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Mérida, Yucatán Mexico

Driving To Mexico With Dogs

September 2023

Bringing Pets to Mexico – US/Canadians only

Note: Only dogs and cats are considered pets by Mexico’s definition.

If you are driving to Mexico with your dog or cat, you do not need to spend the money to go to a veterinarian and get a health certificate.

You do not need to have a veterinarian provide proof that the pet has had parasite prevention.

You may need to show a rabies certificate for your dog or cat to enter Mexico. It varies from border crossing to border crossing. (TJ for example does ask for the rabies certificate)

BTW… when driving back into the U.S. the border agent will just do a visual inspection (from the car window rolled down).

If the dog is healthy looking, they will usher you through.

Here is a link from the USDA confirming the new requirements for bringing pets to Mexico.

Will my dog be inspected at the border?

Mexico border agents are not OISA officers. Therefore they are not part of the SAGARPA-SENASICA which oversees the importation of animals.

There is not an OISA office at the U.S. Mexico border. No one is there to inspect your pet.

Documents to have while traveling

Although Mexico does not require a health certificate to enter with your dog, it is always a good idea to have following documentation with you:

  • An up-to-date rabies certificate. Some border crossing stations are asking for proof of a rabies vaccine.
  • Vaccination record of vaccines and due dates (optional)
  • Record of medications for flea/ticks/mites and lice. Plus, heart worm prevention. (optional)

Check List For Traveling with Dogs to Mexico

General

A Rabies booster is the only vaccine requirement Mexico has.

However, we dog-lovers want to keep our furry friends healthy.

This is especially true when traveling to another country.

Mexico has a lot of street dogs who are not vaccinated or treated for parasites.

Therefore, keep your dog current on vaccines such a Bordetella, Canine Influenza, DHPP Booster (K9 Distemper) and a parasite prevention medication.

Regarding the dog’s ID Tag worn on the collar – put your email address not a phone number.  

If your dog gets lost and someone finds him/her… they probably cannot call a U.S. or Canadian phone number.

 However, everyone can send an email at no cost to them.  Just something to keep in mind. =8-)

Download the PDF version of this checklist!

Crossing the border back into the U.S.

Both Mexico and the U.S. requires proof of an up-to-date rabies
vaccine for your dog or cat.

The U.S. border agent will do a visual inspection (windows rolled down) to make sure the dog/cat looks healthy.

More from the CDC on bringing your pet in to the U.S.

NEW Visitors Permits Requirements (for humans) To Enter Mexico

Getting a FMM is not the same as it used to be. The Mexico Immigration Office no longer allows tourists to visit Mexico for up to 180-days automatically.

A FMM is a visitors permit, known as Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM. It is what you need to enter Mexico legally.

When driving across the border you will be required to complete the FMM card at the immigration office.

Often times the desk for the FMM is in the same building where the desk is for the TIP (temporary import permit, for cars) is located.

The immigration official will ask how long you intend to stay in Mexico.

Be sure to let them know your plans so that they provide you with sufficient days for your visit.

The immigration official may ask for proof of how long you are staying; such as hotel, Airbnb, and VRBO reservations. If you are flying out, show the airline ticket.

Be sure to surrender your FMM and TIP when leaving Mexico!

Their new systems will keep track of your entry and departure. The officials will look you up on their system before determining how many days they will allow you to stay in Mexico.

You can learn more about the FMM here.

Smart Safety Planning Tips

Never drive after dark. Get to your destination before the sun sets.

Stay on the Tolls roads (Cuotas) as much as possible.

If you see a gas station when your tank is half full, fill it up. Do not let your gas tank get below half full.

Make sure the gas pump is at $00.00 (zero) before they start pumping the gas.

Tell the gas station attendant exactly how much you want. For example, x amount in pesos, and try to pay with that exact amount. This will illuminate the chances of being short changed.

Keep two wallets. One with ~1,000 pesos. Use that to pay the tolls, gas, food. Replenish that wallet out of the sight of others.

Keep the 2nd wallet with the remainder of your cash hidden and out of sight.

Get a checking account at a bank that reimburses international fees at the ATM. Charles Schwab is good.

These are prudent safety tips for driving anywhere, not just in Mexico.

We have encountered many wonderful and kind people while driving throughout Mexico. It is unfortunate that a few like to prey on tourist. No different than in the U.S.

Travel Resources

The GrinGO App for traveling in Mexico.

WAZE is the best app for directions and up-to-date information on accidents and where the police are. All information is supplied by other drivers. It is also a great resource to contact other drivers around you to find out why you find yourself stuck in traffic.

