How to Transport a Horse From the USA Into Canada

Horses require medical tests before entering Canada.
Horses require medical tests before entering Canada. (Image: Ralf Nau/Lifesize/Getty Images)

To bring a horse across the Canada/U.S. border for a short-term or permanent stay, you must follow specific regulations. Strict rules prevent the spread of disease from one country to the other. (See Reference 1) Horse owners must have the required paperwork before the border agent will allow entry. Certain border crossings have a veterinarian on hand to perform health checks before a horse may enter. Failure to follow the rules leads to financial penalties.

Things You'll Need

  • Coggins Test
  • International Health Certificate

Horses Entering Canada for Less Than 30 Days

Call a local veterinarian to arrange an appointment to have the horse tested for communicable diseases. Make sure the veterinarian is USDA-endorsed. Schedule this appointment to be as close as possible to your travel dates. (See Reference 1)

Have the USDA-certified veterinarian perform an International Health Inspection and Coggins Test. Double-check that the paperwork is signed by the veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA. The International Health Inspection is valid for 30 days, the Coggins Test for six months. Make sure the certificates will not expire before the return trip to the United States. (See Reference 2)

Locate your proof of ownership papers. The papers must include the horse's name, gender and breed. If the ownership papers have incorrect information, make sure the breed registry corrects these errors before the travel date. For example, if the horse breed states Morgan and the horse is really a quarter horse, the border agent may question the validity of the paperwork. (See Reference 2)

On the day of travel, place all required paperwork in an accessible area. To prove the horse is staying a short time, bring a copy of the competition information, breeding contract, hotel reservations and stable arrangements showing dates and times for your departure. (See Reference 2)

At the border crossing, provide the agent with all paperwork. The agent will ask for additional information if necessary.

If you cannot prove the horse will be in Canada for less than 30 days, be prepared to pay a security deposit. (See Reference 2)

Horses Entering Canada for Longer Than 30 Days

All horses entering Canada must have International Health Certificates and Coggins Tests. Refer to steps one through three in the above section.

All horses entering Canada on a permanent basis must be listed on a VS 17 145 form. Ask your veterinarian to fill out this form and have a USDA veterinarian endorse it. Keep this form handy to present at the border crossing. (See Reference 3)

Call the port of entry a week before you travel. Ask when a Canadian veterinarian is on duty. If a veterinarian must make a special trip to the border crossing, you will pay the hourly fee. (See Reference 1) Give an approximate time for your arrival.

Upon your arrival at the border crossing, present the customs agent with the medical tests and VS 17 145 form. You'll be asked to pull up to the customs office to fill out paperwork while the veterinarian performs an inspection of your horse. (See Reference 2)

The customs official will come up with an estimated value for your horse. This value is used to calculate the duty and taxes you must pay on your horse. Pay this amount in full. Make sure you keep the receipt. If you sell your horse, the new owner needs proof that taxes and duty were paid. (See Reference 2)

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