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Bringing Pets to Japan [Pet Passport 2020 Guide]

Bringing pets to Japan can be a complicated process.

Japan is a country well known for having strict rules when it comes to many things. Pet travel is one of them. They have strict conditions that must be met in order to successfully import pets to Japan. The requirements vary widely, depending on the species of your pet, and which country you are traveling from. Generally, your pet will need a microchip, rabies vaccination, other vaccinations, parasite treatments, vet health certificate and advanced notification form. On top of that, you will need to organise a health inspection upon arrival, and may need to organise your pet to stay in Japan Pet Quarantine Service.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of bringing pets to Japan, and breakdown the strict and complicated entry requirements, depending on where you are traveling from.


What is a Japan Pet Passport?

Japan does not have an official ‘Pet Passport’, however it is a term used to describe the documents that are required to bring a pet to Japan. Customs officials will need to see these documents in order to clear your pet in customs. Essentially, a pet passport demonstrates that your pet is fit and healthy to travel. For a Japan pet passport you will likely need microchip documents, vaccination records, parasite treatment records, veterinary health certificate and import license. Your Japan Pet Passport will vary depending on the species of your pet and where you are traveling from.


What is the process of bringing pets to Japan?

The process of bringing pets to Japan is as follows:

  1. Research – the process of bringing pets to Japan will depend mainly on your pet’s species, and where you are traveling from. Therefore, ensure you are aware of the specific requirements for taking your pet to Japan. It’s also important to check that your pet is allowed to be imported to Japan, as they have very strict rules, prohibiting some pets and breeds visiting. We will discuss the requirements for different pet species below.
  2. Visit the vet – most pets will require a microchip, vaccinations, parasite treatments and a rabies blood test. However, the requirements vary depending on your pet’s species and home country. It is likely that your pet will need at least 2 visits to the vet, as most pets require 2 separate rabies vaccinations, at least 30 days apart. We will go into more detail in the requirements section below.
  3. Organise quarantine (if necessary) – if your pet requires a stay in Japan pet quarantine, you must reserve them a spot. For more information on quarantine, check the quarantine section below.
  4. File an Advanced Notification Form / book inspection – you must notify Animal Quarantine Service at your expected port of entry at least at least 40 days before your arrival. Upon arrival in Japan, your pet will need an inspection at Japan’s animal quarantine service. You can book this via Japan’s online system – NACCS. Or alternatively, send your form off by fax, email or post. Click here for the application form for dogs, and here for the application form for cats. For more information, check the Advanced Notification Section below.
  5. Obtain a Japan Veterinary Certificate – an accredited veterinarian must complete a health certificate within 2 days or entry. You may also need to have the certificate endorsed by your home countries governing authority. See more information in the health certificate section below.

What are the requirements to bring pets to Japan?

The requirements to bring pets to Japan depend on your pet’s age and species, and where you are traveling from. The requirements can include any of the following:

  1. Pet microchipping
  2. Rabies vaccination
  3. Additional vaccinations
  4. Internal and external parasite treatments
  5. Rabies blood test (Rabies Titer Test)
  6. Advanced notification form
  7. Health certificate

The entry requirements depend on which country you are traveling from, the following are countries Japan considers rabies free:

Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii or Guam.

PET MICROCHIPPING

In order to bring pets to Japan, all dogs and cats must be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 pet microchip that is a 15 digit and non-encrypted. Small mammals, birds, reptiles and horses do not require microchips.

A microchip is a small chip the size of a grain of rice that holds a unique number which can be detected by a microchip scanner. It is implanted just under your pet’s skin in between its shoulder blades.

This should be the first step you take. This is because your pet’s microchip must be implanted before its rabies vaccination is administered, otherwise the vaccination will not count. We will discuss the rabies vaccination in detail in the next section.

Your pet’s microchip number must be present on all documentation required to enter Japan. Your veterinarian must scan your dog or cat’s microchip before any tests or treatments required to enter Japan.

RABIES VACCINATION

Dogs and cats residing in and entering from rabies-free countries do not require a rabies vaccination. However, it is a requirement for dogs and cats entering Japan from all other countries. Rabbits, birds and any livestock (cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, horses and chickens) do not require rabies vaccinations.

If bringing a pet to Japan from the following countries, your pet will NOT require a rabies vaccination:

Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii or Guam.

Your dog or cat must be vaccinated against rabies only once they have a microchip inserted (see microchip section above for more information).

When bringing dogs and cats to Japan they must have 2 rabies vaccinations:

  1. Your pet must be at least 91 days of age before their primary vaccination. The first vaccination must be valid for one year. Three year rabies vaccinations are not recommended as your pet’s first vaccination but are fine as the second vaccination / booster shots.
  2. At least 30 days after your pet’s primary vaccination, but at least before it expires. The second vaccination must be valid upon entry to Japan.

