Questions for sitting in Canada from the states

I have a question regarding Canada sits coming from the U.S. I was planning not to mention at customs forms that I’ll be pet sitting , and was wondering what other American citizens have done per protocol. I know volunteer work is allowed with a visitor visas, but I’m there for just a tad over a month. I was just going to mention that I’m traveling as a tourist. Whats your experience?

This thread covers a lot of what you are quering. Best not to mention petsitting, just tourism

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Here is another good discussion of the topic: Challenges with Border Guards - RE the Laws - #134 by Saltrams

Thanks! I’m flyng into Toronto and will first be at an airbnb for a couple of days before first sit. Otherwise I’m merley a tourist which is true as I’m also visiting other areas on my own.

Try “airbnb.” It’s true and there won’t be other questions.

I’ve done 1 two week sit on Vancouver Island. Entered Canada through Calgary - I was “visiting friends.” Been invited back but unfortunately was already sitting the dates. Left on the train from Vancouver to go to a sit on Whidbey Island in WA, then on to a sit in Livermore, CA.

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I’d suggest getting a visa instead of covering up the real reason for your visit – pet sitting, which is considered employment. Better to not risk getting caught lying and saying you’re friends with people you’ve never met and for whom you are providing a service. Immigration officials can find out all kinds of info about people so don’t chance it. My Nexus card was yanked when I tried crossing into Washington state from Canada. There have been many similar cases in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. Visas are cheap and quick to get.

Really? Sure, one can easily get a tourist visa. But I doubt one would be likely to get a work visa for pet sitting. Such a thing does not make much sense.

There are some things that are kind of similar, like being an au pair, accommodation in exchange for taking care of non-furry kids. But in Canada, one requirement is that one is between 18 and 35 years old.

A tourist visum does not help. You can still be refused entry when the border service does not think you are a tourist.

You are there on holiday. Full stop!


I’m skeptical that petsitting with TH counts as employment since sitters aren’t paid.

@Emily17 . Petsitting totally counts as work although it is unpaid through THS. A Canadian could do it for pay so the visiting American would be taking a job from the Canadian. See site that I have attached below.
(PS the Canadian would likely end up apologizing…)

I see that THS now also has a letter for Canada (and for Australia) on its page about “House sitting & border control” (linked in the footer of the main site).

In that letter they quote a Canadian government site that says:

There may be other types of unpaid short-term work where the work is really incidental to the main reason that a person is visiting Canada and is not a competitive activity, even though non-monetary valuable consideration is received. For instance, if a tourist wishes to stay on a family farm and work part time just for room and board for a short period (i.e., one to four weeks), this person would not be considered a worker.

Our individual skepticism or disagreement doesn’t mean anything when it comes to how countries decide their laws, regulations and policies for border controls. That’s why THS is delusional or naive when it comes to telling border agents how to interpret laws via those letters.

And often when border agents enforce, they’ll err on the side of caution when there are gray areas. That’s their function. And even if they get it wrong, they’re typically protected. That’s because no one could do a job like theirs and do everything perfectly. There are loads of subjectivity and judgment involved.

I agree. If I came to Canada for a sit, I would not show the THS letter. I would say I came for tourism and when there was questioning I would give the link to that Canadian government page with the relevant quote.

The THS letter does not add any weight to the argument. And might even confuse things.


Some people lean toward their own ideas of what’s right or fair or technically X.

When it comes to trying to cross a border for a sit, one of the worst bets is thinking you’ll win an argument or persuade a border agent if they think you’re doing something that crosses lines.

Even if it turns out later that they were wrong and you managed to straighten things out, it would probably be well after they’ve blocked you at the border and sent you home, or otherwise created problems for you. And for people like us, who like to travel, getting a black mark on your record could create longstanding issues.

Be pragmatic and save yourself a bunch of needless trouble and worry (and avoid creating ripple effects, such as leaving your hosts without a sitter at the last minute).

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This isn’t about how one feels about petsitting. Many countries have rules about unpaid “work” – volunteer work, internships, etc. Countries also have rules about exchanges – board in retrun for anything as these can be abused and turn into exploitive situations instead of employing someone for wages. Also the logic would be that if someone had “free” accomodations they might stay in the country. A lot of these rules don’t seem logical and in some cases they aren’t logical. For instance, the US still doesn’t have any kind of “digital nomad” visa and a tourist who was planning to do some work online or even joked about “checking in with the office” when an immigration office commented on a laptop could be denied entry. There are ALWAYS risks crossing a border. One can mitigate a lot of those risks by being prepared, not making jokes, and not giving answers to questions that haven’t been asked.

I was told by U.S. officials that living at someone’s home for free is considered payment.

Recently returned from a 2-week housesit in Canada where I drove across the border from the USA. Prior to my trip, I printed out the CANADA-TrustedHousesitters Explanatory letter that provided information to the customs/border agents. (I’d printed out the UK version of this same letter when I housesit there for 2 months this past summer). I’d also printed out a portion of the Welcome Guide showing the name, address, and contact information of the Pet Parents. Even though this extra step may not be necessary, I found that having this extra documentation worked for me.

Did you actually show this letter to anyone in immigration?

Yes, I showed it to the immigration/customs border agent going into Canada.