For the holidays we often drive from Buffalo to Detroit via Ontario, since it saves a lot of time. However, this is the first year we will be bringing our new dog along as well. What sort of documentation do I need to bring to make sure I can get in and out of Canada without a problem?

All I've found is that a rabies vaccination is required. Does the info on the vaccination certificate need to have my name and address on it (she was vaccinated at the shelter before we got her)?

  • Careful! Ontario (at least) has breed specific laws. My in-laws are in Buffalo, we're in Detroit and can't cut through Canada because of these laws. Expect about 2+ hours more if you have to cut through Ohio and PA. (Ugh.) Nov 30, 2015 at 20:16
  • @ClintonPierce, thanks, that's good to know! Wikipedia says that they do not allow any pit bulls, but luckily ours doesn't have any obvious pit bull in her. Sad that those laws exist though!
    – David K
    Nov 30, 2015 at 20:37
  • For what its worth, going the other way, the US customs guy looked at our elderly Goldie and just scanned our passports as usual. We had a rabies certificate with us, but he didn't ask to see it. Dec 22, 2016 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


The information you need is on the website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who are responsible for all live animals that enter the country in the company of people, whether as companions or otherwise. They have specific advice for dogs. I filled out the form there assuming your dog is over eight months old (since you didn't say puppy) and it says the only real requirement is the rabies certificate. To quote:

The rabies vaccination certificate must:

  • be written in English or French;
  • be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian;
  • identify the animal (breed, sex, colour, and weight);
  • state that the animal is vaccinated against rabies;
  • indicate the date of vaccination;
  • indicate the trade name and the serial number of the licensed vaccine;
  • and specify the duration of immunity (otherwise, it will be considered valid for one year from the date of vaccination).

And without it, it's not like you won't be let in. Instead

If a dog does not meet the Canadian rabies import requirements, owners will be required, at their own expense, to have the animal vaccinated against rabies within a specified period of time and provide the vaccination record to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency office.

You will be charged a $30 fee for the time of the officer to make sure your certificate is ok and matches your dog. You may also be able to bring some of your own dog food.

  • Kate, can you clarify: if the $30 fee charged every time, or just if you don't have the documentation and it's to cover their 'extra' paperwork?
    – CGCampbell
    Nov 30, 2015 at 17:38
  • $30 every time. An extra $55 if you are missing the certificate - plus you need to provide it within the time period, which appears to be two weeks. Nov 30, 2015 at 17:45
  • 2
    When I read the website Kate referenced, it was titled "Importing or Travelling with Domestic Dogs", but the section on fees only used the term "importing". I suspect, but cannot confirm that the fee only applies to importation and not travel. Sometimes, "import" means bringing something across the border, and sometimes it means bringing something across the border permanently. I suggest a call to 1-800-442-2342 to confirm if you must pay. When I cross the border into Canada (I'm Canadian) we don't even get out of the car - the border guard just looks at my dog's papers and waves us through.
    – user19474
    Nov 30, 2015 at 18:26
  • Well, the page says it applies even to dogs that are just visiting, but it also says that the inspection is only needed "in certain cases" so it's possible that there will be no fee. Nov 30, 2015 at 18:49
  • John Steinbeck was turned away at the Niagara Falls border crossing. See Travels With Charley. amazon.com/Travels-Charley-Search-America-Steinbeck/dp/… Of course, the rules have probably changed. Dec 1, 2015 at 2:13

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