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.

82 Replies to “Exporting Cats From the Philippines to the USA (via Delta Airlines)”

  1. 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!

  2. 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 help. 🙂

    1. Hi Lou. What I meant by that was within 3 days of receiving it from the local veterinarian. When I wrote this, I noted that you should get this started within 10 days of the flight, but I’m not sure exactly how close to the flight date you should receive the government certificate anymore. The BAI does have a Facebook page now (noted in item 4 above) so I would check with them to be sure. Please let me know what they say so I can update this post and make it clearer for the next person. =)

      Regarding your cat, hopefully the pressure changes don’t cause an issue with the water being in a squeeze bottle. I guess it shouldn’t since it has the ball in the tip. Even if he doesn’t drink though, it’s a one day flight. He might be a little dehydrated but he should be fine. I’m not sure my cats ever drank during the flight. As for peeing and pooping, our cats were too nervous to poop for a day after they arrived in New York. They all had to get a bath though, because they wind up peeing on themselves in the carrier. There was no break time for them during the flight or litter box provided if that’s what you were asking. It really sucks for them, but at least they get to come along.

      1. 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!

        1. When we went to the BAI with the health certificate, it took about an hour to get their export permit and government health certificate. We took it to a nearby building in the same complex to have it stamped with a raised seal and that was it. So, you can get the BAI paperwork done quickly, unless something has changed drastically.

          1. *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.

          2. 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

            1. I didn’t need any documents from the US when I brought my cats into New York City. They just had to be free from visible illness or disease. If I recall correctly, the rabies vaccination requirement was from the Philippines. It wasn’t even required for New York state.

    2. 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?

      1. The BAI website is down right now, or at least I can’t access it from the US. Their contact number on their Facebook page is listed as +63 2 528 2240. Give them a call and check. I vaguely remember someone telling me in a comment that they went to the BAI in Cebu, but it’s been a long time so I’m not sure. When you find out, please do let me know. I’ll update the post so other people can benefit.

        1. 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

          1. I can’t really say where it would be best to buy a cage. I haven’t lived in the region in 9 years now. I do recommend adding nuts and bolts with lock washers for your pet’s safety and your peace of mind.

  3. 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.

    1. Check with your airline to see if they allow pets in the cabin in a small bag. Make sure there are plenty of blankets the cat can hide under or stay warm under.

  4. 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.

    1. Our cats didn’t need a passport, though that would be cute. I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a thing, for governments to get more money from us. We just had to have the government health certificate from the BAI to get them on the plane. When we got to the US (New York City), I don’t even remember the person I collected our cats from even asking to see any paperwork. I see I wrote “within 3 days” in bold. I don’t remember the details of that anymore, unfortunately. I think my best suggestion would be to call the BAI and see if they can give you any clearer information at this point. I suppose I should call them as well if I can figure out how to do it without paying international fees so I can update this post!

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

    1. Hi. Somehow, this comment slipped by me. I don’t remember ever seeing it. I know it’s been two years, but in response to your question, I don’t know. It was never a service that was offered to me or later to my wife. Maybe it has something to do with the plane or with domestic vs international flights.

  6. 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?

    1. Hi. If your flight from Manila to California is a connecting flight, meaning you booked the trip as going from Iloilo to California, then my guess is that the airline would take your information one time at the desk in Iloilo. If you booked the flights separately then you would probably not need a permit to fly your pet from one part of the Philippines to the other and would have to get the paperwork done during the time you spend in Manila.

      That being said, I don’t know how you would get the government export permit in Iloilo. I’ve never been there and since I lived within traveling distance of the BAI I just went personally. Maybe they have a local office or you can mail in the local permit? Hopefully it wouldn’t get lost in the mail. There are probably better private carriers than the national mail service though.

      Anyway, you should call the BAI directly and ask about how to obtain permits if there are no nearby offices. I would also recommend contacting the airline’s customer service line to ask them what their policies are. That would be better than risking your travel arrangements on my guesses. =D

      1. 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

          1. 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

            1. I’m sorry I took so long getting back to you on this. I haven’t been checking my email as frequently since it’s summer break from college.

