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Bringing dogs and cats into Japan from abroad

1 Advance notification

 

2 Individual identification by microchip

 

3 Rabies vaccinations

 

4 Immunization against diseases other than rabies

 

5 Measurement of antibody levels and waiting period

 

6 Export Certificate

 

7 Quarantine period and inspection

 

8 Import quarantine in your own home

 

9 Quarantine for helper dogs (rescue dogs, guide dogs etc.)

 

10 Transportation of dogs (cats)

 

11 Quarantine costs

 

12 Care of the animals during the quarantine period

 

13 Time needed for procedures

 

1 Advance notification 

Q:Do certain documents have to be submitted for advance notification purposes? Where should the notification be submitted?

A:Either download the ‘Notification for importation of animals' form from the Animal Quarantine Service website, or obtain one from your nearest Animal Quarantine Service. Once you have completed all the necessary sections of the form, you should mail, fax or hand deliver it to the Animal Quarantine Service which has jurisdiction over the intended air/sea port of arrival.

Q:There have been changes to my import plans since I submitted the notification. What should I do?

A:Either download the ‘Notification of changes' form from the Animal Quarantine Service website, or obtain one from your nearest Animal Quarantine Service. Once you have completed all the necessary sections of the form, you should mail, fax or hand deliver it to the Animal Quarantine Service which has jurisdiction over the intended air/sea port of arrival.

Q:At the last minute, I have just found out that I have to bring dogs (cats) into the country but I have not submitted any advance notification. Is it still possible to bring them in?

A:Advance notification is required at least 40 days in advance of the intended date of import, so please reconsider any changes to the date of import. If you are not able to change your plan, please contact the Animal Quarantine Service which has jurisdiction over the intended air/sea port of arrival immediately. In only case that the Animal Quarantine Service considers any change to be impossible and import quarantine to be conducted, advance notification may be accepted later than 40 days prior to the intended date of import.
However, if the animal needs to be held for more than 12 hours and there is no room available in the facilities, you are be required to change the place and/or date of import.

 

2 Individual identification by microchip 

Q:What is a microchip? Will it affect the health of the dogs (cats)?

A:A microchip is a small device (11mm long x 2mm wide) for identification and is inserted into the animal's hypodermis. These microchips are used by countries across the world including Japan, and they do not affect the health of dogs (cats).

Q:Where can microchip can be fitted for dog(cat)?

A:Microchips can be fitted at veterinary clinics, so please contact your nearest one for advice, or contact the Japan Veterinary Medical Association (Tel +81 (0)3 3475 1601, Fax +81 (0)3 3475 1604).

Q:The animals already have microchips fitted but I am not sure of their specifications or numbers. Is there any way I can find out?

A:Please first inquire with the vet who fitted the microchip. Alternatively, you might check with another veterinary clinic which has microchip readers. The fitting of a microchip is a prerequisite for bringing dogs (cats) into Japan, so please replace the microchip if it cannot be read by any method.

Q:What will happen if the animals arrive in Japan without microchips fitted?

A:If animals do not have a microchip, they will be treated as animals for which no individual identification measures have been taken, and will therefore be held for up to 180 days on arrival in Japan. However please note that in the case of dogs, the dogs will be considered not to have the proper certificate, they will be returned. In cases where animals do not have microchips fitted but can be identified by a tattoo, please consult the Animal Quarantine Service.

Q:The animals have microchips fitted but they are not of the ISO standards. What happens if the microchips cannot be read on arrival?

A:If the microchip number is unreadable at import inspection takes place, the animal will be treated as one for which no individual identification measures have been taken.For this reason, please either contact the Animal Quarantine Service at the intended air/sea port of arrival, or bring your own microchip reader. Before traveling, you should check that the microchip reader you intend to bring can actually read the microchip.

 

3 Rabies vaccination 

Q:The animals have been immunized against rabies with live vaccines. Will this be accepted?

A:Under the new system, only inactivated or recombinant vaccines are acceptable. Live vaccines are not accepted.

Q:What is the ‘valid period' for rabies vaccinations?

A:The ‘valid period' refers to the period for which a vaccine inoculation continues to be effective. There are many types of rabies vaccine, which have different valid periods. Please note that the valid period, may affect preparations in the country of export. Please be sure to check in advance.

Q:Please explain why it is necessary for the animals to be immunized against rabies two or more times.

A:In some cases, a single rabies vaccination does not result in sufficient immunity (antibody levels). It is therefore necessary for animals to be vaccinated two or more times in order to ensure sufficient immunity.

Q:The animals have received rabies vaccinations but have not been fitted with a microchip. Will this be acceptable? 

A:Any immunization against rabies carried out prior to the implantation of the microchip will not be accepted. Please be sure to have the animals vaccinated twice and tested for antibody levels only after the microchip is implanted.

