Requirements for Taking Pets to Canada [PET PASSPORT 2023 GUIDE]
Taking pets to Canada is pretty straight forward. Canada is ranked as the second-best country in the world for overall sustainability, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, economic influence and quality of life. So, with careful planning, visiting Canada with a pet, or relocating there should be simple.
Depending on your pet’s species and age, the requirements for taking a pet to Canada can be any of the following:
- Rabies Vaccination
- Health certificate
- Additional vaccinations
- Import permit / license
- CITES permit
In this article, we will discuss in detail the specific requirements for taking your pet to Canada.
Table of Contents:
- What is a Canadian Pet Passport?
- What are the requirements for taking a pet to Canada?
- What are the species-specific requirements for taking pets to Canada?
- How long does it take to get a Canadian Pet passport?
- How much will it cost to take my pet to Canada?
- Tips for taking pets to Canada
- Which airlines will allow flying pets to Canada?
- Guidelines for pet carriers
- Bottom line
What is a Canadian Pet Passport?
Canada does not have an official ‘Pet Passport’, however it is a term used to describe all of the documents required to take a pet to Canada. Customs officials will need to see these documents in order to clear your pet in customs. Essentially, a pet passport shows that your pet is ready to travel. In most circumstances, with a Canadian Pet Passport, your pet will not have to stay in quarantine for a lengthly period.
What are the requirements for taking a pet to Canada?
Depending on your pet’s species, age and where you are traveling from, the requirements for taking a pet to Canada can be any of the following:
- Rabies Vaccination
- Health certificate
- Additional vaccinations
- Import permit / license
- CITES permit
Dogs, cats and ferrets will need a rabies vaccinations when traveling to Canada. If your pet is not a dog, cat or ferret, he or she will not need a rabies vaccination. Instead, your pet may require a health certificate completed by licensed veterinarian to travel to Canada. Please see ‘health certificate’ section below for more information on health certificates.
TRAVELING TO CANADA FROM A RABIES-FREE COUNTRY
Anguilla, Antigua, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Finland, Iceland, Ireland (Republic of), Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (Netherlands Antilles), Saint Pierre et Miquelon, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Turks and Caicos, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland), and Uruguay.
All dogs over 8 months old and cats or ferrets over 3 months old will require rabies vaccinations. When taking a pet to Canada, you will need to show proof of a current rabies vaccination. Canada accepts both 1-year rabies vaccinations, and 3-year vaccinations.
Canada accepts EU Pet Passports. However, if your pet does not have an EU Pet Passport, Canada will accept a health certificate completed by a licensed veterinarian, as long as it is in English or French.
To enter Canada, your pet’s rabies certificate must show the following:
- Your pet’s identity;
- Governmental authority stating that rabies has not existed in the originating country for 6 months immediately preceding the shipment of your pet; and
- That your pet has been in that country since birth, or for the 6 months leading up to travel.
A licensed veterinarian in your country can issue your pet’s rabies certificate.
TRAVELING TO CANADA FROM ALL OTHER COUNTRIES
As well as a valid rabies vaccination certificate, in either English or French, your pet may also require a health certificate. Some airlines may request a veterinary certificate of health. For more information on health certificates, please continue reading the next section below.
When taking pets to Canada, in many cases you will not require a health certificate. This is as long as you are traveling from a rabies-free country (see above for the list of countries). If you are traveling from any other country, your airline is likely to request a health certificate.
Usually, adult dogs and cats do not require health certificates to enter Canada. However, puppies under the age of 8 will require a health certificate if they are traveling unaccompanied. Your pet’s health certificate must be issued and certified within 48 hours of entry.
Rabbits, rodents and birds do not require health certificates, however your pet must be found to be healthy upon arrive. Therefore, we recommend that you get a health certificate from your vet.
Additional vaccines (on top of the rabies vaccine) are not required to enter Canada, unless your pet is a dog under 8 months of age traveling on their own. No other pets will require additional vaccines.
Puppies (dogs under the age of 8 months) entering Canada without their owners must be vaccinated for distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, and parainfluenza, no earlier than six weeks of age.
IMPORT PERMIT / LICENSE
You may require an import permit to enter Canada, depending on the species and age of your pet.
Dogs and cats traveling with their owners do not require import permits to travel into Canada. However, unaccompanied dogs under the age of 8 months will require one.
On the other hand, rabbits, ferrets and birds traveling to Canada from any country other than the US will require an import license. You can apply for an import permit through the local CFIA office in the destination province in Canada. You must travel with your pet and carry a statement stating they have always been in your possession.
