Canada USA Border Crossing with a Small Dog is Painless!

Canada/USA border crossing with a small dog is painless. Making road trips or flying between the two a relatively easy task to undertake. Especially small “carry on” dogs like me! For this post we will focus on flying as an “example” but the rules are the same.

Note regarding air travel: I admit right now I have no idea how it works for flying larger dogs. I write only about what I know. Sorry.

        Canada USA Border Crossing with a Small Dog is Painless! Montecristo travels

My 1st ever flight! under three months. No rabies vaccine needed!

The one thing that makes dog travel scary for a host country is the fear of spreading rabies. That is why you will see so many nations still have quarantine laws. But it’s something that Canada and the USA still both have sadly.  So the rules are rather straight forward and similar; in two words: rabies vaccine.

Troublesome for Puppies

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. You DO need to know that there are rules for puppies that can get a little tricky.

  1. Entering Canada: Dogs that are accompanied by their owners and are between three and eight months require a rabies vaccination certificate. Dogs less than three months do not require rabies certification. However, proof of the dog’s age must be provided on request.
  2. Entering the USA: 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. (Note: a lot of breeders in Canada claim otherwise – and yes driving across the border can be easier than flying – but do understand that there IS a risk that your puppy will be denied entry since that is the LAW. Be prepared for that if you are choosing to “risk it”. You will be entirely at the mercy of the agent.) In a nutshell: Puppies now have to be 4 months old to enter the USA from Canada WITH the 30 day rabies shot given at 3 months. This was implemented in August 2014. 
  3. For the USA, dogs that have NEVER been vaccinated against Rabies must be vaccinated a minimum of 30 days prior to arrival. Adults dogs older than 15 months of age that have had a rabies vaccination before (given no earlier than 3 months)  and that has since expired may cross the border immediately following vaccination, WITHOUT the need to wait for 30 days.

On my first trip to Florida it was easier logistically. I was seven months old, and had my rabies shots for two months already. I only got the one year shot then (versus 3 year), because I was so darn small (2.38 pounds) that the vet worried that a three year dose may be harmful. Now that I am older – and a whole 3.5 pounds – I get the three year shot. My bipeds keeps the paper with their passport to show at the border.

Montecristo at the vet!     Canada USA Border Crossing with a Small Dog is Painless! Montecristo travels

A visit to my vet for travel paperwork (and dental stuff).

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.  I mention it now because it’s important to time microchipping BEFORE the rabies shot. An often made error. 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. Any vet knows what this paper looks like. In fact they often give it to you when your pet is vaccinated (see banner pic).
  • 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. Vaccine LOT NUMBER is really important. It’s the sticker off the vaccine vial (you can see an example in the banner pic).
  • 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.

traveling little dog Montecristo!     Canada USA Border Crossing with a Small Dog is Painless! Montecristo travels

That fat envelope? My paperwork.

We often fly US Airways when going to the USA (not sure why) and no health Certificate is needed for that airline.

When flying out from Ottawa Canada (Or Toronto) things are super simple we have a US border crossing INSIDE the Ottawa airport – very hand).  The folks working there are lovely! We have had many a good laugh when they discover me – I even get a cuddle now and then.

Flying back into Canada, the story is a little different (by this I mean longer).  We ALWAYS have to stand in line with the “something to declare” people (ahmmm that would be me just coming home folks!).  This is called “secondary”. The Canadian Border Services Agency staff are super nice in our experience and once in a while they will wave the $30 administrative fee. A fee I still have no idea … what it’s for.

It isn’t unpleasant but it does take a lot of time and it can be a little stressful in terms of making say … a connecting flight out of Toronto back to Ottawa.  So keep that in mind when you book your flights. Still, Canada/USA border crossing with a small dog is painless.

Driving across the borders on our road trips has always been a total breeze in either direction.

What has your experience been crossing the Canada/USA border?  share in the comments below.

Note: Original post written in 2010. Updated with new rules (rabies for puppies).

148 Comments on “Canada USA Border Crossing with a Small Dog is Painless!

  1. Monte! I love hearing about your adventures! You travel more than I can ever dream of doing!!! You are so well educated with your travels and I’m glad you take the time to inform the rest of us. I love that you share your adventures with us! Makes my world bigger!!!!

    • Thank you Barb for taking the time to comment! I don’t know if I am educated – I am … working on it! I love to travel and I am just really fortunate that I have bipeds that are willing to do the leg work to bring me along. If you could choose just one place to go – your dream place where would it be?

    • I need to know want to bring a puppy 3months from the states to Canada. I know the crate was 1800. Now I am surprised because they need the insurance I am told $800 I don’t have it. I did not know. And now it’s my fault. Because I don’t have the money they will uthonize the dog help somebody please?

