Pet dads and moms will agree that fur babies are family members. So, there’s no doubt that when moving to Canada to start a new life, most would want to bring their pets with them. Canada has certain (lenient) policies, requirements and restrictions for bringing pets into the country. As long as your pet is in good health and you have all the paperwork in place, bringing your pet with you to Canada is relatively easy.


In this article:


An overview of Canada’s import requirements for different pets

As a newcomer moving to Canada, if you intend to bring your pet with you, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) mandates that all animals entering Canada must meet import requirements. 

Types of pets covered under the mandate

  • Domestic and non-traditional pets. 
  • Non-traditional pets include exotic pets, farmed animals, and pets such as pigs, sheep, goats and poultry (including, but not limited to, ducks and pigeons). 

Conditions to import pets to Canada

  • Testing and quarantine, before entering Canada: Your pet may require treatment before it can stay in Canada. You are responsible for all costs related to it.
  • There are specific instructions for dogs, cats, amphibians and reptiles, birds, fish, foxes, skunks, raccoons and ferrets, horses (from the U.S.), primates, pigs, poultry, rabbits, rodents (guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, rats, chinchillas, hamsters, etc.), scorpions, spiders and other organisms that do not require a permit to import, sheep and goats.
  • If the animal you wish to import is not listed, you can refer to the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) for details.
  • Keep in mind that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) may refer any animal presented at the border for secondary inspection by the CFIA, and the CFIA can refuse entry to Canada to any animal presented for importation.

Learn more about the import requirements for specific types of pets on the CFIA website. Simply select the type of pet, answer a few questions, and you will be able to view detailed guidelines for bringing your pet to Canada.

Note Icon  Note

  • Only dogs and cats qualify as pets that can travel to Canada without import permits, but only if they are entering Canada as domestic imports (pets accompanied by owners) and not for commercial purposes such as adoption, show exhibition, or scientific research. 
  • You can confirm whether you need an import permit for your pet by visiting the CFIA website and choosing the type of pet you have. 
  • Exotic pets: Imports and exports of species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) are controlled through a permit system. If you are travelling with a CITES-listed exotic pet, you will require a permit. It is illegal to bring a CITES-listed animal across Canadian and many international borders without the appropriate CITES permit.

How to request an import permit for your pet

If you need a permit to import your pet, you can request it online through the My CFIA – a convenient and secure way for individuals and businesses to manage and track food, animal and pet-related service requests online, including export certificates and permissions such as licences, permits, and registrations.

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Bringing pet food to Canada

The CFIA regulates pet food imports and related products to prevent animal diseases from being introduced into Canada. The following products are regulated under the Health of Animals Regulations if they are imported into Canada:

  • Pet food (for example, dog food and cat food)
  • Pet treats
  • Some compound chews

Travellers arriving from the U.S. may bring into Canada a personal import of pet food (limit of 20 kg), if the import meets all of the following requirements:

  • The pet food or product must be of U.S. origin and be commercially packaged;
  • The pet food or product must be in the possession of the traveller at the time of entry from the U.S.;
  • The animal that will eat the imported product must accompany the traveller at the time of entry; and
  • The imported product is fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveller into Canada.

How much does it cost to bring your pet to Canada?

The fees for bringing your pet to Canada differ depending on the airline and your pet’s weight and height. Here’s an overview of the fees to be expected (as of April 2021):

  • Pre-import document review: $17.89 CAD for the inspection of documents relating to a shipment of animals presented before the time of importation. 
  • Inspection Fees: For dogs, cats or ferrets, $30.66 CAD for the first animal and $5.11 CAD for each additional animal when you arrive in Canada. The fee must be paid at the time of inspection. If the inspector has made a vaccination order for cats or dogs, you can expect to pay $56.21 CAD for the first animal in the shipment and $30.66 CAD for each additional animal in the shipment. 
  • Animal Excess Baggage Fees: Differs by airline and depends on your pet’s weight class. 
  • Rabies vaccination: Rabies vaccines for animals cost $7 to $20 CAD. The first booster shot is needed after one year, and subsequent boosters typically every three years.
  • Import Fees: Check the CFIA website for guidance on the fees that apply to your particular pet and situation.

For a detailed overview of all associated fees, visit the CBSA website.

Tips for travelling with your pet while moving to Canada

  • Health check: Check the health of your pet before any long trip to make sure it is fit to travel. Health certificates or other documentation may be required when taking your pet on an airplane. Be sure to find out in advance what will be required by your airline.
  • Pet carriers: They should be appropriate to the species of animal you are transporting and must be large enough for the animal to comfortably lie down, turn around and stand in its natural position. The carrier should be secure so the animal cannot escape or be injured, but still provide adequate ventilation. Speak to your veterinarian if you are unsure about what type of carrier you should use for your pet.
  • Provide food, water and rest: On long trips, make sure your pet has food and water and that you make regular stops so it can rest or get out and walk around.
  • In an airplane: Most airlines have specific requirements for transporting animals. It is recommended that you contact the airline well in advance to let them know you will be bringing your pet and to find out if you need to do anything before arriving at the airport, including purchasing a special pet carrier or obtaining a health certificate from a veterinarian. The rules and guidelines for bringing a pet on a flight vary from airline to airline. 

Moving to Canada with your pet may require some preparation. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines so you don’t miss out on any important steps and are well-aware of the requirements, essential documents, and the costs involved in bringing your pet to Canada.

 

 

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Disclaimer:
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.