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Canada - Importing Your Pet

When moving to Canada you may want to take the family pet with you and there are a certain number of regulations which you must adhere to. The government agency responsible for dealing with the importation of pets is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. They should be contacted about all animals that are being brought into the country and this includes domestic pets. This mainly refers to cats and dogs but may also include reptiles, birds, fish, rodents, horses, rabbits or insects.

Pets will normally have to meet certain vaccination requirements, although there is no requirement for quarantine once the pets arrive. Rabies exists in Canada but the disease is under control and if you are from a country that is considered to be rabies free the requirements are different than if you are bringing a pet from a country that has rabies. All cats and dogs over the age of 3 months will need to have proof of a rabies vaccination if they are coming from a country that does not have rabies.

It is not essential for pets to travel with their owners when moving to Canada. They can be shipped into the country by a specialist pet moving company providing they have all the correct paperwork in place. If the pet does travel with its owner then the commercial airline may have different requirements as regards health paperwork so this will need to be checked in advance. When the pet arrives there will be an inspection carried out by the Canada Border Services Agency. They will examine the animal, check its identification and the records on their vaccinations. There are no restrictions on the number of animals that an expat can take into Canada but if you import animals frequently then you may be asked to provide proof that they are personal pets.

If you are taking a cat to Canada that is not yet 3 months old then you can do so with no need for vaccinations. If the cat is older than 3 months and coming from a rabies free country then you will need either a certificate completed by a government veterinarian that confirms that the animal has been living in a rabies free environment for a minimum of 6 months or the rabies vaccination record. This can be in either French or English and has to list the exact vaccination used on the animal. It should also be noted that there is no need for a waiting period after the pet has been vaccinated and the time it is allowed to enter the country. If the cat is coming from a country that has rabies then it needs to be vaccinated no matter what the age of the cat.

If you are bringing a dog into Canada that is older than 3 months but younger than 8 months and travels into the country with their owner will need to have a rabies certificate or the veterinary declaration regardless of whether the country of origin is rabies free or not. There is no need for additional certificates. If the dog is less than 3 months old then there is no need for a rabies vaccine or any other certificates.

If the dog is from a rabies free country, travelling without its owner and is aged between 3 and 8 months then the same rabies requirements apply as for a cat. In addition, the pet will need a health certificate which can be in English or French and which should detail the identification information for the pet, that the animal has no diseases, the age of the pet, vaccinations for hepatitis, distemper, parvovirus and parainfluenza, dates of vaccinations and the exact type administered and the date of the examination which should be within 72 hours of the planned trip to Canada.

If the dog is older than 3 months, travelling from a country that is not free of rabies then the pet should have a certificate detailing a rabies vaccination and the health certificate as for dogs from a rabies free country.

Expats should be aware that a pit bull dog cannot be imported into Ontario, although there are no other restrictions on breeds in other parts of the country. Import restrictions do not apply for assistance dogs for the disabled, but must travel with the person it is helping. Fees are payable for the inspection which takes place on arrival and there may be some airport fees payable for handling charges, but these will vary each airport.

Pet supplies are readily available in Canada, with specialist pet stores and supermarkets stocking well known brands of foods and over the counter remedies for pets. Veterinarians can supply medications which are used all over the world so if your pet needs a particular type or brand this should not be a problem.

Useful Resources

CFIA (National Headquarters)
Tel: 1 800 442 2342 / 613 225 2342
Fax: 613 228 6601

Read more about this country

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