Traveling to Canada with a dog, cat or other pet
August 2020 Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, recommendations for importing animals into Canada have changed. Learn more about Canada’s guidance on traveling across the border with animals, and check current border measures and requirements for moving to Canada.
If you’re a pet owner who’s moving to Canada, you may be wondering how to bring your pet with you. While there are some restrictions, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does allow domestic dogs, cats and other animals to enter the country. And since Canada doesn’t enforce a quarantine period like some other countries and locations, the process is pretty straightforward. Just complete the few necessary steps and crossing the border will be simple!
Want to know more about the moving process? Check out this resource on Moving from the U.S. to Canada
Looking to move pets from Canada to the U.S.? There's a section for that below. Scroll to read more.
Bringing dogs and cats into Canada
To prevent animal diseases from entering the country, the CFIA has established importation laws under the National Animal Health Program. These rules apply to animals entering Canada permanently and temporarily (including animals traveling through Canada to their destination).
Dogs and cats can travel across the border if they are accompanied by a rabies vaccination certificate that:
- Is written in English or French
- Is issued, signed and dated by a licensed veterinarian
- Identifies the animal’s breed, color and weight
- States the animal is vaccinated against rabies
- Indicates the trade name and serial number of the licensed vet
- Specifies how long the immunity is good for
The CFIA does not require pets to be microchipped. However, it is recommended that you implant your pet with a 15-digit ISO-compliant microchip in the event your pet gets lost or separated during travel.
Inspection process and fees
At the Port of Entry (POE), a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will check that the rabies certificate is current, the animal description matches, and that your pet shows no signs of illnesses. If your pet meets the requirements, they’ll be permitted entry. The current fee is C$30 + tax (around $23 + tax in the U.S.) for the first animal and C$5 + tax (around $4 + tax in the U.S.) for each additional animal.
If your pet doesn’t meet the requirements, you’ll have two weeks after arriving to get them vaccinated and return the paperwork to the CFIA office. On top of paying for the vaccination, you’ll pay a higher entry fee of C$55 + tax (around $42 + tax in the U.S.) for the first animal and C$30 + tax (around $23 + tax in the U.S.) for each additional pet.
If your pet shows signs of illness, a border agent may contact the CFIA for further inspection. Additional fees may apply and are determined on a case-by-case basis.
There are two exceptions to the rabies vaccination requirements when moving to Canada with pets: service dogs and pets that are three months of age or younger.
The CFIA defines a service dog as “a dog that provides a distinct, trained service to individuals who would otherwise be limited in their ability to perform certain tasks.” Service dogs are exempt from all import requirements if they are accompanied by the person they aid and the official documents that state they’re a service animal.
The other exemption is puppies and kittens that are three months or younger. Since they aren’t old enough to receive the rabies vaccination, they don’t need a rabies certification to cross the border. However, you must be able to provide proof of the pet’s age upon request.
Before moving your dog to Canada, make sure they’re allowed to be there. Some breeds are banned from specific locations.
Dogs banned from entering Ontario and Winnipeg:
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Pit Bull Terrier (only banned from Ontario)
What about moving to Canada with other types of pets?
You can import other types of pets like birds, fish, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters and more into Canada. Visit the CFIA’s website to learn more.
Can I take my pet’s food to Canada?
Yes, but there are a few guidelines. The CFIA will allow pet food into the country if:
- It weighs less than 20 kilograms (or 44 pounds)
- It’s manufactured in the U.S. and commercially packaged
- It’s in your possession at the POE
- The pet who will be eating the food is with you at the POE
Importing dogs and cats into the USA
Moving to the U.S. from Canada with a pet? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifies a few requirements for importing pets into the United States:
All dogs (including puppies and service animals) must be healthy, vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entering the country, and have a valid vaccination certificate. Because puppies can’t receive the immunization before three months of age, they will need to be at least 4 months old before they can cross the border. If your dog is older than 15 months and their shot has expired, they only need to receive the booster vaccination and do not have to wait 30 days to enter.
When you reach the border, make sure you have a current rabies vaccination certificate that includes:
- Your name and address
- The dog’s breed, sex, color, unique markings, etc.
- The date the vaccination was given, and its expiration
- The vaccine’s product information
- The name, license number, address and signature of the vet who administered the shot
The CDC does not require proof of rabies vaccinations for cats crossing the border. However, some airlines and states do, so it’s a good idea to check with them before traveling. Keep in mind that a border patrol officer may inspect your cat at the POE. They have the power to deny it entry if it has evidence of an infectious disease.
You can learn more about importing dogs, cats and other animals into the U.S. from the CDC.
Special requirements if you’re moving to Hawaii
If you’re moving from Canada to Hawaii with your dog or cat, there are a few extra steps and requirements you’ll need to follow. Learn more in this post about moving to Hawaii with pets.
If you have any questions about traveling to Canada with pets, leave a comment below, and we’ll answer shortly!
More articles you might like...