Leaving those you hold near and dear to you can be tough. And, this can especially be true if you are leaving behind your pet. In many of our cultures, pets are part of the family. So, in immigrating to Canada, you feel sad at not bringing your furry (or feathered) friend along. It almost feels like you are leaving behind a parent or a sibling.
Well, here is the good news. It is possible for you to take your pet with you to Canada! Read this article and follow a few of the steps in it, and you will be a step closer to immigrating alongside your animal friend (or two) in Canada.
But, before getting too excited, let us go over a few things.
Which Animals Are Allowed into Canada
Furry and scaled. Arboreal or otherwise. Vertebrates and invertebrates. Canada allows a range of animals into its borders. Besides the usual favorites like cats and dogs, insects and spiders, reptiles and amphibians, birds, horses, and rodents may also enter customs.
But, dogs and cats have always been the most common pet immigrants. So, this article will focus mostly (but not totally) on our canine and feline buddies.
Dogs are the proverbial “man’s best friend”. For this reason, the most common pets that make it across the border are those from the canine family.
All breeds of dogs are allowed through customs except for some breeds. These will be discussed later. But, regardless, all dogs must be with their owner.
Owners must also declare the arrival of their dogs in advance. And, of course, these furry companions of ours must have a clean bill of health. More details on these reminders later on.
Dogs could come. And, so could their feline counterparts. Canada also opens its borders to cats, which is definitely good news if you are a cat-lover. Any breed of cat is fine so long as it is healthy and free of rabies.
Canada is very particular about being a rabies-free country. So, like dogs, cats that come into the country need to be rabies-free or come from a country that is.
As for other animals like birds, reptiles, insects, and rodents, you may bring them into the country. Yet, you may have to be alright with the idea of quarantine and additional paperwork. You and your friend may need to go through some additional hoops depending on the province you are entering. This is especially true for those coming from countries outside North America.
Regardless of the type of pet you own, always check with Canada’s Border Service Agency (CBSA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Not All Pets Need Wings to Fly: Pet-Friendly Airlines
It may be your first time traveling with a pet. And, this could make things confusing.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. Unless you plan on immigrating by boat, you are flying to Canada with your pet. So, you need to find an airline that would take you and your pet.
Fortunately, there is a list of airlines to choose from. Also, all of these airlines allow cats and dogs!
It is important to understand some things. First, some airlines allow pets in the cabin and some do not. So, do not always expect to fly with your animal companion in first class, business class, or even coach.
Depending on the airline, pets may be in another part or compartment of the plane. In addition, often, you will have to provide the container for your pet.
Each airline will charge you for your pet. The price may depend on whether the flight is domestic or international (which most likely applies to you!).
Finally, it is important to make sure that your pet is healthy before the flight. Bring a health or vaccination certificate with you for proof.
Here is a list of some of the most pet-friendly airlines:
- Air Canada
- American Airlines
- Air India
- Turkish Airlines
- Lufthansa Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Aeroloft (allows a wide range of animals besides cats and dogs)
- TAP Air Portugal
- Scandanavian Airlines (you may need to book 24 hours ahead of your flight)
- British Airways (your pet must weigh 13.2 pounds. If heavier, your pet flies but in the cargo area)
- Iberia (allows tortoises)
- Japan Airlines (pets are never allowed in the cabin)
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (pets heavier than 18 pounds travel with cargo)
For more detailed information about prices, perks, and other requirements for you and your pet, you could learn more from here.
Checks and Documentation
Before traveling and bringing your furry friend to Canada, there are some preparations to make for the trip.
Though the Canadian government has some specific guidelines on letting animals enter the country, it does care about your pet’s protection.
Let us begin with your pet’s health. Whether you own a cat, dog, or any other pet, you need to be sure of its health. You could expect your canine, feline, reptilian, or avian pal to be inspected for the same reason. And, if healthy, your pet will be allowed to enter the airline and eventually Canada.
Besides looking healthy, your pet needs to have the right papers to prove it too. In the case of dogs, they should have a rabies vaccination certificate. This document proves that your canine pal had a rabies vaccine.
Also, the Canadian Border Services Agency is responsible for inspecting your pet. Expect to pay $30 for the inspection. And, for additional pets, you need to pay $5.
The process is pretty much similar for cats. Cats are also inspected by the CSBA. And, the fees are the same. The only difference is that you could present a different document for rabies. You could present a veterinary certificate instead. This document has to state that your cat comes from a rabies-free country. These countries are:
- Cayman Islands
- Ireland (Republic of)
- New Zealand
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Martin (Netherlands Antilles)
- Saint Pierre et Miquelon
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
So, if you come from any of these countries, you could just present a veterinary certificate instead of a rabies vaccination certificate.
For other types of possible pets, you could find more information here:
Again, you need a rabies vaccination certificate for your dog. For your cat, you could present either a rabies vaccination certificate or a veterinary certificate. And, of course, take note of the fees you need to pay for the CSBA’s inspection.
