Pet Travel. Made Easy.

Traveling With Pets to Canada Just Got Easier

The idea of traveling with your pets to Canada may make you nervous, but there’s really no need to worry! 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.

First, it’s a common belief that you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of hockey to get into the country. That’s not true, 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 “Breed Specific Legislation” section at the end of this post.

Tips for Traveling with Dogs to Canada

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Documents People Need To Travel Between the US and Canada By Car

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 who are planning to move permanently will likely need a visa. But if you’re just visiting, you can stay in Canada up to six months with proof of U.S. citizenship and identification.

A U.S. passport will serve as both proof of citizenship and identification. And, for those who meet the requirements, these additional forms of identification may also be acceptable:

  • U.S. Passport Cards
  • Enhanced Driver’s Licenses
  • Trusted Traveler Cards (Global Entry*, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
  • Military Identification Cards (for members of the U.S. armed forces on official orders)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document (for U.S. citizens on official maritime business)
 The Canadian and U.S. flags flying side-by-side

Traveling with Children

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.

Pet-Friendly Hotels in Canada

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 accommodations by searching online.

Order's The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip

Documents Needed For Traveling With Pets to Canada

Before heading to the border with an animal, make sure you understand the Canadian import and travel requirements. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency sets the policies for traveling with your pets to Canada. Their officers inspect and can refuse entryconfiscate, or detain an animal if:

  • it is undeclared, including family pets
  • you do not have the necessary permits/certificates
  • it is suspected of being sick or infected with a pest or disease
  • the animal is transported in a non-humane way and not kept safe from harm and injury

Proof of Rabies Vaccination

The only document that dogs older than 3 months require is  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. A licensed veterinarian must issue the certificate 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).

The vaccination will be considered valid for one year, unless otherwise indicated. 

Canada does not impose a quarantine on pets arriving from any country. Additionally, Canada does not require a vaccination waiting period. Your pet is welcome to enter Canada immediately after he or she receives the rabies vaccination.


What If You Don’t Have a Valid Rabies Certificate?

The regulations provide no exceptions to the rabies vaccination requirement. Dogs who have had a titers test, or whose veterinarian has recommended against administering the vaccine due to age or health, are not exempt.

Arriving at the Canadian border without a proper rabies certificate will likely mean jumping through some additional hoops. First, 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 of $55.00 + tax for the first animal plus $30.00 + tax for each additional animal. These fees are due when crossing the border.


Health Certificate When Entering Canada

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, this is unlikely to happen.

If a dog appears to be ill, the border agents can 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 a bit of a hassle, but it’s easier than being held up at the border!

Dogs flying to Canada must also meet the requirements of the airline on which they’ll be traveling, and most carriers require that all pets have a current health certificate.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips for Traveling to Canada with a Cat

Personality Traits of Adventure Cats

Pets Must Be Transported Safely

Canada also sets guidelines for the humane transport of all animals. To ensure your pets are safe while you’re traveling, follow these suggestions:

Contain your pet – Animals that could distract the driver should be contained. Some animals, such as cats, might be more comfortable in a vehicle when they are in a carrier. Pets should not be allowed to roam freely in the back of pick-up trucks or be exposed in any way to flying debris.

Watch the weather – Animals should not be kept in parked vehicles for long periods of time, especially in hot or cold weather. If you must leave your pet in a vehicle for a short period of time, ensure it has fresh water and leave windows open a little on either side of the vehicle to create a cross-breeze.

Provide food, water and rest – On long trips, make sure your pet has food and water and that you make regular stops so it can rest or get out and walk around.

Taking Pet Food and Treats into Canada

Visitors traveling with pets to Canada from the U.S. can bring 20 kg (44 pounds) of pet food and treats into Canada, as long as they meets all of the following requirements:

  • The pet food or treats must be purchased in the US, commercially packaged, and unopened
  • The pet food or treats must be in the possession of the traveler at the time of entry
  • The animal that will eat the products must accompany the traveler at the time of entry
  • The products must be fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveler into Canada

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 it’s great for traveling because a 10 pound box makes 40 pounds of food!

Ty and Buster from eating dehydrated dog food from The Honest Kitchen

Documents Needed for Traveling With Pets To The U.S.

All dogs must appear healthy to enter the United States. And depending upon what country the dog is coming from, they may need a valid rabies vaccination certificate.

Dogs Coming from Canada No Longer Need Proof of Rabies Vaccination

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. Canada is not among the list of countries considered high-risk on the CDC website, so proof of rabies vaccination is no longer required for dogs coming to the U.S. from Canada.

Health Certificate When Entering the U.S.

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.

READ MORE ⇒  The Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip

Taking Pet Food and Treats into the U.S.

Up to 50 pounds of pet food purchased in Canada can be brought into the United States, provided the following requirements are met:

  • The food does not contain lamb, sheep, or goat meat
  • The food must be in the original packaging, shelf-stable (not needing refrigeration), and unopened
  • The label on the packaging must clearly list the ingredients and country of origin
  • The food is manufactured in Canada or the United States


In Real Life

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.Ty and Buster from sitting on rocks at Lake Agnes near Lake Louise, AB, Canada

Breed Specific Legislation

Province of Ontario

Ontario has an ugly Breed Specific Law that bans “pitbull-type” dogs from the province. Police and animal control officers can search for and seize any dog deemed to be a “pitbull-type” based on visual inspection.

If the dog is determined to be a “pitbull-type,” the dog is euthanized, though it may not have broken any other law. Here is a summary of the law from Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips for Traveling with Pitbulls

Pit bull dog with his head out the car window

No exceptions to this law are provided for tourists traveling with their pets. So, anyone having a dog that could be mistaken for a pitbull is urged to carry documents proving your dog’s pedigree when traveling in Ontario.

Throughout the rest of Canada, there are municipalities with breed restrictions and bans, but they can be easily avoided. Visit the Justice for Bullies website for a map of locations with breed specific laws.



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  • Denis Martineau says:

    I have purchased a puppy from a breeder in the US last year. The puppy should be 8 weeks old at the end of the month and ready for travel by plane to Canada. Given the recent closure of the border with the US, do you believe it is still possible to import he puppy?


    • Amy at says:

      Hi Denis, and congratulations on your new addition. It’s difficult to say whether there will be flights at the end of the month, due to the coronavirus response. Unfortunately, it could take some time for things to return to normal and for you to be able to get your puppy. I wish you all the best.

  • Erica says:

    I have a 4-months old puppy born in the USA, and I am bringing him to Canada for vacation. He just got his rabies so I would be able to bring him over to Canada, but will I be able to bring him back to the USA? Canada is not included in the high-risk countries, but it also isn’t listed in the rabies-free country so I am worried!!

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Erica! Yes, you’ll have no problem crossing the US – Canada border with your pup. On your way into Canada you’ll need to show his rabies certificate, which must meet all the requirements listed above. On the way home, you won’t need to show any documentation for him. I hope that helps with your concerns and that you have a great time together!

  • JM says:

    we just completed one of those dog-DNA tests and were astonished to see our pup is 40% pittie. we were planning on traveling to Ontario Canada this summer. She is officially listed by her vet as a mixed breed, and she doesn’t look like a pit bull. should i be concerned to travel? FWIW, most people tell me she looks like a basenji!

    • Amy at says:

      Hi JM! Sometimes having more information puts you in a precarious situation. As you know, all pitties and pit mixes are banned from Ontario. Violating the ban can result in your dog being confiscated and euthanized, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. It sounds like the chance that an officer identifies your dog as a pitbull is low, but if they do, you’ll have knowingly broken their law. My advice would be to enjoy one of the other Canadian provinces.

  • Mike says:

    We are only going to be in Canada for 1 night. As far as dry food goes, if I understand correctly. We can bring in a bag (we are just bringing a 4lb bag) as longs as it is sealed. The question is when we come back into the States will we have to discard the remaining food because the bag is opened.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Mike! Technically, pet food crossing the border in both directions is supposed to be sealed. However, border agents rarely ask about it. If you are asked, you’ll likely have to throw it out. I hope that helps and that you have a terrific trip!

  • Devin says:

    I have a three year old American Bulldog and was wondering if they are band from coming into Canada? We are going to visit Montreal and Quebec in April.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Devin! The Justice for Bullies website is the best resource for BSL information in Canada. According to their site, American Bulldogs are not on the list of restricted breeds. My recommendation would be to carry some document from your vet that indicates your dog’s breed, just in case there is any question. You can find out more on the Justice for Bullies website:

  • Kathy says:

    Hi, I will be getting a puppy and he will be less than 3 months old when we travel into Canada. Can we bring him if he has current vaccinations for his age, but not the rabies yet?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Kathy! Yes, just take some document that shows his birthdate so you can prove he’s less than 3 months old. Congratulations on your new addition – I hope you all have a wonderful trip!

  • Lisa F-D says:

    Hello— thank you for the easy to digest information! I’ve been searching the official Canadian government site for travelers. I have not seen anything that indicates a limit on the number of dogs one can travel with. We have three and hope that there is not a limit. Would you know? If not, we’ll reach out to the officials.

    Thank you.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Lisa! As long as they are your personal pets, there are no limit on how many pets you can drive with across the border. I hope that helps and that you all have a wonderful trip!

  • Brandy Cherven says:

    Hi! I work for a non profit rescue in China and was wondering what the rules are for bringing dogs in to Canada from China?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Brandy! I’m not an expert in international pet travel. My advice would be to contact a company like that moves pets all over the world every day. I will say that, in my experience, there are different requirements for pets vs. animals being imported for adoption, so be sure you’re getting the correct information. I wish you the best!

  • Viktoriya Mihaylova says:

    We are traveling from Bulgaria and we understood we need the rabies vaccine. But there is one thing that concern us the certificate for the health of the dog of a prove that the dog is healthy, how many days we have until we fly to Canada. Because the certificate will be made in Bulgaria around March 1st than we drive by car to France and we depart from France to Canada on March 23th. So my question is if we have the certificate made on March 1st and we arrive in Canada march 23th will the certificate still be valid for the Canadian border?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Viktoriya! The rules are different when you’re flying into Canada rather than driving, and the requirements for countries can be different. I’d suggest contacting your airline or the Canadian border authority website to determine what’s required. Good luck, and safe travels.

  • John says:

    What documentation would I need to buy a puppy in Canada and fly back to the U.S.?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi John! You’ll need to contact the airline directly to determine what documentation they require to fly with a puppy. I wish you the best of luck!

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