After living in Rio de Janeiro for 15 months, it was time to say goodbye.
We were headed back to the United States with our family of pets two dogs and one cat. If you’re bringing a cat to the United States, this guide is for you too!
Although traveling internationally with three pets sounds difficult, it’s actually not that bad.
Flying with your dog (or cat) to the United States is totally doable, and doesn’t actually include that much stress or hassle.
We wrote this Guide to International Pet Travel that covers everything about flying internationally with your pet. Important tips to keep in mind include:
- Start early – Timing is everything. Start the process early so you can get all of your ducks in a row and don’t have to panic.
- Be organized – Keep copies and screenshots of all of your documents, including airline policies and country requirements. They should be easy to access should you need them (and you will!).
- Double check – When flying internationally always double-check, if not triple-check, airline pet policies. Policies are constantly in flux, and rules are constantly changing.
If you’re traveling from Brazil to the USA with a dog or cat, this guide is for you! See each step to bring your pet from Brazil to the USA.
Goodbye Brazil, hello United States. Here we go!
Related: If you’re going the opposite way, and bringing a dog from the USA to Brazil, check out how to do that here.
Step 1: Country Requirements
In order to enter the United States, our dogs would need the following:
- A valid Rabies certificate*
- To have been inspected for screwworm within five days prior to departure to the United States** (for dogs only)
- For their fur and bedding to be free of excessive dirt or natural bedding such as hay or straw – no problem! We haven’t spent much time near any horses or stables…
- Must appear healthy
*Regarding the Rabies Vaccine:
- All dogs vaccinated against rabies for the first time must be vaccinated at least four weeks (28 days) before traveling.
- Puppies must NOT be vaccinated against rabies before they are three months (12 weeks or 84 days) old. The rabies certificate must include the puppy’s age or date of birth.
- Adult dogs (15 months or older) must show a history of previous rabies vaccinations (with the first given after three months old) and have a record of all booster rabies vaccinations. With this record, adult dogs don’t need to wait four weeks before traveling.
- Screwworms are larvae found in your pet’s fur or on their skin. An inspection for them can be done visually by your vet. All your vet has to do is write down that your pet is free of screwworm. Easy!
- In the event that your dog does have screwworms, they must be held in quarantine, and treated until free from screwworm prior to leaving the region.
But hold on there. Did you know that Brazil has requirements in order for your animal to leave the country?
That’s right. In a bizarre move, Brazil is requesting even more documentation just to allow your pet to exit the country.
Your pet needs to show treatment against internal and external parasites.
Internal parasites are heart worms, while external parasites include fleas, ticks, lice and mites.
If you give your pets parasite preventatives already (heart worm medications, etc.) you’re good to go. If not, pick some up at your vet visit and administer them.
Step 2: Make Travel Arrangements
Remember – country requirements and airline requirements are different. You will have to ensure that you can meet both sets.
We purchased a direct flight from Rio de Janeiro to New York City. We then called the airline to notify them that we would be flying with pets.
Be sure to specify if your pet will be flying in cabin or in cargo – there will be different requirements for each.
We flew with two dogs in cabin and one cat in cargo. The specifications for cargo had to do with the kennel we used, and the same goes for in cabin. You can read about our cats journey in cargo here.
The paperwork was the same for both the dogs and the cat, with the exception of the screwworm bit – you don’t need to include anything about screwworms for cats.
Step 3: Call the Vet
Your vet visit and Ministry of Agriculture endorsement have to be within a period of ten days before your departure.
This works for cats. However, if you’re flying with dogs, your dog has to have been inspected for screwworm within five days prior to departure.
That means you have only five days before the day you’re leaving to get in your vet visit and endorsement. It’s a smaller window than usual, but it can be done!
We were flying out on a Monday. We made an appointment at the local vet for the Thursday before, got all of our paperwork filled out, and sent it to the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture that night. Keep reading for more details.
Step 4: Vet Visit
Many pet stores in Brazil have in house vets. We speak Portuguese, so going to the vet at our local pet shop was easy.
It’s important for you to be clear with the vet on what is needed, in case they are unaware of the process. Arrive with all of the necessary paperwork printed, copies of your rabies vaccinations and your anti-parasite information.
We had the vet fill out this form. In the open space towards the end of the form, she wrote that our dogs did not have screwworm, in both Portuguese and English.
Unbeknownst to us, the vet was having a sale that day, so we were given a hefty discount on the visit (as long as we paid in cash). Lucky us!
