This is an update and clarification of the new Japanese Government regulations pertaining to importation of pets into Japan and supplements Administrative Notice No. 183 dated November 15, 2004. In addition to this summary, it is important for anyone thinking of bringing a pet to Japan to review the information on the Japanese government website below.
The Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) has radically revised its procedures for importing pets. These rules apply specifically to dogs and cats. Other rules apply for more exotic pets.
The key thing to note is that, for most employees, the process will take at least seven (7) months from the date of the first rabies vaccination, so advance planning is critical. We are told there are no exceptions and that animals which have not met all requirements described below will have to be quarantined upon arrival until all are met.
The full procedure is outlined at the AQS website:
Navigation can be a bit tricky. After finding the website, do the following:
1. On the homepage, click on “Home” on the top menu.
2. Click on “Bring Animals to Japan.”
3. Select the animal you are bringing.
4. Click on “How to import”
To summarize the main points:
Time before arrival
|210 days||Animal must have (or obtain) microchip identification. This must be done before the rabies vaccinations. The only microchips that can be read at Japan AQS facilities are ISO 11784 and 11785 Standards. For any other chips, you must bring your own microchip reader.|
|210 days||After receipt of microchip, the animal receives the first of two rabies vaccinations. These must be “inactivated rabies vaccinations.” Be sure to obtain certification of the period of validity for the particular vaccinations that you obtain (some are good for two years, others for only one). Pet must be at least 90 days old at time of first vaccination.|
|180 days||Animal receives second vaccination (at least 30 days after first vaccination).|
|180 days||Anytime after the 2nd vaccination (ideally within 1-2 days), animal must receive a Fluorescent Antibody Viral Neutralization (FAVN) Blood Test to ensure that the rabies vaccinations have provided adequate rabies antibody levels and must be approved by a facility approved by the Government of Japan. Approved sites are listed at the AQS website (currently there are only two in the U.S.).|
|40 to 90 days||
As early as 90 days before arrival or as late as 40 days before, you must fax a formal notification to AQS on a specific form. The notification form and all other recommended certificates can be found at: http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/dog/import-free.html.
AQS will send an acknowledgement upon receipt of the form.
|2 to 10 days||Obtain a health certificate for the animal verifying that it is free of rabies and, in the case of dogs, leptospirosis. The certificate must be approved by the national government in the country of export (USDA’s APHIS if coming from the U.S.).|
|On arrival||Be prepared to present completed forms A and C from the AQS site, Acknowledgement of Advance Notification, and completed Import Quarantine Application.|
Animals that arrive with all documents in order, including readable microchip, should be cleared at the airport in under two hours (the website says “within 12 hours” but we are told that it can be done while you wait) and taken home immediately. Animals that arrive without the appropriate health certificate, without advance notice, without a readable microchip ID, or without the proper blood test and 180 day waiting period will be subject to quarantine upon arrival in Japan. The quarantine period will extend as long as it takes to resolve the problem. For example, if you administer the blood test on April 1 then bring the animal to Tokyo on June 1 (60 days later), the animal would be subject to 120 days in quarantine, assuming all other requirements have been met. Kennel rates while in quarantine here run around $30-35 per day. More information on quarantine can be found at the AQS website.