Exporting Cats From the Philippines to the USA (via Delta Airlines)

Meet Marble.  Marble was born in Singapore, has lived in the Philippines and is sleeping in an armchair in Manhattan, New York City, in the above picture.  She’s an international cat and probably has more Sky Miles than most human beings.  She’s also a lucky cat, having started out her life as a stray under a building near the train station in Pasir Ris, Singapore.  Now she lives a life of relative luxury on the other side of the world with canned food every day, lots of attention and love and a safe environment.

So, how did she get here?  Well, it’s a long story, but first we exported her from Singapore to the Philippines and then when it was time to move on, we exported her again from the Philippines to the US.  (If you want to read about how to get your cats from Singapore the Philippines, click here.)  Compared to the process of getting Marble from Singapore the Philippines, bringing her to the US was relatively painless.

U.S. Requirements:

Just to give you an idea, the requirements set forth by the CDC (Center for Disease Control, which regulates animal imports) for bringing your pet cat into the US are that the cat has to be in apparent good health and, depending on the state of entry, updated on rabies shots.  That’s it.  Here’s the exact quote from the CDC’s page on cat importation:

A general certificate of health is not required by CDC for entry of pet cats into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. However, pet cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans. If a cat appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense might be required at the port of entry.

Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. However, some states require vaccination of cats for rabies, so it is a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination.

All pet cats arriving in the state of HawaiiExternal Web Site Icon and the territory of GuamExternal Web Site Icon, even from the U.S. mainland, are subject to locally imposed quarantine requirements.

Delta Requirements:

An additional requirement from Delta (the airline I used) was that she needed a government health certificate and to get her out of the country we had to get an export permit.  In the Philippines, you’ll get your export permit and government health certificate at the same time.  They’re the same form in fact.

Philippines Bureau of Animal Industry - Image provided by commenter Lou Cep (1/26/2017)
Philippines Bureau of Animal Industry – Image provided by commenter Lou Cep (1/26/2017)

So, here’s a step-by-step for what you’ll need to get your pet cat out of the Philippines:

  1. When you book your flight, do it with a live person and inform them that you’ll be taking a pet cat with you on the flight.  This is necessary, because not all planes are equipped to carry live animals.  The fee for carrying pet cats is 200 USD each, flat rate.  You pay this later.  I’m not aware of any limit to the number of cats you can bring at one time, but I’m sure there is one.
  2. Within 10 days of your flight, take your cat to a vet and have her updated on all shots.  Depending on what state you go to, your cat may need a rabies shot.  Also, regardless of US requirements, the BAI staff asked to see proof of rabies vaccination.  Get your cat the other shots he or she should have anyway, because it’s just healthier that way and will help your cat avoid disease and live longer.  Depending on what vet you use, costs may vary.  Our cat had her rabies shot in Singapore in May, so it was still valid.  Her feline leukopenia booster was 750 pesos.
  3. Request a Veterinary Health Certificate.  You may need to explain what this is and what it’s for and what it needs to say.  The vet we went to didn’t seem to know, which isn’t surprising.  Cats aren’t popular pets in the Philippines and I imagine exporting them to other countries by owners is rare.  We paid 500 pesos for our Health Certificate at Our Lady of Assumption Dog and Cat Clinic – Antipolo:
    • Contact Person: Oscar Macenas
    • Address: Joren Building, Circumferential Road, Marville Park Subdivision, Antipolo, Rizal
    • Contact Numbers: (02) 697-1896, (02) 697-3378
    • Accreditation: Philippine Animal Hospital Association (PAHA)
  4. Take your Veterinary Health Certificate (within 3 days of issue!!!) and your cat’s shot record, showing the valid rabies vaccination, to the BAI building on Visaya’s Avenue in Quezon City, Manila. Please note that BAI will only consider your veterinary health certificate valid for three days after issue. You must bring it to them within that timeframe.  They’ll process your combo export permit/government health certificate in an hour or less.  Take the form they give you and go around to the back of that building (to the left as you exit the door).  Go into the building there on your left (there’s only one) and up to the 3rd floor to the records unit.  They’ll put a ‘dry seal’ (raised notary seal) on your export permit.  All of this is free. The forms you receive from the BAI will be valid for 10 days. (Confirmation that the veterinary health certificate is still only valid for 3 days after being issued and updated information on the length of time that the BAI documents are valid provided by commenter Lou Cep 1/26/2017).
    • Contact Person: Virgie Tiong or Maynard Lagmy
    • Address: National Veterinary Quarantine Services, Bureau of Animal Industry, Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Manila
    • Contact Numbers: Phone: (632) 920-0816; Fax: (632) 920-0815
    • UPDATE (1/15/2017): BAI now has a Facebook page with up-to-date contact information in the About section. Click Here.
  5. When you get to the airport, check in as usual at Delta’s ticket counter.  They’ll ask to see the documentation, make photocopies, and collect your pet there after you make your payment of 200 USD, which can be made in cash or by credit card.  Delta doesn’t accept carry on pets on international flights.
  6. Collect your pet in the baggage claim area at your destination airport.

