Bringing Your Dog or Cat to Japan – How to Prepare

Are you relocating to Japan and worried about bringing your dog or cat to Japan? Here are our tips on how to prepare.  Moving abroad can be stressful. Add your furry family member to the mix, and you’ve got a lot to juggle – airline accommodations, vaccines, endless paperwork, and not to mention the possibility of quarantine.

Bringing Your Dog or Cat to Japan – How to Prepare

For the most up-to-date information, head over to the official homepage of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan. Bear in mind that the costs of importing a dog or cat, quarantine, and applicable fees incurred are your responsibility.

Microchip your pet for relocation to Japan

All dogs in Japan must be registered with the local municipal government and must be microchipped. Dogs and cats arriving in Japan must be fitted with a 15 digit, non-encrypted microchip meeting ISO 11784/11785 standards. Be sure to microchip your dog before administering any vaccines.

Rabies Vaccine are necessary if you bring your pet to Japan

Japan is a rabies-free country. Because of Japan’s strict efforts to prevent a rabies outbreak, there are two channels for bringing dogs and cats to Japan: dogs and cats from rabies free-regions and dogs and cats from regions not designated as “rabies free.”

Japan acknowledges Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, and Guam as “rabies-free regions.” No rabies vaccination or titer test (more on this later) is required if your pet was born in or resided in these regions for a period of not less than 6 months.

If your dog or cat is not arriving from Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, or Guam, you are required to vaccinate your dog or cat twice for rabies before you can plan your move to Japan.

Your dog or cat must be at least 90 days old at the time of the first vaccination, which must be an inactivated or recombinant vaccine.

The second rabies vaccine must follow at least 30 days after the first vaccine and before the expiration date of the first vaccination. The second vaccination must not expire prior to your arrival in Japan. If the second vaccine expires before you enter Japan, then your dog or cat will be quarantined for an extended period of time upon arrival.

Blood Titer Test is required for Pet admittance to Japan

All dogs and cats arriving from areas other than Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, and Guam (“rabies-free regions”) must have a blood titer test performed, ideally on the same day of the second rabies vaccination. The blood sample must be processed by an approved laboratory.

Results are valid for 2 years. After the blood test, there is a waiting period of 180 days before you can bring your dog or cat to Japan. If you will arrive in Japan before the end of this period, then the remaining days must be made up at quarantine upon arrival. On the other hand, if the rabies vaccine or blood test expires before your arrival, you may have to redo the steps.


Have your vet complete a Japan Veterinary Certificate within 2 days of arriving in Japan. This document states the current health of your pet, vaccinations administered, and results of the titer blood test.

Pets from the United States and Canada require USDA or CFIA endorsement. Travelers from other countries must contact the designated agencies for import and export forms.

Additionally, you must notify Animal Quarantine Services of your pets arrival at least 40 days in advance. This notification must be made at your port of arrival (eg. Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Hanshin Seaport).

Entering Japan by Air or Sea

According to Animal Quarantine Services, cats and dogs may only enter the country at the following airports: New Chitose Airport, Narita International Airport, Tokyo International Airport, Chubu International Airport, Kansai International Airport, Kitakyushu Airport, Fukuoka Airport, Kagoshima Airport and Naha Airport.

Dogs may only enter Japan at the following seaports: Tomakomai Seaport, Keihin Seaport (Tokyo, Yokohama), Nagoya Seaport, Hanshin Seaport (Osaka, Hyogo), Kanmon Seaport, Hakata Seaport, Kagoshima Seaport, Naha Seaport.

Be sure to check with your airline on how to arrange a smooth journey for your pet. Ideally, you should travel direct, but we know that may not always be a viable option. Carefully plan your route and transfers, and research the accommodations and facilities of every airport or seaport on your journey.

To soothe your pet, add a blanket, t-shirt or towel with your scent as a security blanket for the long journey. Before inserting in your pet’s crate, sleep with it for a few night.
Bring trash bags with you to dispose of blankets and bedding inside your pet’s cage — it’s likely that they will be soiled during the flight.

***Bringing Your Dog or Cat to Japan – How to Prepare***

Quarantine Upon Arrival

While all dogs and cats are quarantined upon arrival, the quarantine period generally lasts only half a day.

