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

Crossing the Canadian border with your pets can be a bit nerve-wracking – especially 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, some obscure pattern in your border crossing frequency, the moodiness of the agent, or random luck could cause your vehicle to be searched causes a certain amount of heartburn.

Cars lining up to cross the Canadian border from the US

 

Crossing The Canadian Border With Pets

When we pull up to the agent, I try to be polite, but not suspiciously so. Answering the questions without getting too chatty is hard when I’m nervous! I probably have nothing to worry about. Honestly, what idiot would choose to smuggle something over the border in this vehicle?

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All but once our border crossing have been completely uneventful. That time, we were actually on our way back home and were dealing with US border patrol. They did had us pull over and get out of the Winnebago while they walked through opening cabinets and checking in drawers. Buster barked BLOODY MURDER the whole time! It only took a few minutes, though it seemed much longer at the time, and then we were on our way.

If you haven’t been to Canada with your pets, below is a transcript of a conversation we had with the border agent during our last crossing. It’s almost identical to those we’ve had on 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. And you?

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 on vacation.

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

Amy: We’re planning on 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?

Amy: No.

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

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

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

Buster: Woof, woof, woof.

Amy: We have a few 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 (in stereo): Thank you!

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

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When we crossed back over to the United States, 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 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 have 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.

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A Word on Vaccination Certificates

In January 2019, the United States removed the proof of vaccination requirement for pets crossing the border from Canada and Mexico. When crossing into Canada with pets, a current rabies vaccination is still required. And, although the border agents don’t always ask to see Ty and Buster’s documents, I’d never consider crossing without them.

 

So, as you see, most of the time crossing the Canadian border with pets a pretty simple process. And, just to be sure you have all the facts, here are the official tips for crossing the Canadian border with pets.

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

 

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  • Elly says:

    We actually had our car fully searched when re-entering the US through Detroit with our dog. We had to put our dog in a crate they provided next to the car and wait inside a waiting room with no windows for about 30 minutes. Luckily it didn’t take too long, but we were worried about our pup out there by himself! But he seemed fine when we got out. Also, they wanted to confiscate was our unlabeled dog food (it was in a resealable travel container). We had purchased it in the US and told them that. They believed us luckily and we got to keep it. They said dog food purchased in Canada could not be brought into the US.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Elly! I know that it’s sometimes the luck of the draw. I can imagine how nervous you must have been leaving your pup out there – I would have felt the same way! I’m glad it was a pretty quick process for you and that everything worked out alright. Waggin’ trails!

  • This was helpful! Thank you!

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Our pleasure! Hopefully sharing our experiences helps build the confidence of other people traveling with their pets, Amanda. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Canada, it would be a shame to miss them.

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