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Moving Your Pets to Canada

When you decide to move to Canada, there will be a ton of things that go through your head, including how you will manage to pack up your current life in your current country of residence and move on to another. Since most people want to immigrate to Canada with the intent to make it their permanent home, there is always a question surrounding whether you could also bring your pet, or in some cases, pets.

Without a doubt, in modern-day society, pets have become our pride and joy. Some people even refer to their pets as their children, and don’t waver at the idea of throwing a proper birthday party with cake, presents, and all when their cat, dog, bunny, rodent, bird, or even their fish have their annual birthday.

While moving to Canada with pets seems like it could be simple when you think about it, given that you have to move your pets by air, it can seem like a very overwhelming task to do. Most people that plan on moving to Canada are very uninformed about the process, and some don’t even know that they are allowed to move their cats from another country to Canada. Given all of the confusion surrounding the topic, let’s start with, yes, you can move your pets to Canada.

How to Get Your Pet(s) to Canada

Info Graphic - Move Your Pets to Canada Page

While it may not seem ideal for everyone, only dogs and cats are allowed to immigrate to Canada with you. However, dogs are only allowed to move to Canada from the age of eight months, and cats only from the age of three months old. Unfortunately, Canada does not compromise on its rules.

With that, there are a couple of important steps that you must follow to make a successful move to Canada with your pet(s), including essential documents per pet, and a guide you can follow to get the process going effectively.

One of the most important things that you must be aware of is that dogs and cats must meet the minimum age limit if you are planning to enter Canada with them without import permits, but as a domestic import instead. This means that all pets must be accompanied by their owners to be able to enter the country.

Alternatively, you can also apply for an import permit from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) if you would like to try and still get either a bird or non-traditional pet to Canada, but only if the pet qualifies under the commercial category. Before moving your pet to Canada, you must also know that you must present proof of your cat or dog’s age to the Canadian authorities to get the thumbs up for them to enter.

Additionally, if you thought that Canada accepted all types of dog breeds, think again. Canada does not accept the following dog breeds:

  • American Staffordshire
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Any crosses of these dog breeds are also not allowed to enter Canada. Apart from this ban, you are also not allowed to transit the provinces of Toronto, Ontario, and Winnipeg.

If for any reason, a pet can’t be accompanied by its owner, it must be microchipped so that the Canadian authorities can identify them. When a pet travels to Canada, it may enter the country with no more than 20 kg of pet food, which must be a product of the U.S. and be commercially packaged.

Import Requirements

Two dogs and two cats sitting next to each other

With Canadian immigration,, you must be prepared to meet the standards that Canada has set out for its residents, which means meeting the requirements for your pets.

Requirements include:

1. Rabies vaccination certificate

Dogs and cats are not allowed to travel to Canada if they do not have a rabies vaccination certification that is written in either English or French. This is to prevent diseases from entering Canada. For this reason, the CFIA has established importation laws under the National Animal Health Program that applies to all animals that enter the country, whether it’s temporarily or permanently.

The certificate must also be signed and dated by a licensed veterinarian, state the colour, weight, and breed of your pet, state that your pet is vaccinated against rabies, specify how long immunity against rabies will last, and indicate the relevant and licensed vet’s trade name and serial number.

2. Microchips

With the rabies vaccination requirement when moving to Canada, pets are also required to be microchipped, except for service dogs and pets that are younger than three months old.

According to a CFIA, a service dog is a dog that can provide a specific, trained service to people who are otherwise limited in their abilities to perform specific tasks. Service dogs don’t have to meet import requirements if they are accompanied by someone that they aid when they arrive in Canada. However, they must have official documents that state that they are service animals.

Puppies and kittens are the second exemption for import requirements. They are not old enough to receive rabies vaccinations and as a result, don’t require a rabies certification to get to Canada. In this case, you must provide proof of the age of your pet upon request.

3. Inspection process and fees

At the Port of Entry (POE), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers are stationed to check whether the rabies certificate for all of your pets has been issued recently. They will also check whether the pet description matches that of your pet, as well as if your pets show signs of illnesses. If your pet(s) pass all of the requirements, they will gain entry.

The fees involved include C$30 + tax (+-$23 + tax in the U.S.) for the first pet, and $C$5 + tax for each additional pet (+- $4 + tax in the U.S.).

Should your pet not meet the requirements, you will be granted two weeks after arriving in Canada to get them vaccinated, upon which you must then return the paperwork to the CFIA. Apart from paying for the vaccination, you must pay a higher entry fee of C$55 + tax (+-$42 + tax in the U.S.) for the first pet, and C$30 + tax (+-$23 + tax in the U.S) for every additional pet.

If your pet shows any signs of being ill, a border agent can contact the CFIA for another inspection, of which additional fees.

A Canadian Visa for You and Your Pet

Dog and person sitting next to each other

Moving to Canada with pets can seem like a very difficult thing to do at first, but once you know how to go about doing it, you’ll realize that the process is actually much easier than you could have ever imagined.

By simply meeting pet immigration requirements, you can move to Canada with your pet in no time.

What are you waiting for? There’s no leaving your kids behind. If you have ever dreamed about moving with your pets to your dream destination, now is the time to make it happen. They are, after all, family, aren’t they?

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