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Taking Dogs to Canada [PET PASSPORT 2020 GUIDE]

Taking dogs to Canada is pretty straight forward. Canada is known for being a great place to visit, live and work. In fact, Canada is ranked as the second-best country in the world for overall quality of life, cultural influence, sustainability, cultural influence, entrepreneurship, and economic influence. Whether you are planning on visiting Canada or have decided to relocate there, you don’t have to leave your dog behind! 

Depending on your dog’s age and where you are traveling from, the requirements for a taking dogs to Canada can be any of the following:

  1. Rabies vaccination
  2. Health certificate
  3. Additional vaccinations
  4. Import permit
  5. Microchip / tattoo identification

In this article, we will discuss in detail the specific requirements for taking a dog to Canada.

For information on taking other pet species, such as cats, ferrets, rabbits, rodents and birds, check How to Get a Canadian Pet Passport [2020 GUIDE].

What is a Canadian Pet Passport?

Canada does not have an official ‘Pet Passport’, however it is a term used to describe the documents that are required to take a dog to Canada. Customs officials will need to see these documents in order to clear your pet in customs. Essentially, a pet passport demonstrates that your dog is fit and healthy to travel. With a Canadian Pet Passport, in most circumstances, your dog will not have to face a lengthly quarantine period. 


What are the requirements for taking dogs to Canada?

Depending on your dog’s age and where you are traveling from, the requirements for a taking a dog to Canada (Canadian Pet Passport) can be any of the following:

  1. Rabies vaccination
  2. Health certificate
  3. Additional vaccinations – e.g. distemper, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, parvovirus, bordetella, hepatitis
  4. Import permit
  5. Microchip / tattoo identification

RABIES VACCINATION

All dogs require rabies vaccinations when traveling to most countries, including Canada.

TRAVELING TO CANADA FROM A RABIES-FREE COUNTRY

Canada considers the following countries as being rabies-free:

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 will need proof of a current rabies vaccination. Canada recognises both 1-year rabies vaccinations, and 3-year vaccinations.

EU Pet Passports are accepted. On the other hand, Canada will accept a health certificate completed by a licensed veterinarian as long as it is in English or French.

To enter Canada, your dog’s rabies certificate must show the following:

  1. Your dog’s identity;
  2. Governmental authority stating that rabies has not existed in the originating country for 6 months immediately preceding the shipment of your dog; and
  3. That your dog has been in that country for the 6 month period or since birth.

A licensed veterinarian in your home country can issue your dog’s rabies certificate as long as it is endorsed by a governmental authority responsible for the import and export of dogs. For example, in the US, your rabies certificate must be endorsed by the USDA.

Dogs imported into Canada will have a documentary inspection by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ensure the animal’s rabies vaccination is current and the animal description matches.


TRAVELING TO CANADA FROM ALL OTHER COUNTRIES

As well as a valid rabies vaccination certificate, in either English or French, your dog may also require a health certificate. Some airlines may request a veterinary certificate of health.


HEALTH CERTIFICATE

If you do not have a EU Pet Passport for your dog, or if you are taking a dog to Canada from a country not considered rabies free, you will need a health certificate.

Your dog’s health certificate must be completed by a licensed veterinarian, and must be in English or French. It should identify your dog, the dates of vaccinations, the manufacturer and the expiration date of the rabies vaccine.

Dogs imported into Canada will have a documentary inspection by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA will also visually inspect the animal to ensure that there are no visible signs of illness.

If your country is not listed below, you will require a health certificate.

Canada considers the following countries as being rabies-free:

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.

ADDITIONAL VACCINES

Additional vaccines are not required to enter Canada, unless your dog is a dog under 8 months of age traveling on their own. 

Puppies (dogs under the age of 8 months) entering Canada without their owners must be vaccinated for distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, and parainfluenza.

These must be administered no earlier than six weeks of age.

IMPORT PERMIT / LICENSE

You may require an import permit to enter Canada, depending on the age of your dog. Dogs traveling with their owners do not require import permits to travel into Canada. However, unaccompanied dogs under the age of 8 months will need one.

If you believe you do require an import permit, you can download an import permit form (CFIA/ACIA 5860) here. Once completed you should send it to CFIA Center of Administration for Permissions.

Most permissions are available online through My CFIA. You can sign up for a My CFIA account to apply and check the status of your application, and manage and track service requests.

The Government of Canada recommends you start the process 30 days before taking your dog to Canada.

MICROCHIPPING / TATTOO IDENTIFICATION

Pet dogs do not require microchips to travel to Canada. However, dogs under 8 months of age imported under the commercial category must be identified by an electronic microchip.

This includes dogs for breeding purposes, adoption, retail sale, show or exhibition, scientific research, dogs in ‘special training status’ and/or animal welfare organization.

You can get your dog microchipped at your local veterinarian center. Be sure to get a copy of your dog’s microchip or tattoo identification details.


Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

What dog breeds are banned from entering Canada?

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.


How much does it cost to take dogs to Canada?

VET FEES

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 recent rabies vaccination, you will pay less to take your dog to Canada.

On average, a rabies vaccination in the US costs around $20.

DOCUMENT INSPECTION

Dogs imported into Canada will have a documentary inspection by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ensure the animal’s rabies vaccination is current and the animal description matches. The CBSA will also visually inspect the animal to ensure that there are no visible signs of illness.

The fees for this inspection are:

  • $30.00 + tax for the first dog in the shipment; and
  • $5.00 + tax for each additional dog in the shipment.

If the shipment does not meet Canada’s import requirement for rabies certification, the animal will be ordered to undergo vaccination against rabies at the owner’s expense within two weeks of its arrival, and the following fees apply:

  • $55.00 + tax for the first dog in the shipment; and
  • $30.00 + tax for each additional dog.

All fees must be paid at the time of inspection.

Please note that domestic dogs originating from the United States are subject to an import inspection but are exempt from inspection fees.

AIRLINE FEES

Of course, the cost varies depending on where you are flying from, which airline you use and the size/breed of your dog. Airlines calculate your pet’s air freight based on weight/size of the crate, so the bigger your pet, the more expensive the international ticket will be.


How long can I take my dog to Canada for?

You can take your dog for Canada for as long as your dog’s rabies vaccinations are valid. Most vet’s offer a 1 year rabies vaccination, and a 3-year vaccination. Luckily, Canada accepts the 3-year vaccination, convenient if you are planning on relocating to Canada or spending a while there.


Can I take my service dog to Canada?

Of course. Service dogs and emotional support dogs are not subject to any special rules when entering Canada. Therefore, you should follow the guidelines listed above.

If your service dog is traveling with you to Canada, you will just require a rabies vaccination and potentially a health certificate. An import permit is only required if your service dog is not traveling with you.


Tips for taking dogs to Canada

HEALTH CHECK

Before traveling, it is always a good idea to check the health of your dog to make sure it is fit to travel. Not only is a health certificate usually required when taking your dog on an airplane, but for your own peace of mind. Find out in advance what will be required.

PET CARRIERS

Pet carriers must be large enough for your dog to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around in its natural position. The dog carrier must be secure so your dog cannot escape or be injured. Additionally, the carrier must provide adequate ventilation.

Different airlines have different regulations when it comes to travel carriers. Check the specific requirements for your airline.

AIR TRAVEL

Most airlines have different requirements for traveling with dogs. We recommend that you contact your chosen airline well in advance to let them know you will be bringing your dog. 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.

CAR TRAVEL

Contain your pet – dogs that could distract the driver should be contained. Dogs 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 – dogs 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 dog to suffer or in bad cases, die. If you have no option but to leave your dog 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 dog has enough food and water. Furthermore, make regular stops so it can rest or get out and walk around.


What airlines allow flying a dog to Canada?

Most airlines allow flying a dog to Canada. However, depending on the airline you fly with, pet policies differ.

When flying with a dog, it’s important to check airline pet policies before booking any travel. Different airline’s have different rules for flying with dogs, including which dog breeds are allowed, the size and weight of dogs that are permitted, and the number of dogs they allow. Fees also vary between airlines.

Most airlines will allow dogs 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 dogs, it can actually be a lot calmer than flying in the cabin.

Some airlines will allow dogs to fly in the cabin with their owners, but generally only small dogs that weigh under 8kg are permitted. This is because dogs must fly inside an airline-approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of their owners.

For a list of airlines that allow dogs to fly in the cabin with their owners, check 13 Airlines That Allow Flying With Dogs In-Cabin [2020 Prices & Policies].


Guidelines for Dog Carriers

If you are flying to Canada with a dog, it is important that you use a dog 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, dogs 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 dog will be flying in the cabin or cargo area of the plane.

If you are travelling in the cabin with your dog, then you will need to ensure that the carrier fits under the seat in front of you. This is why, generally, only small dogs weighing under 7-8kg are permitted in the cabin.

Additionally, airlines often require that your dog must be obedient to your commands and must 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.

For a list of airlines that allow dogs to fly in the cabin with their owners, check 13 Airlines That Allow Flying With Dogs In-Cabin [2020 Prices & Policies].

BUDGET

DOG CARRIER

PRICE

LOW AmazonBasics Pet Carrier Medium

CHECK HERE
MEDIUM PetsFit Pet Carrier With Expandable Side

CHECK HERE
HIGH Mr. Peanut’s Double Expandable, Soft-Sided Pet Carrier CHECK HERE

Can I take other pet species to Canada?

Yes, you can. However, other pet species are subject to different rules and regulations from dogs. It is likely that you will require further or different documents for cats, ferrets, rabbits, rodents and birds.

For information on taking other pet species, such as cats, ferrets, rabbits, rodents and birds, check How to Get a Canadian Pet Passport [2020 GUIDE].


Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Can I take my puppy to Canada?

Yes, puppies under the age of 3 months entering Canada are exempt from import requirements. See above for information regarding puppies and kittens between the age of 3 and 8 months.

Can I take my dog to Canada with an EU Pet Passport?

You can travel to Canada with an EU Pet Passport, or alternatively Canada will accept a health certificate completed by a licensed veterinarian as long as it is in English or French.

Can I move to Canada with my dog?

Possibly. You may be able to move to Canada with your dog, as long as you and your dog meet strict requirements listed above.


Bottom Line

Taking dogs to Canada is simple, as long as you are aware of the guidelines. How to get a Canadian Pet Passport and the regulations, depend on your dog’s age and where you are traveling from. If you are traveling to Canada with an adult dog who is your pet then the process should be very simple. Your pet will simply need a valid rabies vaccination certificate and possibly a health certificate. However, you may also need an import permit if you aren’t traveling with your dog, or if you are shipping a dog for commercial purpose.

Hope you have found this helpful – happy travels!

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