  2. Is a rabies vaccine certificate all you need? They don’t care about parvo or distemper? Just proof of rabies?

    • Just proof of Rabies and any “puppy” shots a dog should have is useful. Especially kennel cough and so on … All they need is a list from your vet of what vaccines your dog has had.

      • Puppy won’t be old enough for rabies shot will have all other shots crossing into USA at peace arch crossing by car

        • How did that go? I have the same issue my puppy will be 3.4 months old no rabies vaccine

      • Kennel cough is never required and is actually a huge waste of time. Kennel cough is non-life-threatening.

  3. Hi there, loved your post, very informative! I have a question. Me & my chi are travelling to Miami next week from Toronto, and I have been researching everywhere about the health certificate. A lot of websites state the certificate should be dated at least 10 days before you travel. I have a health certificate for my girl, signed and dated Nov. 1 2013 for a rabies shot she received in August 2013. I called my vet and they are going to charge me almost $100 to get an updated health certificate. I called the U.S. border patrol and he said the date doesn’t matter, as long as it’s been within the year of the shot. What do you think? Any advice is appreciated. Thank you. 🙂

    • You should be alright. Having said that – we have always been cautious and gotten a new certificate from the vet. but our vet doesn’t charge. It is important to note that legally the document may be considered null and void after a 30 day period. So it will depend on how picky the border guard is. As a rule, the ones on land are more lenient than air. BUT in Toronto you are going to go through US customs IN Toronto. I know them well and they are a good bunch. When the vaccine was given will be more important than when the paperwork was filled out. Now, where you may have issues will be on your return to Canada. Your paperwork i believe is too old for re-entry into Canada.

      Long story short – I would get a new certificate.

  4. Hi Sonja. I wanted to clarify something. You say that “A dog does not need a health certificate when travelling across the Canada/U.S. border by car”. Everything I have read says that you do need one though. Could you help clarify?

    • Thank you so very much Jessica for the question! You made me look into it further with CFIA and thus allowed me to keep this now 4 year old post, up-to-date. You reminded me that from time to time I should look at older material and see if new information or changes have occurred and keep things current. So thank you!!

      • Hi, could you please help me. We winter in Mexico….or have done so for 4 years. We drive down from Alberta Canada threw the states to Mexico. This past June our little dog was diagnosed with kidney disease. The vet says full vaccines for her at this time is dangerous on her health. Do you happen to know what exactly we need to pass the certificate into the states and Mexico. Her rabies is good until Sept 2018. We are hoping if it’s not required to have full vaccines that our vet will be ok with it. A list of what vaccines would be so great. I have been researching on line but not having much luck

        Any help would be appreciate

        • Hi! We have a similar issue. We plan to drive from WA State, to catch a direct flight to Mexico City. (No direct flights from Seattle or Portland!) My sister’s vet (she is coming here from Idaho). Says we would need a US Health Certificate to cross into Canada, then a Canadian Health Certificate to board the plane in BC. We want someone to give us a definite answer. Do we really need two certificates?

          • Not really. A single international certificate will do. Rather than a US and then a Canadian just get the one internationally recognized. Most vets would know what that form looks like.

        • Hi Pauline
          I am planning to drive down by car with my dog to Mazatlan next month from Vancouver and was wondering if you could suggest places to stop. Where in Mexico do you travel, and how many days does it take you?

    • I will travel to Alaska through Canada from June-July 2020. My dog rabies will expire on August 2020. Could I bring my dog cross Canada?


  5. Hi Monte and bipeds,

    According to my last air travel experience outside of the States, which was in August, 2013, one needs a health certificate that is not older than 30 days. And yes the Vets charge a lot of money around here for filling out those travel documents! It’s sad. I wish we had a Vet like you, Monte! 🙂


    Michaela, Oliver & Chloe

    • Even for the US and Canada border? that is basic paperwork they should give you when you get your vaccines in the first place!

  6. Pingback: Dog Friendly Road Trip: Traveling to Canada from the US

  7. I am so concerned. I am bring a puppy to Florida from canada. It seems the puppy has to be at least 4months to cross the border due to rabies shot. By this time I am worry he might be too big to carry on board. I want him on board with me, not underneath the plane. Does your pet needs to be four month to come from canada? He he come at eight weeks or 10 weeks??

    • He can come into Canada. There is no need for rabbies vaccination if under 3 months. But he will need an international health certificate from his vet to prove he is not sick.

      • So he can come into canada, but how about U.S ( Florida)?? I was told he needs to be four months with rabies shots. Is this true???I really would like to bring him at 8-10 weeks so he can fit in the cabin.