Timeline for Rabies Vaccination (Updated 4/20/2017):

According to the CDC in the United States:

An animal can be considered immunized within 28 days after initial vaccination, when a peak rabies virus antibody titer is reached. An animal is considered currently vaccinated and immunized if the initial vaccination was administered at least 28 days previously or booster vaccinations have been administered in accordance with recommendations. Because a rapid anamnestic response is expected, an animal is considered currently vaccinated immediately after a booster vaccination.

So, what does that mean? If your pet is receiving its initial rabies vaccination, the pet won’t be considered inoculated until 28 days have passed. If your pet is receiving a booster shot, the CDC says the inoculation is considered valid immediately.

When I went through the export process, I remember there being some confusion about how much time had to pass between the vaccination and the export permit being issued. My cats had all been previously vaccinated and the vaccination was still considered valid.

Some rabies vaccinations are valid for one year, while others are valid for three. It depends on the type of vaccine used. Please check with your veterinarian to determine whether or not your pet(s’) vaccination against rabies is still valid. Please get the vaccination at least 30 days before your trip.

During the Flight:

You won’t see your pet during the flight at all, even if you have a layover.  What comfort you will have comes in the form of little cards:

Delta provides this card to you on the plane to let you know your pet is onboard.

These cards come off of a form that is stuck to the side of your pet cat’s carrier.  You’ll be given one by a flight attendant prior to the plane leaving the gate area.  If you have a layover, you’ll be given another one before the plane takes off again.  My flight was from Manila to Tokyo to New York, so I received two of them.  The fact that it comes from the sticker form stuck to the carrier at the check in counter is what gives you the assurance that your pet is in fact on the plane.

If you’re wondering how a cat holds up under a plane for 20 hours, I would tell you that it depends on your cat’s temperament.  Each cat is different and some are more skittish than others, but Marble was just fine.  She was a little nervous and hid under the blanket I put in there for her, but that was about it.  Please do leave a blanket in the carrier.  Despite being air conditioned, the plane gets cold.  My advice to anyone, though, is to not drug your cat prior to the flight.  Besides the fact that it’s not healthy for the cat, if he or she looks dopey or messed up on arrival you may wind up with your cat being quarantined to make sure it’s not sick with some disease.

On Arrival at JFK International in New York City:

If you’re flying this exact route, you can collect your cat in JFK’s baggage claim area.  Just past the baggage carousels, there is a locked door with a keypad.  Above it, there is a light with a yellow cover.  When a pet shows up on a flight, it’s taken to this room and the warning light is turned on to alert the owner that the cat (or dog) is available for pick-up.  When I picked up my cat I wasn’t required to show any documentation at all, because Delta had copies that were likely handed over when the cat was unloaded.

I hope this guide gives you some insight into the process of getting your cat from the Philippines to the US!  Below is a map showing the location of the BAI office on Visaya’s Avenue.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask and I will answer to the best of my ability.

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It looks like BAI requires an ISO microchip for pets. It is on the list of things to bring. Our kitten (5 month) is not microchipped and we’re not sure whether to get this done before going to BAI. We got health certificate from vet yesterday but just learned that the next 2 days are government holidays so office will be closed. Hope this does not interfere with the 3 day issue!


How do I know if its an ISO the microchip, how to identify. Does it mean its ISO when its a 15digit?Thank you.

