Can you bring your pet to Canada? Yes,you can. But, you should first educate yourself on the rules before leaving home.
Each pet must be vaccinated against rabies and have a health check (fit to fly) certificate or letter from an approved vet. Each certificate should state date, pet’s name, age color and breed of animal. Vets must certify dogs and domestic cats as having been vaccinated against rabies during the preceding 36-month period. Make sure you bring your pet’s vaccination cards and medical history: you can get copies from your vet. You should keep these documents with your hand luggage.
For rabbits being brought in from all countries except the United States, the pet owner will have to complete and submit to the Canada Food Inspection Agency, (CFIA), an Application for Permit to Import along with a signed declaration: (a) That the rabbits were in your possession as personally-owned pets; (b) That you will personally accompany the rabbits from the country of origin to Canada. You must apply for the permit at least 30 days in advance of your departure. Fees are applicable for the permit as well as any quarantine or inspection services that may be required. Pet rabbits from the United States must be presented to Canada Border Services Agency on arrival but do not require import permits or health certificates. For further information go to the CFIA website.
Amphibians and reptiles (with the exception of turtles and tortoises), no longer fall under Canada’s Health of Animals regulations, and no longer require import permits, health certificates or inspections. It is still a good idea to confirm current regulations regarding your pet with a Canadian consulate, embassy or high commission. This is true since the CFIA continues to regulate the transport of all animals and inspections with regards to their humane transport. Information concerning turtles and tortoises the requirements mirror those for rabbits with regards to the signed declaration. It is also your responsibility to ensure that your pet is not subject to international trade controls governed by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
If you and your pet are traveling on the same flight, you will have to complete the customs form, check “live animals” and specify what animals they are (dogs, cats, rabbits etc). Next, hand the completed form to the customs officer on arrival in the airport. Retrieve your pet from either baggage reclaim or cargo reclaim. At this point a vet or customs officer will verify your pet’s medical history. There is a fee for this.
It might be cheaper to have your pet shipped as excess baggage, but you both have to travel on the same flight. If you are traveling with BA or Air Canada in particular, the excess baggage option is more restrictive: the maximum combined weight for your pet plus crate is 32 kg (70 lbs). Any heavier and it must go cargo on the same plane, but much more expensive.
At the airport your pet will be handled as special large baggage. The check-in clerk will show you where to take them. When you present your customs form of the goods you are bringing in, remember to tick the Foods and Fisheries box. Your pet falls under the control of the CFIA. On arrival at your destination, let the staff know that you are waiting for your pet and they will direct you to a special area for oversized luggage, etc.
Your pet will need to go through animal immigration. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork ready. This includes certificate issued by the vet from the departing country and any supporting documentation (recent medical history etc.). All pets are subject to veterinary inspection on arrival in Canada. There is a fee of $35.
If your pet arrives in Canada and does not meet the requirements, an inspector will order the owner at the owner’s expense to have the pet vaccinated against rabies within a specified period of time and to provide the vaccinations certificate to an inspector.
You should research the various charges to process and maintain your pet in Canada. The costs could be prohibitive and may vary from province to province. A visitor from Australia described bringing her pet dog and cat into Canada, where both pets were vaccinated, then quarantined for about a week. She estimated, that after all the vaccinations, boarding, food and flight it cost her about $1000 per pet.