Dogs, cats, spiders and snakes. Importing animals into Canada.


Sep 22, 2015

By John Weight

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Dogs, cats, spiders and snakes. Importing animals into Canada.

Canadians are great pet lovers, as are many people around the world. Most pet owners consider their cats or dogs as beloved family members. What if you are moving to Canada as an immigrant, coming to study in Canada for a period of time or returning home after living abroad?  What if you want to purchase a rare breed from an overseas breeder and import it into Canada? One must be aware of the regulations and requirements in order to bring an animal into our great nation. This is one of many reasons to consult with a customs broker, to avoid undue complications or potential heartache.

Animal health is regulated by Health Canada and the inspection arm of the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency). These agencies are charged with ensuring that pests and diseases which can affect animals and humans do not enter Canada via their unsuspecting hosts. For this reason, CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) and CFIA are very vigilant when animals arrive at our borders.

In most cases, pets such as dogs and cats traveling with their immigrant or student owners are permitted to enter Canada, provided they meet the criteria in place. Namely, the animal must meet health requirements and be accompanied by a veterinary certificate, certifying that the animal is in good health and has had all required vaccinations.

Pets arriving from certain countries where particular diseases are prevalent may require additional vaccination prior to leaving their origin country or upon arrival in Canada. Consulting with your customs broker ensures being aware of all such CFIA requirements prior to arriving with your animal, to avoid the heart-breaking situation of your beloved pet being refused entry.

In addition to dogs and cats, some people prefer more exotic animals as pets. Examples include reptiles, birds, horses, monkeys, pigs and many other interesting creatures. Although some of these animals may enter Canada without additional fuss, they are more highly-regulated than the common cat or dog. Depending on their country of origin, they may in some instances be prohibited from entry into Canada or may require an import permit. As such, it is obviously critical to be aware of such conditions and requirements prior to arriving at a Canadian port of entry.

Call W2C today and our dedicated and specialized customs brokers will be happy to advise you concerning all procedures and documentation required for entering Canada with your animals.

About the author

author picture

John Weight

Customs Management Specialist

John is our senior consultant with more than 40 years of experience in the industry. A licensed and certified customs broker and a certified customs specialist, he has an extensive knowledge of all aspects of import and export regulations.

John is our go-to guy when trying to navigate the complex world of trade compliance. When it comes to customs compliance audits, saving money on import duties or any other Customs issues, John is the one you want on your side.

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