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If you can’t bear to leave your beloved buddy behind when coming to Canada, don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this article, we break down how to bring your pet to Canada.

How to bring your pet to Canada

  • Contact your airline to find out about their specific rules and guidelines for bringing your pet on a flight. They differ from airline to airline. 
  • Arrange a health check in advance, making sure your pet is in good enough shape to travel. You may also be required to present health certificates or other documentation when entering. You can find permit application information on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
  • Pet carriers should ensure the animal has enough room to lie down, turn around and stand. Provide adequate ventilation and have a little water spout so they don’t dehydrate. The International Air Transport Association has issued guidelines on animal containers. 
  • On long trips, make sure your pet has food and water and that you make regular stops so it can rest or get out and walk around. All pet food entering Canada must be in a sealed (unopened) bag, commercially packaged and from the United States. A maximum of 44 pounds of food is allowed.
  • Quarantine is generally required only when you haven’t complied with vaccination rules and you haven’t got your relevant paperwork – so make sure you do! If you’re bringing a rabbit into Canada, things may not be as straightforward. Skip to our section if you’ve got your very own Bugs Bunny in tow.

Most pet entry is overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which establishes import requirements for all animals and animal products entering Canada.

Check below for animal-specific requirements for bringing pets to Canada:

Amphibians and reptiles

Amphibians and reptiles are permitted from any country, for any use, to any destination in Canada.

An import permit is required for turtles and tortoises from all countries but they will only be issued to zoos and research facilities, so you will have to leave your little hero in a half shell behind if you’re not either of these.


Birds require an import permit issued by a local CFIA office, so long as the bird is coming from a country officially recognized by Canada as being free of highly pathogenic avian influenza and provided the applicant meets import requirements, including quarantine.


Cats coming from a country officially recognised as being rabies-free must have a rabies vaccination certificate; OR a veterinary certificate, declaring so. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) needs to perform a visual inspection to ensure the cat’s vaccination is current and the animal description matches. You may be required to complete more inspections, at the discretion of CBSA, which can incur fees of over $30.00 + tax. Make sure your kitty meets the requirements laid out for bringing pets to Canada.

Countries and territories recognized as being rabies-free

Cayman Islands
Ireland (Republic of)
New Zealand
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Martin (Netherlands Antilles)
Saint Pierre et Miquelon
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)

The United States of America and Mexico are not considered rabies-free. 


Immigrating to Canada with your dog can be a little more complicated than you might expect. Dogs are required to undergo a visual inspection from the Canada Border Services Agency and like cats, may be required to complete more inspections. It is the responsibility of the owner to contact the CFIA in advance of travel. You should have proof of your dog’s age and all dogs over three months old will need the necessary vaccinations.

Make sure Fido’s all set so that you can navigate dog immigration to Canada!

Bring your pet to Canada: Dog at the airport




It is the owner’s responsibility to contact the applicable provincial authorities to request permission to keep ferrets as pets and to obtain any required documentation. A rabies vaccination certificate, which has been signed by a licensed veterinarian within a year of issue, needs to be shown at border.

Refer to the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) or contact a CFIA Animal Health Office in your destination province to apply for a permit to import.
Import permits will not be issued for foxes, raccoons and skunks purchased for import to Canada as a personal pet.


You will need an Export Certificate issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certificate VS 17-140 or VS 17-145.

You can review the import requirements for horses using the Automated Import Reference System.

Insects and spiders

Hey, everyone’s entitled to love the pet they choose. Even if you’re beloved pet has eight legs, there may still be options to bring your pet to Canada.

Check out the national policy guidelines under provision of the Plant Protection Act to see if your creepy crawly is entitled to a new home in Canada.


Rabbits have permit and quarantine requirements for the importation of domestic rabbits from countries other than the United States. You will have to gain a permit at least thirty days in advance from the CFIA and sign a declaration of the following:

-that the rabbits have been in your possession as personally-owned pets;

-that you will personally accompany the rabbits from the country of origin to Canada.

-It is also likely the rabbit will have to be quarantined for a short amount of time.


Rodents can mostly be imported into Canada without an import permit, health certificate, or visual inspection. However it’s bad news if you want to bring your pet prairie dogs, gambian pouch rats, or squirrels. Also, rodents from Africa are not allowed entry.

Bringing pets to Canada: Ensuring you have the proper immigration status

Remember, if you want to bring your pet to Canada, you also have to make sure that you have the proper immigration status to come into the country. Have you ensured you’ve got the proper immigration and travel documents? Check out our wealth of resources on Canadian immigration programs to make sure you’ve got everything lined up and ready.

About the author

Hugo O'Doherty profile picture

Hugo O'Doherty

Canadian Immigration & Integration Specialist
Hugo O’Doherty has over a decade of experience and research in Canadian immigration, establishing him as a recognized authority on immigrant integration and adaptation. His personal and professional experiences with immigration have made him an expert on the practical aspects of successfully moving to and settling in Canada.
Read more about Hugo O'Doherty
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