You can apply for a Canadian import permit online here.
If your pet is an endangered species, you will need to apply for a CITES Permit.
If you are taking a dog, ferret or domestic cat to Canada, you will not need a CITES Permit. However, if you are the owner of an exotic pet, you should verify that it is not protected under CITES. You can check whether your pet is protected here.
A microchip is not required to enter Canada with a pet. However, it is highly recommended that you microchip before traveling.
A microchip is a permanent method of identification. The chip is around the size of a grain of rice – and is implanted just under your pet’s skin between its shoulder blades. Each chip has a unique number that is detected using a microchip scanner. Your contact details are registered to your pet’s specific number.
Although Canada does not require pets to be microchipped before entry, it is highly recommended. If you were to lose your pet while in Canada, the changes of being reunited are significantly increased if your pet is chipped. When a lost pet is found, the first protocol is usually checking for a chip.
What are species-specific requirements for a taking pets to Canada?
TAKING DOGS TO CANADA
Dogs over the age of 8 months must have a valid rabies vaccination – 1 year and 3 year vaccinations are accepted.
Puppies entering Canada without their owners (or commercially) will need to be vaccinated for distemper, hepatitis, canine parvovirus, and parainfluenza, no earlier than six weeks of age.
Certain dog breeds are banned in different provinces in Canada, listed below:
- Ontario – The American Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier and their crosses are banned from entering or transiting.
- The City of Toronto – also bans the breeds above, however, air transit is permitted. When transiting Toronto, advance notice must be provided and an agent must transit your dog.
- Winnipeg – American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier and their mixes are banned from entry or transiting.
For detailed information on taking dogs to Canada, check Taking Dogs to Canada [PET PASSPORT GUIDE].
TAKING CATS TO CANADA
There are no special rules for domestic cats traveling to Canada. Please refer to the requirements above.
TAKING RABBIS TO CANADA
Rabbits are permitted to enter Canada from the US without any form of documentation. However, it is likely that your rabbit will be inspected by border officials upon entry. Therefore it is recommended that you take your rabbit to the vet and obtain a health certificate to ensure he/she is healthy.
Rabbits are permitted to enter Canada from any other country, as long as the following conditions are met:
- Owners must have an import permit from the local CFIA office in the destination province
- You must travel with your rabbit
- You must possess a statement that the rabbit has always been in your possession
- Rabbits may need to spend time in quarantine
You must apply for your rabbit’s import permit at least 30 days before travel. The CFIA staff will assist you in organising quarantine for your rabbit, if necessary. You can apply for a Canadian import permit online here.
Rabbits do not need rabies vaccinations, or any other vaccinations to enter Canada.
TAKING RODENTS TO CANADA
Rodents do not need a permit or health certificate to enter or transit through Canada. The following are species are permitted:
- Guinea pigs
- Prairie dogs
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has placed restrictions on the importation of the following pets:
- Prairie Dogs, Gambian Pouch Rats, or Squirrels from most countries; or
- Any rodents from Africa.
TAKING FERRETS TO CANADA
Ferrets entering Canada from the US over the age of 3 months from the US must have proof of current rabies vaccination. Canada accepts the 1 year rabies vaccination, and the 3 year rabies vaccination.
Ferrets entering Canada from any other country also require an import permit issued by the local CFIA office in the destination province is required. You can apply for a Canadian import permit online here.
Additionally, no matter where you are travelling from, you must contact the applicable provincial authorities to request permission to keep ferrets as pets, and to obtain any documentation required.
CANADIAN PASSPORT FOR BIRDS
Birds are permitted to enter Canada from the US, as long as the following conditions are met:
- You must accompany the bird into Canada;
- Your birds must be healthy when inspected at the port of entry;
- You must sign a declaration stating that the birds have been in your possession for the 90 day period preceding the date of importation. Additionally, that your bird has not been in contact with any other birds during that time;
- You must sign a declaration stating that your birds are your personal pets and are not being imported for the purpose of re-sale; and
- You or any member of the family must not have imported birds into Canada under the pet bird provision during the preceding 90 day period.
Birds may be permitted to enter Canada from other countries.
Bird owners from countries other than the US require an import permit from the local CFIA office in the destination province. Canada bans the import of birds from certain countries and has additional requirements from others. More information can be obtained at the local CFIA office. You can apply for a Canadian import permit online here.
