Importing from Japan

edited March 2019 in General
Hey guys, I'm importing my dog from Japan in May and I thought I had a handle on the requirements but after going over the websites again and again I'm so confused. Just one little thing could prevent me from getting on the plane with my dog or hold him once he gets to the US and I'm freaking out a bit.

Anyone who can share their personal experience/knowledge of importing a dog from Japan would be super helpful. For now I'll just lay out the facts as I understand them.

Exporting to the USA from Japan the dog doesn't need a rabies shot because Japan is a rabies-free country. The dog needs to be cleared by the vet within a week from the date of departure and the Animal Quarantine/Export people in Japan need to be notified the dog is leaving 7+ days in advance, but the dog doesn't have to visit them...because there's a center at the airport? Do I need to apply for permission to import the dog with the US authorities? Like the CDC website, I think mentioned that.

It's standard to get the dog microchipped and he's up to date on vaccinations. My dog has had bundle packs of vaccinations called the "Vanguard Plus 5/CV" 3 times.

The vet said this shot covers everything the dog needs (the website says it covers canine distemper (CD), infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) caused by canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1), respiratory disease caused by canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2), canine parainfluenza caused by canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV), and enteritis caused by canine coronavirus (CCV) and canine parvovirus (CPV) and CPV-2c.)

We're flying out American Airlines with Hoshi being checked beneath the plane, from Narita to LAX I think is one of the routes they make "exceptions" for exporting dogs from. I did call the airlines about this but the answer was confusing, it's $200 to check a pet and I get 2 checked bags free - is the pet one of those checked bags or do I still have those 2 free checked bags and the $200 is an additional "checked bag"?

Anyway, I feel like I'm still missing some of the requirements.


  • I don't think your checked pet counts toward your free checked bags, as far as I understand. I've only flown inter-USA with my dogs and they never counted as one of my free checked items. :\
  • edited April 2019
    You don't have to apply to or do anything with the CDC or notify any US regulatory org.

    The checked pet does not count towards your checked bags.

    Since it is flying accompanied, you wont go through cargo customs on US soil and don't need a broker. You'll just pick it up in the over-sized luggage area and be on your way. No one will hold him here.

    That being said, the people at the check in counters usually know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about how to check pets and I've very rarely flown without having to educate someone about the weather, crate size, attachments, bedding, you name it. It's critical to know all of the regulations and stand up for yourself. It's worse with a language barrier. We once almost didn't get our JA out of Japan on a 1 am flight because the English name on the quarantine documents didn't match what their little guide book said so she didn't think it was the right document. (Something like "Health Certificate" vs "Quarantine Inspection Certificate" that kind of thing.) She said we needed to go to a vet to get another one. At 1 am! XD

    Also, even though Japan is rabies free, I do not trust the people doing the check in and inspection to know the regulations. Better to get rabies before the dog leaves just to be safe.
  • edited April 2019
    You do need an appointment with the Quarantine folks at the airport but I don't know how to do that -- the breeder has always done it for me. I think it's like 10 days out though.
  • edited April 2019
    New question! The quarantine people messaged me back and said I needed a microchip identification certificate. Was this required of anyone else?

    Does every dog have a microchip when they leave Japan? He's got one but I didn't send in the registration papers so I don't have whatever microchip certificate they might have sent back, and I don't have an address in Japan anymore. How do people register the microchip and get back the papers if they don't live in Japan? Does the breeder just have it sent to them as part of the export process?

    If I don't get the microchip identification certificate is it going to be a deal breaker at animal quarantine/export? I'm worried if I send off the application/microchip registration and I don't get the certificate back in time I won't have any physical documention/proof on me (other than the microchip imbedded in my dog) and it'll cause a stink
  • I heard back from the quarantine office! They said they can certify the microchip number date of identification when we go in for the inspection *phew* what a relief! Just posting this in case anyone needs to look this up in the future. Also I didn't know what a "Sofa member" was and they said that's military related. I guess they have different procedures?
  • All dogs must be microchipped to fly from Japan, yes. But you don't have to register the chip. It just has to be scanned during the inspection and written on the documents.
  • Just wanted to update what the process was like!

    I microchipped before, and when they "certified" the documents, they said the paperwork I brought (registration and vet note) counted as certification. They just copied it again for their records. The rest of the health check was very quick. They gave me papers to present to the airline staff and agents in the US if they asked. Honestly I was nervous all the way until they took Hoshi away to put him under the plane - the airline staff took a good decent amount of time checking to make sure he was ready for the flight and his crate was properly labeled/stickered.

    I think I did a rather poor job getting him ready to fly, but luckily everyone around me was prepared to help me through the process. They were all so kind. I had boarded Hoshi with a nearby pet hotel and without the owner helping me I wouldn't have even been able to wheel Hoshi to quarantine to get checked out. I don't doubt I would have missed my flight without him helping me. The staff at Narita, LAX, and through American Airlines were so really reassuring. The airline staff checked in with me when I boarded and let me know they were aware my dog was in the hold. Once I landed it was pretty novel to be able to ask people for help and they understood. I mean, in some ways, even with the language barrier, Japanese customer service is so professional and helpful and they anticipate what you need but in America I've walked up to staff and they're surprised I want something. Like, the carts at LAX were tiny and I figured with a bigger one I could fit my luggage and the dog crate but they just got someone to push the crate separately. He even helped me get to the rental car shuttle. I think everyone got a kick out of having a dog around, but I was tense until I saw him safe after landing. Anyway, we were able to drive to where we were headed after that.
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