Lou Cep

Hi Brad, it’s me again. “Take your Veterinary Health Certificate (within 3 days of issue!!!) and your cat’s shot record, showing the valid rabies vaccination, to the BAI building on Visaya’s Avenue in Quezon City, Manila.” – Is it necessary to get it 3 days before the flight? Also, my cat is still not accustomed into traveling. He even doesn’t know how to drink on the water bottle that we bought. Anyway, I was wondering during the flight, when will the cat poops/weewee?hehe I know its not advisable to put him on a diaper. Again, thanks a lot for your… Read more »

Lou Cep

Usually how long did u get yours from BAI? I was trying to inquire via FB, well I guess will take time for them to reply. I will be calling them later. Then eventually update you once everything is settled. Well, I just hope it won’t take that long to get the export certification. Lol Since, I will be leaving soon.

Again, thanks brad. Your blog is a big help to everyone. Cheers!

Lou Cep

*phew… Good to hear that we can get the certificate the same day. I thought it will took 10 days…and I’m out of time. Is it necessary to start within 10days prior to flight or can I start fixing it since I’m scared I might not be able to make it on time. Anyway, BAI hasn’t replied to my inquiry yet. lol will update everyone on this.Meanwhile I already made a request with regards to his Health Cert. Thanks brad for your prompt response.

Lou Cep

Btw, do I need importing papers coming from US? Will be bringing him to SFO. Coz my Vet asked me if I need docs coming from US. Thank you


Hi Brad, is NVQS of BAI at QC, is the only agency that issues VHC, or I can also get from other Regional Offices of BAI?


Hi, yes sure will give u feedback. How about the cage, which is airline approved. Ive seen some in Cartimar, are those airlibe approved. Hope you can help me where I can buy. As I do non want any hassle during our flight. Is plactic latch better or nut and bolts?thanks

Lou Cep

Thanks! Very much appreciated.

Btw, my cat is going 3 months old. I’m still not sure if he can make it since its gonna be a long flight.

Lou Cep

Thanks a lot brad. We really wanted our cat to go with us. 🙂


Are cats required some sort of “pet passport” other than the things you mentioned here? Is it really only within 3 days of issuance that I can bring the veterinary health certificate to BAI?
I know it’s been years since this blog but I can not find any other blog posts or forum threads on taking a cat from the Philippines to the US (let alone anything recent) so this one would be my only hope for my questions.

[…] Here is a link to the CDC. Cats | Bringing an Animal into U.S. | Importation | CDC I just read somewhere that you will need an Export permit from the Philippines. Also they want you to have a government health certificate. Here is a blog from someone who took his cat from the Philippines to the US. Maybe it will help you in some way. Exporting Cats From the Philippines to the USA (via Delta Airlines) | The Adventures of Bradley […]


Delta has a “Delta Pet First™ service” which supposedly allows pets inside the cabin. Why wasn’t your cat allowed inside the cabin?


Hi! This is a relatively old post, but it’s the only thing online that gave instructions. All sources elsewhere don’t give very good info

I’m traveling from Iloilo to Manila, and then Manila to California. Do you know if this means I have to double my permits? Or can I have the vet’s form, take my cat on the domestic flight, and get the export permit once I land in Manila?


Thank you so much! Yes, I contacted my Uncle who is a dog breeder and had much experience transporting animals all over the Philippines to accompany me this month to Manila, just to make sure things go smoothly


Yep! Got all the papers and everything, now all I need to do is get to Manila and get his BAI export papers. Just one final question. The vet health certificate my local vet gave us is merely a handwritten note one a prescription pad. I’ve got 4 days in Manila, in case this isn’t what the BAI is looking for, I can find another vet. The government website is very vague

Tito Tibo

Thanks for the information. I know this article is old but based on the info I got from other pages, still very useful. I’ll go with Lufthansa because they will allow the cat in the cabin with me.


Hello. My dog and I will be moving from Philippines to New York in May. The BAI has been quite vague about what they expect on a health certificate issued by my vet. Since I live in the province, my vet hasn’t had too much exposure to export certificates and issuing health certificates for them. I was wondering if you remember what your vet had written on your health certificate? Many thanks!


Thank you, this helps a lot! For dogs they need proof of rabies and the 5 in 1 vaccinations. Thanks again!

[…] home to the US. After countless nervous breakdowns and excessive Internet research, I came across Bradley Farless’ website, that had a very detailed post on how to bring your pet from The Philippines to the USA. […]


Hi Brad,

Thank you for your post! I’m planning to bring my 1 year old ragdoll with me to the US this year. I just wanted to ask how you dealt with the cat’s toilet needs on the plane. Did you put a diaper on your cat? Also, what kind of carrier did you use? Is there a specific one required by the airline?

