WOOF, want to bring a dog from Brazil to USA? Whether you’re traveling to the USA for pleasure or going home, sniff out my comprehensive guide and avoid these 10 mistakes (from someone who has gone through the exit process several times)!
ARF-ter being in Rio de Janeiro for over six months, my human thought it was time to go back home to the U.S. for a visit. Since 60 days have already passed since Penny Gurl and I set our furry paws on RIOgaleão Airport (GIG), the original Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) issued to get us into Brazil was no longer valid.
On the flip side, if you are only staying in Brazil for less than 2 months, you don’t need a new CVI to exit (as long as the rabies vaccination has not expired) – but your dog will still need to meet the U.S. screwworm requirement within 5 days before the flight (keep sniffing below).
BUT, not for us.
Even though my pack and I had known about the CVI’s 60-day validity, we did not come straight from the U.S. because we were hopping around Latin America beforehand. Besides, two things happened that led us to stay longer than expected – one, I got sick and went to the animal ER twice within those 60 days, and two, we started to feel right at home in Rio where the beaches are ARF-mazing. As real nomads, we never have a definite plan or schedule – if we like a place, we’ll stay. If not, we’ll leave.
ARF yeah, I forgot to mention the third one – Carnival, in which Rio has bragging rights to the biggest one in the world. ARF-ter all, it brings a whoppin’ 2 million people on the street PAWties daily in Rio. Sniff out how Penny Gurl and I pawtied it up for Carnival here.
Before I bark about the requirements of bringing a dog from Brazil to USA, let’s bark about flights!
FLYING A DOG FROM BRAZIL TO USA
AVOID MISTAKE #1: Assuming that the same dog-friendly airlines (that you’ve flown your dog on previously) fly dogs in-cabin from Brazil
It’s strange, but it happened to us. Airlines that normally fly dogs in-cabin may NOT fly dogs in-cabin coming from Brazil, which was the case of American Airlines. Since there were only a paw-ful of airlines that operate direct flights to the U.S. from Brazil, this was a real shocker for us and derailed our plans. Per AA’s current policy, you cannot travel with a carry-on pet when traveling to/from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay. Why not? I did some digging with my furry paws, but couldn’t find the answer. The same goes for Delta – “pet travel is not allowed for pets originating in Brazil (and Colombia)” and must undergo cargo. Service dogs are, ARF course, exempt from this rule.
Luckily, United Airlines allows dogs to fly in-cabin to/from Brazil, so we went with them (despite the fact that I thought I would never fly United again). United is another major U.S. airline with flights to/from Brazil. Penny Gurl and I have also flown on Copa Airlines, Latin America’s major airline that accepts dogs in-cabin to Brazil (but they also didn’t have any direct flights to the U.S. at the time).
Unless you are flying your dog as checked baggage or in cargo, you should make sure you can fly your dog in-cabin from Brazil before booking. Upon booking your flight, secure your dog’s reservation asap!
REQUIREMENTS OF BRINGING A DOG FROM BRAZIL TO USA
OK, now that you have a flight – let’s bark out all the requirements to bring a dog from Brazil to USA.
–Valid Rabies Certificate: Your dog must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entry.
–Screwworm Inspection by a veterinarian within five days of departure to the U.S. – Your dog must be free from screwworm.
–International Health Certificate issued by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA) within five days of departure, which is technically NOT required by the U.S. for dog import BUT required by Brazil for dog export. Unfortunately, there is no way around this, and your dog will NOT be able to leave Brazil without one.
-Your dog must appear healthy on arrival to the U.S. and be at least 6 months old.
*There may be additional requirements depending on the U.S. state of arrival.
In order to get the CVI issued, you must submit the required paperwork online to the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA) and take the auto-generated CVI to your veterinarian for completion. It can be ovewhelming if you’re doing this for the first time. But don’t worry, I’ll bark out all the details with a step-by-step, paw-by-paw process below.
In addition to the requirements above, your dog technically needs Foot and Mouth Disease clearance upon arrival to the U.S. (although this is not a strict requirement as long as your dog looks clean. Enforcement can be a hit or miss depending on Customs). The only Brazilian state declared free of Foot and Mouth disease is of Santa Catarina. Unless you’re leaving from Santa Catarina, the rules state that your dog’s fur and bedding must be free of excessive dirt, hay, or straw. You should also bathe your dog as soon as he reaches the intended destination and kept separate from livestock for five days after entering the U.S. If your dog is used in livestock handling, he should have no evidence of tapeworm infection.
