A little back story: Cass is doing a short tour in South Korea and I chose to move home to Portland while he’s gone. Instead of driving up to the JBLM vet, I decided to do it all with a civilian vet. Then we found out we were able to get on the rotator with the dogs and the unanimous opinion in the Facebook groups I’m in was that it’s worth the hassle to go to a military vet to do the international health certificate. The main reason is that most civilian vets aren’t familiar with the paperwork and there are more steps involved. My vet is AWESOME and did everything she could to help with the process, but she hadn’t done it before and it was a blind leading the blind situation.
I gathered together all the information I found from the USDA APHIS site, the Japan AQS site, and from Facebook groups’ advice. If anything is incorrect, please let me know so I can fix it.
Step 1: Get your dog an international microchip.
My dogs were both chipped with AKC Reunite Chips and according to their website, they are both within the specifications listed on the USDA APHIS site.
Step 2: Two Rabies Vaccinations
If your dog has had the proper chip and has had two rabies shots, you’re good to go.
If you needed to chip your dog, you can get the first shot on the day of the chip and the second shot 32 days after (it needs to be done more than 31 days after the first).
The important thing is that the shots were done AFTER the chip is in place.
***ETA: Make sure there are no gaps between rabies vaccines. I was a few weeks late between Lexi’s two shots and one of the employees at the JBLM vet office noticed when I registered the dogs before making the appointment for the International Health Certificate.
I had recently gotten her a third rabies shot so we were able to redo the FAVN right away and I paid to rush it to get the report before our flight. The vet put all three rabies vaccine dates and both FAVN dates on her health certificate, but the Japanese authorities accepted the second date. Her quarantine start date was set to the second FAVN blood draw date and she had to be quarantined on base for almost five months after we arrived. Luckily we were given on base housing so she got to stay with us.***
Step 3: FAVN Test
Your dog’s blood will need to be tested for the rabies antibody.
My USDA accredited vet did the blood draw and provided the paperwork for my dogs. They also packed everything up for me so all I had to do was fill out my payment information and personal information before taping it up and overnighting it to the approved testing facility.
If your vet doesn’t have the paperwork or information on where to send the blood, I found everything on the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory site (which is the approved testing facility). There are more links and information on the left under “FAVN test”.
Your 180 day waiting period/quarantine starts from the date of the blood draw on the FAVN report. This report is good for up to 2 years so it’s best to do this as early as possible.
If your 180 days aren’t up by the time you arrive in Japan, they have to be quarantined on base for rest of the time. If you get TLF and housing on base, they can stay with you. If the pet friendly rooms are full at lodging and you have to stay off base, your dogs will have to be fostered by someone on base (who doesn’t have pets of their own) or boarded at Karing Kennels.
|I emailed Karing Kennels to find out what to do if we can’t get a pet-friendly room on base when we get there. They said I can make a reservation ahead of time. They’ll need your on-island sponsor’s name/contact information, your name/contact information. If you’re not able to check your dog in, they have paperwork that they’ll have to send to you and you’ll have to send back. They also let me know that they may only be able to book 2 weeks at a time. You can book online here.I found out from a Facebook group post that they have separate PCS slots from regular boarding slots.|
Step 4: Advance Notification
If you’re flying on an AMC flight, you don’t need to do this step.
***ETA: I had a link to a Facebook post that the SeaTac AMC Passenger Terminal had put up that referenced this, but it’s so old it expired. But essentially it said since you’re not entering through a Japanese port of entry, this step doesn’t apply.***
If you’re flying commercially, make sure to do the advance notification more than 40 days ahead of your arrival. There’s a link to notify electronically on the AQS site.
Step 5: International Health Certificate
If you can’t get to a military vet, you’ll have to find a USDA accredited veterinarian. I emailed my state’s NVAP coordinator and they got back to me very quickly with a short list of accredited veterinarians near my zip code.
Japan’s paperwork is a little confusing, but they encourage you to fill it out and send it to them ahead of time to get checked. The USDA APHIS site lists several different form options. Japan’s AQS site suggests Form AC which covers both the health certificate and the exporter’s declaration.
Our plan is to stop off at the veterinarian on JBLM on our way up to SeaTac from Oregon. We need to register Lexi & Gambit with them before setting an appointment and they asked for all of their records, including the FAVN report and rabies certificates.
I hope this helps. If you have questions, let me know and I’ll try to help you out. It’s all very overwhelming, I know. If you see anything incorrect with my guide, please let me know so I can fix it.
Here’s a list of important links (all linked throughout the post). I highly recommend you read over both official government sites carefully (the first two links). They have all the info you need, including links and forms. I personally found the Japanese site to be more helpful.
Japan’s AQS site
SeaTac AMC Passenger Terminal Facebook Page
Okinawa Veterinary Activity (The Veterinary Office on Kadena)
Here are the two groups I got most of my advice from. The people in both groups were incredibly helpful.
Okinawa Pet Information & Supply Sales
Kadena Wives Group
I also wrote our experience flying on the rotator (AMC flight) with the dogs:
Argh! When I thought I was moving back to the States, I looked at what I needed to do to move my cat and gaaah. This seems way more complicated!! Are you excited for Japan?!?
I’m SO excited! I can’t wait to be past all this move stuff and be there already.
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