Bringing A Pet Home From Guatemala: A Step by Step Guide

Bringing A Pet Home From Guatemala: A Step by Step Guide

Perhaps you traveled to Guatemala and want to adopt a street dog to take home with you.

Or maybe you traveled to Guatemala with your dog and want to bring him back home.

In any case, Guatemala has strict requirements for leaving the country with a pet.

Here is what you need to know to ensure a smooth departure with your dog.

Side note…

In our case we were in Guatemala for 3 months studying Spanish. Our dogs, Olivia and Sofia traveled with us.

After our VISA was up, we traveled to Mexico.

Below is an account of our first hand knowledge of leaving Guatemala with a dog.

Required Paperwork For Leaving Guatemala With A Dog

1. A Health Certificate

First your dog must have a health check exam from a licensed Guatemalan  veterinarian.

This exam should be done close to your date of departure.

If you are driving out of Guatemala through Mexico, you have a 15-day window.

If you are flying out, it depends on the airlines.

For example United has a 10-day window, Volaris has a 5-day window.

The dog must show no signs of contagious diseases and has been vaccinated with all the appropriate vaccines.

What the health certificate must include:

Keep in mind there isn’t a  specific form for the health certificate (such as in the U.S. a APHIS7001).

Therefore the doctor must type up the information on company letterhead paper and provide the following:

a) The address of where you are living now (in Guatemala) and the address of where you will be taking your dog – your destination.

b) Record/listing of all vaccines, dates administered and expiration dates. This includes the DHPP booster, respiratory complex intranasal, rabies, plus dates of the last heartworm test, fecal exam and annual exam.

c) Confirmation the dog has been treated against ectoparasites and endoparasites.
– Ectoparasites are: fleas, ticks, mites, and lice. Products such as Bravecto or NexGard prevent ectoparasites.
– Endoparasites are: heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Interceptor is a product commonly used for this.

Note: Inside the boxes of NexGard and Interceptor are stickers. These stickers are what the veterinarian needs to also attach to the health certificate.

So, don’t throw them away!

If you are traveling to Mexico, as we were, the health certificate must provide the date that NexGard and Interceptor were given to the dogs.

It had to be within 30 days of entering Mexico, in our case.

d) Confirmation that the dog’s rabies vaccines are up to date and meet importing country and airline requirements.

e) A copy of the veterinarian’s license.

Before the health certificate is finalized it must have the Guatemala government’s required nine M.A.G.A. stamps affixed to it.

MAGA = Ministerio de Agracultura Ganaderia y Alimentación.

Each stamp costs about 50Q.

2. Rabies Certificate

If you brought your dog into Guatemala, you will have to provide the Guatemala veterinarian an original Rabies Certificate signed and stamped by the veterinarian who administered the rabies vaccine in the first place.

It’s always a good idea to ask your main veterinarian for several original copies of the rabies certificates before traveling.

3. M.A.G.A. Export Certificate

Next you will need an export certificate from the Guatemala Minister of Agriculture.

In order to receive this, all the above paperwork must be sent to the government agency M.A.G.A. in Guatemala City.

There is a fee for submitting the paperwork and must be deposited into the M.A.G.A. bank account at the Banrural Bank.

Proof of payment must accompany all the paperwork.

There are two ways to accomplish all this:

a) Do it yourself and hire a “tramitador” or facilitator to do this step, as it involves waiting in long lines in Guatemala City and two trips on two different days.

b) Make sure the Guatemala veterinarian you hire knows the process for the export certificates and is able do it for you.

Fortunately for us, the veterinarian we worked with in Xela (Dr. Miguel de Leon Regil of Zoo Mozcota Vet, email) was very familiar with the M.A.G.A. export certificate process as well as what Mexico required.

He took care of it all. One stop shop!

Olivia and Sofia had a heath check with him within 15 days of leaving Guatemala.

His office emailed all the paperwork to the M.A.G.A. agency plus deposited the fees for us.

We received all the officially stamped export certificates well within our departure date. We were good to go!

Note: make at least 3 photo copies of everything.

Example of MAGA stamps


Airport Check-in with your dog

Fortunately, the airport in Guatemala City is not very big and there are a few grassy areas for your dog to use before heading into the building.

At the check-in counter the airline representative will ask for all the paperwork for your dog.

Then they will call over a government official (not airline) to view the paperwork as well.

The export paperwork has a duplicate carbon copy.

They will take the top copy and leave you with the carbon copy.

Once it is determined everything is in order the airline official will make copies of all the documents and begin the check-in process.

I have heard stories of folks who did not get all the required paperwork for their dog and were not able to board the airplane with their pet. 

It is important to be informed before you go!

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