f you are importing a live horse into Canada, you need to present documents and ensure compliance with certain rules and regulations. And when the horse is transported in a trailer, there are additional rules that apply.
Importing live animals, including horses, is strictly regulated by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Other Government Departments (OGDs)—namely the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). These regulations apply to both Canadian residents and non-residents of Canada involved in the trade of horses. Due to the complexity of the importation process, this article will cover what you need to know about importing live horses into Canada.
The first step in importing a horse into Canada is to be prepared. To avoid any problems at the border, pay careful attention to the information and documentation you provide, have your paperwork in order, and ensure that all involved parties have copies of your documents. Regardless of the length of time that the horse will remain in Canada, you will need to provide the following paperwork:
- Bill of Sale: if the horse is being sold, ensure the bill of sale is complete and that it clearly shows the vendor, purchaser, date, value, currency, and horse details (name and country where the horse was born).
- Canada Customs Invoice: ensure that all fields are complete, correct, and consistent across all documents.
- Veterinary Records: provide the horse’s health certificate and records of current vaccinations, including a current Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA)—also known as the Coggins and International Health Certificate. It must show that the horse has not been in the state of Texas or New Mexico within the past 21 days.
- Import Permit: apply for an import permit issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for horses from Texas or New Mexico. This must be applied for in advance of importing.
- Export Certificate: submit a United States Origin Health Certificate, VS17-140 or VS17-145, issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
All horses are subject to inspection upon their arrival in Canada. That is why it is crucial that you choose a port of entry where veterinary inspections are available. We also recommend that you verify the hours of operation to guarantee your horse arrives during these hours for inspection and release.
Length of stay
Depending on whether you are importing a horse permanently or temporarily, the regulations will vary.
Permanent Horse Importation
If you are importing a horse permanently, you must declare the purpose of the importation to CBSA, for example:
In this case, a Canada Customs Coding Form (B3) must be presented to CBSA, along with the applicable taxes.
Temporary Horse Importation
If you are importing a horse temporarily, you must submit a Temporary Admission Permit (E29B). This permit allows the horse to stay in Canada for up to 12 months. Proof of export and proof of the purpose of the temporary import, such as competition, training, breeding or pasturage, also need to be presented to CBSA.
Horses and other temporarily imported equines qualify for customs duty-free entry and are non-taxable for the GST/HST.
Canadian Horses Returning
In most cases, Canadian horses returning home to Canada are considered Canadian goods returning if they are returning to their original owner and are accompanied by the original proof of export from Canada. However, horses bred in Canada that have lived in the USA for more than 60 days are considered American horses. Should you purchase a said horse and return it to Canada, you must account to pay the tax.
Another scenario that may arise with a Canadian horse returning to Canada is if the horse returns pregnant. In this case, the value of the foal will have to be determined.
There is a difference between importing a horse and importing a horse in a trailer, which gives rise to much confusion in the horse trade market. The procedures are different when the horse is accompanied by a trailer or an installed hitch. This is because the trailer is considered a vehicle and is regulated by Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) and import requirements. You will need to meet the additional regulations and requirements of Transport Canada covered in Memo D19-12-1.
Regardless of the type of horse you are importing and the purpose of the trip, any live horse moving into Canada must meet the requirements and have an import permit. And when the horse is accompanied by a trailer or hitch, the import process becomes more complicated. That is why we suggest you reach out to the GTS team at GHY to help you with your live horse importation process.