Whether he’s riding shotgun, sleeping in the back seat or dragging his head out the window, a road trip is just better with your pet in tow. And if you’re like many other Canadians, you may be crossing the Canada/United States of America border this summer in search of amusement parks, beach vacations or other adventures south of the border -- with Fido by your side.
Before you grab your pet’s bed, a couple of toys and a leash and head on your way, there are a few more steps you’ll want to take to make your time crossing the border as short and painless as possible.
Bringing Fido Into the U.S. The United States is very welcoming to healthy, rabies-free pets, so as long as you do your research and have your paperwork prepared, your border experience will be relatively easy.
- The one document you need to cross the United States border with your pet is a valid rabies vaccination certificate. The vaccination must have taken place at least 30 days before entering the country, and the certificate should display the vaccination’s expiration date. If no expiration date is on the certificate, the date of the vaccination must be within 12 months. To avoid confusion, make sure the certificate is in English or it has been translated.
- If you’ve just adopted a puppy, and he’s less than three-months old, your pet may need to remain in confinement (at your home or a place of your choice) until your pet is vaccinated and 30 days have passed since that vaccination. If your pet falls into this category, you’ll need to sign a Notice to Owners and Importers of Dogs form that will be sent to the health department to ensure your pet’s vaccination does take place.
- Although Hawaii and Guam have the same rabies vaccination requirements as the U.S., they have additional quarantine requirements, so it’s important to do a little extra research when entering those territories.
Bringing Him Back Home to Canada
Bringing your dog or cat back across the border requires the same paperwork as entering the United States (under most circumstances), so if you follow a few simple steps, you’ll be back home with your pet in no time.
- If your pet is less than eight-months old, he will require a signed veterinary certificate of health. Although you don’t need this form to cross into the U.S., your puppy or kitten will need it to get back into Canada.
- Canada does not quarantine domestic dogs or cats, and they don’t require a confinement period after the rabies vaccination is given.
- Your pet’s rabies vaccination certificate must be written in English or French and contain a signature from a licensed veterinarian, the identity of the animal, the date of their rabies vaccination, the serial number of the vaccine as well as the expiration date of the vaccine. If no expiration date is given -- like the United States -- it will be assumed that the vaccine is valid for 12 months.
- If your pet does not have a rabies vaccination certificate when crossing the border, you’ll be required to get him or her vaccinated and provide that vaccination certificate to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Pet lovers know that having a furry friend by your side on vacation can make all the difference, and with most dogs and cats requiring only a rabies vaccination certificate to cross the Canada/U.S. border, it’s not as complicated as you may have thought.
About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.