        • Dogs who have never been vaccinated against rabies, must be vaccinated at least 30 days before entering the United States. This requirement does not apply, however, to puppies less than three months of age or to dogs originating or located for at least six months in areas designated by the U.S. as rabies free countries.

          EDIT: As of August 2014 puppies entering the US must be 4 months and have a rabies vaccine. Absolutely ridiculous.

          • I am planning on getting a puppy from a breeder in Quebec and I live in SF. Are you saying I have to wait until puppy is 4 months old? Meaning I miss time with puppy ?

  8. My daughter is on a plane right now with a puppy just over 3 months and no rabies shot. What will happen to the dog once they get to Canada? From us

    • I am not certain. Laws have changed and she should have confirmed her paperwork before leaving.
      At worst there may be a quarantine.

  9. Hi! Need clarification… I’m planning to bring my dog to san diego, we will be coming from calgary. Target date of travel is from dec 16 to jan 6, i like to know what are the requirements for traveling dog to US. she has been vaccinated already with rabies and doctor gave me a certificate for that. Just wondering if my dog still need another certification from US when we come back to canada? And is there any other requirements that are needed? Please advise, thank you.

    • Hello Janet,
      •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.

      You may want to my blog post on road-trips with a dog as well.

      • Thank you for the info Montecristo. Is this rule is applicable also for travelling by plane?

        • Indeed yes. In addition you will need to go to the pet page of your airline to see what their policies are. Not all airlines are pet friendly. Many require you to pre-register your dog because they only allow one or two per flight. Do you know who you will be flying with? I may have an airline review for them! Some airlines have their own form you need ON TOP of the international health certificates. That is for the airline check-in NOT for customs. Another blog post you may want to read is How to reduce stress for your pet. Do not sedate your dog if you can avoid it. Also, you may want to read my blog post on how to go “bathroom” for your pet.

          • Im very thankful for all your advice. We will be travelling by air canada, air canada rouge and united airlies. We have 2 stop over going to san diego and 2 stop over coming back to calgary.

          • Air Canada (and Rouge – its the same company) have a good pet page.

            You’ll need to let Air Canada AND Rouge know in advance of travel that you plan on travelling with your dog in the cabin.
            The first thing you’ll need to do is book your own flight.
            Once that’s done, contact Air Canada Reservations to register your pet for travel on the same flight as yours.

            At the time of your call, you’ll be asked to provide:
            • the dimensions of the carrier and
            • the weight and breed of your pet.

            We strongly recommend that you register your pet within 24 hours of completing your own booking. This will ensure that, if your pet cannot be accommodated on the flight(s) and date(s) you selected, your ticket will be refunded without charge. After 24 hours, any changes to your booking will be subject to applicable change and cancellation fees. Your pet will be charged anywhere between $50 to $100 each way.

            Please take note that you’ll need to arrive a full 30 minutes prior to the recommended check-in time for your flight as you must see an agent at check-in. Customers with pets cannot use Web check-in or airport self-service kiosks.

            United has a very comprehensive pet page.

            Advance reservations for in-cabin pet travel is required. Request an in-cabin booking for your pet t by calling the United Customer Contact Center at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331). They will ask the same info as above. Same recommendations apply. I recommend you read our review of United.

      • A little concerned. So are you saying that if I go to Canada with all the paperwork you have listed above and spend say 60 days? does my pet need a new Rabies shot to return to the US? Going on an extended camping trip!

  10. I have a puppy justv4 months old and does not have rabies shot yet. We live in United States traveling by motorhome to Toronto. From what I read I can get rabies shot before I leave but coming back into states the rabies shot will not be 30 days old. Does the 30 day time frame only apply no people visiting the USA and not returning citizens?

    • Hello Lori!
      Congrats on your new puppy! And kudos for the with dog travel!

      As for the rules – they apply to everyone, regardless of Nationality. Trust me I feel your pain one of THE most difficult countries to fly into is … Canada. With paperwork, having to go to secondary EVERY time and a processing fee. I have never ever had that anywhere else in the world. And I am “returning home”.

      They just enforce the rules, they don’t make them. As such the border officers have zero discretion on the topic. I hope that doesn’t mess up your travel plans.

  11. We will be taking our Yorkshire terrier from the US into Vancouver. I think I understand the requirements regarding his shots and stuff. I read one post that said the document have to be within 30 days. I only saw that one time. Is that correct? If so I will have to be much more careful about when I get the accredited documentation. Also what food can we bring. Ismeat the only thing you can’t bring? Thanks for your help

    • Sorry for the delay getting back to you. You can cross the border by car with meat – just not all meats. As for pet food – the CFIA regulates pet food imports and related products to prevent animal diseases from being introduced into Canada. You can import a small amount of commercially packaged pet food made in the United States for the use of your pet while you are in Canada. Most brands you can get in the US you can get at a pet store in Canada. For information on importing pet food or pet treats visit the CFIA’s Import Policies – Pet Food page.

