Returning to the United States with Pets

Animals Entering the United States Booked as Manifest Cargo

A directive regarding transporting live animals into/through the United States by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) became effective February 1, 2009. The directive requires that all animals, including dogs, coming into the United States booked as manifest cargo must be tendered at their foreign origin airport by a "Regulated Agent" or "IATA-Approved Agent." To find a TSA-approved pet shipper in your location. Visit the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) website.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Who is affected?

  • Breeders shipping pets as cargo overseas/across the US border
  • Animal show participants shipping pets as cargo overseas/across the US border
  • Individuals living overseas who want to send their pets back to the US as cargo

All of the above must now go through a Registered Agent. This could be particularly difficult for someone living in a more remote city/country where there might not be a freight forwarder or registered agent who is capable and/or willing to book pets as cargo.

Who is not affected?

  • People (Breeders, Pet Owners, etc.) shipping their pets as cargo within the US.
  • People traveling with their pets as excess luggage or in-cabin within the US.
  • People traveling with their pets as excess luggage or in-cabin into the US.

For more information, please contact the Transportation Security Administration at (866) 289-9673 or the US Customs and Border Protection at (877) 227-5511.

Check with the Airline You Intend to Use

Recent changes in airline policies mean that returning pets will have to travel as cargo. Do not assume that if you have shipped your pet as accompanied baggage to post that you can ship your pet in the same way back into the United States. Individuals flying with animals into the United States should check with the airline you intend to fly to confirm its policies on live animals as excess baggage / cargo / and in-cabin.


For returning to the United States with pets, please check the specific requirements that must be fulfilled by referencing the website of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Returning with Birds

The USDA website provides some information regarding the importation of birds into the United States - scroll down the page alphabetically.

Vet Care in the Washington, DC Area

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