What Every Dog Owner Ought to Know About the Canada/U.S. Border Crossing
Cross border travel between Canada and the USA is relatively painless for the citizens of these countries and their pooches. Especially small “carry on” dogs like me!
Note regarding air travel: I admit right now I have no idea how it works for larger dogs. I write only about what I know. Sorry.
The one thing that makes dog travel scary for a host country is the fear of spreading rabies. And well – it’s something that Canada and the USA already share. So the rules are rather straight forward and similar; in two words: rabies vaccine.
I was born in North Carolina, USA. My bipeds are from Canada. So I crossed that particular border for the first time when I was just shy of 3 months.
There are rules for puppies that can get a little tricky. Puppies younger than three months old don’t need to be vaccinated against rabies. Proof of age will be needed. A health certificate or vaccine certificate (obviously, not including rabies for under three month puppies) that is dated and includes the pup’s age should be fine.
These regulations can present a logistical problem. Based on rabies-vaccine label directions, puppies can’t have a rabies vaccination until they are three months old, yet they need to have the vaccine a month before they travel and cross the Canada/USA border. If you happen to be 3.5 months old … you have a problem. The only solution is to wait the two weeks out. In my case, I wasn’t three months yet (just a week under) so I managed to get in without a rabies vaccine.
This trip to Florida is easier logistically. I am now seven months old, and have had my rabies shots for two months already. I only got the one year shot (versus 3 year), because I am so darn small (2.38 pounds) that the vet worried that a three year dose may be harmful. My biped keeps the paper with her passport to show at the border.
Though permanent identification is not essential for travel between the U.S. and Canada, it is a good idea. If your dog gets away from you while you’re far from home, you won’t get him back without ID. A microchip is the best form of permanent ID for Canada/U.S. travel. You should also attach a tag on the harness/collar, with the dogs name as well as your own name and phone number. I have the ISO Conformant Full Duplex chip. This is important for when I travel to Europe or Asia since it is the only one they recognize and is required for entry. But I digress.
What will you need to cross the Canada/U.S. border?
When travelling across the Canada/U.S. border by land, air or sea/lake make sure you have:
- Proof that your dog was vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
- American authorities: A signed, dated certificate showing the vaccine was given at least 30 days prior to entering the U.S.
- Canadian authorities: A rabies vaccination is valid from the day it is given. In other words, you can have your dog vaccinated, then cross the border into Canada a few minutes later.
- Information on the brand of rabies vaccine, the vaccine lot number, and the expiry date of the vaccine must be written on the certificate.
- The certificate must list you (yes you, the human) as the owner (careful if someone else is travelling with the dog!) and contain a clear, detailed description of the dog, outlining his/her color, breed, gender, age and specific markings.
When flying, you may or may not need an additional airline approved health certificate, depending on your carrier. The required duration of a health certificate’s validity also varies from airline to airline. It’s best to ask whomever you are flying with for their current requirements for documentation.
In my case we were flying US Airways – no health Certificate needed. Crossing the border in Ottawa into the US was really easy (yes we have a US border INSIDE the Ottawa airport – very handy). The man working there was lovely, chatty and a ham! We had a good laugh and he even gave me a little head rub and wished us a pleasant vacation in sunny Florida.
On the way home, the story was a little different (by this I mean longer). We had to stand in line with the “something to declare” people (ahmmm that would be me just coming home folks!). The gentleman was super nice, even waved some administrative fee. Mom is kicking herself because she can’t remember what it was for. It wasn’t unpleasant but it did add a lot of time and it was a little stressful in terms of making that connecting flight out of Toronto back to Ottawa. So keep that in mind when you book your flights.
What has your experience been crossing the Canada/USA border? share in the comments below.