How to Bring Your Pet to China | Expat Guide

“That is one expensive dog” a friend of mine described his wife’s beloved dog. Not because it is a rare breed or won show prices. It’s a regular house dog that enjoys spending his days sleeping on the couch. But that couch is now in China, not in Australia anymore.

How to bring a pet to China using pet relocation services

In addition to hearing the stories of these friends, I’ve also shipped my dog (a golden retriever!) from the United States to Asia.

Hopefully by sharing my own experience, you can get a better understanding of what it takes to ship your pet to China, how much it might cost, and what you need to know.

Requirements | Bring Your Pet to China

China, like most other countries, has a number of different requirements in order to import your dog or cat. These requirements include:

  1. Proof of Rabies Vaccination: Your pet should already have this vaccination, but you’ll need proof.
  2. Vet-Approved Health Certificate: We had to get a health certificate for our dog, and that had to be completed no more than a week prior to my dog’s flight.
  3. China Export Documentation: This documentation comes from your home country for importing your dog or cat to China.
  4. Mandatory Quarantine: Unfortunately, your pet will have to spend between 7-30 days in quarantine upon entering China (time dependent on the rabies status of the country from which the pet is imported).

Keep in mind that there are limits on how many pets you can bring. You can only bring one pet per one adult with a work visa, and in most cities like Beijing, you can only register one pet per address. For most animals, the import is considered commercial.

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Note that bigger dogs (taller than 14 inches or 35 cm) and 41 specific breeds that are deemed violent are banned from Beijing’s city center. So your golden retriever may be too big to live within the fifth ring road. Bulldogs and other breeds are not allowed at all. Check here for a list of dog breeds that aren’t allowed in Beijing.

Dogs need to be registered in Beijing, as with many other major cities in China. You can register only one dog per household address, so you may need a friend’s address if you have more than one dog. Detailed information about registering your pet in Beijing can be found on the International Center for Veterinary Services in China.

This is China, so regulations seem to change often and even differ by point of entry, so best check with a company that specializes in international pet travel or relocation. In my case, I used a pet relocation service in Texas, U.S.A. (my home city) that helped with all the paperwork. It was more expensive, but it was so much easier.

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Consider How to Get Your Pet Back Home

Truth be told, my Australian friend’s next headache will be to get their furry family member back home once his assignment in Beijing is completed. Australia doesn’t consider China a safe country for pets to come from. And for such “unapproved countries” special import requirements apply, including a long quarantine apply.

The important point to note here is that there are special regulations to consider for bringing your pets back home. Here are websites with more info with the following countries:

Bringing a pet back to Europe is easier. Most European countries require a blood titer test to confirm antibodies against rabies if your pet comes from a high rabies country like China. The test is performed in Switzerland, so a blood sample is sent around the world.

In most cases you’ll find that your pet needs a rabies vaccination, a checkup from a certified China veterinarian, a microchip (which needs to be implanted before the vaccination) and other paperwork. Adhering to the required timeline between vaccination, blood test and travel requires some advance planning, so start your research early to avoid quarantine.

The US requires rabies vaccination and for dogs proof of screwworm treatment when coming from China. Compared to Australia, very straightforward and easy.

So before you decide to bring your dog or cat to China, you need to find out how difficult it will be to bring you pet home, or on to your next assignment, after spending time in China. This will differ for all countries. Of course the same applies for a pet you adopt here.

How Much Does Pet Relocation Cost?

The cost of having your pet come with you to China will vary by type and size of animal, country of origin, use of a professional pet moving company etc.

For example, if you’re shipping a large breed dog to China from the United States using a pet relocation service, you can expect to pay as much as US$5,000. Smaller breeds are obviously cheaper as would be arranging all the shipping/paperwork yourself.

No matter what method or country, you should budget at least a couple thousand dollars to bring your pet to China.

If you are sent to China by your company they will usually pay for relocating your spouse, kids and household items. For pets however, you’ll typically have to pay yourself.

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Consider the Costs for You and Your Pet

Given the cost and the stress for the animal and also the quarantine requirements, it only makes sense to bring your furry friend if you are staying in China for a longer period of time. It also matters whether your dog or cat is healthy. Get all the information about importing and exporting your pet before making the decision.

Some pets are skittish and would likely be traumatized by such an international trip. You also need to think about what it will be like to have a pet in China. For example, let’s say you want to get away for a little while to see other parts of Asia. Who is going to watch your pet while you’re gone?

In some cases, it would be better to leave your dog with friends and family until you return.