Our vet saw all three pets and filled out all of the necessary paperwork.
We paid R$165 total for the three vet appointments, and R$22,15 for two anti-parasite pills for Kitty. The total came out to R$187,15, which is roughly $39 USD.
Step 5: Ministry of Agriculture Endorsement
A few years ago, when bringing my pets back to the United States, I had to travel to Brazils Ministry of Agriculture office at the airport to get my pet’s health certificates stamped.
Today, that system has changed. Now, everything is online. Going in person is no longer an option – it’s not eve allowed.
Instead, you have to scan all of the required documents and upload them to the Ministry of Agriculture website. Here’s how to do that:
1. After your vet visit, scan copies of all of your documents. We did not have access to a scanner at home, so we took photos of each document using our phone.
2. Visit the Ministry of Agriculture website and register. You will be sent a confirmation email with a link to activate your account.
IMPORTANT: The website is in Portuguese and you will need to enter a Brazilian CPF number in order to start the process. A CPF is similar to a State ID or Social Security number for Brazilians. A Ministry of Agriculture representative advised us that if you don’t have one, you can ask a friend for theirs, or ask the vet for help.
3. Sign in to the website and go to the Portal de Servicos. Type “CVI” in to the search bar, and it should be the first hit. It’s a link to Viajar para outro país com seu cão ou gato, which translates to, Travel to another country with your dog or cat.
Open the link and click on “solicitar.” It begins!
4. The online application is five pages long. It will ask you to include the following information:
- Flight information
- Animal information (DOB, sex, breed, color microchip number)
- Your information (name, address, phone number, e-mail)
- Space to import your pet’s health certificate and rabies vaccine
- Vaccination information (rabies)
- Anti-parasite treatment information (external and internal)
For those not traveling with your pet, and sending them solo via cargo, there is a space to include information about who is sending/receiving the pet.
Anti-parasite treatment – For those wondering, the anti-parasite medication we gave each pet was the following:
Boogie and Marcelo (dogs): Frontline Plus and Endogard.
Kitty (cat): Frontline Plus and Vermivet, gatos.
5. Once you have submitted the online application, you will receive an email confirming that it was received that includes a protocol number.
6. Luckily, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture has quick turn around times. Less than an hour after submitting our documents, we were asked for revisions to all three. Here were the issues:
- Boogie – His rabies certificate had my mother-in-law’s name on it.
- Marcelo – His rabies certificate did not include the name of the location that administered it and the card was not fully filled out.
- Kitty – His rabies certificate did not include the name of the location that administered it and the card was not fully filled out.
Marcelo and Kitty’s issues were easy to solve. Their rabies certificate was on a card with a front and back. We took photos of the back side, which included the name of the location that administered the vaccine, and we filled out the missing information (their microchip numbers) and we were good to go.
Boogie’s issue was a bit more complicated. His rabies certificate, issued in the United States, was in my mother-in-law’s name because we went to her vet and they filed it under her account. Not a big deal, it was still a valid certificate, but the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture wanted it to be in our name, since we were the one’s traveling with him.
We emailed the vet’s office that night and had them send us a .pdf of the certificate edited to include our name. We submitted, and were given the green light.
7. Once you get all of your approval documents, save them and print them out.
Step 6: Flight Day
Be sure to arrive at the airport early. Check-in will take longer than normal when you have a pet with you.
The gate agent will have to go over all of your pet’s paperwork and ask you to pay. They’ll also check out your kennel and/or pet carrier.
We like to have a phone screenshot on hand of the airline’s official rules. If you have to refer to them or if something is unclear with the agent, you can always pull them up for reference.
Always be polite and smile.
Step 7: Arrival Check
Here’s the scoop. We arrived in New York City, went through immigration and customs, and no one looked at our paperwork. We breezed through the airport without notice.
Usually, an official is supposed to review your animal’s health records and make sure they seem healthy. No one did. This was perhaps because we flew home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and officials were preoccupied with other things. Who knows.
Regarding the rabies vaccination, Marcelo and Kitty received their last rabies vaccines in Brazil, so the paperwork was in Portuguese. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states on their website that “Any documents must be in English or have an English translation.”
We did not have our vaccination paperwork translated. It was fine.
Welcome to the United States!
Have you ever flown with your pet to the United States? We’d love to hear about your experience below.
For more information on flying with your pet, click here.
For more information on traveling in Brazil with a pet, click here.
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