How does US immigration deal with pets of snowbirds?
For most people in British Columbia, their dogs, cats, parrots and other pets are seen as members of the household. So how much trouble is it for snowbirds to take their beloved pets along on their annual journey south? Planning and organizing the trip could be slightly more complicated when travelling with pets, but help is available when it comes to dealing with the U.S. immigration laws.
Even though the pets are not imported, the different U.S. agencies treat them similarly. These include the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, some states have more requirements that could even include quarantine.
Regardless of whether the trip is planned by air or road, pets that are not groomed and healthy-looking might be refused entry. Border agents will require proof to show that rabies and other vaccinations are up to date. A letter from the veterinarian can confirm this, and also certify that the pet is healthy. Although rabies shots are not typically required for cats, it might be a good idea to get them anyway because border agents might treat cats and dogs in the same way. Similar proof might be necessary for the return trip to Canada.
Taking pets along on a road trip south will require more planning for lodging in pet-friendly facilities, having food and water available during the journey and more. While British Columbia snowbirds see to those practicalities, an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer can assist them with the legal preparations for the trip. A lawyer will know the USDA and CDC requirements and can provide valuable support and guidance with the preparation of required documentation for the snowbirds and their pets.