Yes, the NWT actually has reindeer transport permits

The Inuvik reindeer herd
The Inuvik reindeer herd. Mady Macdonald/Dreamstime

“We have cleared Santa’s reindeer for entry into the NWT,” the territorial government announced this week. “This transport permit allows the reindeer to move freely from rooftop to rooftop.”

In a much-shared Facebook post, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources produced a form with the title Reindeer Transport Permit that appears to bear the signature of one Santa Claus.

On the form, nine reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph – are listed for transport.

Under a section marked Method and Details of Transportation appear the words: “Toy delivery via flying sleigh.” A separate section for any additional terms and conditions reads: “Naughty and nice list must be carried at all times.”



A "reindeer transport permit" for Santa Claus published by the NWT government in December 2022
A “reindeer transport permit” for Santa Claus published by the NWT government in December 2022.

So far, so cute. But the concept of the reindeer transport permit has not been invented purely for some festive fun on the NWT government’s social media. Reindeer transport permits are an actual thing in the Northwest Territories.

Nobody at the department could be reached for comment on Wednesday – the final day in the office for most territorial government workers before a mandated break until January – which made it impossible to check whether the department actually uses a form that’s like the one posted online.

But reindeer transport permits are mentioned in the territory’s latest list of hunting fees and licences, published in July this year.

The good news for Santa is each permit only costs $25, which must be a bargain compared to most operating costs associated with the kind of global enterprise being contemplated each Christmas.



The bad news for the reindeer – children should look away now – is that one of the permits has the word “parts” in brackets after it, which calls into question exactly how (or how much of) any reindeer is transported.

A separate “reindeer export permit” is listed on the same document, again for $25, “for any place outside the NWT.” It’s not clear if Santa also needs one of these. If both the transport and export permits are needed for all nine reindeer, that’s $450. (Still, Santa has previously used a snowmobile in the NWT and that probably costs more in the long run.)

More broadly, the NWT is one of very few jurisdictions with specific reindeer regulations. A privately managed herd has existed in the Beaufort Delta since the 1930s.

The regulations tightly control where reindeer graze and how they are allowed to roam, suggesting Santa may need to ensure a few more Is are dotted and Ts crossed before the big night.