What Forms Do People Need to Take Their Dogs Back & Forth Across the Canadian Border?

Any dog crossing the Canadian border requires a rabies certificate.
Any dog crossing the Canadian border requires a rabies certificate. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If you wish to travel back and forth across the Canadian border with your dog, keep your canine's rabies vaccination certificate handy at all times. For the most part, that is the only document you will need to cross the border. When entering the United States, the document requirement applies to all dogs, including service animals such as seeing eye dogs.

Rabies Vaccination Certificate

All dogs crossing the Canadian-United States border require a rabies vaccination certificate. The certificate must be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian and list the breed, color and weight of the animal; the date of vaccination; the trade name and serial number of the rabies vaccine; and the duration of the immunity. Most rabies vaccines are valid for one or three years; if your certificate does not have a duration, border officials will assume the duration of one year. When entering Canada, forms must be English or French. When entering the U.S., the rabies vaccine must have been given at least 30 days prior to travel. Canada does not have a waiting period.

Health Certificate

Unless your dog is traveling without you, neither Canadian nor American officials require a health certificate. However, most airlines require a health certificate. If you plan to ship a dog under 8 months of age to Canada, a health certificate is required. When crossing by car or foot, you may wish to bring a health certificate for dogs that may not appear healthy for any reason. A health certificate must be issued within three days of travel and contain record of a complete veterinary examination showing that your dog is free from any clinical disease. Most vets have a standard form that they fill out and sign. If you needed a health certificate to enter Canada, you will also need one to return to the United States, issued within three days of return travel.

Inspection Fees

Domestic dogs traveling from the United States into Canada may be inspected, but are exempt from the inspection fees. Generally, dogs that appear in good health do not require an inspection.

Missing Rabies Vaccination Certificate

If you are caught importing a dog into Canada without a rabies vaccination certificate, you will be required to have the dog vaccinated in a specified period of time and provide proof to the border agency. A dog found to be without a proper rabies certificate crossing into the United States may be admitted if you sign a confinement agreement. You must confine the dog until it is vaccinated against rabies and for 30 days following the vaccination. This applies to all dogs, even puppies that are too young to be vaccinated for rabies.

The Experience

It is up to the border official to determine if your dog is healthy enough to enter the country. While your passport is being reviewed, the official may ask you a couple of questions about the dog or ask you to present your certificate. You will not always be asked for your documents, but you should carry the rabies certificate with you regardless. As long as your dog appears healthy, your border crossing should not be delayed.

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