Moving with Pets to Japan: Pet import requirements

Moving to a new country is already a big undertaking, but moving with pets adds another layer of complexity. Japan, in particular, has stringent pet import regulations that you must adhere to. Why is this so crucial? Simply put, failing to comply with these rules could mean prolonged quarantine for your pet or, worse, deportation. For that reason, Kokusai Express has created this guide for you to help you navigate Japan’s pet import laws. By understanding and following these regulations carefully, you can ensure not just your smooth transition to Japan but a seamless one for your furry friend as well.

Why does moving with pets require special attention?

If you’re a pet owner, you already know how much your furry friend means to you. Pets are not just animals; they’re members of the family. This emotional attachment makes moving with them a sensitive matter, even when having reliable movers in Japan by your side. Besides the affection you have for your pet, there are also important health and safety considerations. The stress of travel can affect your pet’s well-being, and there’s the risk of exposure to unfamiliar diseases or conditions during transit.

A pet with a vet
Before moving with pets make sure to take them to a vet for a checkup

But it’s not just about emotions and well-being. When moving internationally, legal factors come into play, too. Failing to meet a country’s pet import requirements can result in serious complications. Your pet could be quarantined for an extended period or, in extreme cases, sent back to your home country at your expense. So, it’s not just about making your pet comfortable; it’s also about adhering to laws and regulations. Taking these factors into account shows why moving with pets requires special attention.

Understanding Japan’s pet import regulations

If you are moving to Japan with your pet, you should know that Japan takes animal importation seriously, primarily through its Animal Quarantine Service (AQS). The AQS is responsible for ensuring that animals entering Japan are healthy and meet all import conditions. One of the main reasons for the strict regulations is Japan’s rabies-free status. The country has managed to keep rabies at bay and aims to continue doing so. This has a direct impact on pet importation, requiring multiple tests and, often, a quarantine period to ensure your pet is rabies-free.

A person holding a dog and a cat
Learn what pets are allowed to be imported into Japan

When it comes to the types of pets that can be imported to Japan with one of the overseas moving companies, Japan allows dogs and cats, but birds, rabbits, and other small animals are subject to different sets of rules. Some animals, like ferrets and certain bird species, face even stricter import conditions. It’s crucial to understand these specific requirements to ensure your pet can make the journey with you to Japan without any hiccups.

Pre-departure preparations

In order to avoid moving stress, it is advisable to use a reliable moving service Japan. But also, before you embark on your journey to Japan with your pet, several key steps must be taken to ensure a smooth transition. Here are important elements you’ll need to address:

  • Microchipping: The first step usually involves implanting a microchip into your pet. This small device carries a unique ID that can be scanned to verify your pet’s identity. It’s a mandatory requirement for bringing pets into Japan.
  • Vaccination records: Keeping track of your pet’s vaccination history is crucial. Make sure you have all the records readily available. This is not just for peace of mind but also a legal requirement for entry into Japan.
  • Specific vaccines required: For dogs and cats, the primary focus is on rabies vaccination. Japan is rabies-free and aims to keep it that way. Your pet should be vaccinated against rabies at least twice before entering Japan, with the latest shot given not less than 21 days but not more than 365 days before entering.
  • Blood tests and timing: After the rabies vaccinations, a blood test to confirm rabies antibodies is essential. This test must be conducted at least 180 days but not more than 2 years before entering Japan. Timing is crucial; failure to meet this timeline can result in a longer quarantine period upon arrival.
  • Veterinary certificate: Finally, you’ll need an accredited veterinarian to issue a health certificate close to your departure date. This certificate generally has a short validity period, usually about seven days.

Quarantine procedures in Japan

Once you land in Japan with your pet, the next significant hurdle is the quarantine process. Japan imposes a minimum 12-hour observation period for pets arriving from most countries, but if you haven’t met specific conditions like the timing of vaccinations and blood tests, this period can extend up to 180 days. The quarantine takes place in dedicated facilities, which are clean and well-maintained but rather basic. For example, the Narita Animal Quarantine facility offers individual cages but doesn’t permit playtime or walks during the stay.

A cat in the bag
Once you relocate to Japan, be aware that your pet will probably have to go to quarantine

The cost for quarantine varies depending on the length of the stay and the type of pet, but you should budget for approximately $17 to $25 per day. To secure a spot, you must make a reservation in advance, usually around 7-30 days before your arrival. Some facilities allow email reservations, making it easier for you to book from abroad.

Documentation and legal requirements

When it comes to moving your pet to Japan, paperwork is a vital part of the process. You’ll need a collection of essential documents to clear customs and Animal Quarantine Service. One primary document is the ‘Notification of Import of Animals’ form, which you should submit to the Japanese authorities at least 40 days before your arrival. It informs them about your intent to bring a pet into the country, allowing them to prepare for your arrival.

Another crucial document is the Certificate of Export, typically issued by an accredited veterinarian in your home country. This certificate proves that your pet meets all health and vaccination requirements for entry into Japan. Failure to comply with these documentation requirements can result in penalties ranging from extended quarantine periods to deportation of your pet. For example, if the Certificate of Export is found to be incomplete, your pet may face additional quarantine time, causing emotional and financial stress.

Travel logistics: Air vs sea

Deciding between air and sea travel for your pet’s move to Japan involves weighing several factors. Air transportation in Japan is generally faster, reducing the time your pet spends in transit, which can be less stressful for them. However, airline policies can be strict about the type of carrier or crate your pet must be in, and there may be restrictions based on breed or size. For instance, some airlines refuse to carry brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs due to their respiratory issues. On the other hand, sea travel allows for a more spacious living area for your pet but extends the time they’ll spend away from you. The container requirements for sea travel are often less rigid, allowing for more room for food, water, and movement. However, you’ll need to ensure that the container is well-ventilated and secure to keep your pet safe throughout the journey.

A plane as a symbol of moving with pets by air
Moving with pets by airplane is a much faster option than sea travel

Arrival procedures in Japan

As you can see, moving with pets may require a few extra steps to be completed, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Once you and your pet arrive in Japan, you’ll go through a series of checks and verifications to ensure all regulations have been met. From the moment you disembark, it’s crucial to follow all directed procedures and guidelines to avoid complications. This will likely involve presenting your paperwork to customs, proceeding to the Animal Quarantine Service for initial checks, and adhering to the quarantine process if necessary. The experience can be emotionally draining, but knowing you’ve prepared adequately can make a world of difference. Remember, each step brings you closer to starting your new life in Japan with your furry friend by your side. Following the rules ensures a smooth transition for both of you.

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