      I am assuming a few things here (If my assumptions are wrong please go here). 1) That owner and dog are travelling together. 2) That the dog is not a puppy (less than 8 months). 3) Dog is not being exported (sold) once in Canada.

      The rabies vaccination certificate must:
      be written in English or French;
      be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian (issued within 30 days is not necessary but I always do – shows the info is recent, it’s a small fee from my vet that gives me peace of mind);
      identify the animal (breed, sex, colour, and weight);
      state that the animal is vaccinated against rabies;
      indicate the date of vaccination;
      indicate the trade name and the serial number of the licensed vaccine; and
      specify the duration of immunity (otherwise, it will be considered valid for one year from the date of vaccination).

      Hope this answers your questions.

  12. This is so helpful, but I just have one quick question! I will be bringing my 8 week old lab puppy across the border by car (going from Seattle to Vancouver) this December. Do you know if you need to pay GST/HST or any fees for a puppy that young? I couldn’t find anything conclusive. Thanks for your help!

    • Not that I know of. As long as you have the papers stating the dog is YOURS (ensure that the vet papers have your name and not the breeders). You would have a fee if flying – but not a tax – it’s an administration fee. Go figure.

  13. Hi,
    I am purchasing a dog in Michigan and then driving to my home in NY. The fastest way to get there is to go through Canada. Am I going to have a problem bringing my puppy back into the US (after maybe 5 hours in Canada) because it is too young for a rabies vaccine (10 wks)? Do I have to go the long way staying in the US and add 4 hours to my trip?

    • If you have a border guard that applies the rules then … yes. I would not risk it. Sure you might get someone willing to look the other way but not sure you want to take that risk.

  14. I have an 18 month old Brussels Griffon .I plan to visit with family in Buffalo NY> I’m leaving Toronto on April 8th
    .All her shots are up to date Vet certified .Last Rabbies shot Oct 2015 .Will I need any thing else before I bring her through customs each way ?

  15. I see all the information except clarification of what is considered a small dog. Mine is an older 25 lb dog. Is she considered small and what difference would the size of the dog change for paperwork for car travel from Canada to US or vice versa

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  17. Hello! I’ve been reading your website for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent work!

  18. Heading to CAnada soon from USA. One dog current on rabies. Other had last rabies in Sept. 2012 and gets another tomorrow. Never heard about the 30 day thing to renter states. But yes she has had a rabies shot before so does that count. Would they try and keep her?. Trying to have a short stay prior to husband surgery in three weeks. What do you suggest. Please rsvp a sap. Thank you for great info.

  19. relief as we found more info on the CDC site which has explanation of the Rabies vaccine. The key is…Dogs that have NEVER been vaccinated against Rabies must be vaccinated AT LEAST 30 days prior to arrival. Adults dogs older than 15 months of age that have PReVIOUSLY had a rabies vaccination given no earlier than 3 months of age and that has since expired may be imported immediately following Booster vaccination, WITHOUT the need to wait for 30 days. Hope this helps others.

    • Thank you for the clarification! Sorry we did not respond sooner we were unplugged and out of wifi range tree house camping in Quebec! Glad you found your answer and I will actually use this and modify my entry so that it is clearer for the next reader! Thank you!!

  20. P.S. This above statement is for your dog returning to the USA from Canada and any country where rabies is present. Good info on the CDC website as well as Montecristotravels.

  21. Want to take my husky on a day trip tomorrow to USA. Driving. Dog is 4 years old and has all updated vaccinations. Last rabies shot would have been August 2015… that ok for border crossing ?

    • Is it a three year vaccine? If so you are good to go. If yearly … you are cutting it close. When will you be returning? I would update the shot before going if you can. The vaccine has to be valid and new vaccines administered well before entering the country. I doubt there would be an issue but … I can’t promise anything.

  22. We are traveling from London Ontario and traveling to Michigan on Saturday sept 3 with our boxer who is 5 years old. He weights 76 lbs. His shots are up to date as of March 28,2016. Last rabies 02-13-15 due 02-12-17 Are we ok to still travel with him.

  23. Hi there we are adamently against vaccines every year for pets and do filtering. Vaccines often can last over 10 yrs of protection in animals and SADLY vaccinations have become big money for big pharma at the expense and health of our pets!! We are curious if you have heard of titered dogs that aren’t vaccinated regularly being able to travel over the border into the US from Canada without issue…or is it a must that your pet have up to date shots? If that’s the case we would look good petsitter in our home 🙂
    Thank you

    • Titer tests at this time (I called the CBSA) are not accepted on the Canadian side for rabies. They are for all other vaccines. Hope that helps answer your question. The US side has yet to respond to my inquiry on the issue so I can’t speak to it. We do titer for all other vaccines but sadly are stuck doing the rabies shot every 3 years (even if a half dose) because you MUST have a valid vial vaccine lot number on your international pet health form for any border crossings. Note that microchips are also going to become a requirement for Canada US border crossing … so stay tuned for that change.

