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What Is It Like To Cross the Canadian Border With Your Pets?

Crossing the border into Canada with your pets can be a bit nerve-wracking if you’ve never done it before. And even if you have, pulling up to the border agent’s booth can be a little stressful. Knowing that something you say, the way you say it, how you look, some obscure pattern in your border crossing frequency, the moodiness of the agent, or pure random luck could have you spending some time watching your vehicle being searched and then packing it all back up … well, that causes a certain amount of heartburn.

I try to be polite, but not suspiciously so … it’s a fine line to walk. Answer the questions without getting too chatty, which is hard when I’m nervous! I probably have nothing to worry about. Honestly, if you were looking to smuggle something over the border, what idiot would choose this vehicle combination?

Winnebago View and RAV4

All but one of the times we’ve crossed the border to Canada has been completely uneventful. That one time, we were actually on our way back to the States and were dealing with US border patrol. They did have us pull over and get out while they walked through the RV, opening cabinets and checking in drawers while Buster barked BLOODY MURDER! It only took a few minutes, though it seemed much longer at the time, and then we were on our way.

A couple weeks ago we headed north from Glacier National Park and crossed the border at Port of Roosville, British Columbia. If you haven’t been to Canada with your pets, below is a transcript of the conversation we had with the border agent (which was much the same as we’ve had on previous trips) and is typical of what you should expect:

Crossing the Border to Canada

Amy, pulling up to the window at the border crossing: Hello.

Border Agent: How are you?

Amy: We’re good. How are you today?

Border Agent: Good.

Buster: WOOF, WOOF!!

Rod to Agent: Buster’s says “hello.”

Buster: Woof!

Border Agent: Alright, what is the reason for your visit today?

Amy: We’re visiting Banff and Jasper.

Border Agent: Alright, how long are you going to be there?

Amy: Um, probably a couple of weeks.

Buster: Woof, WOOF.

Border Agent: Any friends or family there?

Amy: No.

Border Agent: Okay, so just tourists?

Amy: Yep.

Buster: WOOF, woof.

Border Agent: Have you been to Canada before?

Amy: Yes, we have.

Border Agent: I thought you spoke Canadian rather well!

Amy: Ha, ha, ha.

Border Agent: The pups’ rabies vaccinations are up to date, right?

Buster: Woof!!

Amy: Yes, they are. We have their certificates if you’d like to see them.

Border Agent: No, that’s fine. Does anybody in the vehicle have any fireworks, firearms, or other weapons?

Amy: No.

Buster: WOOF!

Border Agent: Do you have currency in excess of $10,000?

Buster: Woof, woof.

Amy: No.

Border Agent: Okay. GoPetFriendly? Is this a pet specific rental company?

Amy: No, GoPetFriendly is a website that makes it easy for people to travel with their pets.

Border Agent: Okay. Any currency in excess of $10,000?

Amy: No, sir.

Border Agent: Okay. Do you have any produce or firewood?

Buster: Woof, woof, woof.

Amy: We have bananas.

Border Agent: That’s okay – we don’t grow them here. Okay, anything that’s going to stay in Canada?

Amy: No. (Tough at this point, I can feel Rod thinking … “Buster, if he doesn’t stop barking!”)

Border Agent: Alright, have a good day.

Amy and Rod: Thank you!

And that was it … the whole conversation lasted less than two minutes and we were off, across the border to Canada!

Canada Meme

Yesterday we crossed back over to the States at Sumas, Washington. This is how it went:

Crossing Back into the United States

Amy: Good afternoon.

Border Agent: Are those license plates from South Dakota?

Amy: Yes, we are from South Dakota.

Border Agent: Can I see your IDs? (I handed him our passports.) So, what’s GoPetFriendly.com?

Amy: It’s a website that makes it easy for people to plan trips with their pets.

Border Agent: So, you don’t have any pets now, though, right?

Amy: I do have pets – we have our own two dogs with us.

Border Agent: Oh, okay, but you’re not transporting other people’s pets for them?

Amy and Rod (in stereo): No!

Border Agent: Any fruits and vegetables?

Amy: We did buy strawberries, blueberries and lettuce.

Border Agent: Alright, have a good day.

Amy and Rod (in stereo): Thank you!

And, as easy as that, we were back in the USA.

Although neither border agent asked to see the dogs’ rabies vaccination certificate, I’d never try crossing the border without having their up-to-date documentation in hand. Other than that, as you can see, most of the time it’s a pretty simple process. Just so you have all the facts, we also have some official tips for crossing the Canadian border.

Update: New Requirements for Dogs Entering the United States

On August 11, 2014, the United States enacted new requirements for dog entering the country without proper rabies vaccination records. In the past, pet owners could proceed across the border without proper documentation if they entered into an agreement to vaccinate their dog and isolate him until the inoculation took effect.

Due to an increase in requests for these agreements, an investigation was performed that revealed that many people were not complying with the requirements. Now all requests for confinement agreements will be be individually reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and must be pre-approved before crossing the border into the United States. Find out the steps you need to take to make sure your travel plans are not derailed.

Has your experience crossing the border been the same as ours?

More Tips

Are you planning a trip to Canada with your dog, with your cat, or both?! We have two posts with more information and tips for you here:

Tips for Taking your Dog to Canada from GoPetFriendly.com Tips for Taking Your Cat to Canada from GoPetFriendly.com

Planning a pet friendly trip of your own? We’ll make it easy:
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