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

Update –  July 2022

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

*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.

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)
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 with the M.A.G.A. export stamps.

An up-to-date rabies vaccine certificate from the country of origin.

Apply for a Dog Import Permit if your dog is from Guatemala and you are going to the United States.  Refer to the section above for more details. 

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.

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. Interceptor or NexGard Spectra is a product commonly used for this.

Sometimes inside the boxes of NexGard and Interceptor there are stickers. These stickers are what the veterinarian needs to 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 last given to the dogs.

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

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.

If you are flying out, the health certificate must have the Guatemala government’s required 9 M.A.G.A. stamps affixed to it. (Seriously, 9!)

MAGA = Ministerio de Agracultura Ganaderia y Alimentación.  Each stamp costs about 50Q.

If you are driving out, you do not need the M.A.G.A. stamps on the health certificate. So much easier and less money to have to spend.

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.

M.A.G.A. Export Certificate

Note: This only pertains to pets flying out. You can skip this if you are driving out.

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

The export certificate is the health certificate from the veterinarian with M.A.G.A. stamps on it.

In order to receive the M.A.G.A. stamps you (or the vet) will send the health certificate and the rabies certificate 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 when submitting.

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) Have a Guatemala veterinarian send in all the paperwork for you. Make sure the Vet is familiar with the entire process before hiring them.

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. His WhatsApp is: +502.5533.7938. Office: 502.7947.4343.

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.

maga-export-certificate-guatemala
Example of MAGA stamps on the export certificate

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.

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!

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

Avianca: The transport in cabin of the service dogs, rescue dogs, guide dogs or emotional support dogs has no additional charge.

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

Volaris – ESAs can travel at no cost on flights within Mexico and from/to Central America only.

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…

U.S. airlines no longer allow Emotional Support Animals. Read more and learn what other airlines do support ESAs.

Read about Pet Friendly Spanish schools in Guatemala

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

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Mireille Marti

Helpful information. Could you please let me know how do I get a serology titer test from Guatemala. My husband is US citizen and just moved to work to USA. I am planning to travel by air with my dog in about two months to de United States from Guatemala. Her birth certificate indicates only my name as the owner. thanks for your help.

Mireille Marti

Very clear. The information helped me a lot.
Do you know if the microchip thas has my dog, the one with 10 digit is still valid or she should have the 15 digit code.

Amilcar Vivar Casasola

Hello I have 2 Dogos in Guatemala and my wife just got her green card if I travel by land to the US is it much easier to take my fury friend with me? Anyone here have gone by land from Guatemala to the US ? If so is it much easier and what is needed? Other than the Mexican documents for my pets? Will CBP at Texas boader ask for anything? Please help cause I am traveling by land and I have had my dogs with me for years. They were born in GT and are up to date… Read more »

Amilcar Vivar Casasola

Hello thank you for your feed back. Yes I am a US Citizen and my wife a new PR and are relocating. I have requested 2 dog imports for both my pets but haven’t had a answer yet so I was just curious if anyone has traveled by land from GT to the US and yes I am aware of Mexicos requirements for pets entering their country. I will try my luck and I pray hopefully they will let us in with out any issues

Jill Xu

Thank you for the helpful information! We are hoping to travel with our 1.5 year old dog to Guatemala this summer from New York. Is our interpretation correct that if our dog received his rabies vaccination in the US and if are returning to the US through an approved port of entry (JFK), then we do not need to worry about an export license or a visit to a Guatemalan vet in order to return to the US? I saw someone mention that they needed to visit the Ohio consulate below – what is that for and would we need… Read more »

Lauren

My dog was born in Guatemala and I bought her while living in Guatemala. I am waiting for my husband to get his green card so we can move back to Chicago. Can I bring my dog to USA with an import permit?

Julia

Does the dog have to quarantine upon arrival if all of these steps are completed? That’s the thing I most worry about!

Lisa Rassweiler

I am travelling from Canada to the USA with my service dog. She is fully vaccinated by a Canadian vet. I need to travel from the USA to Guatemala and back. Is this possible? As my dog head born in and had all of her vaccines in Canada and not in the USA!

Lisa Rassweiler

Thanks so much ! I have emailed and explained my situation as you suggested and will definitely let everyone know when I receive a reply!!

Vivian Harvey

I’ve been going to Guatemala with Sadie the Dog for 11 years….and every time it’s been a real worry about getting all the paper work done and approved by the Consulate of Guatemala in Chicago ((I live in Columbus OH) in the 30 days…Your information states that this is no longer needed (the approval of the Guatemalan Consulate), but when I just contacted them I found out that this is still required….it’s always a huge worry. BUT…they told me Guatemala has just established a consulate here in Columbus!!! So I drove over there and it’s great…. I would just suggest… Read more »

Teresa yoder

What can I do if my dog is not microchipped?..microchips?.. I wanna be home for Christmas

Wendy

Hello! Thank you for posting this. This is so helpful! I am planning to travel to Guatemala with my partner and my little dog in February and stay in Antigua for a month. He just turned 6 months, will be 8 months when we go. He is up to date with everything (vaccines, neutered, heart worm guard, etc). We are flying American Airlines, do you know if anybody has had any issues with them coming back even with all the required paperwork? Their site has mixed information and when I spoke to them they told me to check back in… Read more »

Sophia

Hello I believe the CDC has updated their terms about Dog travel to high risk countries, effective December 1st!

Clara Ramirez

Hi Sophia do you happen to know of who I can go with to bring me my dog from Guatemala to the U.S