Checklist for Canadian Armed Forces Members and Veterans Who Wish to Travel with an Assistance Animal

Alternate Formats


The Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces does not endorse any organization selling certificates for travelling with an assistance animal. 

Note: There are organizations selling what they claim to be certificates enabling the holder to travel with an assistance animal. These may not be accepted by Canadian air carriers.

Before You Book Your Travel

  • If your assistance animal is not a dog, contact the carrier (i.e., airline) to ensure that it will accept the animal for travel.
  • If your emotional support animal does not have certified training, ensure that the airline will allow it to travel with you.

When Booking Your Travel

  • Contact the airline at least 48-72 hours in advance of your travel to inform them of your needs and that you will be travelling with an assistance animal.
  • Tell the airline the weight, height and length of your service animal, as well as its ability to curl up for an extended period of time.
  • Ask whether there will be enough space for your animal.
  • If necessary, ask whether the animal will be permitted to sit on your lap.
  • Ask how far in advance you should arrive at the terminal or station.
  • Ask what documentation you require (i.e., vaccinations, letter from medical professional training certificate).
  • Ask where the designated relieving area will be.
  • Ask whether there are special procedures for the screening of your animal when entering secure zones and boarding areas.
  • Do you have a connecting flight? Tell the airline. They should make arrangements for you with the connecting airline.

Is this an International Flight?

  • Contact the consulate or embassy in the country you are travelling to find out:
    • Vaccinations requirements
    • Documentation requirements (i.e., vaccination, international health certificate, training certificate, letter from medical professional)
    • Import and export regulations for assistance animals
  • Call the airline to find out about regulations or restrictions related to the type of animal, travel, quarantine, or permit requirements that might apply in your destination country.

Day of Travel

Make sure that you have:

  • Your animal’s harness
  • Your animal’s carry tags
  • Your animal’s identification card
  • Vaccination documentation
  • If applicable, written documentation from the credible association who trained your animal.
  • A letter from a licensed physician or mental health professional as proof that you require the animal for travel. The letter should:
    • Be on your attending mental health professional’s letterhead
    • Include the type of license held by your mental health professional and the jurisdiction in which it was issued
    • Be less than a year old
    • State that you are currently under the care of the licensed health professional who prepared the document
    • State that you have a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM V)
    • State  that you require the assistance animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for an activity at your intended destination
    • State the task that the animal performs for you when travelling
    • State whether you require your assistance animal to travel as a lap-held emotional support animal
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