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

Update –  January 2023

Good news!  The United States CDC has reduced the restrictions of allowing dogs who have been to Guatemala to enter the United States. 

Guatemala is still considered High Risk, however if your furry friend meets the following criteria, it will be allowed into the United States.

Regulations For Dogs Who Have Visited Guatemala (and Returning To The United States)

If your dog has had a rabies vaccine/booster administered by a US-licensed veterinarian then it will be allowed into the United States if it meets the following criteria:

  • Has a valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate
  • Has proof of an ISO-compatible microchip*
  • Is at least 6 months old
  • Is healthy upon arrival
  • Arrives at an approved port of entry

*Check with the microchip company to determine if it is ISO-compatible. Proof of a microchip by listing it on a rabies vaccine certificate, or health certificate or a printout from the website where the microchip is registered.

Regulations For Dogs Who Are From Guatemala (Traveling To The United States)

To enter the United States, you must apply for a CDC Dog Import Permit.

Be sure to allow 8 weeks for the CDC to process the paperwork for the Dog Import Permit.

Before applying, make sure your dog meets the following criteria:

• Be at least 6 months old

• Have proof of an ISO-compatible microchip*

• Have a valid foreign rabies vaccination certificate

• Have a valid rabies serologic titer test from an approved laboratory

• Arrive at one of the 18 airports with a CDC quarantine station.

*Proof of a microchip by listing it on a rabies vaccine certificate, or health certificate.

The microchip required to enter the U.S. is 15-digits.
You can get this ISO-compatible microchip from ACANGUA in Guatemala City.

ACANGUA is the registry of purebred dog pedigrees in Guatemala, similar to the AKC in United States.

Note: Although there is not a CDC approved lab in Guatemala, it is OK to use any lab that is on their approved list.

Learn more about getting a titer test done for a Guatemalan dog here.

Approved Airports

When flying into the U.S. from Guatemala with a dog, make sure to use one of the following 18 airports with a CDC quarantine station:

Anchorage (ANC)
Atlanta (ATL)
Boston (BOS)
Chicago (ORD)
Dallas (DFW)
Detroit (DTW)
Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
Honolulu (HNL)
Houston (IAH)
Los Angeles (LAX)
Miami (MIA)
Minneapolis (MSP)
New York (JFK)
Newark (EWR)
Philadelphia (PHL)
San Francisco (SFO)
San Juan (SJU)
Seattle (SEA)
Washington DC (IAD)

Guidelines for leaving Guatemala with a dog

Here is a summary of what you will need to leave Guatemala with a dog.

  • Health certificate from a licensed veterinarian in Guatemala.
  • An export certificate from the Ministerio de Agracultura Ganaderia y Alimentación (MAGA). Note: if you are staying less than 30 days, this step is not necessary.
  • An up-to-date rabies vaccine certificate from the country of origin.
  • Proof of all vaccinations – vaccine card.
  • The CDC Dog Import Certificate  – only if your dog is not from the U.S. originally. If your dog is from the U.S. you can disregard this step.

Health Certificate

Your dog must have a health check-up exam from a licensed Guatemalan veterinarian.

Whether you are driving or flying out of Guatemala, the exam should be done no more than 15-days before your date of departure.

Check with the airlines because some require the health certificate be no more than 7 days old.

If you are driving out of Guatemala, north through Mexico, you have a 15-day window to cross the border into Mexico.

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 health certificate form to fill out (such as in the U.S.).

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 Spectra prevent ectoparasites.
– Endoparasites are: heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.

d) Also required is confirmation that the dog’s rabies vaccines are up to date and meet importing country and airline requirements. If traveling to the United States, refer to the section above.

e) A photocopy of the veterinarian’s license. 

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.

Export Certificate

If you are flying out, you will need the export certificate from the Ministerio de Agracultura Ganaderia y Alimentación (MAGA). If you are driving out of Guatemala, you do not need the export certificate.

The process for getting an export certificate is done through the veterinarian.

Here are the steps your veterinarian will take:

QR Codes

First step: Getting the official QR codes from the Coleǵio de Mêdicos Veterinarios y Zootecnistas de Guatemala.

In order to get the QR codes, the veterinarian will deposit the amount due for the QR codes (Q400) plus a processing fee (Q50) in the specified Banrual bank account.

Next, the veterinarian will upload the proof of payment and the required application with your pet’s information to the Coleǵio de Mêdicos Veterinarios y Zootecnistas de Guatemala website portal.

After that, the veterinarian will receive an email with the QR codes (a PDF).

Certificado Zoosanitario – Export Certificate

In order to get the export certificate, the veterinarian will need to provide the Ministerio de Agracultura Ganaderia y Alimentación (MAGA) the following:

Complete the form “Solicitud de Certificado Zoosanitario International de Exportación”.

(Request of International Zoosanitary Certificate For Exportation)

Next, provide a health certificate for your pet, proof of vaccines and rabies certificates, and the QR codes.

The veterinarian will also deposit a fee (Q48) into the specified Banrual bank account for the MAGA.

The veterinarian will upload the proof of payment along with the health certificate, the rabies and vaccine certificates, the QR codes along with his/her veterinarian license to the Ministerio de Agracultura Ganaderia y Alimentación (MAGA) website portal.

Then MAGA will issue the export certificate within 24 hours.

