What to expect when crossing the border with a rented trailer

Driving Across the Border with a Rented Trailer

Generally speaking, both Canadian and American citizens can cross the border into either country with a rented trailer without much problem.  However, there are things you need to prepare for as Customs agents are always on the lookout for people trying to import vehicles and toables of any kind without paying taxes so they pay special attention when you are driving a vehicle that is not yours.

The basic question the Customs officer is trying to determine is whether you are bringing the vehicle across “temporarily” or permanently.  If the agent is not confident the rental is coming back across the border relatively soon they may decide you are  importing the vehicle.  You will then be subject to duties, taxes, and all of the country’s vehicle safety laws.  

Tips for Driving a Rented Trailer Across the Canada - U.S. Border

Below are general items that apply any time you are going to take a rented trailer or vehicle across the Canada - U.S. border in either direction.

  • You must let the owner you rented the trailer from know you are going to take their trailer out of the country, and they must confirm it is ok.   Not all trailer owners will allow cross border travel, although Ruckify RV's Insurance Policy permits this.
  • In addition, Customs may require that the registered owner has given their consent for the trailer to leave the country. This is easily done by having the trailer owner provide a border crossing permission letter to the guest. You can find an example of this here, Border Crossing Permission Letter
    • Make sure the signature on the letter matches the name on the ownership certificate of the trailer.
    • It is not mandatory to get the letter notarized, but it will provide another level of comfort to the customs officer. It is recommended by the border services so you should have it done if it is not too much trouble.
    • You should bring along a another copy of this letter if for some reason the original is damaged or the customs official wants to keep one.
      If you are driving a rental tow vehicle it would be best to have some documentation(rental agreement) available showing that you are authorized to drive the tow vehicle.
  • Ensure the guest has a copy of the rented trailer's registration. Inspection agents are going to want to see this.
  • In addition to the above, make sure you have a copy of the receipt-itinerary, with communication and amount paid. This can be found in your dashboard under your inbox.
  • Tow Vehicle Insurance –  Most auto insurance will cover you in both countries but you must confirm this with your provider.  You must always carry your usual insurance card for the vehicle used to tow the rented trailer. Since it is a rented vehicle is a non-motorized trailer Ruckify RV does not need to issue an insurance card. If in the rare instance something happens, trailer owners can contact Ruckify RV to submit a claim.
  • Make sure you have all the normal required documentation for a border crossing such as passports and drivers license.  If you are driving a rental tow vehicle, have other basic documentation readily available from the rental company. 


The rules for bringing pet dogs, cats, and birds across the Canadian - U.S. border are pretty straightforward but there are differences between the two countries – and even different from State to State. As regulations change from time to time, we recommend to call ahead to the specific border crossing station you will be using if you are bringing your animal along, or are traveling with something other than a dog or cat.

Pet Health

A border official’s primary focus is on the health of the animal. If the animal looks sick, dangerous, or of an illegal breed, officials can refuse entry or have you pay for a veterinarian inspection.  Make sure that your pet always looks clean and healthy.  It is recommended you bring a health certificate from your veterinarian detailing all the shots the animal has had.

While U.S. and Canadian regulations are similar, just because your pet was allowed across the border in one direction does not mean you are guaranteed to get it back through with similar ease. Your pet must always appear healthy and satisfy regulations of both countries.  You can in fact be blocked from bringing your pet back home.


If you lose your pet while traveling you could have difficulty trying to claim it without permanent identification. At the bare minimum, the animal should have collar tags with the pets name, your name, and your phone number. The safest approach is to pair an external tag with a permanent microchip ID. The microchip number should be included on the collar tag. When you do this your pet will have two solid layers of protection to get them home.

Dogs and Cats

For a dog or cat 12 weeks or older, you must have a signed health certificate from a licensed veterinarian clearly describing the animal and declaring that it is healthy and currently vaccinated against rabies.  The animal description should contain a clear, detailed description of the pet including their color, breed, gender, age and specific markings.

To enter the U.S. the shot must have been given at least a full month before your trip and the certificate should include the expiration date of the shot. If the date is not included, the shot must be refreshed every year for the United States, and every 36 months for Canada.   Canada does not require the 30 day lead time – the shot qualifies from the moment it is given.

  • Collar tags are not sufficient proof of immunization.
  • The certificate should list the brand of rabies vaccine, the vaccine lot number, and the expiration date of the vaccine.
  • Be sure the vaccination does not expire while traveling in either country.
  • The certificate must list you as the owner of the pet.  You should call the border agencies for more information if your pet is being transported by someone else.
  • Animals younger than three months are not required to have been vaccinated, although it is possible an agent could require the animal be quarantined until it is able to get its vaccination.
  • You are not permitted to cross the border with more than two animals too young for their rabies shots.  This is considered commercial transportation which is governed by a different set of laws.
  • These rules can change so it is always a good idea to call the CBP or CBSA to confirm your situation.
  • Make sure you confirm you have the proper documentation early enough to get another copy if you cannot find your vaccine certificate. You may need to call the clinic that did the vaccination and request a new copy. Certificates with rabies vaccine documentation must be signed by the Doctor that provided the vaccine so it can easily take more than 48 hours to get a replacement copy.

Bringing Your Pet Food Across the Border

It can be tricky to get pet food across the border, especially those that say they contain “by-products.” 
The regulations for the U.S. and Canada are different and change very frequently so you may need to call the information lines for each country to be sure what the current rules are.  
  • To bring food across the border it must always be in its original packages – do not carry it in plastic containers.  Any pet food in non-labeled packages may be confiscated.
  • The label should show where it was produced.
  • The ingredient list should be clearly displayed.
  • As of this writing, products containing sheep, lamb, or goat will not be allowed into the U.S.
  • Your best bet for getting food into the U.S. is to have unopened bags that state the food was made in the U.S.
  • When entering Canada, you may bring up to 20 kg, of pet food if it was manufactured in the U.S. or Canada. The pet that will eat the imported product must be with you.
  • Service dogs are allowed into Canada without rabies shots so long as you are the person assigned to the dog.  However, service dogs brought into the U.S. must meet the same requirements as any other pet dog.


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