As of now, servicemembers moving to Japan after June 6 may have to add microchips to their pets and follow other new Japanese pet immigration rules or see those pets quarantined for 180 days.

U.S-Japanese negotiations continue about how the new rules should apply to those in Japan under the status of forces agreement. But those about to bring pets to Japan should follow the new procedures anyway, the U.S. Forces Japan’s veterinary command Web site recommends.

A quarantine system for animals entering Japan began in November 2004 but the grace period lasts until June.

“How to apply the new system to pets [that] belong to and travel with SOFA personnel is yet to be agreed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and USFJ,” said Koichi Tsunokami of the Animal Quarantine Service, Yokohama. “We have been discussing the issue since December but agreement is yet to be made.”

USFJ’s veterinary command Web site,, gives instruction and provides a checklist that follows the new Japanese regulations. The Japanese law includes the following:

¶ If using commercial transportation, the pet owner must notify the animal quarantine section at the destination airport or port no later than 40 days before arrival. The notification form, which can be found at the veterinary command Web site, must be mailed or faxed to the destination. A list of airport and entry point addresses is available at

Pet owners arriving on military transportation don’t need to provide advance notice, according to USFJ’s Personal Property Consignment Instruction Guide.

¶ The pet must have an identifying microchip inserted under the skin. Multiple types of microchips are available in the United States but not all immigration offices can read them.

Versions of two chips available in the States that can be read in Japan and Europe, according to, are the Home Again chip, manufactured by Destron Fearing Corp. and known as the Life Chip in Japan, the Destron or Identichip in the United Kingdom and the Indexel in continental Europe; and the EuroChip version of the Avid Chip.

¶ The pet must have a health certificate completed within 10 days of arrival. Forms for the certificate are available at the veterinary command Web site.

¶ The pet must be immunized against rabies at least twice after the microchip is implanted, according to the Japanese regulation. USFJ regulations further require the second vaccination be more than 30 days and less than 12 months before arrival.

¶ The pet also must undergo a viral antibody test, which is valid for up to two years. An antibody level of 0.5 IU per milliliter or higher triggers the 180-day quarantine period, according to the Japanese regulations.

“It sounds [like] a lengthy process, but once all the requirements are met, the quarantine at the arrival airport or port is much simpler and easier,” Tsunokami said. “We ask American people to give understanding and support to our new quarantine system.”

Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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