Shalom, kitties!
November 19, 2009 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: Does anyone know where to find authoritative information on requirments for pets moving to the USA from Israel?

Asking for a friend: A US citizen & her Israeli spouse are moving back to the USA from Israel. They have 2 indoor cats who have had regular vet visits & certificates of good health. They have not had rabies shots as that is not required locally as they are indoor only.
Cat mom is panicking that she is not getting consistent information about what documents are required. The US embassy is saying rabies shots not required which seems odd. They don't have any info on quarantine. Who should they (the humans) call? What should they (humans again) read?

They are flying into Orlando next week.

Friend thanks the hivemind in advance!
posted by pointystick to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They need to check with their airlines. They would know for sure.
posted by watercarrier at 6:58 AM on November 19, 2009

Any US vet that they begin using upon arrival will probably require that the cats be vaccinated against rabies, "indoor cats" or not. (I find it endlessly amusing that Israel, a country with such high-calibre security practices, would trust a cat to remain indoors just because it's called an indoor cat. A CAT.) However, the rules are not as tight as they are for dogs. There's no rabies vaccination required for kitteh emigration.

Dept. of Agriculture page on travel with pets

CDC page on traveling with pets

Travel site page on traveling with pets
posted by elizardbits at 7:00 AM on November 19, 2009

It may or may not actually be required to have cats vaccinated for rabies (my research all said no, the US government doesn't require it), but a lot of immigration people believe it is required and will argue with you. It's easier just to get the cats vaccinated than take the risk.

Note that Florda law appears to require cats be vaccinated for rabies. It looks also as if the certificates of good health and the proof of vaccination will be sufficient, but yes, the cats do need to be vaccinated. Luckily the page says nothing about vaccination 30 days prior to transport.
posted by jeather at 7:28 AM on November 19, 2009

Funny you should ask. We just brought over my mom's dog to New York from Israel two months ago.

We needed one document, a "Veterinary Health Certificate for Pet Animals Traveling with their Owners", issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Department of Veterinary Services and Animal Health. It is English/Hebrew. The certificate is valid for ten days and certifies that "I, the undersigned Official Veterinarian, hereby certify that I have examined today the animal(s) described below ... and that at the time of examination it/they* did not exhibit any symptoms of contagious or infectious diseases" and that the animal(s) "was/were vaccinated against rabies on [date]". It is signed and stamped by the ministry.

As I understand it, you need to bring documentation in Hebrew from her Israeli vet of her rabies vaccination. The Official Veterinarian at the ministry reviews it and prepares the certificate for you. There is a nominal fee involved. Keep in mind that the animal (in the case of dogs, at least) needs to have been vaccinated 30 days or prior to the date of the flight, because (as I understood it), rabies vaccination takes some time to become effective.

This is the contact information for the department:

מנהל השירותים הווטרינריים עבור רופא וטרינר ראשי ליבוא ויצוא, משרד החקלאות ת.ד. ‎12 בית דגן ‎50250,
טל:03-9688986 או פקס:03-9688963 או 03-9605194.

(Phone # is 03-9688986, or if you are calling from the states, 001 972 3 9688986).

So, to sum up, we had the following documents
* A "health card" from the vet indicating date of rabies vaccination.
* A certificate issued by city hall (in our case, Hertzelyia) confirming rabies vaccination. Our vet was able to issue this.

...which we took to the ministry, which issued us the travel certificate.

All three documents were with the person who brought her over when he landed, but only the travel certificate was required (the other two weren't even translated.)

The person who brought over the dog was not, in fact, the dog's owner, but rather a family friend. We simply declared him as the owner to the ministry, because it would have been too complicated otherwise.

She traveled in the passenger cabin in a pet carrier (she's a small dog.) Arrival at JFK went without a hitch. No hassle at all from customs officials.

Message me if you'd like more information.
posted by limon at 7:41 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't think it matters at all where you are coming from. When I've arrived at JFK with my dog (from Egypt), all they wanted to see was a rabies vaccine. And you do not need a health certificate either. You indicate on the customs form that you are bringing in a live animal, and customs will send you to another area where the inspector will look at your cat and ask you a couple of questions. Your cat just needs to look healthy. And there are no quarantines.

This is according to the CDC, who regulates this. (Scroll down the page for cats.)

I know this all seems strange, but it's true that it's pretty easy to bring your pet into the US. (And, seriously, why not trust the Embassy? Or the CDC?)
posted by bluedaisy at 9:41 PM on November 19, 2009

Thanks everyone for all the good resources! I'll follow up if she has more questions!

Bluedaisy, friend was told different things by local health folks, the local embassy, & CDC so she was confused. (I have no idea who she spoke to at each place though)
posted by pointystick at 5:54 AM on November 20, 2009

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