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All You Need to Know About Moving to Canada with Pets

Anastasia Hill December 2, 2020
Posted December 2, 2020 In Living Abroad,
Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

The Great White North has always been a friend to animals, so if you’re moving to Canada with pets, you needn’t worry. Both you and your four-legged companion are welcome to make a fresh start here. There are just a few rules and regulations they’ll have to meet. Keep reading to learn more about taking pets to Canada!

Before we start, here are some basic facts about our northern neighbors: The national currency is the Canadian Dollar (C$), so, unfortunately, the greenback is no good here. Contrary to popular belief, Ottawa is the state capital and not the great city of Toronto. Being one of the friendliest countries in the world, there are many thriving expat communities within its borders. The Great White North is widely renowned for its diversity and multiculturalism, having not one but two official languages. (Yes, one of them is English, don’t worry.) That being said, even though you’re not exactly moving across the world, you’ll still have to think about breaking the language barrier if you want to increase your chances of finding employment.

What You Need to Know Before Moving to Canada With Pets

As you probably already suspect, moving to another country with pets is a tricky endeavor. The current coronavirus pandemic certainly isn’t helping. However, it’s not impossible to bring your four-legged companion, especially if you have all the documents needed to travel abroad. Here is a comprehensive list of things you need to know about bringing dogs into Canada, as well as cats, birds, turtles, and snakes!

What Kind Of Document Do I Need When Moving to Canada With Pets?

Much like their owners, our animal friends have to have the proper paperwork when traveling or moving abroad. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) oversees the entire process and checks if you have met all the requirements. You can go to their website to find the permit application and any additional information you need.

The most crucial document is a veterinary certificate. It must be written in either of the official languages, signed by a licensed vet, and contain the following information:

  • The breed, color, sex, and weight of your pet,
  • Confirmation that it didn’t suffer from rabies either six months before the relocation or since birth.

The rabies vaccination certificate should:

  • Be written in either English or French,
  • Be issued by a licensed vet,
  • Contain proof of vaccination against rabies,
  • Indicate the vaccination date and serial number of the vaccine,
  • Specify the duration of immunity,
  • State the breed, color, sex, and weight of the pet.

If your four-legged friend doesn’t meet the vaccination requirement, it will most likely be denied entry or have to be put in quarantine.

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Are There Any Exemptions From Vaccination Requirements?

There are two exceptions to the health and safety standards: service dogs and pets three months of age or less. CFIA describes service dogs as “canines that perform a separate, qualified service to people that may otherwise be impaired in their abilities to perform such duties.” They are excluded from all import regulations provided that the person they assist has the appropriate paperwork to confirm their status.

The other exemption refers to puppies and kittens that are younger than four months. Since they are not old enough for vaccination, rabies clearance isn’t necessary for crossing the border. However, you have to have suitable evidence of their age!

Also, some countries are recognized as being free of the disease. The United States is not included on the CFIA list, but you can check the rest on their official website.

What Is the Safest Way For Your Pet to Travel?

You should contact your chosen airline and ask about their specific guidelines and rules about flying with your animal companion. Always make sure that the carrier is big enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down. You don’t want your furry friend to dehydrate, so provide them with enough water and food for the trip. This is especially important if you’re moving overseas and have a long flight. Bear in mind that all food that enters Canadian borders must be commercially packed and can’t weigh more than 44 pounds. For more detailed information, visit the International Air Transport Association‘s guidelines.

Can My Dog Move to Canada With Me?

Can I take my dog to Canada? Yes, of course. Man’s best friend is more than welcome to the True North. Now, “What do I need to take my dog to Canada?” is a different matter. For starters, you have to contact the CFIA in advance. They will refer you to the necessary documentation and guide you through the process. Afterward, you’ll have to acquire official records of your puppy’s age, weight, breed, and sex, along with the signed health certificate. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will perform a visual inspection and check the paperwork, so make sure you bring everything.

You should also ask yourself, “How much does it cost to take a dog to Canada?”. The overall expenses add up to around C$30 (around $23) plus taxes. Naturally, the fee refers to canines who have met the criteria. If you fail to fulfill the requirements, you’ll have two weeks to get them vaccinated and supply the CFIA with the paperwork. You’ll also have to pay vaccination fees and the entry costs of C$55 (around $42) plus taxes.

Are There Some Dog Breeds That Are Banned?

Before moving with dogs, you should ask yourself can I bring my dog to Canada, which is to say, can I bring this particular breed with me? Unfortunately, some breeds are excluded from particular Canadian cities and provinces. For example, the following pooches are banned from entering Ontario and Winnipeg:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier,
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier,
  • American Staffordshire Terrier,
  • Pit Bull Terrier (allowed in Winnipeg.)

In conclusion, if you’re moving to Ontario or Winnipeg, or any other city or region, be sure to check if your particular breed is welcome there.

Can I Move to Canada With My Cat?

Can I bring my cat to Canada? The short answer is yes. Cats coming to the Great White North must have a rabies vaccination certificate to be officially recognized as rabies-free. The CBSA needs to perform a visual inspection to confirm the vaccination date and make sure the provided description matches the kitty. You may also be required to go through additional assessments, which can incur fees of over C$30 ($23) plus taxes. Overall, bringing a cat is not that much different than taking a dog to Canada.

Can I Move to Canada With Exotic Animals?

Unlike cats and dogs, exotic pet ownership is poorly regulated, unfortunately. There is a guideline of sorts, but it doesn’t apply to all areas equally. Several different federal law acts touch on importing tropical animals, but each province has its own rules regarding exotic pets.

Relocating With Reptilians and Amphibians

Amphibians and reptiles from all around the world are allowed to enter any Canadian region. All you have to do is take your exotic pet to the vet a week before traveling and acquire a proper container for the trip. However, is this a smart idea? The Great White North is infamous for its harsh winters and freezing temperatures. Most snakes, crocodiles, frogs, and other species are very susceptible to cold climates. For the sake of your reptilian friend’s health, maybe it’s best to leave them behind.

Interestingly enough, there is only one animal species the Canucks don’t allow in – the turtle. Import licenses for tortoises are only given to zoos and testing facilities. The reason behind such rigorous measures is the risk of severe infections, particularly salmonella. So, unfortunately, you’re going to have to leave your reptilian pet behind.

Relocating With Birds

Birds require an entry visa authorized by the CFIA, provided that the bird originates from a country legally recognized as free of highly pathogenic avian influenza. If your birdie meets all the CFIA health standards, check out the video below to prepare for the journey!

We Hope You And Your Pet Will Head Up North Soon

If you and your beloved animal companion are moving to Canada soon, consider relying on professionals for help. With all the hoops you’ll have to jump through, organizing a relocation could become overwhelming. A reliable company that specializes in international moving can significantly reduce the amount of moving stress. Expert international Canada movers usually offer various services, ranging from packing to vehicle shipping, and sometimes even providing boxes and moving supplies. Also, if you’re worried about the cost of living in Canada, you can get a handle on your finances by scheduling a free cost estimate. The most important thing is preparing your darling pet for the journey; international movers can take care of everything else!



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