The idea of traveling with your pets to Canada may make you nervous, but that doesn’t need to be the case! Our dogs have traveled with us across the border many times over the years, and we’re happy to share the tricks we’ve learned.
Contrary to popular belief, an encyclopedic knowledge of hockey is not required to get into the country. But there are some documents you’ll need.
And if you’re planning to travel to or through Ontario with a bully breed, please pay special attention to the section at the end of this post.
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Most U.S. citizens can travel freely to and from Canada, as long as you present the right paperwork at the border. Those traveling for work, school, or with the intention moving permanently, will likely need a visa. But if you’re just visiting, you can stay in Canada up to six months with with just proof of U.S. citizenship and identification.
A U.S. passport will serve as proof of both citizenship and identification. And, for those who meet the requirements, these additional options for identification may also be acceptable:
Children younger than 16 who are traveling with both parents can use their birth certificate as identification. However, only birth certificates issued by the Vital Records Department in the state of birth are acceptable.
If you’re traveling with a child for whom you share custody, or you’re not the child’s parent or legal guardian, additional documents will be needed. You can learn more about those requirements on the US Customs and Border Protection and Canada Border Services Agency websites.
If you’ll be spending the night in Canada, you’ll also need to find a great pet-friendly hotel! Canada has many hotels that welcome pets, and it’s easy to find the perfect spot by searching online.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency sets the policies for traveling with your pets to Canada. They require that dogs older than 3 months have a current rabies vaccination. For dogs younger than three months, proof of age must be provided upon request.
Here is the official statement describing what must be included on the rabies certificate:
Domestic or pet dogs may enter Canada if accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Certificates must be issued by a licensed veterinarian in English or French and clearly identify the dog by breed, color, weight, etc.
The certificate must state that the pet is currently vaccinated against rabies and indicate the trade name of the rabies vaccine used, including serial number and duration of validity (up to three years).
If the duration of validity is not indicated on the certificate, the vaccine will be considered to be valid for one year.
If you’re traveling to Canada with a cat, we have a special blog post just for you!
Canada does not impose a quarantine on pets arriving from any country. Additionally, Canada does not require a vaccination waiting period. Your is welcome to enter Canada immediately after he or she receives the rabies vaccination.
Traveling with your pets to Canada without a proper rabies certificate will mean jumping through additional hoops. Your dog will have to be vaccinated against rabies within two weeks of arrival. Once the vaccination is administered, you’ll have to submit the vaccination record to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency office.
In addition to the cost of the vaccination, you will be charged administrative fees. These fees must be paid when crossing the border, and are $55.00 + tax for the first animal plus $30.00 + tax for each additional animal.
Generally, health certificates are not necessary when traveling with your pets to Canada. It is possible for the border agents to refer any animal crossing the border for secondary inspection. But as long as your dog is healthy, it’s unlikely this will happen to you.
If a dog appears to be ill, the border agents may request a health certificate from a veterinarian. Their primary concern is that the dog’s condition is not contagious. We recommend that anyone traveling with a dog whose health could be questioned get a health certificate from their vet before their trip. It’s easier than potentially being held up at the border.
Dogs flying to Canada must meet the requirements of the airline on which they’ll be traveling. Most carriers require that all pets have a current health certificate.
Visitors traveling with pets to Canada from the U.S. are allowed to bring 20 kg (44 pounds) of pet food and treats into Canada, if they meets all of the following requirements:
For longer trips, or if you’re traveling through Canada to or from Alaska, consider taking a dehydrated pet food with you. We love The Honest Kitchen dog food and easy to travel with … a 10 pound box makes 40 pounds of food!
All dogs must appear healthy to enter the United States. And depending upon what country the dogs are coming from, they may need a valid rabies vaccination certificate.
In December 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their rabies vaccination requirements for dogs entering the United States. Now, only dogs coming into the U.S. from counties considered high-risk for importing rabies must have a rabies certificate. The list of countries can be viewed on the CDC website, and Canada is not among them. So, dogs coming to the U.S. from Canada no longer require a rabies vaccination certificate.
Like in Canada, if your dog is healthy he won’t need a health certificate to come into the U.S. If there could be any question about his health, we recommend getting a health certificate from a veterinarian that states his condition is not contagious.
Up to 50 pounds of pet food purchased in Canada can be brought into the United States, provided the following requirements are met:
The requirements are pretty straight forward. But if you’re still losing sleep, here’s what it’s really like to cross the border with your pets.
Ontario has an ugly Breed Specific Law that bans “pit bull-type” dogs from the province. Police and animal control officers are granted sweeping powers to search for and seize any dog deemed to be a “pit bull-type” based on visual inspection.
If the dog is determined to be a pit bull-type, the dog will be euthanized – even though it may not have broken any other law. Here is a summary of the law from Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General.
There are no exceptions to this law for tourists traveling with their pets. Anyone having a dog that could be mistaken for a pit bull is urged to carry documents proving your dog’s pedigree when traveling in Ontario.
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