However, dogs and cats that do not meet Japan’s import requirements will be subject to quarantine at an Animal Quarantine Service detention facility for up to 180 days, if necessary. All costs incurred during this period are the responsibility of the owner. Even then, this extended quarantine period does not guarantee that your pet will be permitted to enter Japan.

Register Your Dog In Japan

Upon your arrival in Japan, go to your municipal office to register your dog (犬の登録 いぬのとうろく inu no touroku). A dog only needs to be registered once in his/her lifetime. Don’t forget to notify your municipal office when moving. Register your dog at your the municipal office of your new residence.

After registration, you will receive a metallic tag (鑑札 かんさつ kansatu). Always attach it to your dog’s harness or lead.

Annual Rabies Vaccine

All dogs in Japan require a rabies (狂犬病 きょうけんびょう kyoukenbyou) vaccine every year. Cats do not need rabies vaccines though you may wish to vaccinate your cat for other diseases.

After paying your vet’s bill (around 3,000 yen for the vaccination), you will receive a vaccination certificate (予防接種証明書 よぼうせっしゅしょうめいしょ yobou sesshi shoumeisho). Take the vaccination certificate to the municipal office where your dog has been registered.

Once completed, you will receive the appropriate tag certifying the completion of your dog’s rabies vaccination (注射済票 ちゅうしゃずみひょう chuuzaizumi hyou). The fee for this tag is around 500 yen.

Be sure to keep this tag on your dog’s collar/harness or lead, especially if you plan to use dog runs. This tag is your proof of your dog’s vaccination.

***Bringing Your Dog or Cat to Japan – How to Prepare***

Get Pet Insurance

Once you’ve settled into Japan with you pet, it’s time to get insurance (ペット保険/ぺっとほけん/petto hoken) for your furry family member.

See if your current insurance provider will allow you to add a dog or cat. If not, below are 5 insurance companies for pets in Japan.

Most insurance companies offer monthly or yearly payment plans, and fees typically depend on the age and health condition of your pet. Contact teac provider directly for details.

AU Sompo (link in Japanese) has two types of plans for pet owners. One plan covers trips to clinics/hospitals and the cost of surgeries and hospitalization while its other plan covers the costs of surgeries and hospitalization, but not the costs of transportation to and from the clinic.

AXA Direct (link in Japanese) insures automobiles and motorcycles and offers life insurance, as well as pet insurance. If you are looking to consolidate  your insurance providers, AXA Direct is a good place to start.

Anshin Pet (link in Japanese) has three insurance plans: a basic, “just in case” plan that covers the cost of surgeries; a basic medical care plan, and a full coverage plan that also covers transportation costs.

PS Hoken (link in Japanese) ranks high in customer satisfaction primarily becasueof its “no deductible” (免責金額/めんせききんがく/menseki kingaku) policy. Its rates rise gradually throughout the. course of your pet’s lifetime. It’s coverage also includes dental care for dogs.

FPC (link in Japanese) rates increase twice during your pet’s lifetime (three times for medium and large breed dogs). The maximum amount you can claim per year is 850,000 yen. FPC covers the costs of transportation to and from hospitals/clinics, hospitalization, and surgery.

***Bringing Your Dog or Cat to Japan – How to Prepare***

Taking Pets From Japan

Whether you’re saying sayonara to Japan or going on a holiday, notify Animal Quarantine Service of your plans to “export” your pet. Make your declaration at least 7 days prior to export.

Finding Furry Companionship

For finding the perfect companion, you may want to consider Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK), an NPO founded by Elizabeth Oliver in 1990. ARK has dogs up for adoption in Osaka and Tokyo. Also check out  Japan Cat Network for feline companionship.

Many Japanese cities have cafes where you can get close and personal with cuddly creatures. Visit Rabbits, Hedgehogs and Chinchillas, Ms. Bunny Usagi Cafe, Roppongi.

Check out our top-rated posts on life with pets in Japan:

Guide to Dog Food in Japan – Top 10 Brands, Types and Where to Buy

Mother Farm, Chiba – Fun For Your Kids & Dogs!

Jade 5 Breakfast, Hiroo – Dog and Baby Friendly


Bringing Your Dog or Cat to Japan – How to Prepare

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