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How To Import A Dog From The U.S. Into Canada

If you are importing a dog or puppy from the U.S. into Canada, it’s important to understand the current challenges. COVID-19 has put a kink in picking up your new furry member of the family when you’ve purchased them from a U.S. breeder.

If you cross the border yourself to pick up your furry friend, you are likely going to have to quarantine for 14 days upon your return (that is if you are even allowed into the U.S.). If U.S. customs deems the reason for your travel as non-essential, they can refuse you entry. So how do you get that furry piece of your heart to your home?

The process is relatively simple if you ensure all the requirements are met before your pet arrives at the border. 
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates the importation of dogs into Canada and requires 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:

There are 2 scenarios to consider:

Are you importing a 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 it is for your business then the dog is a commercial Importation. 

The age of the dog must also be taken into account. The puppy cannot be less than 8 weeks old and the import requirements can be different if the dog is more than 8 months older. 

How To Import A Personal Dog Into Canada 

Before The Border:

Ensure the dog has all of the necessary vaccinations. If the dog is less than 3 months of age it does not need a rabies vaccination. 

For dogs less than 8 months old: 

  1. The dog will need a current Rabies Vaccination Certificate, if over 3 months old.
  2. A Veterinary Certificate of Health signed by the veterinarian issued no more than 72 hours before the dog crosses the border. The certificate must clearly identify the animal, confirm age, that it is free of disease and can be transported without undue suffering and has the required vaccinations.

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.

If you are hiring a transportation company to transport your dog a formal customs entry will be needed. 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. If you are bringing the animal across yourself, no formal customs entry is needed.

How To Import A Commercial Dog Into Canada

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 assistance dogs that are traveling unaccompanied by the person they are assigned to or their trainer.

Before The Border:

Dogs Less Than 8 Months Old

You will need:

a. A CFIA issued Import Permit 

  1. Importers may use CFIAs MyCFIA portal 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
  2. 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
  3. You will need the proof of the dealers USDA licence or registration to include with the application
  4. CFIA recommends allowing 30 days for permit processing

b. Ensure the dog has all of the necessary vaccinations. If the dog is less than 3 months of age it does not need a rabies vaccination

c. A Veterinary Certificate of Health issued no more than 48 hours before the dog enters Canada

d. A Current Rabies vaccination certificate if over 3 months old. The certificate must include how long the vaccination is good for, or the vaccination will be deemed to only be good for 1 year

e. The dog must be Microchipped

f. 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:

a. Current Rabies vaccination certificate

  1. The dog must have been older than 3 months at the time of vaccination.
  2. 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.

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. Note: inspection fees between ~$30.00 to $60.00 per animal may apply.

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 was 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 new 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.

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About Author
Gloria Terhaar
CCS, CTCS, CBSA Professional Designate

Gloria Terhaar has over 17 years of Canadian customs brokerage experience. 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 Canadain 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.