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How to Bring Pets In and Out of China

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Category: Useful Tips
Bringing Your Pets in and out of China - SJ Grand

Moving to another country is no easy task. Shipping belongings can be a hassle and expensive, and as a result, many people have to make careful decisions about what to bring with them. However, for many pet owners, their beloved companions are at the top of their non-negotiable list.

Take a look at some of our previous articles: Relocating to China – Importing Household Goods

Traveling to China with your pet can take months of preparation. If you plan to bring your pet with you, make sure to do your research earlier rather than later to avoid additional costs or unpleasant surprises.

Before You Decide

There are a variety of regulations in place that may influence your decision whether or not to being your pet to China.

  • 1 pet per Z-Visa (working visa) adult per trip: There is a strict limit to the number of pets you can bring into the country. If you plan on bringing more pets to China, you will need to either make many trips or contact a professional service. Also, be sure to note the visa requirement, only those on a Z-Visa (working visa) may bring a pet into the country.
  • Banned breeds: Not every breed is allowed in China due to safety concerns, and each city has its own policy. Therefore, be sure to double check that your pet is allowed in your planned city of residence. For example, here is the list of banned breeds in Beijing.
  • City specific requirements: Each city has its own specific requirement pertaining to pets, for example Beijing has a 1 dog per household policy as of January 2019.

Prior to Entering China

Months before you plan to leave for China, there are a few steps you should take to ensure smooth traveling for both you and your pet.

The first two are universal requirements, no matter where you plan on entering China. New regulations beginning May 2019 remove the 30-day quarantine and designated arrival ports that were previously required. If the additional preparations are taken, these two steps can be bypassed.

Universal requirements:
  1. Have your pet microchipped (must be ISO compliant, 15 digit, either 11784 or 11785 are both acceptable, if your pet’s microchip is not ISO compliant, you must bring a microchip reader with you)
  2. Rabies vaccine within a year of departure but no sooner than 30 days before travel (make sure you have the vaccine certificate)
Additional requirements to avoid a 30-day quarantine or if you plan on arriving through a non-designated port of entry:
  1. Additional second rabies vaccine
  2. Rabies titer test: conducted at approved facilities, and on or after the day of the administration of the second rabies vaccine, the health certificate must include: test sampling date, laboratory name and test results (valid for up to one year after the sampling date)

Please note that pets coming from the approved countries/regions list below are exempt from the rabies titer test requirement. These include:

New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Guam, Jamaica, Iceland, the U.K. Ireland, Liechentenstein, Cyprus, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macao.

During Entry

Once you arrive in China, head to the Quarantine Station of the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) office at the airport to submit the arrival documentation. Make sure you have the following documents with you (have multiple photocopies of all documents):

  • Color photo of your pet
  • Photocopy of the traveler’s passport, with phone number, and residence in China
    • The traveler’s name must be on the pet’s health certificate documents, which must match the name on your passport
  • Vaccination card/certificate (government endorsed, for example if coming from the US, it needs to be APHIS-endorsed)
    • Must include rabies vaccination (manufacturer, batch number, and expiration date)
  • Original results from the rabies titer test, make sure to send tests to a lab approved by the General Administration of Customs. Find the list here.
  • Veterinary Certificate of China which should be completed within 14 days of entry and stamped by the exporting country government branch which is responsible for the import and export of animals (For people exporting from the USA it would be USDA)
  • Official export forms from your country
  • Health certificate from a government certified veterinarian which must include the following information:
    • Microchip number, date and location of implantation
    • Date of birth or age
  • Rabies vaccine information, including:
    • Type (inactive, modified or recombinant)
    • Date of administration
    • Date of vaccine validity expiration
    • Name of the vaccine administered
    • Name of the vaccine manufacturing company
  • Rabies antibody titer test information, including:
    • Sample collection date
    • Name of laboratory used
    • Rabies titer test results
    • Veterinarian’s attestation that the pet has undergone clinical examination and is free of signs of disease.
Failure to meet requirements

If the requirements above are not met, you must bring your pet into China through the following designated ports. Note: If you do not arrive through official designated ports of entry (list here) and have not met all the universal requirements, your pet may be sent back to your country or euthanized.

  • Beijing Capital Airport
  • Beijing West Railway Station
  • Hongqiao International Airport
  • Pudong International Airport
  • Shanghai Railway Station
  • Shanghai Internal Passenger Transport Center
  • Wusongko International Cruise Terminal
  • Urumqi Diwopu International Airport
  • AlashanKou

Your pet will be placed in quarantine for 30 days in which it will be observed to ensure it doesn’t exhibit any symptoms of illness. You should also check if there are any airline specific requirements.

Once arrived in China

Once you arrive at your residence, don’t forget to register your pet with the local police. As of 2019, this step only applies to dogs. Cat-owners do not need to apply for a specific license.

Most police stations require that your dog comes with you, however, for specific documentation, check with your local station. Here are some common required documents:

  • Picture of your dog
  • Immunization certificate
  • Rental contract (clearly station that you can have pets)
  • Passport and residence permit

The registration will cost 500 RMB if you live in the inner ring, 300 if you live in the outer ring.

You can enjoy up to 50% discounts on the registration fee if you provide proof that your dog has been neutered/spayed by a legally registered and licensed animal hospital in your city of residence.

The police station will issue your dog license in approximately 2 weeks. It has to be renewed on a yearly basis.

 How to Bring Your Pets Home

Once comes the time to head back home, there are two sets of processes to prepare for.

The first is obtaining a China Animal Exit Permit, which will allow your pet to leave the country. The second is entering a new country, requirements which are different for each country.

Steps to obtaining an Animal Exit Permit:

1. Annual rabies vaccination and immunity certificate: You should be vaccinating your pet for rabies every 12 months, since China does not recognize 2-3 year vaccinations. Therefore, make sure your pet has been vaccinated in the past year but no more recently than 30 days before departure.

Make sure to get a “PRC Animal Health and Immunity Certificate” with a stamp from a government approved hospital, a document which will be required to apply for an Animal Exit Permit.

2. 7-10 days before departure date pets must undergo a physical examination at an Entry Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau Animal Hospital (government-run).

After the physical exam you should receive:

  • Health certificate: Usually issued within 2 days after the examination, the certificate remains valid for 7-days after the issue date. If you do not bring the health certificate to apply for an exit permit within the 7-days, the examination must be repeated.

Tip: It might be helpful to hire an official pet export service if you are not confident in your Chinese speaking skills since all the inspections will most likely be conducted in Chinese. However, it will present additional costs.

3. After the health certificate is obtained, you should now have what you need to apply for an Animal Exit Permit. Bring with you the following:

  • Vaccination record from step 1
  • Health certificate from step 2
  • Passport

Once the exit permit is received, you have 14 days to take your pet out of the country. Entering a new country will have different requirements based on which countries you will be entering. Click here to find out more about the requirements for your specific country.


If you are moving to China for a few years or much longer, you most likely won’t want to leave behind your cat or dog, and instead may decide to bring them along with you for the journey. With research and preparation, it is definitely feasible, and for most people worth the extra time and cost!

This article pertains to dogs and cats specifically, for other types of pets, refer to the country specific government website.

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