Importing Dogs to Canada: Crossing the Border with a Pet's Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates

Importing Dogs to Canada: Crossing the Border with a Pet

Are you going to be traveling with your furry friend? Or perhaps you’re buying a dog across the border and bringing it to Canada? There are a few things you’ll need to understand about crossing the border with pets.

Once you do, you’ll find that travelling with a pet is no problem at all.

Things to remember: In both countries, your pet will be visually examined. If your pet appears infected or sick, you may be refused entry or have to undergo a secondary inspection at your own cost. If your pet appears to be physically abused or neglected, you risk having the pet seized from you at the border. If your pet is not well enough to travel, leave it at home or in the care of a professional.

Importing Dogs to Canada

Crossing the border into Canada with a dog might seem intimidating the first time, but once you have made all proper preparations you won’t need to worry.

The first thing you must determine is whether you are bringing the dog for commercial or personal purposes.

If the dog is a pet, it’s a personal import and does not require an import permit. Your dog must have a rabies vaccination certificate with it at the border. Dogs entering Canada under 3 months are exempt from this, but you must provide proof of age. Service dogs are also exempt, provided that the person to whom the dog is assigned to is present and has documentation of the dogs certification. If your dog does not meet these requirements, you will be required to vaccinate the dog within two weeks and provide proof to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. To avoid this hassle, prepare your papers before your trip.

If you are importing dogs to Canada for resale, adoption, breeding, research or show, then it will be considered a commercial import. These dogs must have a rabies vaccination certificate, a veterinary certificate of health, and be microchipped.

Additionally, the person accompanying the dog or dogs must have an import permit. You should apply for an import permit 30 days before crossing the Canadian border with a dog. Dogs under the age of 8 months do not require a permit if you can provide proof that they are registered in a show or competition held by a recognized association. If you are unsure of where you stand, the Canadian government has a quick form to help you determine what kind of import you’ll be doing and which requirements you’ll need to meet.

Things to remember: Some provinces have their own laws regarding animal ownership. Pitbulls and other bully breeds are banned in some places, so you must take it upon yourself to check the local laws of where you cross the border. Ontario, for example, has a pitbull ban which extends even to visitors. Be ready for any possible complications.

Importing Cats to Canada

Bringing cats into Canada is quite simple.

Cats do not need to be quarantined, nor do they need an import permit or a health certificate. However, Canada does not recognize the US as a rabies free country, so any cats coming from there must have a rabies vaccination certificate. Cats under the age of three months are exempt from this requirement.

If you can not provide this certificate at the border, you must vaccinate your cat within two weeks of arrival in Canada and provide proof to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. This is avoidable, so get your vaccines up to date beforehand.

Cats are generally not classified into either personal or commercial imports when they’re accompanying you at the border.

Importing Other Pets to Canada

Smaller pets such as birds, rodents, and fish typically do not need a permit or health certificate to enter Canada. However, there are many different restrictions regarding endangered and non-domesticated species, so you must identify what species of animal you have and be prepared to declare it.

You should also check the local laws at your destination crossing the border with pets. When it comes to small pets, the best way to avoid any trouble at the border is to check out the Canadian Government website. This list allows you figure out what your pet is and be as prepared as possible for your border crossing.

Non-conventional pets such as pigs, chickens, or goats are a little trickier. These kinds of animals, even with domestic veterinary care and vaccinations, are usually regarded as livestock. You must comply with import requirements for farm animals. You can find more information on the specific import requirements in Canada or in the United States online.

Crossing the US Border with a Dog or Cat

Canada and the United States have similar laws, but you should be aware of the differences. At Clearit, we focus exclusively on imports, but we have some advice for leaving the country with Fido too!

The United States has also made crossing the border with a cat simple. Cats do not need to have any documentation.

As with any animal, your cat will be visually examined. If your cat appears ill or neglected, a veterinary exam at the cost of the owner will be performed. You may be denied entry or risk having the cat seized. Additionally, some states do require a rabies vaccination so make sure to check what the laws are at your destination before you arrive.

Crossing the US border with a dog does not need to be a stressful experience either. Fortunately, Canada is not on the list of countries at risk of rabies, so you wont need a vaccination for crossing the US border with a dog. However, Canadian dogs which have recently been in a country with a high rabies risk will face different restrictions. These requirements apply to service and assistance dogs as well.

Always have all your paperwork prepared before you attempt to cross the border with your pet to avoid being turned away.