In order to prevent the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, birds from the following countries are prohibited from entering Canada:
TAKING REPTILES/AMPHIBIANS TO CANADA
Most reptiles (excluding turtles and tortoises) and amphibians do not require an import permit or health certificate when traveling to Canada. Imports are permitted from any country, for any use, to any destination in Canada.
Amphibians and reptiles are not regulated under the Health of Animals Regulations. Therefore, there is no CFIA requirement to obtain an import permit or a health certificate. This means that there are usually no border inspections.
Turtles and tortoises require an import permit when traveling to Canada.
This is due to the potential risk of spreading deadly diseases such as salmonella.
You must apply for an import permit at least 30 days prior to entering Canada. You can apply for a Canadian import permit online here.
How long does it take to get a Canadian Pet Passport?
In most cases, it will take under an hour to get a Canadian Pet Passport. All it takes is a quick appointment at an official veterinary clinic.
In order to save time, we advise informing your vet that that you want to get a pet passport. This will ensure that they have everything required in stock and will allow them time to prepare.
The duration of the appointment will depend on how many treatments or vaccinations your pet requires. If your pet already has a microchip and has been vaccinated against rabies, then the appointment will be quick. In this case, your vet will just need to complete a general health check and fill in any documents. On the other hand, if your pet hasn’t been microchipped or vaccinated, the appointment will take a little longer.
If your pet requires an import permit when traveling to Canada, you must apply at least 30 days before entering the country. You can apply for a Canadian import permit online here.
How much will it cost to take my pet to Canada?
The cost of a taking pets to Canada can vary drastically. The price you pay will depend on the following:
- Your home country
- Where you are traveling to
- The veterinary clinic that you visit
- The species of your pet
- Whether your pet already has a microchip and rabies vaccination
Firstly, different countries and veterinary clinics will have different prices for veterinary treatments and vaccinations. If you want to save some money, check the prices of a few different veterinary clinics.
If your pet already has a microchip, and a recent rabies vaccination, you will probably pay less for your Canadian pet passport. If traveling to Canada with an adult dog or cat, you won’t have to pay anything on top of your travel.
On average, a rabies vaccination in the US costs around $20.
Pets imported into Canada will likely have a documentary inspection by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ensure your animal is healthy with no visible signs of sickness. Additionally, the CBSA will also check your pet’s rabies vaccination is current and the animal description matches.
The fees for this inspection are:
- $30.00 + tax for the first pet in the shipment; and
- $5.00 + tax for each additional pet in the shipment.
If the shipment does not meet Canada’s import requirement for rabies certification, you will be ordered to have your pet vaccinated against rabies at your expense within two weeks of its arrival, and the following fees apply:
- $55.00 + tax for the first pet in the shipment; and
- $30.00 + tax for each additional pet.
All fees must be paid at the time of inspection.
Of course, the cost varies depending on where you are flying from, which airline you use, the species, size and weight of your pet. Airlines calculate your pet’s air freight based on weight/size of the container, so the bigger your pet, the more expensive the international ticket will be.
Tips for taking pets to Canada
Before traveling, it is always a good idea to check the health of your pet to make sure it is fit to travel. Not only is a health certificate sometimes required when taking your pet to Canada, but for your own peace of mind. Find out in advance what will be required.
Pet carriers must be large enough for your pet to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around in its natural position. The pet carrier must be secure so your pet cannot escape or be injured. Additionally, the carrier must provide adequate ventilation.
Different airlines have different regulations when it comes to pet travel carriers. Check the specific requirements for your airline.
Most airlines have different requirements for traveling with pets. Unfortunately, many airlines do not permit certain species from boarding their planes. We recommend that you contact your chosen airline well in advance to let them know you plan on bringing your pet. They will let you know if you need to do anything before arriving at the airport, whether it’s purchasing a special pet carrier or obtaining a health certificate from a veterinarian.
Contain your pet – pets that could distract the driver should be contained. 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 – pets should never be kept in parked vehicles for long periods of time, especially in hot or cold weather. Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly rise or fall to levels that could cause your pet to suffer or in bad cases, die. If you have no option but to leave your pet in a vehicle for a short period of time in hot weather, ensure it has fresh water. Additionally, leave windows open a little on either side of the vehicle to create a cross-breeze for ventilation.
Provide food, water and rest – ensure your pet has enough food and water. Additionally, make regular stops so it can rest or get out and walk around.
What airlines allow flying a pets to Canada?
Most airlines allow flying pets to Canada. However, depending on the airline you fly with, pet policies differ.
When flying with a pet, it’s important to check airline pet policies before booking any travel. Different airline’s have different rules for flying with pets, including which breeds are allowed, the size and weight of pets that are permitted, and the number of pets they allow. Fees also vary between airlines.
Most airlines will allow pets to fly in the cargo section of their planes, in a climate controlled, comfortable pet zone. Although some pet owners think this will be stressful for their pets, it can actually be a lot calmer than flying in the cabin.
Some airlines will allow pets to fly in the cabin with their owners, but generally only small dogs and cats that weigh under 8kg are permitted. This is because they must fly inside an airline-approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of their owners.
For a list of airlines that allow pets to fly in the cabin with their owners, check:
- 13 Airlines That Allow Flying With Dogs In-Cabin [Prices & Policies]
- 13 Airlines That Allow Flying With a Cat In-Cabin [Prices & Policies]
- Which Airlines Allow Ferrets In Cabin? [Policies & Prices]
- 7 Airlines that Allow Rabbits in the Plane Cabin [Policies & Prices]
For a list of airlines that allow other pets on their planes, check:
- 13 Airlines That Allow Pet Birds on Planes [Policies & Prices]
- 7 Airlines That Allow Pet Snakes on Planes [Policies & Prices]
- 7 Airlines That Allow Lizards on Planes [Policies & Prices]
- 7 Airlines That Allow Rodents on Planes [Policies & Prices]
- Which Airlines Allow Hedgehogs on Planes? [Policies & Prices]
Guidelines for Pet Carriers
If you are flying to Canada with a pet, it is important that you use a pet carrier that is approved by your airline. Different airlines have different pet carrier policies, which often vary between aircrafts and routes. Check that your pet carrier is approved for your chosen airline, aircraft and route.
The rules and regulations have been set out by International Air Transport Association (IATA) ensure that dogs are comfortable when travelling. Thus, inside their travel carriers, pets must be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position in their kennel (without touching any side or the top of the container).
Furthermore, the rules for pet carriers also vary depending on whether your pet will be flying in the cabin or cargo area of the plane.
If you are travelling in the cabin with your dog or cat, then you will need to ensure that the carrier fits under the seat in front of you. This is why, generally, only small dogs and cats weighing under 7-8kg are permitted in the cabin.
Additionally, if traveling with a dog, airlines often require that he or she is be obedient to your commands and can behave appropriately in public. Thus, he mustn’t bark or growl at other passengers or staff. If your dog does not behave in an appropriate manner, some airlines may transfer him to the cargo hold at an additional cost, or refuse to transport him all together. Some airlines require a consent form to ensure your pet is flight-ready.
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Taking pets to Canada simple, as long as you are aware of the guidelines and plan ahead. The requirements for taking a pet to Canada depend on your pet’s species, breed, age and where you are traveling from or to.
If you are traveling with an adult dog or cat who is your pet then the process should be very simple. Your pet will simply need a valid rabies vaccination certificate. However, if your pet is another species, such as a rodent, rabbit or bird, then you may require an import permit and health certificate.
Hope you have found this helpful – happy travels!
I’ve read numerous articles and guidelines on bringing a small dog to Canada and I am still unclear about the most important thing – if I plan to bring in a 4 or 5 month old puppy, the most important document I need at Canada customs is Rabies vaccination certificate. Problem is that first rabies vaccine is administered at the age of 6 months.
What am I supposed to present to the Customs in that case?
If you are traveling from a country Canada recognises as ‘rabies-free*’, then you will not need a rabies vaccination. Instead, you will need a health certificate in English or French and completed by a licensed veterinarian.
The certificate must clearly identify your puppy and a governmental authority must state that rabies has not existed in your originating country for the six month period immediately preceding travel; and, your pet has been in your home country since birth. A licensed veterinarian in your country can also do this as long as it is endorsed by a governmental authority responsible for the import and export of pets.
Unfortunately if you are traveling from a country that isn’t listed, then your puppy will need a rabies vaccination. Different states have different requirements when it comes to the schedule of a puppy’s vaccinations. If travel is essential and you are unable to vaccinate your puppy sooner in your state, you could consider traveling to another state that will vaccinate him or her earlier.
Hope this helps!
*Anguilla, Antigua, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Fiji, Finland, Iceland, Ireland (Republic of), Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (Netherlands Antilles), Saint Pierre et Miquelon, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, Turks and Caicos, United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland), and Uruguay.