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Author Topic: Crossing borders with pets  (Read 5353 times)

derbyflan

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Crossing borders with pets
« on: June 07, 2008, 08:13:24 AM »
Hi everyone.

Like so many here, we want to go across to the US and buy are own RV.  Once we've got it, we would then want to travel for 12-18 months taking in Canada on our travels.  We are a family of four.  That's me, my wife, our 20 year old daughter who'd be taking a gap year from University and our one year old son (now that's a gap! :o ;D). 

Now here's the difficult part - we also want to bring our two Boxer dogs with us.  Obviously they'd be 'jabbed-up' with all necessary paperwork etc but we're worried that the Border Officials won't believe that we intend to go back to the UK once our visas expire.  I guess to some that it may look as if we'd moved over lock, stock and barrell?  We've also read that if there's any element of doubt in the minds of these officials then they are unlikely to give you any benefit and are quite happy to refuse you at POE.  Incidentally, we'd be self-funding and understand that none of us are able to work on a B2 visa.

It of course, would be easier if we didn't have pets but they are our responsibility and we don't have any relatives or friends capable or willing to look after them for upto 18 months.  Kennel costs for that length of time would pretty much make a huge dent in any savings we'd made by buying the RV from the US ourselves and also, it'd be unfair to the dogs to kennel them for that amount of time also.  So we're stuck really ???  It may be that we come across without the dogs for say 4 months on a B2 visa and kennel the dogs so we might have the best of both worlds.

Does anyone have any experience of crossing US/Canadian borders with pets whilst touring or know of anyone that does ?

Grateful for any help.

rankjo

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2008, 08:56:37 AM »
re crossing the border with pets.
I only know about the US/Can border, not sure at all about UK/US or UK/Can.
Basically, dogs are simple. You have to have an up-to-date set of innoculations and a rabies tag on the collar.
We have never been hassled in either direction except once, see below.
We find it helps to have it all on a clipboard so we look prepared and competent, and it seems to become a formality.
The other concern is that your dog-food and dog-treats may be confiscated under mad cow meat-control regulations. It seems to be less of a concern to border guards recently, perhaps because they have so much else to do now than worry about dogs. This is only in the Can to US direction. We cross with major US brand food which we think might protect us from the hassle, but we did once have WalMart food bought in Canada confiscated, (we hit on a bad day, at a very small crossing, where a junior guy was being trained).
I don't think there is much trouble really, for prepared owners, unlike how is used to be in Britain.
Rankjo

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2008, 11:15:40 AM »
It's true you can be refused for any reason. The dogs themselves aren't an issue, though they could be subject to quarantine if there is any doubt about their paperwork. But why are you worried that they will think you are illegally emigrating? Have you sold your home property or otherwise severed your ties to the home country? Family travel such as you are planning is not unusual - I know of another UK family who is doing the same right now.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Tom

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2008, 12:46:00 PM »
Gary,

There is a potential issue at any US port of entry, especially when someone says "I'll be here for 6 months, but I promise I'll leave again". When they do that again at another port of entry a couple of weeks after their initial 6 months, the immigration officer might look askant at them. Having the dogs along might add weight to any suspicion of having left home for good.

It helps to be able to prove you're going "home" again, but a return air ticket doesn't do it, nor does "my mother in law is still back home". Having some proof of physical assets outside the UK might help, as might proof of employment. (Maybe a letter saying you're really on a leave of absence.)

I recall when I was visiting the US Consulate in Vancouver, I couldn't believe the stories I was hearing from guys in the line in front of me. They were all trying to convince the consulate staff that they were only planning to visit, but it was clear that most of them were trying to get into the US with no intention of leaving. The Consulate staff weren't buying it. That was in the early 80's when things were a lot "looser" than they are today.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 01:56:44 PM by Tom »
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derbyflan

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2008, 05:25:21 PM »
...Family travel such as you are planning is not unusual - I know of another UK family who is doing the same right now.

Thanks for that.  Can I ask, are the people that you know touring ie are there on a tourist visa or has a member of that family secured work and sponsorship?  Those Brits that have secured work can usually stay for upto 6 years and therefore bringing pets through isn't a problem (provided the paperwork is in shape).

derbyflan

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2008, 05:32:23 PM »
...It helps to be able to prove you're going "home" again, but a return air ticket doesn't do it, nor does "my mother in law is still back home". Having some proof of physical assets outside the UK might help, as might proof of employment. (Maybe a letter saying you're really on a leave of absence.)...

Hi Tom,

We'd have return shipping arranged for us, the dogs and of course, the RV.  A letter from my daughter's University stating that she's on a gap year from her degree course and must return to complete her final year.  We'd also have proof that we own property back in the UK so that we do have a home to go back to.  Neither my wife or I will have a job though but in reality that's not an issue as we'll be heading straight over the channal once the RV is converted to fulltime in Europe.  I'm just hoping the 'no job to go back to' scenario also won't cause an issue.  I'll be officially retired although I'll only be 45.  I just hope that we're believed.

Tom

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2008, 06:25:56 PM »
Quote
I just hope that we're believed.

Just be courteous and honest. Don't try to hide anything, but just answer the questions you're asked; No need for additional info unless asked. Remember you're dealing with individuals who put up with a lot of stuff every day, and some of them have no patience or just get out of bed on the wrong side.

Over my many years of international travel I developed a habit of preparing a list of "everything to declare" and hand it to the border officer. If I'm on a plane, I hand write (print) it. If I'm in the coach or the boat, I type it on the PC and print it out. Never had a problem, although some foods have been confiscated. The important thing was that they were on the voluntary list rather than something that was found. It helps establish credibility and helps remove barriers between you and the officer.
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derbyflan

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2008, 08:49:53 PM »
Some great tips there Tom.  I'll be sure to do that.  I think honesty is the best policy.............. sometimes ;) ;D

Tom

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2008, 09:04:01 PM »
I stood in line at SFO behind a couple returning from somewhere in Asia. The immigration officer must have asked them a dozen times if they were carrying food, each time more emphatic, and the answer was always no. He finally got irritated and pointed to the large pack of tea sticking out the top of their carry-on bag. By now, the officer was not amused.

Whenever we get back from not-so sunny South Wales we usually have a load of laverbred, the staple of Taffs, and always declared on the list. When I'm ushered into the agricultural inspection line, they ask what it is and I say "seaweed". I get a very strange look until I explain it's processed. Then I get an "OK, you can go"  ;D
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Carl L

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Re: Crossing borders with pets
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2008, 09:05:59 PM »
Some great tips there Tom.  I'll be sure to do that.  I think honesty is the best policy.............. sometimes ;) ;D

May or may not be the best policy, but it sure saves problem in maintaining a consistant story.  It also gets the bad news over with quickly.  
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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