  24. The above should have said we do TITERS OR TITERING TESTS. Do not like spell check! Lol

  25. How cool you can sit with your dog on your lap. I’ve flown many times between Florida and Canada, and my dog always had to be in her carrier under the seat. I was never allowed to take her out even for a second, because if the airline started receiving complaints, they would stop allowing dogs in the cabin. I must admit arriving in Toronto was always a nightmare – always met nasty border people.

    • that was the one and only time out of the bag. Maybe because soooooo tiny little puppy? Not sure. For the next 6 years it’s been in the bag only! Toronto isn’t as good as Ottawa. Montreal is ok … not great but good.

  26. Great info to share. I don’t travel with my GSD because of the logistics and the added expense. Heck, I just don’t travel that much at all anymore, so I can stay home with the pets. 😛

  27. That does sound pretty painless! A lot of us are daydreaming about moving to Canada, it is nice to know that if we do, it won’t be hard to get the dogs there too.

    It is always a good idea to have the proof of rabies certificate with you when you travel even within the US.

  28. Great article as I have been checking into taking Layla to Cape Town, South Africa and it really easy. I will need the rabies shot of course and an 18 dollar import license which has to be done in South Africa, otherwise no quarantine no nothing phew

    • If you go – please let us know how it was in terms of pet friendly – ness once there! It’s somewhere we’d like to go but we are uncertain as to how much we could do with “dog” once there.

  29. Great post! Unfortunately, we cannot travel by air since I won’t allow Dexter to travel in cargo. However, we drove back and forth for his first 5 years. 🙂 Safe travels.

  30. I haven’t crossed the border for many years (need to get passport renewed), and never with a pet. Thanks for detailing the process, I have been pondering some Canada travel and like to know the steps necessary before leaving.

  31. Thanks for updating – my question was the same as Jessica’s. We live in WA state so frequently travel to Canada and it is a bit concerning from time to time. So great piece.

    • So far we’ve never had a truly bad experience. The worst was at the beginning we did not know you can’t travel with open bags of food. So it got confiscated. But we don’t do dog food now – and prep fresh so it no longer matters. 🙂

  32. We normally cross the border at Buffalo but recently decided the best route would be through Detroit (from Ontario). I believe it does make a difference as this time was a longer process and the dogs had to be removed from the vehicle.

  33. When we crossed into the US, our dogs laid quietly on the floor of the vehicle (totally unlike them!) and the agent didn’t even know they were there. We had all of our paperwork ready though, just in case.

    On the way back into Canada the agent asked if anyone else was in the vehicle. We said, “Just us and the two dogs!” She gave us a dirty look like we were being smart-mouthed and waved us through. It might have been because of the pouring rain that time – she probably didn’t want to leave her booth!

    We’ll be taking them again this summer – we’ll see how it goes this time! 🙂

  34. I will be bringing an 8 month old puppy into Ontario from a breeder in Michigan as a pet via Windsor. The Canadian border requirements on their website are vague – just indicating that I will need to show proof of age if asked. What qualities as proof of age – a notation by the breeder on the bill of sale? Should I ask the breeder to go ahead and get a Health Certificate from his vet? Does it need to be an International Health Certificate? Thanks.

    • The only things that are legal are any registered papers (so if a show pup) or international pet health certificate. Your breeder is not an authoritative body. Hope that helps.

  35. Hi, where did you get the info for your first point? “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.”

    I can’t seem to find any .gov website verifying that and no breeder will let their puppies go to USA homes because of the restrictions currently listed here:

    “Puppies must not be vaccinated against rabies before 3 months of age, so the youngest that a puppy can be imported into the United States is 4 months of age.”

    I’m wondering if there is a way to get an exemption…

  36. I am lost. Explaining my situation here in the hopes somebody can help.

    Context: we are getting a pup from France. The pup will be ~2 months old by the end of June. The breeder is going to jump on a plane, pup in tow, and bring it to us (in California).

    I have been researching every website I could find. I wrote to the CDC even. In their response, to my assertion that “bringing an unvaccinated puppy younger than 3 months old from a rabies-free country ought to be ok” they respond:

    “Your assessment is correct, however the puppy must have resided in a rabies-free country since birth prior to arrival in the United States. CDC considers France to be “rabies-free” for the purposes of CDC’s dog importation regulations. Accordingly, dogs that you import from “rabies-free” countries would not be required to be rabies vaccinated as long as they had spent the 6 months (or since birth, if less than 6 months old) prior to arrival in the United States in the “rabies-free” country. Additional permission is not required. Dogs must be healthy upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. ”

    Now I read this post where you state, unequivocally that dogs younger than four months cannot come in…and I am again confused.

