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Faster checks for inbound pets in place

Wang Xiaodong
Updated: May 8,2019 8:41 AM     China Daily

Pets owners no longer need to be separated from their beloved dogs or cats when they arrive in China from overseas if they meet certain conditions, under a regulation that took effect on May 1.

Dogs or cats with valid electronic chips arriving from 19 designated countries or regions no longer have to undergo weeklong quarantines if they pass on-site inspections at ports of entry, according to the regulation released by the General Administration of Customs in earlier 2019.

The designated countries and regions are New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawaii and Guam of the United States, Jamaica, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Cyprus, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and Singapore, as well as China’s Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Pet dogs and cats from other countries or regions can also be released immediately after passing on-site inspections, providing they have valid electronic chips and their owners have valid reports showing rabies antibody test results from any of 62 authorized laboratories in various countries, according to the regulation.

Certified service dogs, such as guide dogs, will also be free from extended quarantine periods.

If the animals fail to meet the above-mentioned three criteria, they have to be quarantined for 30 days, according to the regulation.

Under previous rules, all pets, except service dogs, had to be placed under quarantine in designated areas for at least seven days, and in some cases 30 days, upon entering the Chinese mainland.

The former General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which supervised entry-exit inspections and quarantines, told China Daily in 2016 that it was considering revising the regulation so pets could be released after passing a simple inspection at ports of entry. The administration was disestablished in the latest government reshuffle and quarantine management functions were merged into the General Administration of Customs.

With a rising number of inbound foreign travelers and Chinese students returning home with pets in tow, the administration issued the new rule in January to facilitate entry.

Shanghai Customs inspected 25 cats and 15 other pets at its ports of entry between May 1 and May 5. Twenty-seven of them were allowed in after on-site inspections. Eleven were put under quarantine, and two were sent back to their original country or region due to the lack of quarantine reports and rabies antibody test results.

Last year alone, 1,577 pets - 822 dogs and 755 cats - entered Shanghai from overseas, customs data show.

Shanghai Customs has been publicizing information on the new regulations through various channels to passengers, including cooperating with more than 60 air carriers, it said.

However, the administration emphasized that quarantine measures for inbound pets are still necessary to eliminate public health security risks, as pets are potentially hosts of many pathogens.

Li Xin, a publicity officer at the administration, said despite simplified quarantine procedures, health risks are under control as the new regulation has detailed stipulations on the circumstances under which pets can enter immediately.