Importing or Travelling with Domestic Dogs for Commercial Purposes

Commercial dogs are revenue-generating dogs or dogs in the following categories:

  • dogs for resale;
  • dogs for breeding purposes, not for direct retail sale;
  • dogs for show or exhibition;
  • dogs for scientific research;
  • dogs rescued and destined for an animal welfare organizationFootnote 1;
  • dogs in special "training status"; and
  • Canadian commercial dogs returning to Canada.

Canadian Commercial Dogs

Canadian commercial dogs returning to Canada must:

  • not have been outside of Canada for more than 60 days;
  • be accompanied by a resident of Canada;
  • have documented proof that the dog was registered in a competition, a show or a trial organized by a recognized association; and
  • present a valid rabies vaccination certificate (does not apply to animals three months old or younger)

Commercial Dogs Entering Canada

Commercial dogs less than eight months of age entering Canada require:

  • rabies certification (does not apply to animals three months old or younger)
  • a veterinary certificate of health whether or not they are accompanied by their owner
  • a microchip
  • an import permit.

Commercial dogs eight months of age or older (with the exception of animals destined for research) simply require a valid rabies certificate.

Rabies Vaccination Certificate

The rabies vaccination certificate must:

  • be written in English or French;
  • be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian;
  • identify the animal (breed, 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).

Dogs do not require rabies vaccination or certification if they are less than three months of age at the time they are imported into Canada.

Veterinary Certificate (countries Canada recognizes as rabies-free)

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

List of recognized countries
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Cayman Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Ireland (Republic of)
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Martin (Netherlands Antilles)
  • Saint Pierre et Miquelon
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Sweden
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
  • Uruguay

The veterinary certificate must:

  • be written in English or French;
  • be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian;
  • identify the animal as in breed, colour, and weight;
  • state that the animal has been in the exporting country since birth or for at least six (6) months immediately preceding shipment to Canada; and
  • be accompanied by documentation from a competent government authority, stating that rabies has not occurred in the country of origin for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the animal's shipment to Canada.

A competent government authority refers to a veterinary agency or other government agency that manages a country's animal health and welfare situation, as well as handles the responsibility of veterinary certification for the purposes of international trade. The document can be either:

  • a letter issued on the competent government authority's letterhead, dated, stamped, and signed by an official of the competent government authority in the country of origin; or
  • a signed letter by the licensed veterinarian who issued the certificate, which must be endorsed by the competent government authority.

Veterinary Certificate of Health

The veterinary certificate of health must:

  • be written in English or French;
  • be issued and signed by the licensed veterinarian who performed the examination;
  • identify the animal (breed, colour, and weight);
  • specify the date and time of the examination;
  • have the name and signature of the licensed veterinarian;
  • state that the veterinarian is satisfied that the animal:
    • is not less than eight (8) weeks of age at the time of the examination;
    • is free of any clinical evidence of disease;
    • was vaccinated, not younger than six (6) weeks of age, for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus;
    • can be transported to Canada without undue suffering due to infirmity, illness, injury, fatigue, or any other causes;

All information must be recorded legibly in the veterinarian's handwriting. The dog must be imported into Canada 48 hours or less after the examination.

The European Union pet passport is not an acceptable alternative to the certificate of health.

Import Permit

Contact the CFIA Animal Health Area Office for the applicable province 30 days before the dog is imported to allow sufficient time for the permit to be processed and for the importer to receive the original of the permit so that it may be presented, along with the animal, at the port of entry. Please allow extra time if the original of the permit must be sent outside Canada.

Commercial dogs less than eight months old may be imported on a temporary basis without an import permit if proof is provided that the dog is registered in a competition, a show, or a trial organized by a recognized association and the other requirements are met.

Additional Information

There are additional requirements for commercial dogs for research purposes.

For additional information, please refer to the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS).

Footnotes

Footnote 1

The import requirements for animal welfare organizations have changed.

In 2005, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) introduced a special policy under commercial imports to assist animal welfare organizations that were rescuing displaced dogs from the United States (U.S.) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Effective November 1, 2013 this policy is no longer required and has been discontinued.

Please note that rescued dogs under eight months of age and destined for an animal welfare organization are no longer eligible for import. Rescued dogs eight months or older and destined for an animal welfare organization are eligible for import provided they meet import requirements for resale. See the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) for more information.

Rescued dogs of any age may still be imported by an individual provided the animal is able to meet Canadian import conditions.

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