I realize that your pet might be a part of your family, and the thought of leaving them behind is crazy. Consider their health, though, and make sure it’s a good idea both for your pocketbook as well as their well-being.

Final Thoughts | Pet Relocation to China

I’ve relocated my pet to Asia and it was worth it for the sake of my wife and kids. My dog survived the trip without any issue and we got through quarantine quickly. I won’t lie, though…it cost me a lot of money.

Hopefully my experience has given you a bit more information and maybe put your mind at ease. It’s possible but there’s definitely a lot of prep work that needs to be done to make it happen.

What is your experience with bringing your pet to China? Please share in the comments so other dog and cat lovers can learn from you!


How to Bring Your Pet to China | Expat Guide — 42 Comments

  1. My husband is considering a job in Beijing.
    I have four pets (my four-legged children) – a dog (snub nosed – shih Tzu) and three cats – and to complicate further, one of my cats is 19.
    Are we allowed 4 pets? And, how does that work?
    I would be happy to make two trips if that is necessary (I don’t want them in the cargo hold – I’ve seen pets in the cabin on Delta on a flight to Moscow and to Seoul)

  2. Hello,

    How about the visa of the pet owner? Can we bring and animal if we have a Z-type visa?
    Or it doesn’t matter at all?

    I got many useful information by calling the airport Veterinary inspection authorities -very professional advises, especially knowing that they are the ones you will be dealing with once you get to the airport.

    Good luck to all of you and please let me know if you have any information about the visa

  3. Hi! I am considering going to China for a year but I can’t go without my 14 year old miniature pincher dog. Quarantine will not work for me or him. Other than failing eyesight, he is very healthy. I am concerned about quarantine conditions and it’s just a plain no. Is there no way that he can stay with me during the flight and avoid quarantine alltogether? And if there is not, will all the stress of quarantine not be to cruel for such an old dog? Please help

    • According to some comments below you may be able to avoid quarantine by going through another city. Someone mentioned Dalian as an option. I think the safest approach is to work with a pet relocation company because rules and enforcement may change without much notice in China.
      Also think about where you go after the year in China. Some countries require quarantine for pets coming out of China.

    • Liz,
      I’ve heard of younger, healthier dogs dying from less stressful trips. I honestly wouldn’t attempt to put him through it. Either find a home for him for a while, or don’t go to China.

  4. Hi, I’m looking to move from the US to Beijing China, I have 2 cats. I’m looking to not have my cats in quarantine and heard a domestic passport allows you to do this, is that true? Any suggestions on how to travel with my pets into China, and any insight on costs? Thanks

    • I have not heard that a domestic passport helps to avoid quarantine requirements. As mentioned above, going through another city may be an option. Please contact a pet relocation company for cost estimates. I only know that it is not cheap.

    • No, that was the only city near Beijing in August, so we came through Dalian and but our plane tickets to Beijing from there!

  5. We are moving from Changchun, China to Hanoi, Vietnam and need to know what is required to bring our small dog. We moved to China 6 months ago from the US and brought our dog with us. What is it going to take to exit China and go to Vietnam? Please help!!

    • For exiting China with a pet, please check out the website of the website of the International Center for Veterinary Services mentioned in the post above. I don’t know about Vietnam or a good resource to ask there. Sorry. Best of luck with your move.

    • first of all i suggest to ask the requirements for Vietnam.
      my dog passed a blood test to verify the antibodies to rabies, then i have a passport with all the vaccinations.
      then I passed half a day at the official veterinary hospital of Beijing where they took a blood sample, gave a vermin tablet, made some medical checks, verified the microchip and at the end they issued the certificate for export of which one copy will be given to the quarantine office at the airpot.the other copies are for the Destination country authorities.
      If the dog comes from USA I suppose that he has already a passport, vaccination records and anti rabies test.

  6. Hello!

    I am moving to Beijing for work but will enter on a tourist visa and obtain a work visa within the first 30 days of arriving. Is it possible to bring a cat to Beijing on a tourist Visa? I hope so 😐

    • Hi Brittany

      I am moving to Qingdao with my cat too. How about quarantine, have you found a way to scape it?

  7. hi All,
    I am going to travel with my dog from Ukraine to Beijing. I have read lots of information regarding Beijing regulations but I could never find the list of necessary documents. Does anyone have it?
    And what frightens me the most is a quarantine. I don’t want to leave my dog for any time in a strange place and people he doesn’t know.Is there any chance to skip this quarantine?
    Will be grateful for any comments.
    Thank you

    • only if you have a diplomatic status and a not verbal from your embassy requesting to allow to pass the quarantene at your domicile

      • Dear Laura,

        I am a Turkish diplomat and will move to Shanghai in April with two cats. What you are suggesting is based on experience? Kind regards,

  8. Hi,

    I will be moving to China from the United States with my cat. We will arrive in Shanghai but will live in Nantong. I’ve heard that I could do the first 7 days in the quarantine facility and the remainder days in my home. Is that true? Thank you!

