USDA - Department of Agriculture United States United States Department of Agriculture
Departamento de Agricultura dos Estados Unidos
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Traveling to the U.S. with food, plants and animals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plays an important role in keeping the United States free from destructive animal and plant pests and diseases that currently affect other countries. To accomplish this, certain limits are placed on items brought to the United States from foreign countries, as well as those brought to the mainland from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prohibited items could harbor animal and plant pests and diseases that could seriously damage America's crops, livestock, pets, and environment – pests and diseases that have no natural enemies or predators in the country.

All travelers entering the United States are required to DECLARE any meats, fruits, vegetables, plants, animals, and plant and animal products they may be carrying. The declaration must cover all items carried in baggage and hand luggage, or in a vehicle.

To speed up the inspection process:

• pack items where they will be readily accessible

• make sure to check "yes" for Question #11 on the U.S. Customs Declaration Form

• follow the instructions of the federal officers in the inspection area.

Upon examination of plants, animal products, and associated products, inspectors will determine if these items meet the entry requirements of the United States. Officers are authorized, under the Plant Protection Act, to seize, destroy, and, if necessary, issue civil penalties for prohibited items discovered during an inspection.

Avoid fines and delays

Personal passenger baggage is checked for agricultural products by officers from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program.

At some ports, inspectors use detector dogs, especially trained to sniff out agricultural items. At others, low energy X-ray machines adapted to reveal fruits and meats are used.

If you're traveling from abroad on a plane or ship, you will be given a U.S. Customs form on which to declare your agricultural products. You will also be asked to indicate whether you have visited a farm or ranch outside the United States.


Fruits, vegetables and plants entrance is regulated. If you need to travel to bring these products to the U.S., you must request from USDA/APHIS an Import Permit. More information at


In general meat and animal products are not allowed to enter in the United States. To have more specific information contact the USDA/APHIS/National Center for Import Export (NCIE) of the Veterinary's Service.
More information at

Veterinary Services
4700 River Road, Unit 40
Riverdale, MD 20737-1231
Attn: National Center for Import and Export
Phone: (301) 734-7830

The Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulates the import and export of wild and endangered animals and plants and their products. More information is available in the FWS free publications Facts About Federal Wildlife Laws and Buyer Beware Guide.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
Office of Management Authority
4401 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203

Live Animals

The entrance of live animals is regulated by different government agencies. Live animals may enter the United States subject to certification, certain permits, inspection, and quarantine rules that vary with the type of animal and its origin. Some animals are not allowed to be imported.
More information at


Pet birds purchased abroad may enter the United States, but are subject to restrictions by some States' Departments of Agriculture. If quarantine is needed, arrangements must be made in advance because adequate facilities are limited. For information and a permit application, contact the National Center for Import and Export (NCIE).

Veterinary health certificates are necessary in many cases; fees and length of waiting time vary. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCs) regulate imports of certain animal species, and have specific regulations regarding pets (including dogs and cats) and primates. Imports for scientific use or for exhibits are closely controlled through a registration process. Contact CDC for detailed

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Division of Quarantine
1600 Clifton Road, Mail Stop E-03
Atlanta, GA 30333
Tel: (404) 639-8107


Felines must be free of all contagious diseases capable of being spread to humans at the time they are inspected at the port of entry. If the animal is not in good health, a subsequent exam will be required to be performed by a licensed veterinarian. The animal's owner will be responsible for paying for this exam. It is not necessary to vaccinate the cat against rabies. Please note that animals arriving from Guam and the State of Hawaii will need to be quarantined.


This category includes all animals in the canine family. Dogs must be free of all diseases capable of being spread to humans at the time they are inspected at the port of entry. Dogs to be used in cattle raising need to be examined, especially for tetanus and worms; those testing positive must be treated.

Dogs' rabies vaccinations should be current, and the animal must be vaccinated at least thirty days before entering the United States, with the exception of puppies younger than three months old.

A rabies vaccination certificate, signed by a licensed veterinarian, should be presented for inspection at the time or arrival. This certificate should identify the animal and specify the date and type of vaccine administered.

Dogs that have not been vaccinated prior to arriving in the United States must be vaccinated at the port of entry and placed in quarantine for thirty days at the owner's expenses. If the vaccine has been administered less than one month prior to the animal's arrival in the United States, the dog will be allowed to enter the country, but will be kept in quarantine until the required thirty days after vaccination are completed.

In order to take a dog from Brazil into the United States, it is necessary to obtain from a veterinary accredited by the Conselho Regional de Medicina Veterinária (Regional Council of Veterinary Medicine) an Atestado de Vacinação (Vaccination Certificate) and a Certificado de Boa Saúde (Certificate of Good Health). Also required is an inspection for screwworm (bicheira). The documents must be taken to the Ministry of Agriculture, which will then issue the required international certificate. See below where to obtain the certificate in the Federal District and in the States of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento
Aeroporto Internacional de Brasília
Tel: (55-61) 3364-9000
Fax: (55-61) 3214-6251

São Paulo
Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento
Aeroporto Internacional de Guarulhos
Tel: (55-11) 6445-3606/6445-2800
Fax: (55-11) 6445-3173

Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento
Aeroporto Internacional de Viracopos
Tel: (55-19) 3725-5000
Fax: (55-19) 3725-5003

Rio de Janeiro
Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento
Aeroporto Internacional do Galeão
Tel: (55-21) 3398-5050
Fax: (55-21) 3393-2288

The certificate issued by the Brazilian authority does not need to be authenticated by the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Brazil.


The importation of turtles for commercial purposes is prohibited. However, there are no restrictions on the entrance of turtles with shells smaller than four inches (approximately ten centimeters). Each traveler may carry up to six turtles with the above-described dimensions.

Other biological material for scientific purposes

Authorization is required to import most organisms, cells and cultures, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines and related substances, both of animal and of vegetal origin. This category includes organisms and products used in the biotechnology industry. For more information and to register, contact the National Center for Import and Export (NCIE) at (301) 734-8364 or the authorizing unit of the Plant Protection and
Quarantine (PPQ).
More information at


Organisms found on the ground can represent a threat to plants and animals. The inspectors may need to disinfect clothing and shoes, if necessary. No soil samples may enter the United States without previous authorization by the authorizing unit of the Plant Protection and Quarentine (PPQ). Pure sand, such as that used in small decorative glass tubes common in Brazil, is permitted. Always check with the authorizing unit of the PPQ if previous authorization is necessary.


If you have any questions, or require further information related to imports or export of live animals, birds or germplasm, please contact the National Center for Import and Export (NCIE) at (301) 734-8364, or send an
email to VS.Live.Animal.Import.