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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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  • Nakyra says:

    Are there still waiting periods for the rabies certificate??? Like can i get the rabies vaccine two days before we leave?? My puppy is 3 1/2 months old & I’m leaving in a week

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Nakyra! There is no waiting period between the time your pup receives the rabies vaccine and when he or she can cross the border to Canada. Coming back into the US, there is no longer a need to show proof a rabies vaccination at the border. It sounds like you’ll be good to go! We wish you a safe trip.

  • Nathan says:

    I’m planning on having a friend watch my dog over the holidays in Victoria, BC.

    She is going to pick him up and drop him off in Washington. Will she encounter any difficulties crossing the border with our dog? Is there any additional paperwork for her to cross with our dog?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Nathan! There is no guidance on taking a friend’s pet across the border, but I don’t believe your friend will have any trouble. She’ll need your pet’s rabies certificate, of course, but the only other thing you might want to do is provide a letter staying that she has your permission to have your dog in her possession. I hope that helps and that you pup has a fun stay!

  • Juan says:

    I have an uneutered Great Dane. Are there any restrictions to cross into Canada and back into the US for this breed and for unneutered dogs? He is 7 and healthy. I wi have a rabies cert with me.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Juan! Thanks for your note. Nope, as long as you have a current rabies certificate, you’ll have no trouble driving from the U.S. to Canada and back with your Great Dane. I hope you both have a fantastic trip!

  • Tresa Lovejoy says:

    Just one side question do I have to declare the homade plain dried Jurky I make for my self and share with my dog?

  • Laura says:

    I have 3 senior dogs (over 12) who no longer receive Rabies vacs, but titer tests. They all are within acceptable range and have documentation confirming this (Kansas State Lab via my local vet) Is this acceptable for border crossings?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Laura! Thanks for your note. Unfortunately, the Canadian authorities do not provide any guidance as to whether documentation of titer tests are sufficient to cross the border. My advice is to call the border crossing and speak to an agent before departing on your trip. If they tell you that your documents will be sufficient to cross, make sure to take down the name of the person you spoke to and the date of your conversation so you have it when you cross.

      Of course, coming back to the US will be no problem, because vaccination certificates are no longer required for dogs driven over the border from Canada.

      Good luck, and safe travels!

  • Mamma CC & her new Pup! says:

    Thank you so much for for this. It is so awesome when we share information, and our experiences and all that jazz. We make it so much easier for the next people. I am bringing my new pup across the border and this article has helped me so much. My fears have been relieved even before I have left! Thank-you.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Congratulations on your new addition, and I’m so glad we could help! We wish you safe and happy travels.

      • NORBERT DSOUZA says:

        Thank you. You never know what you are getting into and this DEFINITELY helps answers all those crazy questions that go on in worried mind, especially when it comes to your pet that cannot tell anybody “Hey, I’m good, let me in. They are with me”

        Thanks again

  • 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!

    • Mamma of a new pup says:

      It’s good to know about that food.

  • 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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