When bringing pets to Japan, you must have a valid rabies vaccination documents supported by official vaccination records. All current vaccinations and boosters must be recorded. Furthermore, your dog or cat’s microchip number must also be recorded on all documentation.

All dogs and cats that require a rabies vaccination, must also have a rabies titer test. For more information see the rabies titer test section below.

ADDITIONAL VACCINATIONS

As well as the rabies vaccination, dogs and cats also require additional vaccinations to enter Japan from all country categories. All vaccinations should be valid for the entire post-arrival quarantine period. 

DOGS

All dogs imported to Japan must have valid vaccinations against the following:

  • Canine distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Canine parvoviral infection
  • Canine leptospirosis

CATS

All cats imported to Japan must have valid vaccinations against the following:

  • Cat flu (feline calicivirus and feline viral rhinotracheitis)
  • Cat enteritis (feline parvovirus / feline panleukopenia)

INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PARASITE TREATMENT

In order to get your dog or cat a Japan Pet Passport, they must be treated against external and internal parasites. 

Before bringing dogs and cats to Japan, they must be treated against ticks, tapeworm, nematodes and cestodes.

You must be able to show proof of treatment.

RABIES BLOOD TEST (RABIES TITER TEST)

If traveling from a country Japan considers rabies free, you won’t need a rabies vaccination or rabies blood test. However, when traveling from all other countries your dog or cat will need a rabies titer test, also known as rabies blood test. The rabies blood test ensures their rabies vaccine has provided your pet with adequate levels of the rabies antibody. This doesn’t apply to small pets, birds and reptiles.

If bringing a pet to Japan from the following countries, your pet will NOT require a rabies titer test:

Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii or Guam.

You won’t need to have a test if you are traveling from a country listed above, or if your pet has had a rabies titer test within the past 2 years, and their rabies vaccination has not yet expired.

If your pet does require a rabies titer test, it will need to be performed by a designated laboratory. If there is no designated laboratory in your country, you need to send the blood sample to one of the designated laboratories in other countries. If you send a pet’s blood sample to the designated laboratory in Japan, it must be accompanied by an inspection certificate issued by the government agency of exporting country.

A licensed vet will need to take your pet’s blood after receiving their second rabies vaccination, or on the same day.

Their blood sample must then be sent to an approved lab for testing. Their blood results must show at least 0.5 IU/ml of the rabies antibody to pass.

In order to reduce the time your pet must spend in Japan pet quarantine, the date of your pet’s blood sample must be more than 180 days and less than 2 years of your arrival in Japan.

All rabies vaccinations must be kept current once the titer test has been completed.

ADVANCED NOTIFICATION FORM

To bring pets to Japan, you will require an advanced notification form. This applies to cats and dogs. You will also need to inform Japan’s Animal Quarantine Service if bringing rabbits, birds and livestock (cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, horses and chickens). Animal quarantine inspections are not required for household birds (parakeets, parrots, pigeons and ricebirds).

You must notify Japan’s animal quarantine service at your expected port of entry at least 40 days prior to your arrival in Japan.

Upon arrival in Japan, customs officials will need to see a valid approval form, with a veterinary health certificate completed by an Official government veterinarian in the country of export. For more information on health certificates, check the next section.

Only once your pet’s vaccinations are all completed can you submit an advanced notification form. All copies of the vaccination cards are needed to be presented to the Japan government for inspection before they can issue your approval form.


How to apply for an Japan Advanced Notification Form?

You can submit the completed advanced notification form by email or post:

Alternatively, you can notify them online through their NACCS system.

After processing, if facilities are available, an Approval of Notification will be returned to you. Please note that you may be requested to change the date or place of import depending on the availability situation of quarantine facilities at the Animal Quarantine Station.

HEALTH CERTIFICATE

When bringing pets to Japan, you must have a Japan Veterinary Certificate completed by an accredited veterinarian. This applies to dogs, cats, rabbits, household birds and livestock (cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, horses and chickens).

You must obtain a health certificate for your pet within 2 days of traveling to Japan. The health certificate must be issued by an accredited veterinarian.

The health certificate must show that your pet shows no signs of any parasites, internal or external, and that your pet has had all required vaccinations and tests. This includes rabies vaccinations, additional vaccinations required, and a rabies titer test, if required.

If you are importing pets to Japan from the US, the health certificate must be endorsed by your local State USDA office. Additionally, if you are traveling from Canada, it must be endorsed by your local CFIA office.

Bringing other pets (other than dogs and cats) into Japan

RABBITS

Requirements for taking rabbits to Japan are as follows:

  • Health certificate issued by government quarantine authorities in your departure country
  • Inspection at Japan’s animal quarantine service
  • 3 days and 2 nights stay at Japan’s animal quarantine service (usually)

Your health certificate must be endorsed or issued by your home country’s government agency, at least 10 days prior to your departure date.

