Crossing the US/Canada border with pets
June 4, 2010 12:48 PM   Subscribe

What documentation works for taking a dog from U.S. to Canada and back? Do I need a USDA form, or will a letter from the vet suffice?

I am planning a car trip with the dog that will include crossing from the U.S. to Canada and back. Both sides say I need a "certificate" of rabies vaccination, but provide little elaboration on what that certificate should be. My vet gave me the USDA International Certificate of Health Examination (USDA From 7001), but this would need to be signed by yet ANOTHER vet, which entails more time, money and hassle.

Any advice on what has worked for you would be most helpful. I have also emailed the relevant border/customs agencies in both countries, but as these are answered in "priority order" I don't know when I will hear back.

posted by krista_p to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I recently (two months ago) brought my dog up to Montreal for a weekend, all it took was the one sheet from my vet that had the "Moxie was vaccinated for rabies. 3/4/10" line on it that was signed by the same vet. And when we actually crossed the border, they only checked on the way to Canada, on the way back, the guy asked if we had the papers for rabies, and as I went to hand him the papers in my hand he said, "that's fine", and continued with the rest of his spiel. He was obviously a dog lover though, as he spent a minute petting our dog through the back window before waving us through.
posted by Grither at 12:53 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife moved up here with two cats at around this time last year. She presented vet records (full-page receipts, on the vet's letterhead, of recent visits that also showed their "status," i.e. vaccines up to date, etc.) at the border and that was fine. It didn't occasion as much as a second glance or follow-up question: “Are the cats vaccinated?" "Yes, here's the paperwork," "Great, thank you."

Land crossing, Derby Line (Vermont/Quebec), 2009.
posted by Shepherd at 12:54 PM on June 4, 2010

You are going to need a few things. An International Health Certificate from your Veterinarian, updated vaccination certificate, and a Rabies Certificate.

This is from :

If you bring a pet dog or cat at least three months old from the United States, you must have a certificate to show that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years. The certificate has to be dated and signed by a veterinarian, and it must identify the animal by breed, age, sex, coloring, and any distinguishing marks. Animal tags are not acceptable in place of certificates.

If you bring a pet dog or cat under three months old from the United States, or a guide dog from any country, you do not need a certificate, but the animal has to be in good health when it arrives.

See also, the U.S. Customs regulations regarding pets and wildlife.

Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies 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. Public Health Service as being rabies-free.

posted by zombiehoohaa at 12:55 PM on June 4, 2010

When I went from the US to Canada and back with my cat a few months ago, by plane, the vet printed off a sheet of paper with the dates of his shots and that he had been checked out. It didn't seem to be anything official.

It was barely looked at when I came back to the US, crossing into Canada they just asked if where I got the cat and didn't want to see the paperwork.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 1:04 PM on June 4, 2010

Like said above, all you need is the paperwork you're given- basically the receipt.
However, in my experience, going into Canada they barely glance at my dogs, never ask for paperwork (first time I didn't even have any), and spend an hour asking what gangs my tattoos show membership to.
posted by gally99 at 1:26 PM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all your comments. The materials from the Canadian Consul and US CBP are quite vague -- the term "certificate" is used without definition or elaboration (except for the contents). This led my vet to assume that I needed the International Health Certificate, which would require me to drive several hours to a different, USDA certified vet. I assumed this was overkill, so it's good to know that others have found the routine documentation sufficient.
posted by krista_p at 5:44 AM on June 5, 2010

We travel a couple of times a year with our cat from the US to Canada and all we need is a health certificate from the vet from within 7 days of the departure date. Never had any issues with it. For overkill, we take all of his health documentation in a folder, including his pet passport from Norway and rabies stamps.
posted by arcticseal at 1:24 PM on June 10, 2010

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