Importing Your Dog to the US


After all the stress of exporting our dogs to Singapore, I was worried about how hard it would be to get Stan and Joe back into the United States. Luckily for us (and them), it was a breeze compared to the strict requirements of Singapore's Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). It was all easy enough for me to do without hiring a pet agent. The best part is that the US didn't require my dogs to go through quarantine.

The following are the requirements needed to get my dogs into the United States from Singapore. This process might have changed since the date I posted it or differ depending on your country and situation. Check with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that deals with importing/exporting animals, for more information.

Required by US:
-APHIS requires dogs coming from countries where screwworm is known to exist to obtain a certificate stating that they are free from the disease. Singapore is one of these countries (see the list of all affected countries here). When I told my vet about the screwworm part, she laughed and said "Well I don't see any gaping wounds with maggots falling out, so I'm pretty sure your dogs are free of it."

This certificate must be issued within 5 days prior to the date of import. It also needs to be stamped by the AVA to show that the vet who issued the certificate is licensed in Singapore. To obtain this official stamp, take the certificate to the AVA office on the second floor of 5 Maxwell Road, Singapore. It costs about $9 per stamp and they should be able to do it on the spot.

-The State of California recommends that a health certificate be issued stating that pets being imported are in good health, but this is not mandatory. Since I was getting a certificate saying my dogs were free of screwworm anyway, I went ahead and told my vet to state that my dogs were "in good health at the time of examination" on the same health certificate, killing two birds with one stone. Check with your state for specific guidelines on importing your pet.

Some airlines require a health certificate stating that your dog is in good health and able to travel. I was prepared to show this health certificate if I needed to.*

-The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requires that all dogs have a current Rabies vaccine administered at least 30 days before entering the US. This doesn't apply to puppies under 3 months or to dogs that have lived for 6 months in a Rabies-free country. Singapore is considered Rabies-free, but our dogs had valid Rabies vaccines anyway.

Required by Singapore:
-AVA requires dog owners to obtain a Permit to Export Animals prior to date of exportation. The permit is only valid for 30 days, so make sure you don't get it more than 30 days before you fly out of Singapore. You can apply for this permit online or by going into the AVA office on 5 Maxwell Road. The office is located on the second floor. I walked in and the person behind the counter sat with me at a computer to fill out the application. I came back two days later to pick up the permit. It cost $50 for both dogs.

Your dog must have a valid license before you can apply for an export permit. If you haven't registered your pet, you can do so online or in person at the Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, 75 Pasir Panjang Rd, Singapore.

Our flight from SIN to NRT to SFO was, as far as long haul flights go, tolerable and the dogs did remarkably well. That they were able to come home directly with us instead of going to a quarantine facility probably helped them adjust really quickly to the newness of it all. I'm sure they were happy to see familiar people too (our family met us at the airport). Now the only thing they're getting used to is the cooler weather.

*When we checked in for our flight, one of the people at the airport asked to see my dogs' health certificate and export permit. He simply glanced at the documents and seemed satisfied. This was the only time I had to present any paperwork regarding my dogs' importation to the US. The Customs officers in San Francisco just asked us if we had any dog food or plants with us (the answer was no) and waved us through.

Here are links to some other posts I've written about importing and exporting my dogs:
FAQ: Exporting Dogs to Singapore
Exporting Your Dog to Singapore: Category C Checklists
Getting the Dogs Ready For the Move

As always, if you have come across my blog looking for information on importing your dog to Singapore or exporting your dog from Singapore and have questions, feel free to email me at 


  1. wow, this must have been tough! We brought our pup to Europe and it wasn't too bad, just needed pet passport (?!?!) and up to date rabies vaccine and deworming.

    1. Getting the dogs out of Singapore was a piece of cake compared to the four months of preparation I had to go through to get them in Singapore in the first place.

  2. oh.. thank God everything ended all right. I have a friend with a dog (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) and she has some emotions with that because she will need to get him out of Singapore at the end of the summer (in August I think) I'll send her your story

  3. Stan and Joe look like pros - calm and unfazed by the longhaul journey. I think they have definitely earned their wings to fly! Hope you're all settling nicely in your old familiar place.

  4. Hi there, good outcome here. Did your dogs have to be quarantined and if so how long for? We are kiwis living in NZ and looking to bring our pooch over to San Fran.

  5. Hi there, good outcome here. Did your dogs have to be quarantined and if so how long for? We are kiwis living in NZ and looking to bring our pooch over to San Fran.

    1. Our dogs did not need to be quarantined upon entry to the United States from Singapore. I'd check with APHIS to see if there are any restrictions from NZ though.

  6. I just wanted to let you know that I used your blog to get myself organized around taking my dog back to the US from Singapore. Your blog is so much more helpful than the AVA website, which really doesn't explain the process well at all.

    Thanks so much for making this available, it was an invaluable resource in my move home. I can confirm that as of Feb 2013, everything you listed here is correct and still the process to get your dog out of Singapore and back to the US.

  7. Hi Flora,

    I am flying from Singapore to Chicago with my dog, and based on the itinerary, there is a one hour stop over at Hong Kong where we need to change planes.

    Did you fly through Hong Kong with your pets ? Did you have to prepare any additional paperwork for any transit through a connecting airport ?

    Appreciate your help

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  13. Thanks SO much for this info... we are about to bring our Golden Retriever back to the USA next month and were unsure about whether we needed any 'export license" as the website made it sound like we only needed this if it was for a business. We also adopted our GR and are didn't register him as we were not sure how long we'd be here. Good to know that we need to this as well so we can have everything in order!

    Thanks again!!


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