How to cross to Canada with your dog
During the Covid-19 crisis, the Canadian border was closed to non-citizens (and their furry friends). We hope that the border will open soon and tourists will be able to resume their cross-border travel once again, bringing their dogs with them.
As dual citizens, Melissa and I crossed the border with our dogs several times as we moved and rested on both sides.
Crossing the border into Canada with a dog can be easy or challenging, depending on many factors – not least the mood of customs officers on a given day.
Tips for crossing the Canadian border with Canada smoothly
Here are some tips on how to cross the Canadian border with dogs while traveling by car. Most of the same advice will apply to crossing the border with the United States with your dog. To make sure you are following the latest rules and regulations for crossing the border with your dog, see the Canadian Border Services Agency website at the bottom of this page.
Have a plan. Do not expect to appear at the border with your dog in the car and your passport in hand and expect to be waved without serious questions. Always expect the worst to be prepared for whatever the customs officers ask of you. Keep your records. You must present a valid rabies vaccination certificate (not just your pet’s label). It must be up-to-date, licensed by a veterinarian and have the breed of your dog, the type of vaccine used, the duration of immunity, the country, the name of the veterinarian and be signed by the veterinarian. Bring other pet vaccination records to show that your dog is healthy and to show that you are a responsible pet owner. By 2019, no other vaccination records are needed, but they are still available just to be safe. Proof of ownership. Bring all property records, breeder documents, adoption records, etc. to show that your dog belongs to you. Stolen dogs crossing the border are “something”, so make sure you can prove ownership of your pet. Carry information about your dog’s microchip. Although dogs do not need to be microchipped to enter Canada, CBSA does mention this on its website: “Any dog intended for adoption and / or animal welfare organization) must be identified by an electronic microchip before entered Canada. ” Pet food. Do not carry unlabeled pet food containers. The rules for transporting dog food across the Canadian border are strict and you may need to hand over any open bags or boxes of food. You are only allowed 20 kg of food, which must be in the original packaging and must be produced by a commercial pet food manufacturer in the United States or Canada. Make sure your dog is well rested. Exercise your dog before crossing the border. Customs agents are trained to be observant – even suspicious – and you can be detained if your dog behaves abnormally, as they may suspect illness. Taking your pet for a pleasant long walk in a park on the American side before arriving at the Canadian border is a good idea. Arrange your pet before crossing the Canadian border. Just like humans, customs agents are less suspicious of well-maintained (and well-mannered) passengers. Also, make sure your dog is free of ticks or fleas before taking them to Canada. A scratching dog can have a customs agent inspect them and you may be denied entry if your dog has ticks or fleas. Make the muzzle comfortable for jet dogs. Sometimes crossing the border may involve detention for inspection. It happened to us several times and once it took over four hours while Canadian customs agents read everything in our U-Haul. Your dog may need to stay in the crowded waiting area, interact with customs agents, etc., so if they tend to be afraid of being bitten, be sure to keep them in your mouth. Give your dog some rest and water before you reach the border. Often the lines are long and it can be difficult to leave your car to rest on your back. Keep your pet restrained with a dog leash. They are a must for a safe trip with your pets and can also help your dog not rush to customs if they get excited. Keep calm, be polite and introduce customs agents to your dog. “This is Sam, he’s going to visit Banff National Park.” Politeness goes a long way in smoothing things over with border agents wherever you travel.
Finally, make a great trip with your dogs to Canada! We hope that the border will soon be reopened for normal travel so that we can see our friends and relatives on the other side, as well as travel with our dogs to Canada to see the many beautiful parks and back roads.
The Canadian Border Services Agency has more information on the rules for introducing pets in Canada on their website.