In terms of written documentation, all the U.S. requires from a U.S.-originated dog is a valid rabies certificate for entry and a physical inspection within five days of departure that the dog is free of screwworms. However, Brazil has made a CVI as a requirement for dog EXPORT, meaning they have requirements for your dog to LEAVE the country even if it’s not required by the U.S.
BARK OF CAUTION: Please note that Brazil is considered high-risk for rabies by the U.S. Unfortunately, there is currently a CDC ban of dog import from high-risk rabies countries (suspension has been consistently extended), which means your dog must have a valid, unexpired rabies vaccination certificate issued by a U.S. veterinarian to avoid applying for a CDC permit for return to the U.S.
Even though Brazil is considered high-rabies and the CDC implemented a temporary suspension of dogs from high-rabies countries, dogs can still enter, but the requirements depend on their origin.
For U.S.-vaccinated dogs:
To return to the U.S., you must present a valid U.S.-issued rabies vaccination certificate at one of 18 airports with a CDC quarantine station (Anchorage (ANC), Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO), San Juan (SJU), Seattle (SEA), Washington DC Dulles (IAD)).
The use of the CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record is encouraged, but not required. If your veterinarian does not use the CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record, ALL of the following information must be included on the rabies vaccination certificate (which must be in English):
Name and address of owner
Your dog’s breed, sex, date of birth (approximate age if date of birth unknown), color, and markings
Your dog’s ISO-compatible microchip number
Vaccine product name, manufacturer, lot number, and product expiration date
Date of rabies vaccination
Date the vaccination expires (date the next vaccination is due)
Name, license number or official seal, address, telephone or email address, date, and signature of veterinarian who administered the vaccine
For dogs vaccinated outside of the U.S.:
If your dog is not vaccinated in the U.S., you must apply for CDC’s advance written approval (CDC Dog Import Permit) or make a reservation at a CDC-approved animal care facility. The requirements include, but not limited to ISO-compatible microchip, a valid CDC Rabies Vaccination and Microchip Record, and a valid rabies serologic titer from an approved laboratory. CDC Dog Import Permit may be approved for a maximum of two foreign-vaccinated dogs per applicant. You can request for advance written approval by carefully following the instructions HERE.
AVOID MISTAKE #2: NOT getting a CPF Immediately
Many thanks to our pals Boogie & Marcelo (furry New Yorkers who used to live in Brazil), we knew exiting would require a CPF to submit the paperwork. A CPF is an 11-digit Brazilian individual taxpayer registration, similar to a social security number in the U.S. although not as sensitive (Brazilians actually use their CPF daily at public places, from markets to pharmacies). And, yes – foreigners can apply for one.
But we made the mistake of NOT applying for one immediately.
In the beginning, we were advised we could use a friend’s CPF. Boogie & Marcelo’s mommy was gracious enough to offer hers, so we didn’t rush to get our own. Although it all worked out in the end, it was still largely inconvenient for both sides because we had to access her Gov.br account (Brazilian government online system) to submit the paperwork. This meant she had to provide us with her password and forward us the emails on the application status. We felt awful for taking up so much of her time to help. A big bark of THANK YOU to Boogie & his family!
REAL BARKS: Unless you’re borrowing a CPF of a person you’re traveling with or are in close contact with, it’s best to get your own. It’ll save you some headaches!
When we left Brazil the second time around (and for good), my human applied for a CPF and submitted the documents on her own Gov.br account.
Whether you are moving to Brazil permanently or planning to go home at some point (or travel to another country) with your dog, you should get a CPF. Besides being able to get discounts at pet stores (like my favorite Petz), markets, and pharmacies, you’ll need a CPF to start the dog export process on Gov.br (unless you’re only staying for less than 60 days).
So, get your CPF as soon as you get to Brazil!
How to avoid getting a CPF if you want to bring a dog from Brazil to USA
#1 Leave Brazil within 60 days with the original CVI used to enter the country (but your dog may still need screwworm clearance from the vet within 5 days of the flight)
#2 Borrow someone’s CPF
#3 Hire an animal transport company or someone experienced enough to submit the paperwork for you
How to get your CPF
You can get your CPF online or in person. My human applied in person, thinking that she could get it on the same day, as told by many expats. But it took about ten days for her to get one, including a return visit to the CAC – Taxpayer Service Center in Ipanema (Receita Federal – R. Barão da Torre, 296).
