Transporting Pets-Canada

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Transporting Pets from UK to Canada


Research seems to indicate that the 'clearest' guidelines regarding pet transport are those provided by Air Canada / Air Transat Cargo. These also seem to be the airlines that provide the cheapest and most reliable transportation of pets from the UK to Canada.

Air Transat continue to transport pets as baggage or cargo (depending on the size) for a very reasonable cost. They also allow small dogs and cats to travel in the cabin now.


Airline documentation

  • Your airline will require a fitness to fly certificate. There is no standard format for this, your vet will examine the animal and give a description of weight, breed, opinion on general health, etc., and confirm that the animal is fit to travel on an aircraft. The vet will charge you for issuing this. This letter/certificate should not be obtained much in advance of travel. Check with your airline to see what their recommend timeframe is. Usually it should be dated no more than a week or so before your flight date. The letter/certificate is for the airline's use only; customs do not require this.
  • Also check what your intended airline's vaccination requirements are, if any. Your airline may insist on vaccinations for the sake of other animals in their hold.

Import documentation

  • Your goods-to-follow list should include your pet. This will enable you to import your pet without any customs/import fee.
  • Upon arrival of the pet, the airline will provide an airway bill document that the importer has to take to customs to get it stamped. This then allows the airline to release the pet.

Canadian federal requirements

Always check Canada's current import requirements as these are subject to change at any time.

Do make sure to include your pet on your 'goods to follow list'

Canada does not currently impose quarantine on cats or dogs from the UK (designated rabies-free country by Canada). If you are bringing a pet from the UK, there are three paperwork/vaccination options:

  • Vaccinate against rabies and get proof from your vet showing batch number, details of animal, date administered, etc. There is no waiting period as far as Canada is concerned from when the vaccine is given to when the animal can be imported, and no antibody test is required. Import fee due at Customs Hall currently is 30 CAD plus GST (as of July 2007)


  • Do not vaccinate against rabies but get a DEFRA export certificate from your vet. This form will be sent at your request by DEFRA to a DEFRA-registered vet. Not all vets are registered. DEFRA will be able to tell you the closest one to you. There is no charge for DEFRA to send this to a vet, but your vet will charge you to complete this form. The 60-70 GBP region seems to be average. The export certificate states that, prior to travel, your pet has been living in a rabies-free country (except for a bat strain) for six months or since birth. Import fee due at Customs Hall currently 30 CAD plus GST (as at July 2007)


  • Do not vaccinate against rabies, and do not get a DEFRA export certificate. There is a slightly higher charge to bring an unvaccinated, undocumented animal into Canada. As of July 2007 you currently pay a 50 CAD import fee instead of 30 CAD. Customs officers may request that you vaccinate the animal after arrival in Canada and return to an office of theirs with the vaccination certificate at a later date. There is no option to vaccinate animals at airports.

Canadian municipal requirements

Be aware that your municipality in Canada may require all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies anyway. A rabies vaccine costs in the region of 40-50 CAD for a dog in Canada and, after the first shot, another is given every 1-3 years. Ask your vet for advice on boosters. You will likely receive a 'this pet is rabies vaccinated' collar tag, which may be useful if your pet escapes.

Also see the Dog Legislation Council of Canada's website for comprehensive information on dog bylaws across Canada.

To find out about municipal regulations that pertain to cats, it is suggested that you do a Google search for CAT + BYLAW + NAME OF MUNICIPALITY.

American requirements

You will need to show proof of rabies vaccine if you want to take your pet across the land border to the USA once you're living in Canada.

UK requirements

If you think your pet might return with you to the UK at some point and you do not wish them to be quarantined, you should enroll your pet for a "Pet Passport" -- Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). It is not necessary to do this before leaving the UK, as Canada is a member of the PETS scheme and you will be able to take all the necessary steps to allow your animal to return to the UK with you from within Canada. Be aware that it takes approximately 6 months to complete the PETS process in either country.

Handling charges at Canadian airports

A recent migrant reported having to pay a 125 CAD handling fee in cash to have their two cats brought from the plane to the cargo area at Calgary Airport.

Pet Cargo Carriers

Suitable IATA-approved dog carriers are usually available on Amazon for the best prices.

Hagen is one of the companies that supplies suitable cargo carriers for dogs and cats. Please note that the cabrio cargo cat carrier is NOT IATA standard and may be refused by the airline for long flights is a more suitable carrier and meets all standards.

One Stop Shop

Pet Travel Store provides a useful 'one stop shop' for information on international pet imports and exports. You can use one of the pages of their website to search by airline and find out that airline's pet travel rules. There is a wealth of information on this website.


The Paperwork section of this article covers the various regulations and requirements fairly thoroughly. However, if you want to read the actual regulations published by various organizations that govern the transportation of pets, they are as follows:


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the official body for regulating transportation of animals across international boundaries. They are responsible for setting standards and guidelines for 'live' pet transport by airlines. Here is the IATA web page that provides general information on transporting your pet by air. Here are IATA's Live Animal Regulations (mainly technical instructions to shippers, freight forwarders, airlines, and animal care professionals).


The Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) regulates the tranportation of pets into and out of the UK. Most well established vets in the UK are familiar with DEFRA.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the Canadian government department that governs live animal imports.

Here is CFIA's web page on the importation of domestic dogs and its web page on the importation of domestic cats.