You will need to inform Japan’s animal quarantine service by submitting an application form by fax or email.

Small animals do not require microchips or rabies vaccinations. However, upon inspection they must show no signs of disease.

For further information check Japan’s government website here.


LIVESTOCK & DOMESTICATED ANIMALS

Livestock and domesticated animals include cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, horses chickens, pheasant, ostrich, guinea fowl turkeys, quail, Anseriformes such as ducks, geese, etc., and honey bees.

Requirements for taking livestock to Japan are as follows:

  • Notification of import form approval
  • Inspection at Japan’s animal quarantine service
  • Potential stay in Japan’s Animal Quarantine Service

You must import these animals only through the following designated ports:

Sea ports: Tomakomai Port, Keihin Port (Tokyo, Yokohama), Nagoya Port, Hanshin Port (Osaka, Kobe), Kanmon Port, Hakata Port, Kagoshima Port and Naha Port

Airports: Shin(New)-Chitose Airport, Narita International Airport, Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), Chubu International Airport, Kansai International Airport, Kitakyushu Airport, Fukuoka Airport, Kagoshima Airport and Naha Airport

For further information check Japan’s government website here.


BIRDS

A quarantine inspection will be required for livestock birds (chickens, ducks, turkeys, pheasant, ostrich, guinea fowl, quail and geese) that are brought into Japan when entering from a foreign country. However, they are not required for other birds (e.g. ohm, parakeet, myna, pigeon, and ricebird) that you bring to Japan.

Although an entry quarantine inspection will be not required when you bring your pet bird to Japan, there are other restrictions by other ministries.

For further information check Japan’s government website here.

If your bird is an endangered species, you will also need to apply for a CITES Permit. Please click here for more information on how to apply for CITES permits.

What dog and cat breeds are not allowed into Japan?

There are no banned dog or cat breeds, however aggressive behaviour will not be acceptable.

This doesn’t include wild hybrids such as wolf dogs or savannah or bengal cats, which are not permitted.


What are the regulations on transportation to Japan?

When bringing pets to Japan, they should be transported from your home country (designated region) on a direct flight to Japan. If not, you will need a ‘seal for the transport cage’ or an ‘additional certificate on transportation (ANNEX).

1. SEAL FOR TRANSPORT CAGE 

A veterinary officer of the government agency of your home country must seal your pet’s cage by using a sealing instrument called ‘seal’.

The seal number must be stated on the certificate issued by the government agency of your exporting country.

2. ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATE ON TRANSPORTATION (ANNEX)

You must ensure that dogs and cats do not come into contact with any other animals during transportation (dogs and cats must stay inside their transport cages throughout the whole journey). As proof, you obtain an additional certificate on transportation (ANNEX) from animal quarantine agency or from Customs at the transit ports, airlines/shipping lines, or captains.

If there are any deficiencies on the seal or ANNEX, your pet will be subject to detention quarantine at Animal Quarantine Service for 180 days.

How long does it take to bring pets to Japan?

The process of bringing pets to Japan can take between 1-12 months to complete. This depends on the species of your pet, and where you are traveling from.

If you are traveling from Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii or Guam, the time scale will be shorter. This is because pets will not require rabies blood tests. However, if you are traveling from any other country it will likely take you longer to bring your pet to Japan.

The most timely steps of bringing pets to Japan, are getting your pet’s rabies blood test completed and waiting 180 days (6 months).

Getting your pet’s microchip, vaccinations and parasite treatments will just take a quick appointment to the vet. The appointment should take no more than half an hour.

As mentioned above, your pet’s rabies blood test will be one of the most timely steps. This is because you must wait at least three to four weeks after your pet’s rabies vaccination, before taking its blood sample. Firstly, it can take up to 30 days to get your pet’s blood test results back. Secondly, you should wait 180 days (6 months) after the date of your pet’s blood sample, before they can enter Japan. If you wait over 180 days, and your pet passes Japan’s entry requirements, the quarantine period will be reduced to just 12 hours.

Furthermore, you will need to submit an advanced notification form at least 40 days prior to your arrival.


Will my pet need to stay in Japan Animal Quarantine?

As long as your pet meets entry requirements for Japan, they should not be subject to a stay in Japan’s animal quarantine. However, if there are any issues, they may be required to stay in quarantine for up to 180 days. Rabbits will usually need to stay between 1-3 days in quarantine upon arrival.

Don’t worry, quarantine isn’t as scary as it sounds. Pets will have great caretakers and special food/medication accommodations if your pet needs it.

Before bringing pets to Japan, you must notify the Animal Quarantine Service at your specific port of entry, at least 40 days before your arrival.