To apply in person, complete this form and print out a copy of the receipt. Bring a copy of the receipt, your passport, and a copy of your passport to a Taxpayer Service Center. Tell them you want to apply for a CPF. To save time, you can check if any appointments are available online.
TOP DOG TIP: If you’re in Ipanema, there’s a small print shop near Burger King on Visc. de Pirajá, the street running parallel to Barão da Torre. You can make copies of your passport and print out the receipt there. It’s located inside a building with different stores and shops.
At Receita Federal in Ipanema, they take walk-ins for CPF applications, but it’s best to get there early at 9 am. The staff was suPAW nice and patient, from the security guard to the clerk upstairs on the 1st floor where processing took place. Considering my human can only speak a few words of Portuguese, they made an overwhelming experience less overwhelming.
AVOID MISTAKE #3: Trying to hire an animal transport company
We tried hiring an animal transport company, and it was one of the worst experiences EVER. I’m not going to bark any names (in case of retaliation), but the animal transport company we worked with quoted us an exorbitant fee of 200 USD per dog. At the time, we were having issues accessing Boogie’s mom’s Gov.br account, and our flight was coming up, so we decided to try a transport company (and then submit it on our own when we leave Brazil the second time around).
The one we found was a one-woman operation based in Rio. The lady did not inform us ahead of time that she only accepts cash or Pix (the Brazilian equivalent of Paypal or Venmo, which we didn’t have because it requires banking with a Brazilian bank), and not a credit card. We found it odd since even the lady selling corn on the streets has a credit card machine! When we texted her that we didn’t need the paperwork, she suddenly responded that we could pay by credit card with a “link” that she’ll send over. However, the link was very strange-looking and did not load over my human’s VPN, which rejects all links with malware. RED FLAGS!
Nevertheless, that wasn’t the real reason why things went awry. When we went to pick up the paperwork at the veterinary clinic, she was not present and had a receptionist to assist us. And yet, this receptionist was incredibly rude – she kept asking for payment and would not let us look at the paperwork for more than two seconds. It just did not feel right since we couldn’t verify that the document was legit. When we started asking questions, we were told that we were “bothering” the receptionist. It was just a terrible interaction. Whether or not it was a scam, it felt like one. So, we left.
If you plan to use an animal transport company, do not trust one that doesn’t allow you to pay by credit card, and especially one that refuses to let you review the paperwork before payment. Most, if not all businesses in Brazil (especially in Rio) accept credit cards. As a matter of bark, I’ve sniffed them to be more cash-adverse than businesses in the U.S.
SIDE BARKS: There’s rarely a need to use Brazilian real (the local currency) in a big city like Rio. Carrying cash makes you a target for scams and petty theft. If you lose cash, it’s gone forever with no way of recovery. On the other paw, when you lose a credit card or face a fraudulent charge, you can simply report it to your credit card company to resolve the issue.
AVOID MISTAKE #4: Going to the veterinarian before starting the process online
Do NOT go to the veterinarian before starting the process online. The CVI must be system-generated based on the information you entered about yourself, your flight, and your dog. You must then print out the auto-generated CVI and take it to the veterinarian for completion. The vet must sign in BLUE ink.
How to Apply for the CVI/International Health Certificate online
There is no option to go in-person, so don’t even waste your time trying! The entire process is done online, and it can be very frustrating if you are tackling it for the first time. Now that my human has done it several times, she understands the process. But trust me, it was suPAW stressful when she got rejected 2x the first time and 2x the second time. I will get to the rejection reasons in a bit.
The tail-waggin’ news is that the Brazilian government authority reviews and responds to your application rather quickly, often within an hour or two during regular business hours. If you submit the application after 4 or 5 pm local time on a weekday (watch out for any holidays), you can expect to get a response in the morning.
The first step is to register your CPF online HERE. You’ll need to create an account with a password. If you can’t read Portuguese like my humans, don’t lower your tail because your browser should offer English translation if you right-click (in the case of Google Chrome). If not, you can always use the camera function on the Google Translate app or copy and paste the contents onto the Google Translate page.
To locate the CVI, you’ll need to manually search for it by clicking on the down arrow next to your name on the upper right-hand side. Scroll down and click on “Common Questions.” From there, you’ll find a search bar on the upper right-hand side with the words “What are you looking for?”
Type in “CVI” and hit enter or the magnifying glass. It’ll first give you results within “Digital Government,” which isn’t what you’re looking for. Instead, change the search to “the entire GOV.BR.”
