The Pet Process to Japan - Part 1

The Pet Process to Japan - Part 1

Published on January 17 2016
Posted by: Kyle
Segment: tips
When our former Japanese teacher (aka: Takeda Sensei) asked us to take care of his cat when he went back to Japan, we thought it would only be for a few weeks. We didn't expect it to be 6 months or longer! Why? Well, we found out.

Apparently, the process to get pets overseas to Japan is quite long and complex (for cats and dogs. Fish, reptiles, birds, etc - we don't know about).

Based on our research (and a few backup resources), this is what we have found out for transporting pets from 49 US States and other regions (All US States, except for Hawai'i, are in non-designated area, which means this process is long. If we were in Hawai'i, or one of the other world-wide designated areas, we wouldn't have an issue. However, we live in NC, so it's long):

(Also, this information is from, and more information and documents can be found here)

Step 1: Get Microchipped

We have to get our pets microchipped (because they weren't already). This is mainly so they can be identified during transport. Otherwise, your pet may get lost during the shuffle and may not come back to you.

Step 2: Rabies Vaccination (x2)

Our cats were vaccinated against rabies many years ago, and Maru just got his booster. Apparently, according to the MAFF site, that doesn't matter. No rabies shots count before they got microchipped. We don't know why, but that's what they said.

After getting the microchip and a (new) rabies shot, we have to wait at least 31 days before they get another one. Again, don't know why.

Step 3: Blood work (x2 - see Step 4)

After the 2nd rabies shot, you must get some blood work done (according to the site, "equal to or greater than 0.5 IU/ml", whatever that means). For cats, the blood work must be sent to a lab in Kansas, so it's not that bad. However, if you have a dog, their blood work must be sent to Japan for analysis - again, don't ask us why, because we don't know.

Step 4: Wait 180 days (Quarantine)

Yep, half a year. Then, after (at least) 180 days, you must get another blood test (Step 3). If you don't wait 180 days, then your pet will be quarantined in an Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) Facility until the quarantine period expires. Your pet is going to be quarantined anyway when you arrive, but I'm sure you'd rather wait a few hours than a few months for your precious pet.

Step 5: Certificate of Export Country

Your local vet should be able to provide a Certified Health Certificate for your pet(s), but it is required for import into Japan. This is basically to say "Everything's good" and provides information on your pet(s).

When You Arrive: Quarantine Period

When you arrive, your pet is going to be quarantined anyway, because Japan is pretty strict on their "anti-rabies" program, but it isn't because they're sick or anything; it's because they need to make sure that the pet is okay and rabies free.

At least 40 days before you arrive (keeping in mind timezones), send an Advance Notification form to the AQS. When they receive this, your pet could be contained for a maximum of 12 hours. If you don't do this, your pet could be quarantined for another 180 days. Poor pets...

Anyway, that's what we've researched and found out. Our cats just got microchipped and rabies update on Wednesday (1/13), and it's a good thing too - we thought that this whole process would take about 30 days.

If you have a Dog

Dogs can only be imported at the following 17 seaports and airports:
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

(Also, this information is from, and more information and documents can be found here)

Pet Shipper

Our local vet recommended a service called Pet Air Carrier ( They are a specialized service that specifically ships pets around the US/world, and can help out. We contacted them on Wednesday night, and still awaiting a response for an estimate.

Update (Jan 19th): Apparently, their website isn't sending mail appropriately, so I had to send an email directly to them, which I received a response 48 hours later. Apparently, they will take care of everything for the pets, but to send our two cats over would cost more than for us to go over - just over $2,000! We're obviously going to look into other transportation methods, but we did not expect it to be so high.

Has anybody else shipped their pets across the seas? How were your experiences? Did we just overly complicate things, or is the process really this long? Let us know in the comments!