Travelling with service dogs
Are you a Defence community member who has a service dog?
If your answer is “yes”, the following information will interest you if you travel with your service dog and you are:
- a current or former member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Cadets, or the Junior Canadian Rangers;
- a current or former employee of the Department of National Defence (DND) or the Staff of the Non-Public Funds;
- a person applying to become a CAF member;
- a member of the immediate family of any of the above-mentioned; or
- an individual on exchange or secondment with the CAF.
In Canada, service dogs are defined in section 1(1) of the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations.
These regulations define a service dog as “individually trained by an organization or person specializing in service dog training to perform a task to assist a person with a disability with a need related to their disability.”
Service dogs perform many tasks to support people with disabilities. Examples include:
- guiding a person who has a visual impairment;
- alerting a hearing-impaired person to the presence of people or sounds such as an alarm or telephone;
- pulling a wheelchair;
- alerting a person to specific physical changes that may occur before a seizure; and
- assisting a person with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Learn more about service dogs by consulting the Guide on service dogs issued by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).
Emotional support animals
Service dogs differ from emotional support animals because they receive special training in order to perform specific tasks to support people with disabilities. Given their different purpose and training requirements, emotional support animals do not hold the same certifications or status as service dogs. Major Canadian carriers can refuse to accept emotional support animals on board. In such circumstances, regular animal (pet) travel rules and fees may apply.
Travelling with service dogs
Visiting a Canadian defence establishment
If you plan to visit a defence establishment with a service dogFootnote 1 , you must submit an accommodation request to the appropriate DND manager or CAF unit commanding officer. For more information, review the following two Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD):
Travelling in Canada
National regulations require most major air, rail, marine and bus carriers to accept a service dog for on board transportation, free of charge. In some circumstances, Canadian carriers must also provide adjacent seating without charging additional fares or any other fees. You can learn more by consulting the CTA guide on transportation service providers covered by the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations.
You should plan in advance when travelling with a service dog. The CTA’s website provides important information for those travelling with a service animal, including a reservation checklist. This website also offers important information on service dogs such as confirmation of training, space for your dog, dog relief areas, and security screening with a service dog.
Travelling outside Canada
If you are travelling internationally, you may be required to provide more information. Certain carriers may require you to pay a fare or another charge to cover an additional seat needed to accommodate a service dog. If you are travelling abroad or returning to Canada as part of a military relocation, you can learn about the costs covered by the CAF for the accompanying service dog by consulting the Canadian Armed Forces Relocation Directive (CAFRD).
- Take Charge of Your Travel: A Guide for Travellers with Disabilities
- Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations
- FAQs: Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations
- Space for Service Dogs onboard transportation equipment: A Guide
- Accessibility complaints about transportation services
- Travelling outside Canada
- Food, plant and animal inspections: Travelling with animals
- Medical Expenses Tax Credit - Service Animals
- Report 6 - Incorporating Service Dogs into the Rehabilitation Program of Veterans Affairs Canada
- Reservation checklist for persons with disabilities: A step-by-step guide for planning your travel
Last updated: 2022-07-06
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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 carriers.
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