I sold a breeding ram to someone from Canada this week, so learned firsthand how it works for border crossings with sheep. It’s reasonably easy. The requirements are listed here. We live just about two hours from the border (at least for people who drive fast!), so I get quite a few inquiries from Canadians on buying registered sheep.

First, the buyer secures an import permit from his local office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The turnaround time for this seemed a bit long- I’m guessing it took two weeks. It sounded like it was all done by postal mail, and was $35 Canadian. The permit was good for a few months, so a generous window of time in which to plan the trip. In U.S. state-to-state crossings, they often give you a very short window, like ten days. This makes it very hard to coordinate vet exams, blood testing, and getting across the border all in a short time period.

On my end, I had to schedule a standard veterinary inspection. These are pretty cursory examinations, but still pricey: $180 for this one! The vet on my end needed a copy of the import permit, and then sent that, along with the inspection report, to our state vet office to obtain an international health certificate. The turnaround time on these is impressively fast for a government agency: one day to mail to Olympia, one day for them to process, and one day for it to arrive back at the vet’s office via mail. But the vet advised allowing 7-10 days for greatest confidence. (Incidentally, I read that the WSDA has been doing LEAN, per the Governor’s order, so they have been shaving cycle time off their standard processes. Cool!)

imageThe ram needed a “USA” tattoo in his right ear: easily accomplished with an ear tattoo kit. It’s a little challenging working around existing ear tags, so I shaved the hair off the edge of the ear so the tattoo was visible. Though, I imagine it never will be again in his life! Smile Canada has a weird thing bout ear tattoos. I have a Border Collie from there, and she also has an ear tattoo that’s completely illegible now.

And, of course, all sheep need an official scrapie tag for traceability.

Rams have the least complicated requirements- the above is all that’s needed. Ewes must come from a flock participating in the SFCP which has had at least two inspections. I’m not sure how this is going to change since the SFCP is changing- I’m wanting to find out, so I know what my options are for continuing to export to Canada.

Once all the paperwork is done, the border-crosser must make an appointment with the vet at the port-of-entry. The vet is available 8-10 am, and 3-4pm; so this part can be a bit dicey, making sure you don’t miss that afternoon window. In this case, the buyer arrived here at 11am, so had plenty of time to make it up there, and it sounded like the crossing went smoothly. So this beefy little pinto ram has emigrated, ready to bring unique genes to Canada!