If you are driving out, you do not need the QR codes and export certificate.

You will need the health certificate, the rabies certificate and vaccine card.

Remember to always check on the requirements for the country you are driving to from Guatemala (Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador).

Note: make at least 3 photo copies of everything.

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 official) to view the paperwork.

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!

Staying Less 30-Days? Read this!

If you are staying in Guatemala less than 30-days you can use the same paperwork (used to enter) to exit Guatemala.

No need to get another Health Certificate and Export paperwork for your dog. Saving time and money!

Be sure to inform the MAGA/SEPA Inspector stationed at the Guatemala airport that you are staying less than 30-days. Then get a copy of the MAGA/SEPA paperwork so you can use it to exit Guatemala with your dog/cat.

Read the Guatemala Government Requirements for entering and leaving Guatemala with a pet.

Airlines flying to Guatemala that accept Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

Aeroméxico – accepts emotional-support pets onboard their flights, in compliance with Air Carrier Access Act.

COPA – Emotional support dogs will only be accepted on routes where they are recognized in the country’s regulations: to or from Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Mexico.

Update on driving out of Guatemala with a dog

Editor Note about driving out of Guatemala to Mexico with a dog.  I recently heard (May 2021) from a reader who was kind enough to write me back about her experience driving from Guatemala to Mexico with her dog.

She went to the border crossing at Tecun Uman/Ciudad Hidalgo.

When she arrived at the border she asked where she needed to show the health certificate in order to cross into Mexico. 

The Guatemala border agents said they did not need to see the health certificate and that the Mexico border agents will take care of all that.

When she got to the Mexico border agents, she handed over the health certificate.

Her dog was examined by them. As she held the dog, they looked in her ears and at her teeth.

She said it was a very smooth and easy process.

Important Links:

Determining If You Can Bring a Dog into the United States – From the CDC

CDC Dog Import Permit FAQs – a good source of information especially about bringing an adopted “street dog” into the U.S.

Learn more about getting a titer test done for a Guatemalan dog here.

List of High Risk Counties

You may also be interested in…

Flying With an Emotional Support Dog or a Service Dog – What’s the Difference?

Crossing the border in Texas? Details about crossing the border at the Columbia Bridge crossing (near Laredo Texas)

Pet Friendly Mexico Road Trip  Checkout this pet friendly (and kid friendly) road trip itinerary with cool places to visit and lodging suggestions. 

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Bree

Hi, Thank you for making this website.
Which airlines will fly pets in cabin to the United states?
My dog is from the USA and has all her documents and vaccines. She had the 3 year Rabies vaccine in the USA and now need to go back before it expires.
Thanks,
Bree

martine

Hi , I have 2 dogs born in guatemala ,( 6 and 12 years old ) I am doing actually all the paper work for the importation .
What I would like to know is the compagny I have to use , direct flight from Guatemala city to Miami , or Atlanta , or even Houston .
Thank you

Dave

Hi there, I am wondering how much this whole process costs and if there are any recommendations for doctors in Guatemala who are willing to do this. My partner is in Coban and having a hard time finding a doctor willing to go through these steps.

Jasmine

Hi! I want to bring over a puppy that is currently about 2 months old now but would be 6-7 months old by Christmas of this year. Obviously I would be going through all the procedures and getting him all the needed vaccines, microchip, and paperwork needed. However, on the CDC website it says there has been a ban extension until July 2024? Is this correct? I’m so confused by their website.

Jasmine

Hi D!

Thanks for getting back to me. That wording was really throwing me off!

I’m not totally sure about his actual date of birth but I’m pretty sure it was late May/early June so he would be a little over 6 months in late December when I plan to head back. He just received one of his vaccines last week (not totally sure which one sorry) but will be getting his rabies shot once he’s old enough at 3 months

Jess

I have understood that this “ban” applied only to strayed dogs or dogs born in the country, and that people who travel to Guatemala and other developing countries want to adopt and bring them to live int the USA. I have to say that this “ban” also stopped the business of the extremely high price that people had to pay to the few accredited veterinarians in the country for certifying travel permits and documents to dogs leaving the country. If you bring your dog from the UA to Guatemala you can use the same documents to get in the country,… Read more »

Jess

You can also arrive at Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL)…

Jack

We are planning on driving from the United States to Costa Rica with 4 dogs. Is it necessary to meet the requirements of each of the Countries as you pass through. Any resources?

Jack

Thank you. As I expected unfortunately. Best

Megan

Hello, how do I find a vet in Guatemala who can issue a certificate? Do you know of any resources for this? Thank you!

Omar

Great information Thank you, I’m planning to go to guatemala in May with my little pomapoo, do you know how soon do I need to get the cdc rabies vaccination and microchip record from my vet?, 10 days before flying?

Omar

Thank you very much for responding, your information is very helpful.

Natalia Garcia

Hi all i have found this 6 month puppy in the streets in Guatemala. She it is vaccinated and examined by a local veterinarian but i’m not sure what else i need to take this poor puppy to the United States with me…

Monique Toonen

Does anyone know a good veterinarian in Guatemala City that is which is affordable. I just asked for a quote for a health certificate for Q1850, which is about 242 Euro! That can’t be true, can it? I need a health Certificate to fly back to Mexico.

Last edited 1 year ago by Monique Toonen
Monique

Thank you! Will contact them!