Do these, and you will be immigrating successfully with your furry pal!
It is important to know some rules as you take your Spike and Tom to the Great North. First off, unlike some countries…
There is no need to get your dog or cat a tattoo or microchip for identification.
Also, as long as you declare your pet, you will not have to worry about quarantine for it. In many cases, you should also declare your arrival with your pet ahead of time.
Whether your pet is a cat or dog, they need rabies vaccinations. But, sometimes, pets could be less than 3 months old. For these cats and dogs, you do not have to present rabies vaccination or veterinary certificates. But, be prepared to bring some other papers for your pet to prove its age.
Every now and then, the CSBA might refer your pet to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for a second inspection. In this case, there may be a delay.
It was mentioned earlier that all breeds of cats are allowed. However, the rules are not as light and loose for dogs. There are some restrictions on certain breeds.
In the province of Ontario, there is a breed-specific law. And, it prohibits the entry of bully-type dogs. Examples of such dogs are pit bulls, some breeds of terrier and bulldog, and boxers.
These breeds could be refused entry into the province. And, police and animal control could seize these types of dogs. Now, of course, your dog might be a different breed but look like a bully-type dog. To bring your dog, you need to have your dog’s pedigree papers. These documents prove your dog’s actual breed.
Other regulated or prohibited dogs in some provinces and municipalities include:
- Working-class dogs like German shepherds, Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes, and Akitas
- Doberman pinschers
- Great Danes
- Cane Corsos
- Dogo Argentinos
- Perro de Presa Canarios
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
To learn more details about Canadian breed-specific laws, visit:
What if you are bringing pet food? You could. But, it must be sealed and dehydrated (dry). And, most importantly, it must have been produced in the United States.
Lastly, you want to make sure your dog or cat is comfortable for the long journey to Canada. The International Air Travel Association has some simple rules for animal containers. Basically, the container just has to be big enough for your pet to:
- turn around normally
- lie naturally
- sit in an erect position.
And, of course, let us not forget weight. Weight is more of a requirement for airlines. Different airlines have different conditions for weight. Some have rules for this. Others do not. But, weight limits for pets are usually somewhere between 13 to 18 pounds. Heavier pets need to travel with cargo.
So, to be in the cabin, a good rule of thumb is for your pet to weigh lesser than 13 pounds. Maybe it is time to put your pet on a diet? Just kidding!
Actual Flying with Your Pet
The actual process of flying with your pet to Canada really takes place in 3 steps.
Let us begin with the first step. This is the time before the actual flight. During this phase, you need to:
- Check the province you are going to
For the most part, the guidelines on pet entry (especially for cats and dogs) are pretty much similar. But, then again, provinces may not allow certain breeds or types of animals. You need to check for these breed-specific laws.
2. Get your pet vaccinated and documented
Especially for cats and dogs, you need to get them rabies shots. And, you need to get a certificate for the vaccination. As said a number of times, this is required by both the airline you will take and agencies like the CBSA and CFIA. Think of it as your pet’s immigration document.
- Make sure your pet is healthy
This will prevent delays by the CBSA or CFIA. You do want your pet to enter the country at the same time as you, right?
- Check with your airline
Try to see the prices, perks, and rules for bringing you pet aboard the flight. There may be some regulations on weight and the container for your pet.
Also, you may have to inform your airline of your furry guest ahead of your flight.
- Prepare your container
Again, it needs to be big enough for your pet to move and lie freely.
- Feed your pet
The flight will be long. And most if not all airlines prohibit feeding pets in-flight. Hours before your flight, do feed your pet so that they will not go hungry. Make sure they have enough water in their container though.
Doing these, you will not have much trouble during the flight (step 2). During this time, you and your pet could simply enjoy the trip!
Once you land in Canada, which is the last step:
- Submit to an inspection
Usually, somebody from the CBSA will inspect your pet for visible health issues. Of course, this is not a problem for healthy cats, dogs, and other pets.
- Be prepared to present all documents
By documents, this means the rabies vaccination certificate, veterinary certificate, and your pet’s birth certificate. If your pet is a dog, be ready with the pedigree certificate (to show the breed).
- Declare your pet “PERSONAL”
Use the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Automated Import Reference System. There is usually a terminal for this at the airport. In it, type “personal dog” in the search box. After that, mention that you are accompanying your dog. Then, specify the country you are from and where you are going. This will increase the chance of your pet making it through.
If all goes well, you will receive an import certificate. This means that your pet has been allowed into Canada!
Touchdown for You and Your Pet!
So, is it possible for you to immigrate with your little pal to Canada? You bet!
Yes. Immigrating alongside a cat or dog is not as simple as doing it on your own. Understandably, this could make you feel uneasy about the situation. Nonetheless, you will happy to know this.
For most who have done this, the process has been quite easy. Many have made their way across the border by road or by air without too many problems. And, what made this possible was the preparation of their pets’ documents. So long as you do the same, you and your little furry friend should not have any problems either.
So to you and your fun and furry companion, welcome to Canada in advance!