              When I had a vet health certificate, it was on a printed sheet with the vet’s name, address and phone number at the top. I’m not sure a handwritten note on a piece of paper will work. But, if it doesn’t, you can bring your pet to the BAI to be examined there. My understanding of the process was that the vet health certificate was only required if you didn’t want to take your pet to the BAI. You could double check with them. It’s been years.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

    1. I can’t find my original document, but I looked through some old photos and found one where part of the document is visible. It is on official company letterhead that says “Veterinary Health Certificate” in bold letters under the business name and address, centered at the top, is formatted like a letter with “To Whom It May Concern,” and says:

      “This is to certify that I have on this date examined the cat described below residing at __ and find the cat at the time of examination to be free of any evidence of dangerous communicable animal diseases.



      This is to further cerify…. Herpesvirus-Calicivirus Respi….”

      That’s all I can see. I think the last statement is to certify that the cat received immunizations. I think only the rabies vaccine is required for cats entering the continental US and “apparent good health”, but I’m not too sure for dogs.

      I hope this helps!

  9. 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! 🙂


    1. Hi Pam!

      Basically, when on the plane, the cats just have to pee on themselves. Kind of gross, but putting lining in the bottom of the carrier is one of the requirements if I recall right, and it’s also just a good idea. I wouldn’t put a diaper on a flying pet because if they urinate or defecate the urine or feces will be in close contact with the pet’s skin for hours and hours, which will be far more damaging than a bath at their destination. Imagine if the pet goes at the start of the 18 hour flight? Ouch.

      Anyhow, about your second question there are specific requirements. Your airline website should tell you more, but briefly, it will have to be a hard carrier that leaves enough room for the pet to stand up and turn around comfortably. The top and bottom halves have to be secured by metal bolts that go into pre-drilled (manufacturer provided) holes in the carrier where the two edges meet, or holes that you drill yourself. The last time I flew a pet to the US, that wasn’t a requirement but my wife had a carrier modified by a handy-man to meet the requirement.

      The carrier will have to have a tray that attaches to the door for food and water. The “Live Animal” stickers should be available for free at the airline counter when you check your pet in. Be sure to call ahead and ask though in case they’re being cheap.

      The only other thing I can think of is that it’s also a good idea to leave a blanket or towel the cat can hide under in the carrier, both for privacy and warmth.

      A picture of the bolts you need, and the type of carrier you need, can be seen at this link:


      I’m not affiliated with that site in any way and won’t make money if you look at or buy anything from them, not that you would I think since it’s an Australian site. =) Just an FYI.

      I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m glad to help as best I can. Also, don’t be afraid to harass your airline and start checking with the airline desk early. Sometimes they do stupid things like get confused about which PH government agency issues valid export permits.

  10. 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 are young and I really don’t want them to be over-vaccinated…

    1. The rabies vaccination depends on the state. It’s probably best to just have it done anyway, because rabies is not eradicated in the US, after all. The other shots aren’t required by the US. I believe it was required by the BAI in order to get the health certificate and export permit.

      I can’t remember now if the requirements in the US were updated since I wrote this post, but the CDC’s page now says that health certificates aren’t required by the US, but probably will be required by the airline or exiting country.

      CDC info: http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/cats.html

      If your cat had a rabies vaccination in the last year, like… maybe within the last 1-10 months, I don’t think they’re going to have a problem with it. Your best bet is to give them a call though. This is the number I had for them: (632) 920-0816.

    2. 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!

    3. 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!

  11. 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. 🙂

    1. I can’t recall if I’ve ever flown on PAL, but my wife and I have moved three cats from the Philippines to New York City on Delta with no issues. As far as your vet goes, I would double check to see what he or she means by taking care of everything. You will need to go to the BAI to get your export permit and health certificate within 3 days of your vet giving you his health certificate.

      I’ll get back to you later on the carrier. My wife bought the carriers we used and she’s asleep so I can’t ask her where she got them right now. You’re going to need something like this though:


      Take note of the metal bolts in the pictures and how they’re installed on the carrier. Chances are you’ll have to make that modification yourself. We did on ours.