If your pet does require a stay in quarantine, you are responsibly for the care-taking, feeding and all the costs. If you are unable to take care of your pet, a care-taker may do this for you, however you will be charged a fee.

Detention facilities where a care-taking company is stationed: Narita branch, Haneda Airport branch, Yokohama head office, and Kansai Airport branch.

Visiting your dog or cat during quarantine is allowed, but the visiting hours and visitors are restricted.

You have the option of submitting the forms below by mail, fax or email OR by sending an application online:

  1. Complete the following forms:
    1. Notification form for dogs
    2. Notification form for cats
    3. Notification form for rabbits
  2. Apply online through NACCS.

For a full list of contact details for Japan’s Animal Quarantine Service check here. 

In case that the detention facility is fully occupied, you may need to change the arrival date or the port of entry.


How much will it cost to bring pets to Japan?

Bringing pets to Japan can be a rather expensive process which varies depending on your pet’s species and where you are traveling from. The total cost broken down into the following fees:

  • Rabies vaccines, depends on your vet’s fee structure
  • Vet examination fees, depends on your vet’s fee structure
  • FAVN fees (around $300-$400, depending on your vet’s individual fee structure)
  • Send overnight forms to government animal office and back (if necessary)
  • Cargo or in-cabin pet fees ($125-$200 for in-cabin, depending on airline; cargo is charged by weight and varies by airline)
  • Airline approved carrier

What airlines allow flying a pets to Japan?

Most airlines allow flying pets to Japan. However, depending on the airline you fly with, pet policies differ.

When flying with a pet, it’s important to check airline pet policies before booking any travel. Different airline’s have different rules for flying with pets, including which breeds are allowed, the size and weight of pets that are permitted, and the number of pets they allow. Fees also vary between airlines.

Most airlines will allow pets to fly in the cargo section of their planes, in a climate controlled, comfortable pet zone. Although some pet owners think this will be stressful for their pets, it can actually be a lot calmer than flying in the cabin.

Some airlines will allow pets to fly in the cabin with their owners, but generally only small dogs and cats that weigh under 8kg are permitted. This is because they must fly inside an airline-approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of their owners.

For a list of airlines that allow pets to fly in the cabin with their owners, check:

For a list of airlines that allow other pets on their planes, check: 


Guidelines for Pet Carriers

If you are flying to Japan with a pet, it is important that you use a pet carrier that is approved by your airline. Different airlines have different pet carrier policies, which often vary between aircrafts and routes. Check that your pet carrier is approved for your chosen airline, aircraft and route. 

The rules and regulations have been set out by International Air Transport Association (IATA) ensure that dogs are comfortable when travelling. Thus, inside their travel carriers, pets must be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position in their kennel (without touching any side or the top of the container).

Furthermore, the rules for pet carriers also vary depending on whether your pet will be flying in the cabin or cargo area of the plane.

If you are travelling in the cabin with your dog or cat, then you will need to ensure that the carrier fits under the seat in front of you. This is why, generally, only small dogs and cats weighing under 7-8kg are permitted in the cabin.

Additionally, if traveling with a dog, airlines often require that he or she is be obedient to your commands and can behave appropriately in public. Thus, he mustn’t bark or growl at other passengers or staff. If your dog does not behave in an appropriate manner, some airlines may transfer him to the cargo hold at an additional cost, or refuse to transport him all together. Some airlines require a consent form to ensure your pet is flight-ready.

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Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Can I take my puppy or kitten to Japan?

Yes. Puppies and kittens must be microchipped and vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 3 months of age and no sooner than 30 days prior to entry. Additionally, puppies and kittens must have a rabies titer test no sooner than 180 days prior to entering Japan. If you are traveling from a rabies-free country, rabies vaccinations and rabies titer tests are not required.

Can I take my pet to Japan with an EU Pet Passport?

You can travel to Japan with an EU Pet Passport, however there are additional conditions to be met. You will need to file an advanced notification form and organise an inspection upon arrival at Japan's animal quarantine service. Your pet may also need additional vaccines, treatments and a rabies titer test. Please refer to the requirements section above.

Can I move to Japan with my pet?

Possibly. You may be able to move to Japan with your pet, as long as you and your pet meet strict requirements. If you are from a country Japan considers rabies-free, the process will likely be more simple. However those wanting to relocate to Japan from another country, will have a more lengthy and difficult process to go through. This is because there are additional requirements and conditions to be met.


Bottom Line

So, bringing a pet to Japan can be a complicated process. It is particularly complicated if you are traveling from a country other than those listed as a rabies-free country.

If you haven’t been put off, just be sure to familiarise yourself with the conditions you need to meet to bring your pet to Japan.

Allow yourself plenty of time to prepare for your trip, even up to 1 year in more complicated cases! If this process seems too complicated, you can always get in contact with special pet travel agencies.

Hope you have found this helpful. Happy travels!

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