WOOF, there it is! You’ll see what you’re looking for, “Apply for an International Veterinary Certificate to travel with your dog or cat (CVI).” Once you click on it, you’ll see many country options starting with Argentina. Look for “US CVI,” and click on it to begin the process. It’ll provide some basic information about the estimated time for completion (48 hours). It also provides contact information if you have any questions – Agricultural Surveillance Unit in your state by e-mail or telephone, e-mail: [email protected].
It also specifies that the expiration date for a U.S. CVI for dogs is five days, which coincides with the U.S. requirement for screwworm inspection.
AFT-ter sniffing out the basic information provided, go ahead and hit the green button START! At this point, you should have your dog’s rabies vaccination certificate, flight information, and passport handy.
The first two sections ask you for your flight date and dog’s information, including DOB, microchip # and application, breed, and sex. You must attach proof of microchip, which must be digitally signed (as with every document uploaded onto the application).
AVOID MISTAKE #5: NOT digitally signing every single document uploaded onto the application
Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to get all your documents digitally signed and accepted by the Ministry. This is a very tricky part that cannot be skipped.
The following section seeks information on the person “Responsible for shipping,” which should be you. It’ll ask for your name, destination address, email and phone number.
Next up is your “Travel data.” Go to the drop-down window to select your departure airport. Be sure to indicate if you’re traveling through a country other than Brazil. Then attach a copy of your flight reservation, which (again) must be digitally signed.
The following section is “Vaccination Card,” where you enter your dog’s rabies vaccination information (including vaccine name, manufacturer, lot information, and application date). You must attach his rabies vaccination certificate.
TOP DOG TIP: There is a notes section called “Generation Observations” at the end of the page where you can add additional information, especially if you need to explain something.
For instance, our application was rejected at one point because the rabies vaccination and microchip dates were not in Brazilian format and did not have official stamps from veterinarians. The fact is that these were, indeed, official documents generated in the U.S. Hence, they were not in Brazilian date format or have veterinarian stamps. We submitted them exactly how we received them, and we could not manipulate these official documents.
In another example, our application was rejected because they asked for a U.S. CVI, which we did not have the first time. ARF-ter all, we didn’t come directly from the U.S. since we were already in Latin America. Hence, we had to explain that they were asking for documents that do not exist.
The next page takes you to the “Animal Health Certificate,” which is auto-generated based on the information you entered on the first page.
AVOID MISTAKE #6: NOT using the auto-generated health certificate and going to the veterinarian for theirs
Again, do NOT go to the veterinarian before starting the process online. The health certificate must be auto-generated based on the information you entered about yourself, your flight, and your dog. You must print out the auto-generated CVI/animal health certificate and take it to the veterinarian for completion. The vet must complete the form in BLUE ink and attest to the following:
“I certify for the proper purposes that the animal identified above, was examined by me on the date specified below, is clinically healthy, does not show signs of infectious and parasitic diseases, and does not show the presence of myiasis, therefore being fit for transport. I also declare that proof of valid anti-rabies vaccination has been presented.”
Once completed by the vet, the animal health certificate must be (once again) digitally signed before uploading it onto the application. You must also enter your vet’s information, including the name, ID, and address. Again, I will get to the digital signatures later.
AVOID MISTAKE #7: Going to the veterinarian more than 5 days before the flight
Due to the U.S. screwworm inspection requirement (which states inspection must be done within five days prior to shipment), your vet will need to redo the form if you get it signed and dated more than five days before departure. We were one day off, but fortunately, our vet was nice enough to redo the form and change the date without an additional visit or payment.
Unless you have additional documents to upload (e.g. additional veterinary records), the Animal Health Certificate should be the last step. You can finally hit SUBMIT. Again, the turnaround time is quick, within a few hours (thankfully) IF you submit during normal business hours. We didn’t try submitting over the weekend, but I would guess it’ll take the authority longer to respond.
After submission, you’ll get notified by email of the different phases of your application:
Analysis (Análise) – The ministry is reviewing and analyzing your application.
Correct Data (Corrigir Dados) – You must correct the errors and resubmit.
Emission (Emissão) – Your application is approved.
Document Delivery (Entrega do documento) – Your CVI is ready to be released. You can now download and print it!
We submitted two applications for two separate travel dates and got rejected twice each time. GRR, we kept getting stuck in the Correct Data phase, which was suPAW frustrating!
AVOID MISTAKE #8: Uploading the documents that are not fitted or unclear
During our first submission, we took photos of the documents on our phone and uploaded them onto the application. However, we didn’t crop them to make them “fit.” We got rejected and had to resubmit with cropped photos.