However,  we regard rabies vaccination carried out prior to the implantation of the microchip as the first vaccination if you have the certificate issued by the government agency that:

1)the animals have received rabies vaccination prior to the implantation of the microchip

2)the results of the blood test  after the implantation of microchip is equal to or greater than 0.5 IU/ml.

But you need to do more blood test after second-rabies vaccination, except for the case of doing blood test at the same day as first-rabies vaccination after implantation of microchip. In this case, please contact your nearest Animal Quarantine Service or look at 1 of “Newly Approved Rules Effective as of April 15, 2010” which is Attachment of “Guide to importing dogs, cats and other animals subject to animal quarantine from regions other than the designated regions into Japan”.

 

4 Immunization against diseases other than rabies 

Q:Are vaccinations and certificates of immunization against any diseases other than rabies required?

A:An animal will not be denied importation or given a longer quarantine period on the grounds that it has not been immunized against a disease other than rabies. However, the animal may become susceptible to illness (especially infectious diseases), as a result of suffering stress due to air transportation or a change in environment, or when it is held for an extended period of time. For this reason, it is recommended that you consider immunization against diseases other than rabies and administration of certain drugs prior to departure, following consultation with your vet. (In the case of dogs, the recommended immunizations include: a trivalent of distemper, infectious hepatitis and parvovirus infection; parainfluenza; leptospirosis; coronavirus infection etc. In the case of cats they include a trivalent of feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus and feline panleukopenia etc.)

 

 

5 Measurement of antibody levels and waiting period 

Q:Please explain the rationale behind the measurement of antibody levels and the 180-day wait.

A:Antibody levels are measured in order to confirm whether or not the animal has developed immunity to rabies. The reason for the wait is to make sure that the animal has not contracted rabies prior to developing immunity to it as a result of immunization. 180 days corresponds to the incubation period for the disease.

Q:What laboratories testing body will undertake the measurement of rabies antibody levels? Who bears the cost of this inspection?

A:Please contact your nearest Animal Quarantine Service, or look at the Animal Quarantine Service website to find what laboratories will carry out the measurement of antibody levels. Laboratories are added to the list on the website once they get designated. Please note that the owner of the animal is responsible for bearing the cost of the test.

Q:What should I do if the animal has been vaccinated but the antibody levels do not meet the required standard?

A:You should consult a vet to find out whether to wait a while before having the animal tested again, or to have the animal vaccinated again. Please note that the wait begins as the day when blood sample is taken for the test which reveals antibody levels clear the standard.

 

6 Export Certificate 

Q:When should I get the Country of Export Certificate issued by the responsible government agency of the country of export? Does this certificate have a validity?

A:There is no set validity period for Country of Export Certificates. However, with regard to health certificates, please ensure that the animal undergoes a check to confirm that it does not have or is not suspected of having rabies (in the case of dogs, for rabies and leptospirosis) immediately prior to departure (wherever possible, no earlier than two days before departure), before obtaining the certification.

 

Q:Where can I find out which government agency can issue of Export Certificate?

A:Please check with the animal quarantine authority of the country of export.

 

 

7 Quarantine period and inspection 

Q:What do I have to do to make a quarantine within 12 hours when importing animals from designated regions (rabies-free countries/regions)?

A:When the following can be confirmed from the certificate issued by the responsible government agency of the country of export, the quarantine period upon arrival in Japan will be within 12 hours. Please note that notification to the Animal Quarantine Service which has jurisdiction over the intended air/seaport of arrival is required no less than 40 days in advance of arrival.

(1)That the animal is identified by microchip

(2)That the animal has been kept only in a designated region for the past 180 days, since birth, or since arriving directly from Japan.

(3)That there have been no outbreaks of rabies in the designated region in the past two years

(4)That the animal did not have or was not suspected of having rabies (in the case of dogs, rabies and leptospirosis) at the inspection carried out prior to departure.

 

 

Q:What happens to the quarantine period if the animal has not completed its 180-day wait when it arrives in Japan? 

A:In case that the animal meets all other conditions except the waiting time, the number of days remaining in the 180-day wait become quarantine period on arrival in Japan. Please note that the period does not include the day on which the application for quarantine was submitted, or the day on which the Import Quarantine Certificate was issued.

Q:Is it possible to see dogs (cats) during quarantine? 

A:Yes, it is possible to see dogs (cats) during the quarantine. Please contact the Animal Quarantine Service for details.

Q:What does the quarantine detention involve? Under what circumstances is such detention necessary? 

A:Quarantine detention is carried out in case that the animal does not fulfill the conditions for a quarantine within 12 hours. In such case the animal is held in the quarantine facilities of the Animal Quarantine Service for a certain period of time, and inspected to ascertain whether or not it has symptoms of rabies (in the case of dogs, rabies and leptospirosis). Clinical check for the symptoms is the only way of verifying rabies in a living animal. In cases where symptoms of leptospirosis are shown, the animal may be subject to a laboratory test.

Q:Please advise of any precautions that should be taken when undergoing quarantine. 

