Horses from Canada travel across the border into the United States for purposes surprisingly similar to people. They have jobs, exhibitions, competitions, and new homes on the other side. Both people and horse require papers for this type of travel. It is the responsibility of the person travelling with horses to ensure proper documentation is provided to border officials.
It is advisable to prepare for travel two weeks before the journey. An appointment with your veterinarian at this time allows bloodwork results to return from the laboratory, and all documentation to receive proper certification. Private veterinarians are accredited to perform the necessary testing and paperwork. These papers are then endorsed by a federal veterinarian.
Horses entering the U. S. from Canada, temporarily or permanently, must be accompanied by an official veterinary health certificate and evidence of a negative test for equine infectious anemia (EIA) within 180 days of export. This is a Coggins test and requires a blood sample to be sent to an accredited laboratory. Laboratory results are easily attainable within five working days, including courier time. It is best to allow sufficient time for return of bloodwork results as endorsement of the health certificate by the federal veterinarian is pending a negative Coggins result.
The health certificate itself gives a detailed description of the horse and states that it has been in Canada for 60 days preceding importation, has been inspected and found free of contagious and reportable diseases, has not been vaccinated within 14 days of exportation, and has been found to be negative to EIA within 180 days prior to export. The final step involves the federal veterinarian checking the test results, verifying documentation, signing and stamping the official form. There is a check with two signatures ensuring proper detailed identification of the horse, its final destination, and health results.
The health certificate is valid for unlimited number of entries to the U. S. for 30 days from the date of farm inspection. Original papers remain with the horse and are presented to customs each time the horse crosses the border. Horses on a temporary entry may return to Canada 30 days beyond the date of inspection on a provisional extension, provided custom officials are notified of intention. Proof of the date of entry to the U. S. in the form of a customs stamp is necessary for this extension. Beyond 60 days horses are considered “U. S.” horses and need a USDA health certificate signed within 30 days, and a valid Coggins test.
Canadian horses for permanent export may require an import permit number. This requirement varies with the state of destination.
Foals travelling alongside their dam are exempt from the EIA requirement if they are born after the mare has been tested and found to be negative. The foal will have its own health certificate.
At the time of writing an investigation for contagious equine metritis (CEM), a reportable disease is ongoing and Canadian horses returning from the United States require a supplementary declaration or certification. This additional paperwork declares that the horse(s) has not knowingly been subject to or exposed to this reproductive disease.
Co-operate with your veterinarian, photocopy both your and the horse’s travelling papers more than once, and happy trails.