Thank you very much! 🙂



Thanks for your tips! I brought my cat to the Phils. from the US last year (2012) via Delta and I was able to have him in cabin (as a carry on). Actually, I chose Delta for this reason – I think they are the only airlines that allows carry on pets for that long of a flight. I hope I can do the same now that I’m going back to the US with 2 cats. So, just to be clear, the BAI requires the updated rabies vaccine even though they don’t need it to enter the US? My cats… Read more »


Hi Mio, been reading your comment and i just want to ask..since you travelled with your cat in cabin..were you able to feed/water her/him? how? and what if she wanted to poop? my flight is gonna be a 20hour flight with layover. would appreciate your reply! thanks!


Hi. When you had your cat in cabin, are you able to bring him/her out during stopovers? I am planning on bringing my pet Chihuahua from Manila to SFO since I’m staying there for good. I’m just concerned if he’s gonna be comfortable for that very long flight since Delta has 2 stopovers, but I believe Delta is the best airline when traveling with pets from Philippines to USA. Thank you!

a velarde

Hi, Brad! Thank you so much for writing about this. We’re leaving end of November (MLA-SFO), we don’t know which airline yet, our cat, Butchi is up-to-date with all shots, we talked to her vet about the arrangements and he told us they would take care of everything for under $100 as long as we bring her to the clinic 10 days before our flight. Do you have any airline recommendations (Delta vs. PAL)? Also, we were told we needed an airline approved carrier, do you know where we can get one? Thanks a lot. 🙂

a velarde

Butchi just got vaccinated so her vet said the $100 package would include Frontline spotting and tests (fecalysis, blood), the certificate from the vet and the certificate from BAI. He said all we’d have to do is pick up the BAI certificate from the clinic. I do feel like we’re being gouged since they just did those tests on Butchi a couple of days ago (no worms, no fleas/ticks/mites, blood normal) and he said they’d have to deworm her before our flight but we kind of want to save ourselves the trip to BAI. We’ve always flown PAL but we’re… Read more »

a velarde

Much thanks.


Hi Brad, this is Melissa Fernandez from Dagupan City Pangasinan, Philippines, I am truly moved by how you were able to take your cat with you to US. What you shared here is very informative and can really help me take my four-year old cat with me when I migrate to US. I am already in the process of submitting Civil documents to National Visa Center, and I am wondering if I have enough time to work on getting my cat’s paper requirements to travel with me as well. Another concern is, my cat seems to be quite afraid of… Read more »


Wow thank you so much for the information Brad..you are really a big help..I will come back to you soon as I have another question..


Hi Brad, Thank you for you very informative blog. I am also planning to bring my 3 y/o shih tzu as checked in baggage from Manila to New York. Since there is no direct flight to New York we will have a layover and depending on what airline we would choose it may either be at Japan, Korea . I would just like to ask regarding your experience. Did you have to comply with the requirements of the country in your case japan? When you arrive at your country of lay over did you have to get you cat and… Read more »


Thank you so much for the information Brad.


Hello! I know it’s been a while since your post so I hope you can still read this. 🙂 I am planning to take my dog to Pennsylvania soon. I was wondering if the fee for carrying pets would vary by their weight or depends on what kind of animal. Also, did you have any long lay overs before you got to NYC? I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you very much! ^_^


Thanks so much for your reply! Your post is really helpful, especially for pet parents who can’t leave their furry babies. 🙂 Oh one more thing, did they require you to go to a specific vet for the certificate or just a licensed vet will do? Thank you again!


I agree! 🙂 will definitely do that soon. Thanks again so much for the tips!


Hi. Bradley! You’re article is very comforting to me. Somehow, it eases the doubts that had been clouding my mind since the day we decided to bring our kitty Koby with us to Madagascar. Though, we’ll stay there for just 3 years, we cannot bear the thought of leaving him behind. He is just an ordinary domestic short hair, but very special to us, been with us since he was 5 days old, nurtured, trained and loved as a “child”. Our destination might have different approach for import pets, but your shared experience casts light to my disheartened spirit. Actually,… Read more »


Hi Bradley, My dog and I moved to the Philippines last year and now we are ready to go back to US first week of Nov, Is it really mandatory that I should have him vaccinated 30days prior to flight? He’s last shots was from the year of 2010 before we left America, now I only have a few days left to move to the US and the 30days minimum seems to complicate my flight schedule. What do you think about this? –DDS


Thank you Brad, this is very informative.

