Pet Travel FAQs (to Italy and to the U.S.)

Moving Cats and Dogs from the United States to Italy

EU Regulation 998\2003\EC – regulating the animal health requirements applicable to the non-commercial movement of pet animals (cats and dogs) in the European Union Member States – is effective as of October 2, 2004.

According to the EU regulation, to introduce animals in Italy from third countries, among which the United States, it is mandatory to obtain a European Community veterinary certificate for each pet that will be introduced in the Member States. The new format of the certificate has been approved by the Commission Decision 2011/874/EC on December 15, 2011.

Therefore, cats and dogs can travel from the United States to Italy as long as they have the following:

  • A valid Veterinary Certificate (stating owners details, a description of the animal, details of identification and vaccinations)
  • A valid rabies vaccine. If the rabies vaccination was the animal’s first vaccine then it must wait for 21 days before entering the country. There is no time delay with booster injections; providing there is proof that the booster was administered before the last vaccine had expired.
  • A tattoo or a microchip (compatible with standards ISO-11784)
  • The cage or carrier must be labeled with the owner’s name, and their (or a nominated person’s) address and contact numbers in Italy.
  • Once in Italy, an Italian vet can issue an EU Pet Passport allowing travel within Europe. (please see below)
  • An animal must be over three months old to enter Italian territory.
  • To introduce pet animals in Italy from third countries, it is NOT necessary to subject the animals to tick or echinococcus treatments.

Guide dogs for the blind entering Italy must adhere to the same requirements as other domestic pets. Once in Italy the service dog has unhindered access to all public buildings, shops and may travel unrestricted on all public transportation.

  • Guide Dogs on Public Transportation
    Guide dogs can travel unrestricted on all Italian public transportation.  They are neither required to have an individual tickets nor to be muzzled.

All cats and dogs traveling to Italy must travel in an approved pet carrier/container. The carrier must be big enough for the animal to stand, sit and turn around in during the journey. The container must allow adequate ventilation. If the journey is longer than a few hours, food and drink may need to be supplied. Several train companies, sea ferries and airlines carry caged animals across borders (normally a pet travelling by air will be in the hold). Passengers traveling with pets should be aware of the many travel restrictions imposed by American carriers. The restrictions vary considerably from one carrier to another. Therefore, we urge you to contact airlines early and familiarize yourself with their specific requirements well in advance of anticipated travel.

The European Pet Passport allows for cats and dogs to freely cross borders in Europe. It is an official document, identical for all European countries and written both in English and in the language of the country that issues it, which contains obligatory information concerning an individual animal:

  • identification number: microchip
  • proof of valid vaccine against the rabies virus.

The Pet Passport is valid for the duration of the pet’s life. Each passport is numbered for identification purposes.

Only a licensed vet may issue the passport, and vaccinations should be kept current by the vet. Before issuing it, the vet will confirm that the animal:

  • Is identified by a micro chip in the neck or tattoo in the ear
  • Has a valid rabies vaccines.
  • Has had a blood test to confirm the vaccine is in the system

For more information on EU pet passport, a model of the pet passport and questions and answers please consult the following websites:

Passengers may enter Italy with up to a maximum of five pets as long as they are included in the following list:

Birds (small birds with the exception of parrots, see below), dogs, cats, fish (small), common frogs, common reptiles, rodents (except rabbits and hares), common lizards and green lizards, and small turtles.

Passengers may also enter Italy accompanied by a maximum of 5 pet birds as long as they are accompanied by the sanitary certificate as per  EU decision 2007/25/CEE.

Per birds might be subject to veterinary controls at the point of entry and can only be introduced through Milan Malpensa Airport or Rome Fiumicino Airport.  Passengers accompanied by a pet bird are responsible to contact the Veterinary Authorities at the  port of entry in advance to schedule an appointment.

For additional information regarding EU regulation 998\2003\EC and travel requirements for other pets, including International health certificates for the export of animals from the United States, please refer to the APHIS website at

Moving Cats and Dogs from Italy to the United States

The Italian Government requires that all cats and dogs travelling from Italy to the U.S. must have a Pet Export Certificate that can be obtained from an authorized veterinarian of the local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale), who will check the validity of the vaccination against rabies.

The Pet Export Certificate must be written in Italian and English and bear the following information:

  • Information pertaining to the animal (breed, sex, date of birth, color and characteristics of the coat);
  • Name and address of the owner;
  • Health conditions of the animal
  • The certificate must report that the animal was examined on the day the certificate was issued and was found to be clinically healthy, and that the animal was vaccinated against rabies at least 20 days and not more than 11 months before the certificate was issued.

