How to Import Pet Birds Into the U.S.A. – Or Export from the UK/EU.

This is from the perspective of importing from the UK into the U.S. I am going to use this to document all my research thus far, so bear with me if it’s incomplete or confusing – those are two words that seem to go together with this process. It’s also the dry, informational post that’s riddled with links. Hopefully it will help anyone else in this kind of situation, as I plan to gather everything into one place… Soon I’ll be back to my bird blogger’s challenge!

Parrotlet and Senegal preparing for international flight.

Parrotlet and Senegal preparing for international flight.

First, you need the appropriate forms for import:

Start by checking out the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention webpage. This will direct you to the first form for import. The user fee for this is $150. To even consider bringing your parrot with you internationally, you must sign that you’ve owned it for at least 90 days, resided outside of the U.S. continually for 1 year, and provide proof that you obtained your pet(s) legally.

They indicate that you must ‘provide a current health certificate issued by a full-time salaried veterinarian employed for the agency responsible for animal health of the national government in the exporting country of origin.’ This must be dated within 30 days of import/export and must travel with the bird.

According to, health certificates that accompany imported live avian shipments must indicate that:

  • Birds or poultry were not vaccinated against any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.
  • The shipment will not transit through any regions where APHIS considers highly pathogenic avian influenza to exist, as listed here on this web page.
  • The birds or poultry have been vaccinated against Newcastle disease (avian paramyxovirus) at least 21 days prior to export, using vaccines that do not contain any velogenic strains of Newcastle disease virus. Or:
  • Birds or poultry have not been vaccinated against Newcastle disease.

Ptak the parrotlet prepares for his flight in an IATA-approved carrier.

Upon arrival in the states, your bird will also be quarantined for 30 days at your own expense at a USDA Import Centre, of which there are three. This is where it gets even more complicated. You will need to contact the centre and book a place for your bird, as well as make sure that a certified veterinarian will be present the day your bird arrives.

New York, NY (718) 553-3570

Miami, FL (305) 526-2926

Los Angeles, CA (310) 725-1970

There is a vet fee on that side, and quarantine usually runs about $400+ for a single pet bird’s full stay in an isolet. Next, consider hiring a broker to check the birds through customs on arrival, as this is what brokers often specialise in. We used H.W. Castaneda off a list the government gave me, and have been very happy with him. He is also arranging the flight to bring the birds to us after quarantine is up. Make sure you contact your broker and stay in touch with him in the weeks preceding the big day, as he is vital to the process.

Whether or not your bird is listed on CITES (and most are), you’ll need this form, here, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This will help you prove that your bird is not wild-caught. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and is signed by dozens of countries worldwide in order to protect both animals and plants from extinction. Budgies and cockatiels are exempt, as are a few others. You will need your parrot’s scientific and common names.

Just as a reference, CITES Appendix 2 birds are easier to import than CITES 1, as they are less endangered. CITES 1 will then need an import and export permit – and I’m afraid I don’t know much about that part. Note that pet passports can be obtained for any pet bird to allow multiple entries to and from a country.

Hand-in-hand with the FWS form, you’ll need to provide information that includes:

  • Your bird’s ID. You’ll want to microchip and band your bird if possible, and record that information.
  • Proof that you have been residing outside the U.S.A. for at least one year (e.g. bank statements or utility bills).
  • Sex of the bird(s).
  • Proof that your bird is captive-bred, such as a signed statement from your bird’s breeder that includes various information listed on the form, or a personal statement signed by yourself that gives all the information you have on the circumstances you obtained your pet.
  • Travel arrangements – how, when, where. Also includes the dimensions of the travel cage and how you’ll care for the animal during transit, if applicable, plus the airline you’ll be travelling with.
  • Port of arrival (one of the four listed above).
  • Various relevant personal info.

Forty-eight hours before your bird ships, you will need to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to alert them that your bird is incoming. Make sure you’ve called quarantine, and checked in with them, too. Finally, you will have to contact the airline with which your pet is shipping and give an okay to forward. This lets them know that someone knows the bird is coming.

When your bird arrives in the States, your broker will collect them and move them through customs. This is very expensive, but totally worth it for me, as someone who has NO IDEA what I’d be doing. After that process, the birds will be placed on a truck that runs to the quarantine centre, and from there moved into isolation.

Finally, before your birdie comes home, you’ll need to check the laws and requirements of whatever state you reside in. The full list of state requirements can be found here. Some states have restrictions on what pet parrots you can own (such as quaker parakeets being illegal in many states), so be prepared and do your research.

Next, the export side of things.

For taking a parrot from the country, you’ll need to visit and locate the appropriate CITES export form.

There will be a heath-certificate involved with DEFRA as well, and here, I cannot advise enough that you hire an animal shipping company. They specialise in this, and will help you. Animal Couriers LTD. submitted the form for us, and it went straight to our usual vet after the 2-week advisory period.

After your vet does his part, you will need to take it to a specific place to be countersigned. Again, this was where Animal Couriers was invaluable to us, as they told us exactly where to go. But remember, you can also pay for them to take care of all of it (and if you can afford it, this is the best option of all). After counter-signing the health certificate, you’re nearly good to go.

Senegal parrot in his IATA-approved travel box.

Ready to export.

Some additional resources that you may find useful if you’re seeking to import a pet parrot:

Leaflet concerning the import and export of pet birds.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol advice.

Tail Feathers Network – advice on moving pet parrots internationally.

U.S. Department of Agriculture.

International Pet and Animal Transportation Association.


National Center for Import and Export – (301) 851-3300


Additional tips: Save everything! Don’t throw any documents or papers away, and try to make photocopies where possible.


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