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.
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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 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:
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 accommodations by searching online.
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 entry, confiscate, or detain an animal if:
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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
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 “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
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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