The regulations in place in Japan limit the import of pets to control the potential for rabies to be introduced. It’s the obligation of the importer to organize all aspects of the documentation and bear all related costs. This includes all of the treatments and inspections in the origin country, preparation of documentation, transport of pets, the import inspection procedures on arrival in Japan, all of the caretaking and feeding during quarantine, onsite examination and treatment by qualified veterinarians, completion of inspection, and reclaiming and return of the pet. In addition to this the examination and treatment is only allowed in the designated facility.
On arrival in Japan, there is a set quarantine period to screen out rabies and in the case of dogs also leptospirosis. To ensure that the pets have not contracted diseases in isolation from other animals or humans all pets will be held in quarantine at the Animal Quarantine Service (AQS). There are certain ports where dogs can only be imported, you can check out the details here.
Regardless of how you bring your pets to Japan, you are required to submit an Advance Notification Form to the Animal Quarantine Service office in the arrival port at least 40 days prior to arrival in Japan. After receiving the Advance Notification, the AQS will confirm the import quarantine timing and issue an Approval of Notification to the importer. If the quarantine facility is full, you will be told to use another arrival port. You will need both the Approval of Notification and the relevant Approval Number during import inspection in Japan.
The import of animals from specific regions can be as fast as 12 hours, so long as it has come from a designated region and specific requirements are met. Outside of these areas you need to follow this process. First your dog or cat needs to be identified with a microchip, which will be confirmed and checked against the number on the certificate issued by the responsible government agency of the country of export. If the microchip is not ISO compliant, please bring the required microchip reader with you. Rabies vaccinations are required, with inactivated or recombinant vaccines at least twice after the microchip has been fitted. Your pet needs to be at least 91 days old at the time of vaccination, and the second (or booster) vaccinations must be done more than 31 days after the previous vaccination and within the effective period of the previous vaccination.
After the second rabies injection blood testing must be done to determine the levels of rabies antibody levels at a designated laboratory. Results are valid for two years after the date of the blood sampling, which must be taken on the day of the second vaccination or within its effective period. For dogs you must accompany the serum with a health certificate, you can see an example form here.
Dogs and cats are required to wait for 180 days between the date of blood sampling and their arrival in Japan. If they arrive before this time they will be subject to AQS quarantine to make up the difference, and they must arrive in Japan within the two year period of the blood test result. Finally, you require a certificate from the export country that confirms your pet is not suspected of having rabies (as well as leptospirosis for dogs) if possible no more than two days before departure. Your pet should be in good health before departure. On arrival in Japan, all documents are to be submitted to AQS and if there have been any omissions the animal will be subject to up to 180 days stay in a quarantine facility. It’s the importers responsibility to take care of their pets during the quarantine period.