International Pet Travel To Japan

Regulations and Requirements

To travel with a pet to Japan, one must obtain an Import Permit from the Japanese Animal Quarantine Service. Detailed information on the type and conditions attached to the permit must be provided when applying to the Japanese Animal Quarantine Service. Pets must pass certain rules regarding proof of rabies vaccination and health certification; otherwise, they will be refused entry. Any pet entering Japan must be accompanied by its owner or an appointed agent for the entire crossing, and must show the appropriate health certificates and other documents.

The owner must present the pet’s health certificate to the personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture from the country of origin. In case the pet is from a rabies-free country or region, no vaccination is required, but if it is from a country or region with higher rates of rabies, the pet must receive a rabies vaccination eight weeks prior to leaving, with the expiration date of the vaccination extending two weeks beyond the expected date of arrival in Japan.

In addition, documents confirming the animal’s health including a veterinary certificate must be presented to airport personnel both at departure and arrival. The pet must also have a vaccination certificate against canine influenza virus and a tick-and-flea certificate.

Any imported pet entering Japan must be quarantined. Quarantine will typically last for 30 to 180 days. Level of quarantine depends on the breed of pet as some of the breeds may be restricted to short-period quarantine.

Additionally, if the pet is fed raw meat or other raw animal-based products, it must be quarantined for at least 180 days.

Costs and Limitations

International pet travel is not cheap; the cost can vary by airline, country of origin, and destination. It is recommended to research beforehand and search for most cost effective option since the costs for transportation and quarantine can add up.

Each airline may have restrictions on the number, weight, and type of pet they will permit for travel, as well as for the size of the enclosure, so if traveling by plane, it is important to contact the airline prior to the flight to get detailed information. The weight limit for a pet is usually around 15 kg, but some airlines allow much larger pets on board.

Import of dogs and cats is subject to approval by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, so the owner should forward the necessary documents obtained beforehand for approval and permission to enter Japan. Restrictions and requirements can be checked in advance on many airlines’ websites.

Vaccination and Health Requirements

Pets entering Japan must have health examination results from the country of origin along with proof of data of procedure and results of sample tests performed by an approved laboratory. In addition, pets must be vaccinated against rabies and have a veterinary certificate that confirms the pet is free from infectious diseases.

Dog breeds listed under the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s “Dangerous Dogs” are not permitted entry into Japan, and if found they will be confiscated. Animals that are extremely large or have dangerous behavior may be refused entry.

If you live in the United States, you must be sure your pet is microchipped, healthy, and up-to-date on all necessary vaccination and treatments as outlined by the US Department of Agriculture. The microchip must be implanted before the rabies vaccine has been given, and the rabies vaccine must be applied within twelve months of the animal’s arrival in Japan. You must also ensure that your pet has a valid health certificate prepared no more than 10 days before your pet’s arrival in Japan.

Special Considerations

It is important to keep in mind that special considerations must be taken when shipping animals internationally. Firstly, animals need their own space and should not be placed together in one container. Also, the container should contain items that will ensure the comfort and safety of the animal. For example, a pad and/or a blanket, food, and water.

While travelling, the pet should always be accompanied by its owner, or its appointed agent. It is also necessary to notify the Japan Customs, and the local airport office beforehand and introduce all necessary documents.

In addition, pets must be placed in quarantine for a period of 30 to 180 days, so the owner must bear any costs associated with the quarantine. Furthermore, owners must ensure that the airline and quarantine authority are aware of the intended length of stay.

Common Questions

The most common question regarding pet transportation to Japan is whether the pet must go in the hold or whether it can travel in the cabin. Generally speaking, the animal must travel in the cargo hold or in an approved kennel that is placed in the cargo hold. However, it is usually possible to travel in the cabin with certain pets, so it is important to inform the airline in advance.

The size of the kennel should be appropriate for the size of the animal. It should be large enough for the animal to stand, turn, and lie down. It should also be adequately ventilated.

Also, owners should request a space for their pet, as advance requests are usually required in order to have a spot in the cargo hold.

Other Considerations

There are other considerations when travelling with your pet to Japan just as there are American airlines that offer pet-friendly services. Those may include detailed information regarding pet-friendly flights, requests for pet-friendly accommodation, pet-based activities like walking, tips on pet care, necessary vaccinations and other related information.

When travelling with a pet, it is advised to have the necessary materials the pet may need such as food, water, and specific health-related items. It is also important to keep in mind the time spent in quarantine and the possible costs for the same.

Additionally, when travelling it is recommended to speak to a veterinarian and provide information regarding any recent changes in behaviour and changes in the condition of the pet. If possible, blood tests should be done beforehand.


Traveling with pets to Japan is an exciting experience that should be undertaken after being aware of the necessary procedures and steps. Once the rules are followed, one can be sure that the whole process will not only be smooth, but will also end in the most satisfactory way for both the pet and the owner.

Nancy Weiner

Nancy A. Weiner is an experienced journalist and author specializing in Japan. She is a published author of several books and articles about Japanese culture, history and politics. She has also been a featured guest speaker at many international conferences on Japanese culture, politics and education.

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