    • Hi Brook.

      Did you found an answer to your problem?? I am moving with my cat and have the same question

  9. Hi, we are moving from Australia to Shenzen this year. I have read that some entry entry ports don’t have quarantine facilities so they ask you to quarantine your pet in your home for 30 days. Allowing you to avoid leaving your pet with the authorities. Do you know which ports?

    • I heard the same about some entry ports allowing you to quarantine at home but I don’t know which ports. You may want to ask at the International Center for Veterinary Services. Also think about moving back to Australia after China – as far as I know Australia imposes long quarantine for pets coming from China.

    • Hi everyone,I’m a Chinese student,saw you all are worrying about the quarantine issue. so now sharing my experience,maybe can help you guys a little bit. I brought my Pug back from US two years ago, and FREE of QUARANTINE! You have two options: 1.come to China via Guangzhou airport fly with your pet,you only need prepare all the necessary documents for your Australia airport, this is the most cost saving way. 2.Find a Chinese agent and ship your pet as cargo to HongKong airport, then let the agent take your pet back to Guangzhou.but it’s expensive! one of my friend bought a ragdoll cat from Australia, and shipped back in that way.

      • Thank you for sharing Mathew! It seems, in China there is always a workaround if you know people 😉

      • What if your final destination is Beijing? Are there any further requirements for flying your pet from Guangzhou to Beijing, though?

      • Hi Mathew, this is great news. I have a pug and am considering moving to Wuhan. So are you saying prepare the US paperwork in say San Francisco to Guangzhou. Then bring my pug on board, fly with him, and I should be ok at Guangzhou side?

      • Hi Matthew,

        I have 2 cats and would like to join my son , in Ningbo for a year. I naturally will be traveling on a tourist visa for 30days and will be extending it , thereafter.
        Can you please indicate if this is possible?

      • Hi Mathew,
        I’m looking at travelling with a pug as well but have been having a lot of problems finding airlines that will take snub nosed breeds. Do you have any insight as to both domestic and international carriers that will accept them? Also, I’m having trouble finding agents as my route is a little more complex. Is there anyone you would recommend using?
        It’s been so hard finding information that any help you could offer would be very appreciated!

      • Mathew I actually might be coming to Guangzhou china to teach English and I am in process of talking to the company about bringing my cay on board with me. Because one helps with my fears of flying and because she is family. would they quarantine her there at that airport? Because no one else can touch her but me. She is stubborn that way.

    • Just so you know returning the pet to Austrailia will be super super expensive.

      Austrailia does not allow for direct import of pets from PRC (Mainland China) and requires the animal spend 6 months in an intermediate/approved country such as hong kong or taiwan.

      • You are right Brandon. It’s not just about getting the pet to China, but also about getting it back home. Australia is one of the more difficult countries for that.

  10. Hi everyone,

    great and helpful article! I´m moving to Changde, Hunan this year from Germany. I have a 4 months old pug.
    Anyone has experience with Hunan or Changde? And is there any way to avoid this quarantine? Or maybe to stay in quarantine with your dog and care for it yourself?
    I think the thought of letting here alone is horrifying.
    Thanks for your replies!

    • Thank you Isabel!
      I think I read somewhere when I researched for this post that smaller cities are easier. The International Center for Veterinary Services mentioned above may still be able to help you. I also found this website for Hunan province. Best of luck!

  11. I want to bring my dog from Indonesia to China in July 2016 to stay here for two years. He is a dachshound and weights about 7-9 kg. Can you give me information of where I can look to find the best way of bringing him here with me!

  12. I am coming from South Korea to Zhengzhou China, I am anticipating my large dog to be in quarantine, how much approximately is the cost?


    • Hi Sharron, I don’t know about the cost but think they may vary between cities. You may want to contact the International Center for Veterinary Services mentioned in my post above. Good luck with the move!

  13. I’m moving to Beijing from another city in China and am wondering if there are places in Beijing that will care for and house a cat for several weeks this summer? I’m looking for a kennel. Thanks!

    • Yes, there are kennels in Beijing. A friend uses doctors beck and stone for her dog. They also take cats. Hope this helps.