This is what a USDA breeder looks like

CFIA’s Import Rules for Importing Dogs into Canada – Repost

This is a repost of a blog entry I wrote in 2010. The rules have still not changed, although the Canadian Kennel Club, which is the body that supposedly advocates for purebred dog breeders in Canada, has been asked repeatedly to lobby CFIA and Agriculture Canada for more reasonable rules of entry.

Many of us who breed or show dogs in Canada have imported dogs from other countries. For years, all that this required was a simple rabies certificate – the same as any pet dog traveling across the border required. Effective immediately, however, dog fanciers who are flying a dog into Canada from another country have an additional paperwork requirement – a CFIA Import Certificate.

(A quick note: NONE of this applies to average pet owners who purchase a dog from Canada, or to Canadian pet owners purchasing a dog from outside of Canada, or to people traveling to or from Canada with their family pets. In both those cases, you still only need proof of rabies and a current health certificate.)

Two bodies are involved in the importation of dogs into Canada – CFIA, or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and CBSA, or Canada Border Services Agency. The CFIA governs the rules applying to dogs imported into Canada, and the CBSA enforces them.

As I mentioned, the requirements for pet dogs to travel into Canada are fairly simple – a current rabies and health certificate. The CFIA, however, has decided that dogs being imported into Canada by anyone who shows dogs, handles dogs, trains dogs, competes with dogs (for example, in agility or obedience) or breeds dogs are NOT pets – they are a commercial import.

How a puppy with an unknown potential can be considered valuable commercial goods escapes me, as I’m sure it escapes most of you. It doesn’t matter how we personally feel about this ruling, because CBSA has decided that they will be rigorously enforcing this, starting immediately, and they’re using Google to do so.

Dr. Susan Wray, DVM, of CFIA’s Guelph office, confirmed this for me, saying

“Canada Border Services will looking people up on Google”

to determine if they are a breeder or a show exhibitor. Anyone who has ever shown a dog in Canada, bred a litter in Canada, or otherwise been involved in activities which can be defined as breeding, handling, training or showing dogs  is now subject to this classification.

Dr. Wray also told me that anyone bringing a dog to the USA for showing, or with a dog returning from showing in the USA, should be exempt from this restriction, so long as it’s a dog they already own.

According to Dr. Wray, they should be prepared, however, to prove that they,

a) already own the dog and

b) that it’s been out of the country and why.

This would mean either proof of show entries, or for those who send their dogs out of the country for breeding, proof that their owned dog was sent away to be bred.

Irregardless of how nonsensical all of this seems, we’d all do well not to ignore it.  As of last week, four dogs that I know of were denied entry at Pearson Airport, for the lack of a simple form costing just $35.00 .

“Denied entry”, by the way, means just that – they were returned to their original shipping country, which in one case was Chile – and that’s a return flight of another 24 hours, with the receiving person being responsible for these charges and fees. And don’t expect that pricey ‘commercial broker’ that you hired to get your dog into Canada to know anything about these forms, either – in at least one case, the dog’s importation was arranged via a pet brokerage firm that was blithely unaware of this not-s0-new requirement. Not only did they screw up, they also refused to take any financial responsibility for it, saying, in essence “Hey, we got the dog to Canada – it’s not our fault we can’t get him through customs, too”.

The new regulations require that anyone fitting into the categories I mentioned above must fill out and file a CFIA Form, which you can obtain here –

There’s an addendum also required:

The following protocol then applies:

Fill out and complete both forms, following the instructions listed on them. Submit them, per the instructions on the form, and you should receive back your permit within 3-5 business days. The scheduled fee is $35.00

Don’t forget, you must also get the person shipping the dog to you to obtain all of the required paperwork as outlined on this form. This basically means an Official Export Health Certificate (this is NOT just a regular health certificate issued by a veterinarian, but rather a document specified by the seller’s country of origin). If the dog is over three months of age, it must have received a rabies shot, and the dog must also have been permanently identified via microchip before leaving the country of origin.

For more information, visit the AIRS (Automated Import Reference System) website, at

Once there, choose “DOGS” as the commodity you are searching for
then the appropriate age (over or under 8 months)
then the country or region of origin
then end use ‘commercial’

You’ll then be presented with the list of requirements which you must have, including the section which specifies that you must obtain an import permit from CFIA.

You should, additionally, have a receipt from the dog’s breeder/seller showing the amount that you paid for the dog, and you should be prepared to possibly pay duty.

Have fun reading through it all – there’s a lot to digest.

More reading –

CFIA Forces Canadian Breeders to Partner with USDA Puppy Mills

USDA Inspected Kennel Kills 1,000 plus Dogs

9 replies
  1. Sally B.
    Sally B. says:

    This will probably discourage some people from the US from going to Canada to show their dogs. Canada will not get those monies from US exhibitors who would normally exhibit in Canada. This is an especially poor time, during a recession, to implement this.

  2. eastofeden
    eastofeden says:

    Do you know how this applies to dogs who are tavelling to/from Canada for events such as obedience, agility and field trials?
    In some cases these dogs may be sterilized…in some cases not.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      The rules are different, depending on:

      Are you a Canadian resident, or American?
      Are you traveling with or without the dog?
      Are you traveling by land, or by air?

      Without knowing that, I can’t help you.

      Primarily, this applies to dogs being transported by air into Canada, without being accompanied by a person.

      There are exceptions for dogs traveling here for exhibition purposes only – see the CFIA website for details.

      • Paula
        Paula says:

        actually, this applies for dogs both accompanied and unaccompanied.
        I fill out the same paperwork whether the dog/puppy flies on a cargo plane with no passengers, or if it flies in the cabin on my lap.
        If the dog is to be used for breeding – your posting is the right process…if it’s sterilized or just a pet – all you have to do is show the up to date immunizations, and the ownership papers.

  3. Chuck
    Chuck says:

    I was at the CFIA office on Friday. Being Friday at noon no one that I needed to see was around. They said this rule is to prevent puppymills. They however do not seem to realize some people import puppies with the purpose of competing. CFIA is now making that very difficult.

  4. Paula
    Paula says:

    Thank you for posting such an informative and well written posting.
    We have imported many dogs over the past 3-4 years, and even in that time, the CFIA regulations have changed!!
    Would you mind if I linked this posting on my website, for others to find and read??
    I think it is so important to know the facts, and to follow the proper guidelines.

    Paula Ballak
    Biscay Waterdogs (Barbet)
    Kitchener, Ontario


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FrogDogZ, MM. MM said: RT @FrogDogZ New blog post: CFIA's New Import Rules for Breeders #frenchbulldogs #stupidrules […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.