On the Road In Mexico (with Bill Bell) Another great resource is the private Facebook group called On The Road In Mexico.  Even if you are not a fan of FB, this private group is well worth joining.

There are 56K+ members who can help to answer your questions real-time with up-to-date travel information all throughout Mexico.

Make sure it is the one with Bill Bell as the Administrator.

Google Translate, as it allows you to use your phone’s camera to translate menus, signs, ads etc if you are not familiar with Spanish.

WhatsApp for free texting and internet phone calls all over the world.

Uber and DiDi for ride -share services. Very inexpensive in Mexico. Note: not all states in Mexico allow ride-share services.

As always… safe travels!

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Flying WITHIN Mexico with Dogs

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

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PAP

Hello there quite a resourceful website, thank you for the information! Is there any specific policy on dog toys? My large shepherd has got quite a few and I intend to keep them in my car while driving into MX, would they be allowed or be required to be thrown at the border? I’d hate to spend hundreds buying them all again or might have to ship them to me after arrival into destination city.

Allan

Hi, I’ll be driving to Mexico City from Dallas in January with two large dogs (labrador retrievers). I’ve heard mixed messages on the required use of crates while crossing the boarder. I know that when flying, obviously crates are required, but in your experience, did the border crossing agents require your dog to be contained in a crate?

Cristina

Hi I’m driving up to the Mexico border with my cat and family she is up to date with her rabies vaccine. She also has a rabies certificate so my question is do I need anything else? Or is that it and do I needs health certificate as well? Also when I go to to the cross Mexico border from the U.S. is there anything I can expect from them? What does this mean? “they will be inspected by SENASICA upon arrival” is it an office that I have to stop by after crossing? The whole website is confusing me… Read more »

Cristina

Do you know if I will I need anything when turning to the U.S border?

Erika Janas

Hi, I’m going to Ensenada in a few weeks (crossing in Tijuana), driving down from Canada with my dog.
I have a question regarding the rabies “certificate”. My dog has an international health “passport” showing all vaccinations and due dates. Will that be sufficient or do I need an actual letter from our vet? Also, how do they check if I did the tick/flea prevention? Is a recent receipt from the vet sufficient? Thank you for helping me out!!!

Erika Janas

thank you for your quick and comprehensive reply! Just to make sure – I do NOT need a health certificate like apparently was needed in the past, just the rabies letter?

Erika Janas

thank you so much! That’s very helpful!

Jackie Vasquez

Hi!
I am going to Ensenada from Los Angeles on a road trip with my family and I will be bringing my dog. What paperwork do I need for my dog so I won’t have any issues at the border coming back home?

Carmen

Ok so do u have to have them registered and vaccinated to bring them in to Mexico or not

Ailed Gomez

So I decided to take my pups last minute with me to Cancun, Veracruz, & Xalapa. I have a Mexican passport. I’m traveling via airlines. It’s all good with my airline, BUT I’m worried about getting them in Mexico. I have dogs & they have been in the US since birth for 6 years. They are all up to date on their shots and just got their regular check up on Jan 13, 2023. I’m set to leave March 17, 2023 & not sure what I need. The websites are a bit confusing. I would appreciate your help. Thank you!

Ailed Gomez

They don’t. But I’m not sure about Mexico’s policies to enter Mexico.

Manuel Nunez San Roman

Dos anyone knows people who can transport dogs from Sacramento, California area into Guadalajara, Mexico?

Chase Wickstrom

I am hoping you could help advise about dog food. I have seen on several websites where you can only bring one day’s worth of food for your dog. We are driving into Baja, it will take 3-4 days to get to our destination, and will be there with two dogs for 3 months. They are both on prescription diets, and one is a diabetic so the right food is critical. Can you present a prescription for food at the border, and thereby be allowed to bring in a large supply? The diabetic dog is a big Labrador retriever so… Read more »

Chase Wickstrom

This is so very helpful. Thank you! We did get an alternative recommendation from our vet we should be able to get at Costco after arrival but this should help us get at least enough food to get down to Los Barriles, and a few days before we make the trek to Cabo for supplies. We will carry the invoice and script from the vet as well just in case they ask. Again thank you for the help!

Ally

Hello! We are going to Puerto Vallarta Mexico in a few months and we cross the tj border by car but then we will take the bus from tj to Puerto Vallarta and we are taking my chihuahua terrier mix with us. Do you know what we might need for her to go on the bus ?