How To Import A Dog From The US Into Canada

How To Import A Dog From The US Into Canada

If you are importing a dog to Canada from the US, it’s important to understand the process. It is relatively simple if you ensure all the requirements are met before your pet arrives at the border, one that may or may not involve a customs broker. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates the importation of dogs into Canada. They require certain inspections and documentation in order to approve the import. Here is what you, the importer, need to do to ensure streamlined clearance into Canada.

Canine Import Process From the US to Canada 

How the Pet Travels Indicates if a Formal Customs Entry is Needed or Not

If you are hiring a transportation company to transport your dog, a formal customs entry will be needed if importing for commercial purposes. A formal entry may also be needed if importing a pet for personal reasons, should the carrier request a customs broker involvement (for example, some airlines require a customs broker to meet the plane at the port of arrival.) You will need to set up an account with a customs broker or arrange to meet the transportation company at Customs to file the customs entry in both of these scenarios.

Need Help with Getting Your Dog Customs Released? We Can Help.

If you are bringing the animal across yourself, no formal customs entry is needed.

Pet Age Plays a Significant Role in Regulation Requirements

The age of the dog must also be taken into account. The puppy must be a minimum of 8 weeks old, and the import requirements may differ for dogs older than 8 months.

Personal vs. Commercial Importing

The next step is understanding the difference between importing a personal pet (personal importing) or importing a dog for resale or other business purposes (commercial importing).

There are 2 scenarios to consider:

Are you importing a personal pet for your home OR are you importing a pet for your business? 

  • If it is for your home it is considered a personal unaccompanied dog (if hiring a transport company). 
  • If it is for your business, then the dog is a commercial Importation. 

The term commercial means an animal for resale, show, breeding, training, or any other purpose that is not simply a pet in our own home.

It also includes rescue animals and service dogs that are traveling unaccompanied by the person they are assigned to or their trainer.

Personal Importation

Before The Border:

There are documents needed for importing a dog into Canada from the US. Ensure the dog has all of the necessary vaccinations. 

For dogs less than 8 months old: 

  • The dog will need a current Rabies Vaccination Certificate if over 3 months old. (If the dog is less than 3 months of age, it does not need a rabies vaccination.)
  • A Veterinary Certificate of Health signed by the veterinarian, issued no more than 72 hours before the dog crosses the border. The certificate must precisely identify the animal, establish its age, state that it is healthy and able to travel without suffering excessively and list all of its vaccines.

For dogs over 8 months old:

  • The dog will need a Rabies Vaccination Certificate signed by a veterinarian that clearly identifies the animal. The dog must have been older than 3 months at the time of vaccination.
Infographic | Dog Import Requirements

Commercial Importation

Before The Border:

Dogs Less Than 8 Months Old:

  • A CFIA issued Import Permit.
  • Importers may use CFIAs MyCFIA portal to apply for the permit or complete and submit CFIA form CFIA/ACIA 5860 - Application for Permit to Import Live Animals, Hatching Eggs and Animal Germplasm to the CFIA Center of Administration for processing.
  • You must apply for and receive the permit prior to arranging transportation for the animal to Canada, as CFIA will not issue one if the animal has already arrived at the border.
  • You will need proof of the dealer's USDA license or registration to include with the application.
  • CFIA recommends allowing 30 days for permit processing.
  • Ensure the dog has all of the necessary vaccinations.
  • If the dog is less than 3 months of age, it does not need to be vaccinated against rabies.
  • If over 3 months old it will need a current rabies certificate. The certificate must include how long the vaccination is good for, or the vaccination will be deemed to only be good for 1 year.
  • A Veterinary Certificate of Health issued no more than 48 hours before the dog enters Canada.
  • The dog must be Microchipped.
  • Arrange for the CFIA Veterinarian inspection at the port of entry into Canada by contacting the CFIA District Office closest to the first port of entry.

Dog Over 8 Months Old:

  • Current Rabies vaccination certificate.
  • The dog must have been older than 3 months at the time of vaccination.
  • Must include how long the vaccination is good for (duration of immunity), or it will be deemed to expire 1 year after the date of vaccination.

Pro Tip: Regardless of how commercial dogs are being transported, a formal customs entry will be required. You will need to set up an account with a customs broker or arrange to meet the transportation company at customs to file the customs entry.

At The Border:

The dog and its documentation will be inspected by the Canada Border Services Agency (or CFIA Veterinarian) to ensure the rabies vaccination is current, if applicable, and the animal's description matches the documents and customs declaration. This inspection also checks for visible signs of illness.

If the rabies vaccination is not current or deemed invalid, you will be required to have the vaccinations updated within 2 weeks of arrival in Canada. You will be put in contact with the local CFIA district office for assistance and follow-up. 

If the CBSA needs veterinary guidance or expertise, they will contact the CFIA for further assistance in assessing the animal.

After The Border:

If a rabies vaccination is required, follow up with the CFIA Local district office for instructions and make the vaccination appointment.

Although it is not required by the CFIA some veterinarians recommend quarantining your furry friend for up to 30 days.

It has also been recommended that the new pet be kept away from other animals and people with compromised immune systems to ensure they haven’t accidentally brought an illness with them that wasn’t apparent when they started their journey to their new home.

Introducing your new pet to your own veterinarian is also a good idea to double-check health, just in case you need to follow up with the breeder.

Should need assistance with the import of an animal into Canada, we have expertise standing by to assist. Contact us today.

Dog import into Canada
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About the Author
Gloria Terhaar
CCS (CA/US), CTCS, CBSA Prof. Designate

Gloria Terhaar began her career in Canadian customs brokerage 2007. She currently works in our Canadian division as a Trade Compliance Supervisor and Regulatory Compliance Specialist. Gloria has extensive experience in all aspects of documentation and regulatory requirements as they relate to importing products into Canada. Gloria is often called upon to train industry with some recent talks for MNP, the Surrey Board of Trade, TFO Canada and the BC Produce Marketing Association. In 2018, Gloria also participated in the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and the Canadian Horticultural Council advocacy event "Fall Harvest" in Ottawa where she participated in advocacy efforts for the Canadian produce industry.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.