A:Animals can become subject to considerable stress when kept in an unfamiliar place for an extended period of time, and are susceptible to illnesses (especially contagious diseases) so please pay careful attention to animal health prior to departure. Even if an animal becomes sick during the quarantine period, it cannot be released from the quarantine facility. Dogs (cats) that are old, in poor health, pregnant, lactating, have a history of illnesses, on medication or injured are not suited to transportation or the import quarantine that follows. In case that it is absolutely necessary to bring such an animal into Japan, please consult your regular vet well in advance, to determine whether or not the animal will be able to cope with the transportation and import quarantine.
Even for healthy dogs (cats), it is recommended that you consider immunization against diseases other than rabies and administration of certain drugs prior to departure, after consulting your vet about vaccinations and getting rid of parasites. (In the case of dogs, the recommended immunizations include: a trivalent of distemper, infectious hepatitis and parvovirus infection; parainfluenza; leptospirosis; coronavirus infection etc. In the case of cats they include a trivalent of feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus and feline panleukopenia etc.)

 

 

8 Import quarantine in your own home 

Q:I would like to arrange for the import quarantine to take place at home as the animal has disease histories or is old. Is this possible?

A:Import quarantine cannot take place in your own home even when animals have disease histories or are old. Please make all necessary preparations in the country of export to ensure that the quarantine period is within 12 hours.

 

 

9 Quarantine for helper dogs (rescue dogs, guide dogs etc.) 

Q:Are helper dogs (rescue dogs, guide dogs ) also subject to import quarantine?

A:Helper dogs (rescue dogs, guide dogs ) are subject to the same import conditions as all other dogs. Please make all necessary preparations in the country of export to ensure that the quarantine period is within 12 hours.

 

 

10 Transportation of dogs (cats) 

Q:Please advise of any precautions that should be taken when taking a dog (cat) on an airplane.

A:Animals can become subject to considerable stress when kept in an unfamiliar place for an extended period of time, so please ensure that the animal is in good condition prior to departure. Dogs (cats) that are old, in poor health, pregnant, lactating, have a history of illnesses, are on medication or are injured are not suited to transportation or the import quarantine that follows. In case that it is unavoidable to bring such an animal into Japan, please consult your vet and airline well in advance, to determine whether or not the animal will be able to cope with transportation and import quarantine. Please make sure that the cages used for transporting dogs (cats) are large enough for them to stand, sit, sleep and turn freely, and have a vent which allows sufficient ventilation in order to transport them safely and avoid injury. Cages should be constructed in such a way that animals cannot poke their snouts or limbs out of the vent or mesh, and should have anti-escape features.

Q:How do I go about arranging to take the animal on an airplane? How much will it cost? 

A:Please contact your airline about this.

Q:Are quarantine procedures affected by the mode of transport used to bring the animals in? 

A:Quarantine procedures are not affected in any way by the method of transport (whether it be cargo or hand luggage), or the mode of transport (whether it be airplane or ship).

Q:Will there be any quarantine problems if there is transship on the way to Japan (i.e. a non-direct flight)? 

A:When a simple transship is involved (where the animal does not enter the country at the airport of the connecting flight), as long as the animal has a certificate issued by the responsible government agency of the country of export, there will be no problems. However, if the person traveling with the animals enters the country of connecting flight with the dog (cat), a certificate from the responsible government agency of that country then becomes necessary. In certain cases, transship certification is required from the transit country. Please consult the Animal Quarantine Service for further details.

Q:The animal needs to be transferred onto a domestic flight within Japan. Where will import quarantine take place? 

A:In principle, animals undergo import quarantine at the Animal Quarantine Service which has jurisdiction over the airport at which they arrive in Japan on an international flight.

 

11 Quarantine costs 

Q:How much does import quarantine cost?

A:Import inspection by animal quarantine officers is free of charge. However, the importer is responsible for bearing the cost of transportation to the quarantine facility, cares during the quarantine period, vet visits etc.

 

12 Time needed for procedures 

Q:I have heard that if preparations have been successfully made in the country of export, the quarantine period will be within 12 hours, but how long is actually required for the procedures?

A:Upon arrival, the certificate issued by the responsible government agency of the country of export and a dog or cat are checked. In case that the quarantine period is within12 hours, the inspection usually take less than one hour, it can take more depending on the situation.
In order to speed the check on the content of the certificate, you are strongly encouraged to obtain a certificate based on the form recommended by the Animal Quarantine Service.

 

 

13 Care of the animals during the quarantine period 

Q:Who feeds take care of the animals during the quarantine? Is it possible to have a third party to take care of animals being held?

A:The importer is responsible for taking care of animals during the quarantine. However, if this is difficult, you can have a caretaker to do it for you. There are caretaker agents based at the quarantine facilities at Narita, Kansai Airport, Nagoya and Yokohama, so it is also possible to contract feeding and care arrangements to them. For further details, please ask the Animal Quarantine Service when submitting the advance notification.