For more information please see the Italian Ministry of Health website on Animal Welfare and Travel at


The Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL) issues the pet export certificate that is valid for only six days.  Mark your calendar carefully to obtain the export certificate approximately three or four days before the departure of your pet from the country. Within 48 hours before you apply for the cat or dog export certificate, you must obtain a certificate of good health for your cat or dog from a local veterinarian to present to the ASL office.

1. Payments:

In order to obtain a pet export certificate you need to pay a fee.  Since each Italian ASL adopts different procedures and fees for the payment of benefits, you need to inquire about specific practices to be followed by the local ASL.

2. Visit Your Veterinarian – Obtain Good Health and Rabies Inoculation Certificates:  

Make an appointment to obtain a certificate of good health from your veterinarian within 48 hours before you plan to apply for the ASL pet export certificate. Your veterinarian must examine your cat or dog and complete, date and sign a certificate of good health. This certificate must be presented to ASL within 48 HOURS of issuance. Also, if you do not already have a valid rabies certificate, you should obtain a certificate showing that your pet received a rabies injection more than 20 days but less than one year before the date of your pet’s departure from Italy. (This is the rabies certificate that veterinarians issue when inoculating your pet against rabies.)

An alternative method is to have the ASL veterinarian examine your pet and issue a certificate of good health. However, such services are not always available, and you should contact ASL in advance to arrange such service.

3. Visit ASL and Obtain a Pet Export Certificate: Present the fee receipt, the good health and rabies certificates to an Azienda Sanitaria Locale office to obtain an export permit for your dog or cat. Upon arrival at ASL, look for the Veterinary Office. The staff does not need to physically examine the cat or dog, just the three documents. The pet export certificate is internationally valid and should be presented to the Airport Customs officer when your cat or dog is checked in.

Remember to confirm your pet’s airline reservation early and ask for the airline’s rules on transporting pets. Many airlines restrict pet travel during the hot summer months.

A general certificate of health is not required by CDC for entry of pet dogs into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. However, pet dogs are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans. If a dog appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense might be required at the port of entry.

Proof of Rabies Vaccination: Dogs must have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry into the United States. These requirements apply equally to service animals such as Seeing Eye dogs.

Importation of Unvaccinated Dogs: Dogs not accompanied by proof of rabies vaccination, including those that are too young to be vaccinated (i.e. less than 3 months of age), may be admitted if the importer completes aconfinement agreement (see below) and confines the animal until it is considered adequately vaccinated against rabies (the vaccine is not considered effective until 30 days after the date of vaccination).

Dogs may not be sold or transferred to other owners during this period of confinement, and the person that signs the confinement agreement is responsible for ensuring the conditions of the agreement are met.

Importers must provide a contact address where the dog will be kept during the confinement period. If the importer will be housing the dog at several addresses or traveling with the animal, all points of contact must be provided.

Puppies that are too young to be vaccinated (i.e. less than 3 months of age) must be kept in confinement until they are old enough to be vaccinated, and then confined for at least 30 days after the date of vaccination.

Importation of Dogs for Commercial/Breeding purposes
There are no separate CDC regulations for dogs to be used for commercial purposes, rather than as pets. The rules for bringing domestic dogs into the United States are covered under regulation 42CFR71.51. When importing puppies, the importer is responsible for maintaining quarantine according to the vaccination and confinement agreement signed at the time of importation.

Dogs imported for use with livestock
Must be free of tapeworms. The state of Hawaii and the territories of Guam and American Samoa have additional requirements to those listed above. All dogs entering the state of Hawaii and the territories of Guam and American Samoa are subject to a 120-day quarantine in accordance with state and territorial regulations.

A general certificate of health is not required by CDC for entry of pet cats into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. However, pet cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans. If a cat appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense might be required at the port of entry.
Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. However, some states require vaccination of cats for rabies, so it is a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination.

All cats must be free of evidence of communicable diseases to humans. If the animal is not in apparent good health upon arrival in the United States, further examination by a licensed veterinarian may be required at your expense.