      1. 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 definitely considering Delta.

        About the metal bolts, do you mean they’re not allowed by the airline? How did you modify the crate? Did you use zip ties?

        Thanks again.

        Oh, please don’t wake up your wife for this, we can wait. 🙂

        1. First of all, when a cat enters the US, he or she just has to be in apparent good health and have a valid rabies vaccination. I have no idea what the actual health check involved, but I’m pretty sure they never even opened the carrier at JFK in NYC, so maybe they just looked in to make sure the cats weren’t dying or something. Those additional tests that your vet is doing are unnecessary. You could take your cat directly to the BAI and present him or her, along with a rabies vaccination, and they would issue you the certificate directly. The point of getting a health certificate from your vet is so you don’t have to take your pet to the BAI. But, no matter what, you will have to take your vet’s health certificate to the BAI and have it converted into an export permit and government health certificate.

          As for the bolts, I’m saying those are required by airlines on carriers that will be placed in the pet cargo area. We used both bolts and zip ties to make sure our carrier stayed closed. That’s another way I know they never opened the carrier at JFK. The front door was zip-tied shut to prevent accidental opening.

          My wife bought the carriers at “Bow and Wow” in Shangri-la Plaza Mall, EDSA, Mandaluyong City. Here’s the web address:


  12. 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 loud noises and he’s never traveled before, not even on a bus, locally. I fear I am going to have some trouble taking him to Manila (4-5 hours drive from Dagupan City). And I’m afraid he’ll freak out. He’s never been vaccinated too, will that affect the process of getting him vaccinations and health certificate when the time comes?

    1. The most pertinent information I can tell you right now is that you need to have your cat vaccinated as soon as possible. From what I remember now, rabies shots have to be done at least 30 days prior to departure, while the health certificate and other vaccinations have to be done within 10 days of departure. My cats never had vaccinations before I got them health certificates and moved them from Singapore to the Philippines, so I don’t think that will be an issue for you, as long as they get the shots before you try to get the national health certificate from the BAI. I think your US visa should have about 4 months on it before it expires and that is more than enough time to take care of your cat’s requirements.

      Regarding the problem your cat has with loud noises, you should talk to your vet. There are pills that you can give your cat for the flight to help him (or her) relax. Though most animal rights advocates would advise against them, I think it’s better the cat take a pill than have a heart attack. I don’t think it will be necessary for bus rides, just for the trip on the plane. And if the vet doesn’t give you dosage instructions, make sure to ask, because if you overdose your cat on something like that, it would be very bad. For the bus/tricycle/jeepney ride, just put something in the carrier that your cat can hide under. That will help relieve the anxiety. My cats took many trips on tricycles. They didn’t like it, but they’re ok.

      Check with your airline to see if cats can be brought into the cabin in a bag designed to be stored under airplane seats. Being in the same area as you would probably help the cat relax more. It will be more expensive, though, I’m sure. I have a friend who just took his poodle to Belgium from the US in the cabin of the plane with him, though, so it’s possible.

      1. 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..

          1. 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 check it back in for your next flight? What happens if your lay over is long let’s say >5 hours? Or if you have to change planes, what happens to you checked in pet? I hope you can help ease some of the worries we have in bringing our dog. Thank you


            1. Hi Missy.

              When I flew with Marble, and later when my wife flew with two cats, our route took us through Japan. The layover was short. I think it was only about an hour. I remember smoking a few cigarettes in the lounge and getting a snack from a gift shop. At no time did I see my cat. The cat is transferred from one flight to another by ground crew. I wasn’t required to get any sort of paperwork from Japan, since my cat never left transit. I can’t say for sure what happens on a long layover in Japan, but I vaguely remember reading somewhere that there are, in some terminals, pet areas where you can let your pet out of the carrier for a while to do their business and whatnot. You could get in touch with the airport in Japan or Korea to ask if they have those facilities. I think the article I read that mentioned that was talking about an airport in Frankfurt, so it might not be a universal thing. If you are able to have a longer layover where you can interact with your pet for a while, it would probably be a good thing, in terms of helping the pet relax, and helping him relieve himself.

