2023 03/15

Living Together With Your Pets in Japan

If you are a non-Japanese resident thinking about bringing your cats, dogs, or maybe birds to Japan, or about to have a new pet in a new home in Japan, then this article is for you. We will cover the basics for starting a new life in Japan with your beloved ones.

Importing Your Pets to Japan

Just like you have to write some papers and go to the government office to register as a resident from abroad, pets have to undergo certain procedures in order to continue living with their owners. In this article, we will mainly cover the steps for dogs and cats.

The first step is to check whether you and your dog or cat comes from “designated regions” or not. The category consists of six regions: Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Hawaii, and Guam. The regions are identified by MAFF as those that are free of rabies, since Japan is a rabies-free country.

If this applies, then owners have to install into their dog or cat a microchip that complies with ISO 11784 and 11785. The microchip is necessary for identifying each pet and checking for diseases after arrival.

Next, owners are required to submit an import notification form 40 days prior to arrival. The form should be sent to the animal quarantine station that is in charge of the airport or port where the pet and its owner plan to arrive.

Then, dogs and cats will have to undergo certain examinations before departure. After this is cleared, a certificate from the government office in your country will be necessary to show its country of origin.

Finally, after your arrival, an import inspection is performed at the animal quarantine station. If your dog or cat meets all checkpoints in this inspection, then it will be released from the site in at most 12 hours. Otherwise, it may have to go through at most 180 days of detention quarantine or be returned to the original country.

In case that your dog or cat comes from outside the designated regions, additional steps will have to be taken. After installing your dog or cat with a microchip, rabies vaccines must be given at least 2 times. Following the second vaccination, a rabies antibody test must be performed at one of the designated laboratories, where the blood sample is sent. If your pet passes this test, then it is required to wait for 180 days or more before arriving in Japan. Owners must make sure that the arrival date is within the expiry period of the rabies vaccine administered and the validity period of the rabies antibody test.

There are also specific requirements for importing animals other than dogs and cats, such as birds, fish, and hamsters. It is highly recommended that pet owners refer to the latest information well before departure.

Registration Steps for Dog Owners

If you own a dog, then you must register your dog at the local municipal office in the ward of your residence within 30 days of arrival. After the registration, your dog will receive an inu-kansatsu, or a dog license that must be worn on the collar at all times.

Pet owners must report any changes in the registered information, such as address change, pet ownership change, or death.

Finding a New Home for You and Your Pet

Most apartments and mansions in Japan put regulations on living together with pets. Aside from those relevant rules that the management association of the condominium had already set when the building was built, property owners can also decide on these regulations in order to prevent conflicts between neighbors and residents, which can come from complaints about the pets’ smell, noise, and furs left behind.

Moreover, landlords would have to make security deposits more expensive if they allowed pets into their property, as additional repairs might become needed after the tenant leaves.

Pet owners should check whether the rental property is pet-friendly, or petto ka (ペット可). Finding such housing can be difficult and stressful, but when you do eventually find one, it can offer a great variety of services, such as foot baths, playing grounds, and leash hooks. One thing to remember, HouseRep Tokyo will always be here to help if you find it difficult to look for pet-friendly properties, we will take over all the complicated processes for you in a professional, efficient, and speedy way.

In addition, requirements should be carefully examined. The common requirements can include:

• Dogs and Cats Only Allowed

• Dogs Only Allowed

• Number of Pets is Limited

• Allowed depending on Dog Size

• Allowed depending on the Dog Breed

Owners of dogs usually need to provide additional documents, including a dog license and rabies vaccination certificate upon signing the property lease contract.

Responsibilities of Being a Pet Owner in Japan

Following Pet Etiquette in Japan

Pet owners need to be aware of the rules and manners in Japan, which may be different from their country of origin.

In particular, dog owners need to keep their dogs on the leash whenever they go for a walk with their dogs. Also, bringing a waste bag and a bottle of water for cleaning is an important etiquette in Japan.

Other things to keep in mind can include when taking your pet to a restaurant or café—make sure to confirm with the store that pets are welcome.

Also, taking public transport such as trains and taxis with you pet is allowed as long as you keep them in a cage that meets size restrictions.

Keeping your pet healthy and entertained

One problem that pet owners new to Japan may bump into is the lack of area for their pets to run around in. The small apartment or home size in Japan would not have enough room to make a large garden for your pets.

Fortunately, Japanese residents can take advantage of various Japanese pet products made to make the best out of the small spaces. Your dogs and cats in Japan can entertain themselves with climbers, electronic mice and balls, and chew toys. You can even find weird items like a small bed that looks like Totoro, a small bathtub, or a cup of noodles!

Foreign pet owners can also enjoy themselves and their pets with exciting dog runs and beautiful dog parks, even in crowded cities like Tokyo.

In case of emergency

Pet owners should know what to do whenever your pet catches a disease, or maybe not feel great upon adjusting to a new lifestyle. Foreign pet owners are recommended to check in advance if there is an animal hospital nearby, and whether the vet of staff can communicate in English. Treatment methods may be different from those in other countries, so you should make sure that your troubles, requests, or concerns are understood.