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Bringing your pet dog or cat to Japan: All you need to know

Japan is a pet-friendly country and welcomes dogs and cats of all breeds. Bringing your pet to Japan is a complex process since Japan is a rabies-free country. There are several steps in the process to bring your pet dog or cat to Japan, and it is vital that each step is fulfilled for your pet to gain entry into the country.

If you are planning on moving with your pet to Japan, here’s what you need to know.

Start planning early

International travel with a pet dog or cat is always a complex process that involves documentation, veterinary checks, vaccinations and much more. It is always a good idea to start planning ahead if you are embarking on an international relocation with your pet. If you are moving to Japan, it is best to begin the process about four to five months before the date of departure.

Visit your pet’s vet and get a clean bill of health. If your pet has medical issues or is overweight, work with your vet to improve your pet’s health out before travelling. It is also important to start your pet on the required vaccination schedule and begin crate training.

Check your country: Designated and non-designated regions

Japan has categorised the countries of the world into two areas depending on the rabies status of the country: Designated regions and Non-designated regions.

  • Designated regions: Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Hawaii and Guam
  • Non-designated areas: All other countries

To bring a pet into Japan from a country classified as a designated region, your pet dog or cat must fulfil at least one of the following conditions:

  • The dog or cat has continuously resided in the designated region since birth
  • The dog or cat has continuously lived in a designated region for at least 180 days immediately before export to Japan
  • The dog or cat has resided continuously in a designated region since being directly imported from Japan

If your pet dog or cat does not fulfil any of these conditions or has been in a designated region for less than 180 days, your pet will be quarantined upon arrival in Japan to make up for the insufficient days.

Microchip your pet

The first step in the import process is to implant a microchip in your pet dog or cat. All dogs and cats entering Japan need to have an ISO 11784 or ISO 11785 standard microchip. These 15-digit microchips are essential for identifying your pet. Make sure there are no discrepancies with the microchip number on your pet’s records.

Rabies vaccinations and rabies titre test

All dogs and cats entering Japan from a non-designated region must be vaccinated against rabies twice before entering Japan. The rabies vaccinations have to be administered after implanting a microchip. Ask your vet to use inactivated virus vaccine or the recombinant modified vaccine to inoculate your pet. Japan does not accept live rabies virus vaccine.

Your pet dog or cat must be at least 91 days old at the first rabies vaccination. The second rabies vaccination must be administered more than 30 days after the first vaccination but within the effective immunity period of the first vaccine. It is important that the effective immunity period of the second vaccine be valid before entering the country; if the immunity period is expired, a third rabies vaccine must be given.

Dogs and cats arriving from non-designated countries also need a rabies antibody test. The blood for the analysis must be drawn after the second rabies vaccination and sent to designated laboratories recognised by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The rabies vaccinations and rabies serological tests are mandatory only for dogs and cats entering Japan from non-designated regions.

Other vaccinations required for pet dogs from both designated and non-designated regions are Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus. Pet cats need to be vaccinated for Rhinotracheitis, Panleukopenia, and Calicivirus.

Waiting period

Dogs and cats entering from non-designated countries need to wait for 180 days after the blood sampling for the rabies antibody test before entering Japan. The date of arrival must be within the expiry period of the rabies vaccine and the validity period of the rabies antibody test.

If your pet has not waited 180 days after the rabies antibody test, they will be taken to the quarantine centre to for the duration of the insufficient days.

Apply for advance notification

Before flying into Japan, you need to notify the Animal Quarantine Service in Japan at least 40 days before your pet is due to arrive in the country. The application can be made online or by email, fax or mail.

After checking your pet’s documentation, the Animal Quarantine Service will issue an approval form that allows you to import your pet dog or cat into Japan.

Clinical inspection and other health checks

Before leaving your country, your pet dog or cat must undergo a clinical examination by a registered vet. Your vet has to furnish a certificate stating that your pet dog or cat is free from all clinical signs of rabies and leptospirosis.

Entering Japan

Upon entering Japan, your dog or cat will be inspected by the Animal Quarantine Service. If your pet’s documentation is proper and all the veterinary regulations are met, your pet will be held for a few hours during the checking process before being released to you.

Pets that do not meet Japan’s import requirements will be quarantined for up to 180 days or can be forced to return to the country of origin.

Pets can enter Japan only at these airports: New Chitose Airport, Narita International Airport, Haneda Airport, Chubu International Airport, Kansai International Airport, Kitakyusyu Airport, Fukuoka Airport, Kagoshima Airport, and Naha Airport. Pets can also enter Japan through the following seaports: Tomakomai Seaport, Keihin Seaport (Tokyo, Yokohama), Nagoya Seaport, Hanshin Seaport (Osaka, Hyogo), Kanmon Seaport, Hakata Seaport, Kagoshima Seaport, and Naha Seaport.


Quarantine is mandatory for pets that don’t meet Japan’s import regulations. As soon as your pet enters Japan, they will be subject to an import quarantine inspection. The quarantine period for pets that fulfil all veterinary and import regulations is generally four hours but can go up to 12 hours. Pets that do not meet regulations will be sent to the detention facility of Animal Quarantine Service for up to 180 days of quarantine.

Professional assistance recommended

Bringing your pet dog or cat to Japan involves complex documentation, vaccinations and health checks for your pets. It is recommended to take on the services of an experienced pet relocation company to assist with the move. If you are planning to move to Japan with your pet, contact us at Petraveller for detailed advice on the relocation and a comprehensive pet travel itinerary.