ve increased the requirements for all dogs across the board(er). That’s what’s going to catch some people off guard, because it’s a pretty significant change for some. Specifically, people don’t always think about travelling between Canada and the US with their dog constitutes “importation,” but even if they’re just visiting family for a few days or travelling south for the winter, if they bring their dog, it’s still importation.

As per the new rules:

ALL dogs must:

  • Be at least 6 months of age at the time of entry or return to the US
  • Have a microchip
  • Appear healthy on arrival

A CDC Dog Import Form (including a picture of the dog) must be submitted 2-10 days before arrival.

Additional requirements depend on where the dog has been in the past 6 months. I won’t go over all of the rules, but will highlight two of the most common scenarios involving movement of dogs from Canada to the US. They aren’t too onerous, but will require some planning and effort.

Dogs previously vaccinated against rabies in the US:

In addition to the requirements for all dogs, these dogs must have one of the following:

  • Certification of U.S.-Issued Rabies Vaccine form that was endorsed by the USDA before the dog departed the US (signed by the USDA-accredited vet that gave the rabies vaccine)
  • USDA APHIS-endorsed export health certificate

Note: The dog’s first rabies vaccine must have been given at least 28 days before arrival, so you can’t get away with a last minute rush to the veterinary clinic right before you pack your bags.

Dogs from Canada (that haven’t been to a high-risk country in the past 6 months):

In addition to the requirements for all dogs, these dogs must have one of the following:

  • Certification of Foreign Rabies Vaccination and Microchip form: This requires either a rabies titre (blood test to check the rabies antibody level) or veterinary records from the previous 6 months that include rabies vaccination information. Records must be endorsed by an “official veterinarian.”
  • Certification of US-Issued Rabies vaccination form that was endorsed by the USDA before the dog departed the US
  • Valid USDA export certificate that lists Canada as the destination and the dog is returning directly from here.
  • Certification of Dog Arriving from a DMRVV-free or Low-Risk Country into the United States form, endorsed by an “official veterinarian” from the exporting country and veterinary records  for the dog from Canada for the 6 months before traveling to the U.S.
  • Export certificate that documents the dog is at least 6 months of age, lists the dog’s microchip number, and has been endorsed by an “official veterinarian” of the exporting country, and veterinary records for the dog from the exporting country for the previous 6 months.

In both instances, they mainly want solid proof that the dog is vaccinated against rabies and that any records truly belong to the dog.

There are even more requirements if the dog has been to a higher-risk country.