Bradley Farless

I wish you the best of luck in helping with the animal population in the Philippines. From first hand experience, the level of basic knowledge about animal care is just not up to par in that country. Most everyone I know in the US that likes cats has cats already, but if I find anyone that's interested in adopting foreign cats, I'll be sure to refer them to you.


Hi Bradley, if you know anyone who would like to adopt a cat from the Philipipines please contact me, I am a volunteer for a cat shelter in Manila and we are looking for American adopters. I am based in Wisconsin and can handle all export and import procedures. My email is [email protected]. Gia


hello, im elisabeth, i want to bring my beagle dog sheldon back to my country indonesia, right now im in manila philippines, im so confused wher and what to start from, the export permit? import permit? i really dont want to leave my dog behind…please help meee

reach me by
email : kecoabuncid @yahoo.com
phone : 09064371480
bbm : 2858142e

thank you so very much


Hi Mike,

Your dog should be with you here in the US by now. I too am planning to bring our dog to the US from the Philippines. Did you end up flying via Philippine Airlines. I am planning to fly by PAL too because it is non stop. Hope you can share your experience. Would you recommend that I fly PAL? Thanks, Che

Bradley Farless

Hi Mike! Best of luck with getting your dog into the US. I never did have to try to move a dog from country to country, but everything I've seen leads me to believe it's a lot more difficult. I would say yes to flying on an airline that will have a nonstop run to wherever you're going, even if it's a bit more. The Delta flight I took (if I remember right) had a layover at Narita in Japan. I'm sure going up and down was more than enough for our cats, without that added terror. Let me know… Read more »


I hope it will be easy bringing my Yorkie to the US. I each state has different policies. But as far as I know, USDA-APHIS does not require any documents except for a screwworm certificate. Just waiting for a reply from my state Vet reprecentative (CDFA-California). I'm planning to fly with Philippine Airlines. Should I just get Delta or Cathay instead. The reason I wanted PAL is because there won't be any lay over. It's a 13.5 hour straight flight (Manila to Los Angeles). Less stress for my dog. I know the bad part is I have to pay 200%… Read more »

Bradley Farless

Give me the link to the page you're talking about and I'll read through it and let you know, but my first impression is to say that it's talking about import permits and customs papers, but the US doesn't issue or require those for cats. I know what you mean. The cat mentioned in this post grew up under an apartment housing complex in the “void deck” area. The buildings in Singapore have no first floor. It's open concrete with benches and mailboxes and service access areas. She used to sleep in a potted plant. She was such a sweetheart,… Read more »


thank you very much, you're a big help.. really. we'll be flying via korean air and i know it's different from your delta procedures but.. do you have an idea what this custom documentation the website is talking about? Is this the same as the export permit? korean air says they need copies of it.. anyway, thanks again for the help. i just can't leave that cat behind even she once was a feral.. she's very sweet! i've been away only for months but i can't stop thinking about her. Thank you & please say Hi to your cat from… Read more »

Bradley Farless

Two more tips:

Here's the CDC info on cat imports: http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/cats.html

It says rabies vaccination is not required by the federal government. Get it anyway, because most states require rabies vaccines.

The other tip is that when you get a carrier, be thorough in your research. You will have to get one that has metal bolts on the sides to hold it together. Take a look at this: http://www.dryfur.com/airline_carrier_kennel_reviews.htm

Bradley Farless

Hi. All you really need is a rabies shot at least 30 days before the pet's entry to the United States. Take your cat to a regular veterinarian and get a Health Certificate. Then take only the Certificate to the BAI. You don't have to take the pet there. Or, you can not get the regular certificate and take your cat to the BAI. BAI will issue the federal health certificate and the export permit at the same time. Also, please keep in mind that if you are trying to take your cat to Hawaii or Guam, there will be… Read more »


Hi! My cat in the Philippines have never received any shots her whole life yet, what vaccines are required in order for me to take her here in the USA? I got her as a stray.. And last question, do i have to bring the cat with me to BAI or just the documents? Thank you!

Brad Farless

Anonymous: It's been a while, but from what I remember, I got my luggage from the carousels and then waited by a door in the same room where pets are collected. It has a light over it that will start blinking when pets are ready for collection. I saw a woman open the door and bring out a few dogs and I asked about my cat. She went back in and brought her out. I stuck her on the cart with the rest of my luggage and rolled out the door. I don't recall even having to show any more… Read more »