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When it comes to bringing your pets to Canada, it is a relatively straightforward process. As with human immigration, pet immigration also requires meeting certain requirements and obtaining the necessary paperwork. While personal pet dogs and cats are exempt from import permits, there are specific requirements that pet owners must ensure their animals meet. Here’s a general guide to Canada’s pet immigration regulations. 

 

Prior to Travelling to Canada

Pet microchip implants 

Domestic dogs and cats imported to Canada as personal pets are not required to be microchipped or tattooed for identification purposes. Despite the exemption, many owners still choose to microchip their pets and register their contact details prior to travelling in case the pet is lost or separated during the journey.

If you have a dog under 8 months old which you would like to bring to Canada for retail sale, breeding purposes, show or exhibition, scientific research, adoption, or have special training status, it must be microchipped.

 

Pet vaccines

Canada requires all animals entering the country to be rabies vaccinated within the last 12 months, with records to prove. You will need to provide a rabies vaccination certificate written in English or French that is issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian. The certificate must include the veterinarian’s name, signature and the date that the certificate was signed. Other information include details that can help identify the animal, such as the animal’s age, sex, breed, colours or markings, weight, and/or microchip number if applicable. It should also clearly indicate the date of vaccination, the trade name and serial number of the licensed vaccine, and the duration of immunity.

 

Health Certificate

An animal health certificate issued within 10 days of your arrival in Canada and endorsed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department should be obtained prior to your trip. It is always a good idea to arrange a thorough health check-up for your pet to make sure it is suitable for the vaccination(s) required and fit to travel, especially long journeys like flying from Hong Kong to Canada which can take a toll on the animal physically and emotionally.

 

Flying With Your Pet

Airlines like Air Canada, for instance, welcome cats and dogs in the cabin and the baggage compartment in some of their commercial flights from Hong Kong to Canada at a fee of around CAD100. Based on specific requirements like the age or species of the animal, owners may choose to fly their pets in the cabin or the baggage compartment on a commercial flight.

Pets are typically required to remain in their carriers during the flight, so choosing the right pet carrier will ensure your furry pal travels safely and comfortably. Check with the airline for specific regulations or requirements on the size of the carrier, especially for pets travelling in the cabin. Take Air Canada as an example, the maximum pet carrier size allowed in the cabin (H)23cm x (W)40cm x (L)55cm for hard-sided carriers and (H)27cm x (W)40cm x (L)55cm for soft-sided carriers. A pet that cannot fit into or comfortably lie down, turn around and stand in its natural position in the mentioned size will be required to travel in the baggage compartment.

 

Arriving at the Canadian Border

Once your pet has arrived at the Canadian border, the Canada Border Services Agency officers will inspect the animal and the required documentation. The officers have the right to refuse entry, confiscate or detain the animal if the animal is undeclared, missing necessary permits, certificates or other documents, suspected of sickness or infection, or was transported in an inhumane way.

 

Additional Fees

Canada Border Services Agency may refer any animals arriving at the border for secondary inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency when veterinary guidance or expertise is considered necessary. Some additional costs owners may need to anticipate include testing and quarantine for pets that do not meet the necessary requirements.

Additionally, some owners may prefer the help of professional pet relocation services to give themselves a hassle-free experience and peace of mind. Costs of these pet relocation companies can vary greatly depending on the scope of their service.

 

Pet Relocation Q&A

  • Can I bring my own pet food?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates pet food and pet treats imports to prevent the introduction of animal diseases into Canada. Personal imports of pet food from countries other than the United States are prohibited. However, travellers may bring a personal import of pet food upon meeting the following requirements:

– It is equivalent to or less than the maximum limit of 20kg

– The pet food or product must be of United States origin and be commercially packaged

– The pet food or product must be in 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

– The imported product is fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveller into Canada

 

  • Can I bring exotic pets to Canada?

Yes, exotic pets such as lizards, parrots, turtles and snakes can be imported into Canada. However, exotic pet ownerships are controlled through a permit system. Be sure to check whether your pet is a species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) and the respective import regulations and requirements.

 

  • What if my pet cannot travel with me?

If, for certain reason, the pet and the owner cannot travel on the same flight, the alternative is shipping the animal on a cargo flight. However, this often requires booking through an authorized agent.

 

  • What happens if my pet cannot get vaccinated?

Exemption may be granted if there is a documented medical reason why the animal cannot be vaccinated against rabies. A written request for exemption, supported by required documentation, must be made to the National Centre for Permissions. Note that old age, without other medical reasons, cannot be accepted for exemption.

For more information, please visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.

 

Moving to Canada?

Our team of immigration specialists at Simard & Associates has helped numerous families relocate to Canada. We offer professional consultations for various Canadian immigration programs such as the new Open Work Permit for Hong Kong Residents, Start-up Visa Program and the Canada Family Sponsorship Visa. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you realize your immigration dream.