    Another point of confusion is the following: Assuming that the pup is ok to come in, what paperwork, exactly, should I prepare. Furthermore, since the one traveling with the pup will be the breeder (who is a friend of mine, btw) and not me, what extra precautions should I take to make sure that everything goes smoothly?

    Waiting until the pup is four months defeats the purpose of socializing it with us etc.

    Thanks in advance for your help and advice.


  37. Hi there,
    Im soon bringing a puppy i bought from buffalo to toronto, i have a question regarding money. Did you have to mention how mich you paid and were any taxes involved?
    Thank you

    • It’s a pet right? no. If you are the owner and the dog is not for resale. Your name MUST be on the health certificate as the owner.

  38. We are planning on going to visit Blaine, WA next month and our little guy will be a couple of days shy of 3 months. What will that look like crossing the border into the USA and then coming home to Canada as he will be too young to get his rabies shot. Will we be unable to travel over?


    • You could be ok if it’s a land crossing. Make sure you have all and every piece of paper possible. But there is a risk you will run into some trouble. Be ready to explain … aS it says on the CFIA website:

      Dogs that are accompanied by their owners and are between three and eight months require a rabies vaccination certificate.

      Dogs less than three months do not require rabies certification. However, proof of the dog’s age must be provided on request.

  39. Hi, I have a question. My puppy is 5 months old and I’m ground shipping her to Canada. What do I need in order for her to get through the border from the US. My puppy is coming from Texas. Will she me quarantine??


    • Just like my post states. Her papers need to show her shots and your name as owner. There is no quarantine between Canada in the USA. Would be kinda pointless given it’s the largest land border out there I think. Make sure the rabies vaccine lot number is clearly marked. My vet puts the sticker from the vile onto the international health certificate.

  40. does it cost anything when you buy a puppy in the us and fly it to you in Canada ?

    • I’m not in the business of transporting pets so hard to say. If you are flying, then yes the pup needs a ticket. If you are not going to be there then you have to pay for either a “nanny” to fly with the pet in cabin or there is the cargo way and that’s with the airline.

    • Lap nanny is not too expensive. I paid 400 fir a lap nanny from Texas to ottawa. Only problem is they fly standby so there is the possibility of them getting bumped. You can also send the dog cargo, which is much less expensive

      • Cargo is not something we know anything about. Tropical Dog is an expert blogger about that. For us it’s not an option we don’t trust the safety.

  41. Hello,
    I am going to buy a pup from Washington and bringing it to Vancouver next week. I have read your article and it’s very informative. But I have a few question, I am sorry if it’s repetitive but I have read so many articles at this point that I am pretty confused. Thanks for your help in advance

    1) Do we need an invoice from the breeder to show proof of purchase?
    2) Will a health certificate be sufficient if instead of the breeders name it states my name as the owner. I do know the pup doesn’t require a rabies vaccination since it’s less than 3 months
    3) Do I have to declare anything else at the border?
    4) Is the health certificate easily obtainable since the breeder will be doing that for me before I arrive to get the pup.

    • The easiest thing to do is take the dog to a vet in the US and have the vet fill out an international health certificate with you named as the owner.

      1) Invoice is a good idea but may not be needed. Good to have. But not mandatory.
      2) Papers with YOUR name are better.
      3) Nope … just the pup. Unless you bought a lot of other stuff.
      4) Any vet can do a health certificate it’s pretty standard. Make sure the vaccine lot numbers are on there if possible YOUR name not the breeders.

  42. I am bringing a dog originally born in Russia but now living in a Texas home to Ottawa Ontario. The owner in Texas has just informed me that the original Russian documents gave been destroyed by the puppy who accidentally got hold of them and shredded them. This means she will have to contact the original breeder in Russia for copies of all these shit records. The dog will be flying from Houston to Syracuse with a lap nanny and I will drive from a Ottawa to pick her up and bring her across the border. My question is?…. are copies of these shit records acceptable? Do the border agents have microchip readers? Does Canada Customs accept Russian vaccination records?

    • Not sure why the swearing … but the papers if in Russian will need to be translated so the border guard will be able to read it. Is it not easier to get a US vet to do a health check? And just use those papers? All you need if proof of rabies vaccine. I’d bring the Russian papers and dog to a vet in the US and have an international health certificate done.