REASONS FOR REJECTION
-Rabies and microchip dates are not in Brazilian format, which didn’t exist.
-Rabies and microchip records do not have official stamps from veterinarians, which didn’t exist.
-They needed our US CVI, which didn’t exist.
*We were able to clear the rejections in the Notes section.
-The scans are not clear or fitted, which was luckily an easy fix by cropping the white areas of the picture.
-Digital signature on every document scanned – this part is the trickiest, so keep sniffing below!
How to digitally sign the documents
ARF, here’s the deal: You must digitally sign every document before uploading it onto the application. The signature must be ICP-Brazil compliant, which is Brazil’s criteria for the legality of electronic signatures.
There are several ways to digitally sign a document that meets ICP-Brazil compliance.
#1 Digitally sign on Gov.br: This sounded like the most convenient option, but the catch is that you must be at the Silver or Gold level. Merely signing up for an account online with your CPF will only get you to the Bronze level, which doesn’t allow for digital signatures.
To get to the Silver or Gold level, you must obtain a Digital Certificate by having your identity verified with biometrics by a trusted entity authorized by the Brazilian government. You can find a certifying authority here. You can schedule an in-person or online video conferencing appointment. Once your identity is verified by biometrics, you can go back onto Gov.br to digitally sign the documents before uploading them onto the application.
#2 Digitally sign with a certifying authority: Find a certifying authority trusted by the Brazilian government to issue a qualified e-signature. Locate a certifying authority closest to you here. Again, you can schedule an in-person or online video conferencing appointment to have your identity verified with biometrics.
We went with this option since it was a one-and-done option – we got the Digital Certificate AND the documents digitally signed for about $34 (USD). Since we were only at the Bronze level with Gov.br before obtaining the certificate, we didn’t want to hassle with going back home to do the digital signatures on Gov.br.
#3 Digitally sign with Acrobat Adobe: Since the ICP-Brazil Root CA certificate is part of the Adobe Approved Trust List, you can digitally sign the documents with Adobe. You’ll need to save the ICP-Brasil.acrobatsecuritysettings file onto your computer to proceed. Sniff out all the instructions on how to sign with Adobe here.
AVOID MISTAKE #9: Using DocuSign or any other platform besides Acrobat Adobe – it does NOT work!
As for now, only Adobe is ICP-Brazil compliant.
My human spent endless hours researching other platforms and trying to digitally sign via DocuSign. Although the Ministry accepted it the first time (most likely because our flight was the next day and we had already faced two rejections), they rejected it the second time. Lesson learned – don’t use DocuSign.
AVOID MISTAKE #10: Using Acrobat Pro on Google Chromebook to digitally sign – they are not compatible!
We tried using Adobe to digitally sign, but it didn’t work for us. GRR, we paid to upgrade to Acrobat Pro to get the feature to digitally sign that meets ICP-Brazil. However, the feature is not available on Google Chromebooks. Unless you have a Mac or Windows, don’t waste your time or money. Thankfully, we canceled Pro before the free trial ended. No money wasted, but time (that we will never get back).
OPTIONAL: Once the documents are digitally signed, you can upload them here to see if they pass ICP-Brazil compliance. If it doesn’t pass the validation, your application will be rejected. Hence, do this before uploading the documents onto the application.
If you are having trouble, sniff out their instructional video on digital certification here. Just a BARK OF WARNING that it is in Portuguese, so you’ll need the Google Translate app open if you want to hear it transcribed to English.
Flying Your Dog from Brazil to USA
Once you have the CVI downloaded and printed, your dog is ready to fly to the U.S.! WOOF-HOO! Get my tips and tricks on how to survive a long-haul flight HERE.
Again, your dog must arrive at one of 18 airports with a CDC quarantine station for inspection: Anchorage (ANC), Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Minneapolis (MSP), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO), San Juan (SJU), Seattle (SEA), Washington DC Dulles (IAD).
Although it was a quick inspection for us at SFO (San Francisco), I cannot bark the same for other airports. Plus, it could also depend on the inspection officer. Regardless, have all your paperwork handy and bathe your dog a few days before the flight for Foot & Mouth Disease clearance.
Be sure to get your furry paws on my guide on How to Travel with Your Dog: Roger Wellington’s Expert Guide to International Dog Travel.
WOOF, hope you bring your dog from Brazil to USA. smoothly and safely! Need more help with the process? BARK AT ME.
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob