Crossing US – Canada Border with Pets

Crossing US Canada border with pets

Traveling with your pet across the border isn’t as simple as one would think. You can’t just put your pet in a carrier and drive to Canada or the US. The rules and regulations for bringing an animal into the US or Canada remain the same, no matter what means of travel you employ.



General rules of crossing US – Canada border with pets

Below are important things to keep in mind before you take your pet on a trip across the border:

  • Do your research. Find out what rules and regulations the US or Canada has on importing a pet, especially if your pet is not a cat or a dog. Some countries require a pet to be quarantined for a certain amount of time before they are allowed entry.
  • While it is not required, it is recommended that you have a permanent microchip ID embedded in your pet for easy identification should you get separated from him or her while in the foreign country.
  • Animals are denied entry if they don’t look healthy so make sure that your pet is, at the very least, clean.
  • Declare your pet when crossing the border.
  • Keep in mind that you will have to comply with the rules and regulations of both countries when you travel with your pet. You will have to comply with your own country’s travel requirements when you return home.
  • Make sure that you know the requirements of the state or province you will be traveling to. Some states will require additional vaccinations and health certificates. Some breeds are banned from entering certain states or provinces. For example, the American Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier are banned from entering Ontario.

Pet’s Health certificate

Most countries, including the US and Canada, require a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian that clearly identifies the animal and provides all relevant information regarding its state of health.

In general, a rabies vaccination certificate is required before a cat or a dog at least 3 months of age is allowed to enter Canada and the US. The certificate should include:

  • the animal’s description including the breed, age, color, sex, markings, and other identifying information
  • the date of the rabies vaccination
  • the date of the next vaccination or the expiration date of the certificate
  • the veterinarian’s signature
  • the name of the vaccine, the manufacturer, and the serial number
  • make sure that the vaccination will not expire while you are traveling with your pet.

Puppies who are less than 4 months old will not be allowed entry into the US. Also, if it’s the first time for your pet to be vaccinated against rabies, you will need to wait 30 days before importing it to the US because it takes that long for it to become effective.

In general, the US does not require domestic cats to have a health certificate or rabies vaccination certificate prior to entry. Canada exempts cats younger than three months of age from their import requirements. However, you should still check the regulations and requirements of the state or province you are going to because they may have additional requirements.

Pet’s food

Canada allows the personal import of pet food if it is able to meet these requirements:

  • the pet food is from the US and commercially packaged
  • the pet food is in the possession of the traveler at the time of his or her entry into Canada from the US
  • the animal that will consume the pet food is accompanying the traveler at the time of his or her entry into the country.
  • the pet food is only given to the animal that accompanied the traveler
  • the pet food is no more than 20kg

The US allows the entry of pet food from Canada except those that contain sheep, lamb, or goat. Also, the pet food should be commercially packaged and sealed. The ingredients should be clearly listed in English.

Service dog border crossing rules for the US and Canada

Service Dog

Canada does not put any restrictions on the importation of service dogs provided that the individual who makes use of the dog’s services is the one importing him or her. The US, however, applies the same requirements to service dogs as they do to any other pet dogs.


Info about birds in the border

Pet birds are any bird that is not classified as poultry such as chicken, fowl, pigeons, and turkey. To take your pet bird across the border, you will have to do the following:

traveling with Pet Birds
  • sign a declaration which states that the bird has been in your sole possession for the 90 days before the date of your importation and has not been in any contact with other birds during that period.
  • sign a declaration that the bird is not intended for resale
  • prove that the bird has not been brought into Canada in the last 90 days before this visit.
  • pet birds coming from Canada are required to undergo veterinary inspection at the port of entry. You will need to call 3 to 5 days prior to your arrival so you can check if the port veterinarian will be available at that time.

Unusual pets

unusual pet

Other types of pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and ferrets are not restricted and do not require health certificates to be granted entry into the US as long as they appear to be healthy. They may be subject to quarantine if they look sick or unhealthy. Turtles and tortoises have import restrictions. Both Canada and the US will not allow African rodents, civets, most snails, and pet primates.
As for exotic pets, you will need to get permission from the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before you can bring it into the US or export. The US Fish and Wildlife Service regulates animals that are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), including some birds.