  43. I am purchasing a puppy from Serbia. The transport company in Serbia tells me they can ship the puppy at 10 weeks to the US. Is this true if they are too young for rabies vaccination? I just don’t want any surprises. Thank you!

  44. Pingback: Our Round Up for Travelling With a Small Dog!

  45. We are moving from Alaska to GA. We have to go through Canada then back into the US. My dog is a hemophiliac and can not get vaccinated at all or he will bleed to death without a blood transfusion. If he has paperwork from the vet stating that he can’t get it can he cross the borders?

  46. Can I take an 8 week old puppy from Canada to Mexico? What is required?

  47. I have to bring my animal from Honduras to Canada in my own car so do you know if the same requirements for dogs are the same use in Mexico once we cross the border ? Who else you think can give me more info about it .
    Thanks for replying

  48. I go to school in Portland and just recently bought 2 puppies, one for myself and one for my sister back home in Vancouver, BC. Im driving back home for the holidays in a couple weeks however the dogs will only be 11 weeks old. I have a few questions concerning how this will all work.

    – What documents will I need crossing into Canada with the puppies?

    – Should i take the puppies to a vet in the US before driving back and have them fill out a health registration form and register me as the owner of both the puppies?

    -I will be home in Vancouver for over a month which means the puppies will hit the 3 month mark during the time I’m home. I was planning on getting the rabies vaccination shot while i was home. however i know after reading the posts that the US requires 30 days after the vaccination shot in order to cross back into the US. Do you think if I’m travelling by car and that i got the shot (even though it will not have been 30 days) they will let me cross back into the US to portland?

    Thank you!

    • As my post states, yes you will need a health certificate. I do recommend you put your own name as owner for now. You CAN put to names on the one for your sister. One owner must be present. But honestly – your name is fine. It’s not permanent like say the microchip registration.

      AS for your return THAT is a tricky one. Do I “think” you will get away with it by car… it’s possible. But I can’t say for sure. If I were you I would email the CFA and get them to respond. if they say yes, then print that email and bring it with you.

  49. Hello,
    A little concerned. So are you saying that if I go to Canada with all the paperwork you have listed above and spend say 60 days? does my pet need a new Rabies shot to return to the US? Going on an extended camping trip!

  50. First of all.. this post is very informative and wanted to thank you for sharing your travel experices with your fur friend!

    I am travelled to Tampa, Fla from Toronto with my puppy Rhodes whom is a 4 month old French Bulldog for a week vacation.

    He will be getting his first Rabies shot 3 weeks prior to our flight.

    I am concerned as it is not 30 days as stated here and on the CFA website. I am concerned as obviously we could get turned away.

    What is your opinion on this? How strict are they with the rabies 30 day rule for a 4 month old pup.

    I would appreciate your insite.


    • It’s a risk. I would make sure you have papers from the vet (international health certificate) proving the good health but … yes it’s a risk. Sorry.

  51. I almost bought a puppy from a Canadian breeder and now after reading this, I am glad I didn’t. I am very careful with the rabies vaccine and wait until almost 6 months to get it.

    My research tells me that there is no difference between a 1 year and 3 year vaccine other than the labeling. Some vets give half the dosage to a little dog though.

    Stay safe on those flights!

  52. Thanks for such an informative post! I have done a ton of trans border traveling with dogs and cats, and I did fly with 4 cats from Toronto to Florida. Three were in cargo and one was with me in the cabin. I think that flight was the most hassle free of any I’ve experienced. I arrived in Florida, some man put the cages outside of a door in baggage collection and that was it! The biggest nightmare is coming back to England with animals.

    • YEAH … The Uk is weird. I mean dropping the quarantine in 2012 was great! But they haven’t adjusted the flying rules. you still can’t fly into the UK with a pet in cabin. It’s kinda messed up. So we would go via France and then Chunnel or Ferry across.

  53. My dog is 6 years. When I got him, the vet gave him a rabies shot. He almost DIED. The vet said I should never have him vaccinated again. Is there something I can do to take him to Alaska via Canada. Thank you

  54. Hi I just want to ask you about the latest requirement on driving crossing the US border with a dog From Saskatchewan going to Ontario. It is our first time to drive with our dog and she have all her vaccines last January of this year 2018. The Vet said she is good now for her vaccine shot for 3 years she is not even two years old. I don’t want any problem crossing the US border when we travel
    With her so hope you can help me what we need to have she have her record with but do I still need a different certificate to ask my Vet for her record to show at the US border? And if so can you help me and thank you we plan to go this October to go to Ontario thru US border. God bless you

    • Hi Oliva,
      A quick question for you – was it necessary to crate your dog whilst crossing the border? How was your actual crossings experience?
      I look forward to your response.

