If you’re a pet owner looking to move to Canada from the United States, you may be considering how possible it is to bring your pet with you.
However, note that Canadians are known to have a special fondness for animals and this is exhibited through their benign policies when it comes to pet travel. Unlike many other countries, pets coming from the United States won’t have to be kept in airport quarantine for a few days when you arrive at your destination in Canada.
As long as your pet is in good health and has the required documents to verify it, you can easily move to Canada with your pet with less stress and paperwork. While there are certain restrictions, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) allows domestic dogs, cats, and other animals to enter the country.
However, to ensure animal diseases don’t get into the country, the CFIA has created importation laws under the National Animal Health Program. These rules are for animals entering Canada permanently and temporarily (including animals traveling through Canada to their destination).
All imports and export of animals to Canada are regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and they are known to have inspectors on duty at all Canadian ports of entry (POE) tasked with regulating the importation of animals.
Have it in mind that the exact requirements and restrictions you are expected to contend with will vary depending on the type of animal, species, country of origin, health status, and purpose of import. Owing to that, it is recommended you check the CFIA website before traveling to Canada.
Tips for Moving Pets from the US to Canada
If you are considering moving your pet from the United States to Canada, here are some vital tips to consider.
Table of Contents
- How to Apply for your Pet When Moving From US to Canada
Check with the Consulate
Rules concerning the importation of animals vary greatly in different provinces and locations in Canada, and these regulations will mostly depend on the kind of pet. Owing to that, it is imperative you first consult with the consulate and ask precise questions concerning the location you intend to stay in Canada. Have in mind that some breeds are banned from specific locations. Dogs banned from entering Ontario and Winnipeg include:
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Pit Bull Terrier (only banned from Ontario)
Have a Timeline
To import a pet from the US to Canada, note there are stringent sequences of medical tests you are expected to carry out. Also, note that the timing of each stage is very critical and failure to comply may result in immigration issues and extra costs. While your dog or cat doesn’t need to have a microchip, have in mind that rabies vaccinations and blood tests at prescribed stages are a must. There is also a 180-day waiting period after the blood tests before the animal is allowed entry without quarantine.
Airlines are known to have very specific requirements when it comes to transporting animals. Therefore, it is ideal you contact your airline in advance to find out what you are expected to do before arrival. For example, owing to your pet’s weight classification and the length of your flight, they might have to be checked in as hand luggage instead of checked baggage or cargo. Also, note that pets that are checked in as baggage will have to be transported in airline-approved carriers or kennels that are escape-proof and well ventilated.
Meet with the Vet
Before you start seeking ways to move your pet from the United States to Canada, it is advised that you fix an appointment with a vet experienced in preparing animals for overseas travel. Note that this expert may already be very conversant with the procedures, and this will surely make your burden easier and ensure everything is done properly. Also, analyze your pet’s overall health and age with the vet, and also don’t forget to discuss any potential problems that will come with moving your pet abroad.
Find a Pet Carrier
It is also important that you have the proper animal carrier for an international flight. A good number of airlines will ask that the carrier you choose be approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Most often, you may even get the opportunity to rent one directly from the airline. Nonetheless, always reach out to an airline representative to explain the exact dimensions required based on the species and size of your animal. Additionally, expect to pay considerable transport, handling, and holding fees.
How to Apply for your Pet When Moving From US to Canada
While there are requirements and restrictions to be considered when moving pets from the United States to Canada, as long as your pet is healthy and disease-free, you should be able to bring them into the country as long as you comply with the necessary procedures. To apply for your pet, here are steps to consider;
- Speak with your airline to understand their specific rules and guidelines for bringing your pet on a flight. This will surely vary from one airline to another.
- Make arrangements for a health check in advance, to verify that your pet is in the right shape to travel. You may also be mandated to show health certificates or other documentation when entering. You can find permit application information on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
- Ensure that the pet carrier you choose for the animal has adequate room to lie down, turn around, and stand. Also, make available adequate ventilation and have a little water spout so they don’t dehydrate.
- If you intend to move by road, ensure your pet has food and water and that you make regular stops so it can rest or get out and walk around. Also remember that all pet food entering Canada will have to be in a sealed (unopened) bag, commercially packaged, and from the United States. A maximum of 44 pounds of food is allowed.
- Quarantine may become necessary if you fail to comply with vaccination rules and you didn’t obtain the relevant paperwork.
Requirements and Documents Needed to Move Your Pet From US to Canada
Anyone looking to move pets from the United States to Canada should have in mind that the CFIA has specific requirements and documents for all types of pet imports. Below are animal-specific documents and requirements for bringing pets to Canada:
Moving to Canada from the United States with your dog can be a little more complicated than some other pets. To move with your dog into the country, it will have to first undergo a visual inspection from the Canada Border Services Agency and more inspections may also be required. It is recommended that the owner contacts the CFIA in advance of travel. They will also be expected to show proof of the dog’s age and all dogs over three months old will need the necessary vaccinations.