              I hope that helps to answer your question.

  13. 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! ^_^

    1. Hi! From what I remember, the amount I paid to Delta was a flat rate. It didn’t vary based on weight or animal. I think it was 250 bucks. I’m sure that’s listed in the post somewhere, though. =) There was one layover, in Japan, but it was only about an hour and a half. When my wife took the same route (also with pets in tow) she didn’t even change planes. When I went through Japan, I had just enough time to have a smoke (quit 1.5 years ago) and walk to the next gate.

      1. 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!

        1. I’m pretty sure it just has to be a licensed vet. We didn’t look at a specified list. We just went to the nearest vet in Antipolo. If in doubt on that one, call the BAI and double check. Can’t hurt! =)

          Also, I’m glad you found the post helpful. I can’t imagine leaving my cats behind somewhere.

  14. 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, I am more concern of my kitty’s ability to cope with long hours of travel by air and by land, than all those paper works.

    Your adventure with Marble is an encouragement to me. Thank you so much!!!

    1. Wow! Madagascar! That should be an exciting adventure for both you and your cat! Three years is a long time. I couldn’t part with my cats for that long either!

      I’m glad my blog post was helpful to you. Let me know how it all goes when you get settled in your new home!

  15. 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

    1. Hi Dee. From what I know, rabies shots are supposed to be updated yearly in areas with rabies anyway. Look at your shot record. Check the date of expiration for the vaccination. If that date has passed, you’ll have to look at other options. You may not be able to get an export permit if the dog hasn’t been vaccinated at least 30 days prior to receiving the export permit, since that’s how long it takes for the vaccine to be considered effective. If you can get one, when you arrive in the United States and your pet reaches your final destination, the pet will remain quarantined (at your expense) until you’ve reached 30 days past the date of vaccination, to ensure its effectiveness. There’s no way around it.

      Please see the following links:

      https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/55/~/pets—dogs,-rabies-vaccines (shows 12 month requirement)

      http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/dogs.html (has confinement agreement form)

      Best of luck to you and your pet.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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 how things go for you, and I'm glad the information I provided helped you out.

  21. 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% of excess baggage fee, regardless if I have a check-in or not, which is $150 for 50lbs or less, so I'll be paying $300. But I don't mind.

    I also check on your blog on how to get the Gov permit. Thank you very much. It was a great help


  22. 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, though that we couldn't leave her behind. She went with us to the Philippines and then to New York City. She lives with my mom now.

  23. 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 me. God bless!

  24. 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

  25. 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 a mandatory quarantine period.

  26. 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!

  27. 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 paperwork, or even ID to prove it was my cat. It's been a while, though, so I might have forgotten something.

  28. 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 paperwork, or even ID to prove it was my cat. It's been a while, though, so I might have forgotten something.

  29. Thanks for sharing, this is very informative.

    I would just like to ask if you could share how the process of going through JFK customs worked out for you?

    I'll be bringing my dog with me and I want to know if there are other extra steps I have to go through with customs.


  30. Hi. I'm not an expert, but there's a big debate on whether it's even safe to give cats those drugs. Most animal welfare organizations will urge you to not do it, and I'm more likely to listen to a not-for-profit animal welfare organization than a veterinarian that would make money off of dosing your cat with a tranquilizer.

    I transported three cats from Singapore to the Philippines on a 4.5 hour flight, and one cat from the Philippines to New York City, a 22 hour flight with a layover in Japan. I never used tranquilizers on the cats and they're fine. They'll likely be a scared during take off and perhaps during landing, but for most of the flight they'll be just as relaxed as you are.

    No airline I've seen requires that pets be drugged, just placed in a proper pet carrier that's suitable for travel on a plane. The requirements are different depending on whether the animal will be in the cabin or in the cargo area.

  31. Hi, just want to ask regarding having cat tranquilized. Coz i knew a family who took their cat to VA. with them and she was given a mild tranquilizer as to lessen the possibility of anxiety for the cat. Which do you think would be better. Or wouldn't the airline require the pet to be drug?

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