  55. Hello, I will be going from Mexico to Canada since I’m going to study and I have a big dog, don’t want to take the risk of the plane, he is a senior dog. My dog was vaccinated on June 15th, however, I wanted to know if I get the rabies certificate, does it has any expiration date? I mean, if I get this now, but I will be crossing US border on August 15th and Canada border on August 25th, is it valid ? Or should I get it closer to the trip dates?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hello!
      The international health certificate for your dog that your vet must provide will indicate the rabies vaccine expiry date. For the most part rabies vaccines are either good for a year or for 3 years depending on the one chosen by you and your vet. make sure that the lot # of the vaccine (if possible the sticker) is on the international health certificate for your dog. See the banner photo for an example of what that looks like.

      • Thanks for your answer, also I wanted to know if I can cross US made supplements to Canada? As I mentioned, my dog is older and he takes a few supplements such as glucosamine and probiotics.

  56. Hello I got a health and rabies certificate but it is in spanish. If I translate it witha certified translator would that be ok? Thanks

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  58. Hey there,
    Can anyone tell me what documentation is needed when someone else who is not the owner of the dog is crossing the boarder?? any help is appreciated.


  59. Hi there,
    This is a great post!
    We are planning to drive from Toronto to Boston for the holidays with our frenchie. He will be 1 by then and had all his vaccines. What should we expect in terms of “dog inspection”? Do we get out of the car and take him inside? Any fees apply? Also, what are the food restrictions on both sides? Thanks!!

  60. Hi,

    We are travelling to US, I have fallen in love with a pup and want to adopt him. Can I bring him to Canada if we have the vaccine certificate.

    • yes, but contact CFIA to make sure you have all the papers you need. They will email them to you. You WILL need a vet to fill the papers out before entering Canada.

  61. I’m looking into possibly getting a chihuahua puppy from Michigan, USA but I live in Ontario, Canada. Am I to understand correctly that a puppy under the age of 12 wks old could come across the border from the US into Canada A) by car if it has all the appropriate paperwork, health cert done within 7 days of traveling date and proof of age but B) by plane in the cabin with me in a proper travel carrier the puppy would need to be 12 wks of age or older and it would then also be required to of had a rabies vaccine, along with a health cert done within 7 days of traveling & proof of age?
    If I’m purchasing a puppy from a breeder is the breeder able to have the puppy put into my name as being the new owner for travel purposes or would I personally have to take it into a vet in the US to have changed into my ownership?

  62. I am taking my dog for a trip to Toronto, as I read when he got his updated rabies doesn’t matter when entering Canada as long as he has it. but after 5 days I will return back to USA which makes it 23 days since he got his updated rabies. do you think it will be a problem? taking him from USA to Canada Toronto and retiring from Canada to USA 5 days after.

  63. Bloody ridiculous a rabies shot 30 days before entering a country. The shot is good literally for more than one year in body of dog. For those who must go back and forth and need to keep vaccinating a dog??? SO NOONE can go to USA more than once a year – otherwise your dog will become very sick very quickly due to over vaccination and poisoning. Horrible system! I will keep my boys here…THX for article.

  64. Bipeds? What in the world are bipeds? Did you have to have your kids vaccinated too
    to cross?! I am just joking, its a great informative article , thank you.
    However, I am not sure how you got around calling your furkids bipeds…as bipedal
    means only two legs, not two…hominids are bipeds, not dogs.
    Thank you for the great information, however, my dogs have not been vaccinated except for the one the breeder gave them…
    I won’t harm my animal by giving into fear and damaging their immune systems.
    For now…they just won’t be crossing the border.
    My dogs are extremely healthy, I am not going to threaten their well being…just for the sake of bringing them with me for the sake of the N.W.O. fake regime.

  65. thank you so much for this information. I am buying a puppy from Canada in the fall and have decided to travel and pick up the pup in Ontario Canada and head back home to the usa with it under my seat.
    your help with the rabies info, paperwork, and customs experience is priceless.
    I just cannot put a puppy on a long flight in cargo hold. it is so nerve wracking for me waiting to see it…cannot imagine how the puppy feels.
    so…after reading this article I know I can do this. will be tedious but obtainable

  66. Your information is not accurate. This is form the CDC website:

    Dogs coming from a low-risk or no-known rabies risk (free of dog rabies) are NOT required to have a rabies vaccination certificate to enter the United States. However, when you enter the United States, you must provide written or oral statements that the dogs lived in a country with low or no risk for at least 6 months or since birth.

    Example: Your adult dog lived in the United States (no-known–risk country) and visited Mexico (low-risk country). This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate, because Mexico is low risk for dog rabies.
    Example: Your puppy has lived in Germany since birth and is coming to the United States. This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate, because Germany has no-known risk for dog rabies.

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