Just as with any other pet, it falls on the owner to reach out to the applicable provincial authorities to request permission to keep ferrets as pets and to seek any necessary documentation. The ferret must have received the rabies vaccination in the 12 months preceding the date of import. Ferrets less than 3 months old are not subject to any import restrictions.
Amphibians and reptiles
Have it in mind that Amphibians and reptiles are permitted from any country, for any purpose, to any destination in Canada. Turtles and tortoises arriving from all countries require an import permit. And the animals are expected to have been in your possession in the country of origin and moving with you to Canada. You should apply for a permit to import at least 30 days before your arrival.
Birds are considered pets for Canadian import purposes as long as they are personally owned and cared for, and are a species referred to as caged birds such as psittacines (birds in the parrot family), songbirds, toucans, canaries, finches, cardinals, etc.
However, to import birds into Canada you will need an import permit issued by a local CFIA office. Also note that the applicant will be expected to meet import requirements, including quarantine. You will also be expected to sign a declaration stating that:
- The bird has been in your possession for the 90 days preceding the date of importation and wasn’t in contact with any other birds during that time
- The bird is your pet and won’t be sold
To move your cat from the United States to Canada, you will need to have and present its rabies vaccination certificate; OR a veterinary certificate, declaring that the cat is rabies-free.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will also carry out a visual inspection to validate that the cat’s vaccination is current and the animal description matches. You may be expected to carry out more inspections, at the discretion of CBSA. To avoid delay and Pet immigration issues, ensure that your cat meets all requirements stipulated for bringing pets to Canada.
To import or bring in horses from the United States, you will have to obtain an Export Certificate issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certificate VS 17-140 or VS 17-145.
Insects and spiders
There is little or no information concerning the importation of insects and spiders into the country. However, it is recommended you consult the national policy guidelines under the provision of the Plant Protection Act to see if your little pet is entitled to a new home in Canada.
Pet rabbits from the United States won’t need an import permit or health certificate to enter Canada. Once you get to the border, present your rabbit to Canada Border Services Agency staff for inspection. Ensure you make available proof that the rabbit has lived in the United States for 60 days before entering Canada.
You are allowed to import most rodents such as chinchillas, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, and rats into Canada without an import permit or health certificate. Border agents may inspect your pets related to the humane transport of animals regulations. However, note there are import restrictions for some pet rodents such as prairie dogs, Gambian pouch rats, or squirrels from most countries; and all rodents from Africa.
Best Ways to Move your Pet from US to Canada
Canadians are known to have a special fondness for animals and they have well-stipulated regulations to help protect all animals from injury and suffering during transport. To move your pet safe from the US to Canada, here are options to consider
Contain your pet
It is important you adequately secure pets that could distract the driver with a seat belt harness or a well-designed carrier. Ensure that the pets won’t roam freely in the back of pick-up trucks, and also won’t be susceptible to flying debris.
Prepare your pet for their flight
You must feed your pet more than four hours before their flight. Note that this will give them time to digest their food, and possibly relieve themselves. You should also try playing with them or walking them before you leave for the airport. This will ensure they enter their crate well-fed, satisfied and sleepy. Avoid sedating your pet before they get on the plane because it will weaken their sensory perception and make them more anxious.
Buy The Right Travel Crate
Note that pets are always transported in a specifically designed area of a cargo plane’s hold – but to get in there, they will be expected to be in a crate that suits them; one that is approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Owing to that, ensure you read up on the IATA regulations to understand how best to measure their dimensions, and also understand the rules for your specific pet.
Get Pet Insurance
Although this isn’t a legal requirement, it is a very viable option to consider. For instance, if something happens to your pet, you’ll want them to have the best care possible that wouldn’t eat deep into your pockets. You can search online to find insurance companies that offer pet insurance.
Hire a Pet Relocation Company
Note that one of the best ways to move your pet is to pay a professional to do it. Truth be told, you should leave the complicated tax to experts who understand the procedures and requirements necessary.
How Much Does It Cost to Transport your Pet From US to Canada?
Any pet imported into Canada will have to be examined by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) which has agents at every Canadian port of entry (POE). This agent or officer will check that the rabies certificate is current, the animal description matches and that your pet exhibits no signs of illnesses.
Once your pets satisfy the requirements, you will only be charged 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 subsequent animal. However, if your pet fails to satisfy the requirements, you will be given two weeks after entering the country to ensure you get them vaccinated, and then return the paperwork to the CFIA office.
Coupled with the cost of the vaccination, you will be expected to 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 subsequent pet. If your pet is flagged for further inspection, have it in mind that additional fees may apply and are determined on a case-by-case basis.
There is no limit to the number of pets that can move with you from the US to Canada, as long as they are your pets. However, before heading to the border with an animal, take your time to understand the Canadian import and travel requirements. And while Canada does not mandate microchip or tattoo identification for pet dogs and cats, note that some type of permanent identification can help your get your pet home if they get lost.