While transporting fish and other aquatic pets across state, territory, or international borders is not as common as transporting other pets, it does occur, such as when people relocate and take the animals from their aquarium or koi pond with them.
When considering interstate or international travel for your pet fish or other aquatic animal, plan ahead because some preparations may need to start months in advance.
The information contained in this section is supplemental to Transporting Animals - Basic Requirements and Considerations and Basic Timeline for Interstate and International Travel with Animals, which apply to all animal species. In addition, please review the following AVMA resources, which were designed with pets and pet owners in mind.
Know the requirements and restrictions for transporting aquatic animals
Some aquatic animals, such as piranha, that are kept as pets are actually regulated, and their ownership, possession, or transport may be restricted or prohibited by fish and wildlife authorities in some locations. Other aquatic animals, such goldfish, do not require special permits for people to own. A similar dichotomy exists for the aquatic plants that might be incorporated into your aquarium or pond. If you are unsure whether or not the species of aquatic life you have requires a permit to keep or move, check with your state wildlife management agency. For a more detailed discussion on movement of wildlife species, please see Transporting Wildlife Species or Their Hybrids; for a more detailed discussion on transporting commercial fish and other farmed aquatic animals, please visit Transporting Livestock - Including Alternative Livestock, Poultry, Aquaculture, and Livestock Kept as Pets.
Countries, territories, states, and even public modes of transportation have requirements and restrictions on the transport of animals. Depending on the species of fish or other aquatic animal you have and where you are going, a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) may be required by the authorities at destination. In addition, a permit or other documents may be needed if your animal is a regulated species. Be aware that some countries and states may require your animal to be placed in quarantine upon arrival.
It is your responsibility to comply with the import requirements of the authorities at the destination, and the chart below will help you find the rules and regulations that impact you and your fish or other aquatic animal. In addition, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association may be able to assist you with your animal’s international travel.
|What type of travel?
||Where to find requirements and restrictions?
|By public air, rail, bus, or boat ||Check with the carrier line that you will be using.
|Interstate (travel across state or territory borders within the U.S.) ||Check for requirements of your destination location and the contact information of the animal health authority on the USDA’s webpage, State Regulations for Importing Animals.
AND If your fish or other aquatic animals are a regulated species (piranha, marine mammals, sea turtles, etc.), check with the involved state wildlife management agencies in your state and the state of destination to learn if you may legally own and transport the species, what the requirements are to do so, and what to do if you are not allowed to have the species.
|International travel from the U.S. (exporting) ||Contact the consulate or embassy of the country of destination or the country’s animal health authority for information on the importation requirements.
AND Check the USDA’s Animal and Animal Product Export Information, including if an import permit is required and if a designated port needs to be used.
AND Depending on the species you have, you may also need to check with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
|International travel into the U.S. (importing) ||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
AND National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
AND USDA’s Animal and Animal Product Import Information, including if an import permit is required and if a designated port needs to be used. USDA has import regulations pertaining to species of fish that are susceptible to Spring viremia of carp (SVC). Please check with the agency for the most current list.
AND Check for the import requirements for the state of destination on the USDA’s webpage, State Regulations for Importing Animals, as well as the involved state wildlife management agencies.