(As of May 2020)
So you have found a horse you want to purchase and it’s located in Canada. How do you get the horse to the United States? I am here to help explain the steps.
The idea of searching for your next equine partner can be daunting. There are a lot of factors to consider such as budget, needs, goals, wants, suitability, and more. The important thing is to make logical and rational decisions based on a realistic perspective (ie don’t buy a horse just because it’s pretty). When I first decided I thought I was ready to purchase my next dance partner, I took some time to write down a “wish list” if you will of what I was looking for, what I would like to have, and what I thought would be good for me. This just helped with focus when looking at so many sale ads on what my base criteria for the next horse would be. There are websites available that have sales ads for horses, but I think Facebook has become the most used tool for perusing sale ads. There are so many groups available and you can get specific if you choose to (ie a certain breed). This is a good place to start.
I happened to find my new horse in Canada, and having never imported a horse from anywhere before, I had to learn how to do this. One thing that can factor in is currency – CAD to US and vice versa. So when costs are quoted to you be sure to verify if it is in CAD or US dollars.
Finding a commercial hauler availability will vary depending on where you are located within the US. I found hiring a hauler to ship to Arkansas to be difficult as no one wanted to come to this area since it was a little off their normal routes. (Side note: I was also dealing with COVID-19 repercussions and the border being closed to non-essential travel. Transport that may usually ship across the border was not shipping at the time or they did not want to deal with the border at this time). I joined a couple of Facebook groups (Horse Transport Connect – Hauling, Shipping, Transportation, Hitch Your Horse A Ride, and Equine Transportation – Canada/USA) and posted ISO ads with my specs. I also searched for Canada in the groups and contacted any hauler who had commented they would haul from Canada in the past. I did a Google search for transport and contacted those I found. Basically, I emailed a lot of companies! I had a list going in the Notes app of my phone so I could keep track of who I had contacted and their response. Unfortunately, most were no’s.
It’s very important to find and hire a reputable hauler because your horse’s well being is most important. After narrowing the search down to two haulers, I searched for reviews on both. I joined another Facebook group called Horse Transport Review where I could search and read reviews about these transport companies. Luckily, both had positive reviews. I ended up choosing the one that would work with me the most on timing and location.
The transport company should help you determine what paperwork is needed and what you need to do. I am sharing my personal experience of this process (and I am sure this is subject to change over time). First thing is you will need to have a vet in Canada see the horse, pull a Coggins, and what he needs for a health certificate for the horse (this will need to be certified). This paperwork can take up to five days to process. I used the seller’s vet for this as we had developed a good repertoire.
Next, you will need a broker to get the horse across the border and there are fees for this. I used FEDEX and will need to call 1-800-249-2953 to let them know you need to create an account because you have bought a horse in Canada and need to bring him into the US. They will take some of your information including your email then they will email you a Logistics and Customs Brokerage Services Confirmation. You will fill out this form and reply to that email with your completed form to send back. The good news is each form has instructions on how to fill them out which is very helpful.
I found that FEDEX was quick in their response. Within a few hours, I had an account confirmed with FEDEX for a single bond transaction (STB) and was sent the form to set up Power of Attorney for this. I set this up as an individual since I am not a business doing exporting/importing.
This is the second page of the form that you will not need to fill out if you are selecting individual. You will reply the email with your completed form. Again, within a few hours, I had a confirmation email that this was complete.The first form for a single bond transaction has a fee of $60.00 USD. The Power of Attorney form has a fee of $39.00 USD. I was told I would receive an invoice for these costs. There is also a fee of around $40.00 for the vet inspection of the horse at the border. You may also be charged a percentage of the purchase price to bring across the border (could be around 5%).
The transport driver will need a customs invoice form. You can find it here: http://ftn.fedex.com/us/ship/forms.shtml along with other various forms concerning border shipments. I filled out the U.S. Customs Invoice (Form 12) and emailed it to the shipper.
For this form, you will need the location of the horse and the seller’s contact, your info, where the horse is being shipped to, how much the horse weighs, description of the horse, and information of the transporter.
Once the shipper confirmed he had received this form and it looked good to him, I was done with the paperwork to get the horse across the border. I then verified with the seller that the vet paperwork was complete. Those would be given to the shipper when he picked up the horse and would be used to cross the border into the US.
The process itself was not difficult and went rather smoothly. But it can seem a little daunting when you have zero experience with this process and you’re trying to figure it out as you go along. Hopefully, this helps you have an idea of what will need to be done to import a horse from Canada into the US!
If you are looking for transport, here are a few suggestions:
Foothills Horse Transport
Gold Buckle Equine Transportation
International Horse Transport
*Disclaimer – I will not be held liable for any suggestions based on this article. This is simply an article reflecting my personal experience with this process and do not endorse any company mentioned here.