If you wish to take your pet to Hawaii or the territory of Guam, they will be subject to state or territorial quarantine requirements, which is an effort to keep these regions rabies free.
For additional information on Travelling with your Pets to the United States please see the Center for Disease Control at

Currently, CDC restricts birds from countries where highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 is present in poultry, in order to prevent the introduction of Avian Influenza.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) implements regulations regarding the importation of birds. To import a pet bird of non-U.S. origin, meaning a bird imported for personal pleasure of the individual owner and not for resale, the owner must fulfill the following requirements:

A USDA Import Permit can be obtained at

Provide a current health certificate issued by a full-time salaried veterinarian employed for the agency responsible for animal health of the national government in the exporting country of origin
Quarantine the bird for 30 days, at the owners expense, in an USDA animal import center (listed on the APHIS website)

APHIS also provides procedures for returning pet birds of U.S. origin to the United States, and for a variety of other live bird importation situations.

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 exotic wild birds subject to trade. Most exotic pet birds, including parrots, parakeets, macaws, lories, and cockatoos, are affected by CITES and the WBCA. However, the budgerigar, cockatiel, and rose-ringed parakeet are exempt. According to the WBCA, to import a pet bird of non-U.S. origin into the United States, you must have continuously resided outside the United States for at least one year. In addition, the WBCA limits the number of pet birds that can be imported to two birds per person, per year. All required WBCA and CITES permits must accompany the bird while in transit. Visit the FWS Wild Bird Conservation Act website to obtain more information and the permit application.

There are no CDC regulations regarding the importation of live fish. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service might have requirements, especially if an endangered or injurious species is involved. The National Marine Fisheries Service may also have regulations.

CDC does not regulate snakes or lizards, but does limit imports of small turtles. Those with a carapace (shell) length of less than 4 inches may not be imported for any commercial purpose. An individual may import as many as six of these turtles for noncommercial purposes. This rule was implemented in 1975 after it was discovered that small turtles frequently transmitted salmonella to humans, particularly young children.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates the importation of reptiles. Regulations regarding reptiles, fish, and endangered species can be found on their import/export website.

Unless they are included in a specific embargo, such as civets, prairie dogs and African rodents, or known to carry disease transmissible to humans, these animals are not covered under CDC regulations. However, state or local regulations may apply. Pet ferrets, for example, are prohibited in California. Any animal known to carry a zoonotic disease is subject to regulation 42CFR71.54. Additionally, animals carrying diseases of risk to domestic or wild animals are subject to regulations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as they may be considered injurious species.

An FDA-approved rabies vaccine is available for ferrets, although it is not required for importation. CDC advises the use of this vaccine to protect the animal, as well as the owner, from rabies virus that could be acquired within the U.S.

If the horse is not known to carry any diseases transmissible to humans, no CDC regulations would apply. However, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires various periods of quarantine depending on the country of origin of the horse. In countries with prevalent screwworm, the quarantine period is 60 days. USDA regulations for importing equines can be found on their Veterinary Services, Import/Export website.

The same CDC regulations that apply to animals for individual use also apply for zoos. These regulations allow for exceptions, as determined by the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. We can supply written permission for importation of restricted animals such as nonhuman primates or African rodents, for use in scientific research institutions and educational exhibits. To apply for permission, please mail or fax a letter providing the following information:

What species of animal is to be imported
How many will be imported
The animal’s country of origin
How the animal will be kept safe and unable to escape
The identity of the party responsible for meeting the animal upon arrival into the U.S.

This letter can be faxed to the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at 404-639-4441, or mailed to:
CDC, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine
Animal Import Program
Mailstop E-03
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333

Both USDA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have regulations regarding the importation of animals. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service explains their relevant regulations on their Veterinary Services Import/Export website. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has its own import/export regulations, as does the National Marine Fisheries Service, especially for marine mammals.

Frequently Asked Questions about traveling with pets

Before taking a pet to another country, contact that country’s consulate or embassy for information about their requirements.
Travelers are advised to also contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for additional information and advice

All animals entering (or reentering) the United States are subject to the same laws, regardless of the port or method of entry.
If traveling by air, do I pick up my pet at the international airport or only at my final destination?
Pets are generally transported as baggage, and they go through the same procedures as baggage. If a pet does not require quarantine at the port of entry, then an international traveler would pick up both luggage and the pet at international baggage claim, go through customs, then re-check both luggage and the pet for the domestic flight to their final destination.

Animals must be included when filling out a customs declaration card.

CDC focuses its regulation efforts on ensuring the health and safety of the public. While it is important to make sure your pet stays healthy while traveling, CDC is primarily concerned with preventing the spread of diseases that affect humans. Consult your veterinarian for more information regarding protecting your pet’s health while traveling.

For more information about owning a healthy pet, see: