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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 GoPetFriendly.com's The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip

Documents Needed For Traveling With Pets to Canada

Proof of Rabies Vaccination

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. 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?

Traveling with your pets to Canada without a proper rabies certificate will 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 must be paid 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 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. While it’s a bit of a hassle, it’s easier than being held up at the border!

Dogs flying to Canada must 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

Taking Pet Food and Treats into Canada

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, 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 GoPetFriendly.com 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 must be 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 GoPetFriendly.com 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 are allowed to 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.

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.

Pit bull dog with his head out the car window

 

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  • Melinda Pate says:

    We will be in Canada in Sept. My 10 yr old lab has diabetes and Cushings she is exempt from vaccinations as is my 19 yr old terrier. Will Canada recognize a letter of exemption from my vet? Do to health issues.

  • Lisa says:

    Hi I have dog service 150lbs Rottweiler. my husband and I are deaf.. is he okay to come to Canada with us as fulltimer travel RV with my family of 6 for two months?

  • Ray says:

    Good morning,

    My dog is 3/4 bulldog and 1/4 Beagle, do you think he would be ok to travel in Ontario?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hello Ray! Thanks so much for your note. Yes, you and your pup should be fine traveling in Ontario. Though, if there’s any question that he could possibly be mistaken for a pitbull, I recommend carrying some paperwork (like his rabies certificate) that states his breed. I hope that helps and that you have a safe and fun trip together!

  • Deb says:

    Hi, we are traveling to Ontario in August for a week with our Belgian Malinois. She is a Service Dog. My question is this…when coming back into the US will there be an issue bringing back unused treats/food?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Deb! When crossing the border from Canada into the US all food and treats are to be in their original packaging and unopened. That being said, it’s my experience that the border agents rarely ask about pet food. If you bring opened food and treats to the border and are asked, you’d likely be required to throw them out. I hope that helps and that you have a great trip!

  • Michelle says:

    Hi! We’re planning to go to Ontario in August/September. We have a 2 year old English bulldog with all vaccines up to date and documentation to confirm. He is not a mix breed – however, sometimes walking him here in the U.S., he gets mistaken for a pit bull because he has a longer, not so bulldog like face. Would this cause us issues crossing the U.S./Canadian border by car?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Michelle! In my experience, the general public isn’t very good at identifying dog breeds. My hope is that the authorities in Ontario would be able to distinguish between a pitbull and an English Bulldog. But, just in case, I’d recommend carrying paperwork with you that states your dog’s breed. That way if there’s any question, you can avoid any trouble. I hope that helps, and that you have a great trip!

      • Michelle says:

        Thank you so much Amy! We’ve never travelled with our fur baby so we’re super anxious. Anything we can do to avoid confusion/issues! Thank you again!

        • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

          I’m happy to help! Traveling with pets is like anything else – once you’ve done it a few times, it’s easy. Safe travels!

  • Esthur says:

    hello – thinking of taking my English Mastiff road trip to Montreal from NJ, so will pass thru ON. Is Mastiff allowed traveling in Ontario and Quebec provinces?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hello Esthur! Thanks so much for your note. Yes, Mastiffs are welcome in Ontario and Quebec provinces. We hope you and your buddy have a terrific trip!

  • Sherry says:

    Hi, I’m going to Niagra falls with my 2 month old pomeranian. She doesn’t have rabies vaccination yet because she’s too young for it but she is updated with all her other vaccinations. Do you think I will have a problem bringing her in and back the US? Thanks!

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Sherry! The good news is that you’ll have no problem coming back into the US with your pup. In January 2019, dogs traveling across the border from Canada by car are no longer required required to present a rabies vaccination certificate. Crossing into Canada does still require a rabies certificate for dogs older than 3 months, so just be sure to take along paperwork that proves your pup’s age. Safe travels and waggin’ trails to you!

  • Britt says:

    Hey there, I was going to take a day trip across the border and head to the Capilano Suspension bridge Park with my pup. Do I need paperwork to cross into Canada and back into the US for him? The Canada website is a little unclear. I have 34 pound corgi mix with sheltie and would bring him a baggie of dog food?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Britt! Thanks for your note. Yes, when crossing into Canada you’ll need to have your dog’s rabies vaccination certificate. Also, the official guidance says that any pet food or treats you take across the border needs to be unopened in it’s original packaging. In my experience, the border agents rarely ask about pet food or treats, so you might not having a problem taking a baggie of food across. However, if you are asked, it’s likely you’d need to throw out any opened pet food or treats.

      I hope that helps and that you both have a great day!

  • Cathy says:

    Hi! We’re planning to go to Squamish BC in Canada, is it on to bring our pitbull there

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Cathy! Thanks for your note. Yes, taking your pittie to BC shouldn’t be a problem. The only province-wide ban is in Ontario. There may be some municipalities in BC with restrictions, but I’m sure you’re used to doing that type of research when traveling with a pitbull. Here’s a blog post that has some tips for traveling with a breed of dog that’s restricted: https://blog.gopetfriendly.com/tips-for-traveling-with-pitbulls/

      I hope that helps and that you all have a great trip together!

  • Max Micozzi says:

    We are visiting Victoria from the US. We have 2 small chihuahuas, in which 1 has been cleared from receiving rabies vaccines due to side effects. I am more worried about this coming back into the US. What do you think may happen at the border? Thx

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Max! The US no longer requires rabies vaccination certificates to be presented at the border when driving in from either Canada or Mexico. If crossing back into the US is your concern, you should not have any problems. I hope that helps, and that you have a great trip!

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