Driving to Mexico with a dog is less stressful now that Mexico has new pet requirements for entering Mexico from the U.S. and Canada by car.
In November 2019, Mexico relaxed the regulations about bringing pets to Mexico.
Bringing Pets to Mexico – US/Canadians only
Note: Only dogs and cats are considered pets by Mexico’s definition.
What changed for driving to Mexico with pets?
As of November 2019, 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 an up-to-date vaccine record and parasite prevention.
You do need to provide a rabies certificate for your dog or cat to enter Mexico.
What has not changed
- Only a small amount of dog food is allowed to be brought into the country (enough for a week or two is OK)
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 border. No one is there to inspect your pet.
I have been told that at some of the border crossings into Mexico they will ask for the rabies certificate (TJ for example).
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
- Record of medications for flea/ticks/mites and lice. Plus, heart worm prevention.
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 allow you to stay in Mexico.
You can learn more about the FMM here.
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.
Another great resource is the private Facebook group called On The Road To 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.
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!
You may be interested in…
Columbia Bridge Border Crossing – Details on crossing from Texas to Mexico
My Reviews on 10 Pet Friendly Airbnb Lodgings
Flying WITHIN Mexico with Dogs
Thinking of Moving to Mexico? Read the 2023 Immigration Guide
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!
Does they airline you are flying with require health certificates?
They don’t. But I’m not sure about Mexico’s policies to enter Mexico.
Hi Ailed…I provide all the information on what is needed in my blog post here:
If you have further questions, please let me know. =8-)
Dos anyone knows people who can transport dogs from Sacramento, California area into Guadalajara, Mexico?
I don’t know of a pet transportation company. I think you might have better luck posting this question in the private Facebook group called ON THE ROAD IN MEXICO hosted by Bill Bell. Give them a try. =8-)
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 »
Hola Chase! I can appreciate the concern for bringing a large amount of food into Mexico for your diabetic dog. Here are my suggestions. When packing up the car, don’t make it obvious you are bringing a large amount of dog food. Separate the food into different suitcases. Take them out of any retail packaging (i.e., case of canned food wrapped in plastic). Bring the receipts showing you purchased the food for your dogs. The border agents want to make sure you are not bringing in food to sell in Mexico. If you are even asked, you can legitimately show… Read more »
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!
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 ?
Hola Ally! So you want to take your furry friend with you on the bus. You don’t need any special paperwork. However, keep in mind that they will not allow you to take the dog inside the bus with you. The dog has to go under the bus where the luggage is stored. Years ago, we tried taking our small dogs on the bus in Guadalajara. They would not allow them inside the bus with us even though they were in their carriers. We tried talking to the manager of the bus line and she refused. There was no absolutely… Read more »
Hi my mom will be traveling with her yorkie/chihuahua mix dog by car to Mexico. I spoke to vet and they said they will need international health certificate. Has it changed recently? Website didn’t really helped. It has listed for when pets are coming in to US but I’m confused. Would those rules apply likewise even though her dog is traveling from US to begin with? We are in GA so it will be a drive but excited!
Hola Kioshi! Nothing has changed. Your dog does not need an International Health Certificate to enter Mexico from the United States. Perhaps the vet should be more up-to-date and refer to the CDC webpage which states: “Effective 12/16/2019: A health certificate for dogs and cats is no longer needed to enter Mexico. Dogs and cats may be taken to the border without health certificate documentation, they will be inspected by SENASICA upon arrival. Please follow the guidance on this page.” Since your mom is driving, the dog will not be inspected by SENASICA at the border. They only do this… Read more »
Hi thank you kindly for responding! Her dog is up to date on vaccines so coming back to US shouldn’t be a problem then?
As long as the dog looks healthy and she has updated vaccine records, she will be fine coming back into the U.S.
Thank you so much for your help!! Our vet insisted that we needed a health certificate and they called to check. Saved $225! Thanks again 😄
My pleasure to help you! =8-)
Hi there we are traveling to Merida Mexico from Laredo Tx around Oct 8 or 9. It looks like you went to Merida. I would love your route and what pet friendly places you stayed in. It looks like the Las Palmas Hotel would be great. Any info you have is greatly appreciated. We have an 80 lb. 2 year old. Thank you Terese
Hola Terese! Yes, we did go to Merida starting from our home base in Mexico City (CDMX). We did not drive directly from CDMX to Merida. We traveled to many other states before reaching Merida. We stayed in Airbnbs for longer stays. For overnight stays we used Hampton Inn by Hilton. They are pet friendly. The Hampton Inns we used were in Puebla and Villahermosa. You might want to read my article (Pet Friendly Road Trip) https://www.travelingwith2dogs.com/pet-friendly-mexico-road-trip/. It shows our route from the Columbia Bridge border crossing to CDMX. Places we stayed with the dogs and activities we did with… Read more »
We are looking at driving to rocky point from AZ. When looking up rules and regulations for bringing a dog with us I see that they have to be crated. Is this correct? We have 100 pound rottie who does not have a crate, can we bring him? Thanks for your help.
You are driving to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) right? You do not need to put your dog into a crate when driving. That is for airlines, not cars. However, with that said… please make sure he is secured with a pet seatbelt. You will not be able to take him in the building with you to get your FMM card (tourist visa) stamped.
Enjoy your time in Mexico! =8-)
Hello and thank you so much for this information! It was very helpful 🙂
I need to cross to tijuana from San Diego and I have a puppy he’s only 2 months and a half, he doesn’t have his rabbies vaccine yet, can he still cross back to SD?
Thank you so much
Hola Mischell… I am happy you find this information helpful. Thank you =8-) As for your 2-month-old puppy and taking him to Mexico… from what I read on the CDC website you should be OK to bring him back into the US since Mexico is not on the high-risk list for rabies. Link below: https://www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/dog-origin.html This site states “However, when you enter the United States, you must provide written or verbal statements that the dogs lived in a country that is NOT high risk for at least 6 months or since birth.” Even though the CDC says a verbal statement… Read more »
Thank you for providing many details, your knowledge is very appreciated.
What route do you recommend …
I’m looking to travel from St. John’s Canada to playa Del Carmen with 1 dog.
What will I need to cross the boarders ??
Hola Kayla! Thank you for letting me know your find this information helpful. =8-) As for which route to take. I had to look up St. John’s Canada. What a charming place to live (in the summer). Google maps is suggesting taking the coastal roads along the Gulf of Mexico. I do not recommend this at all. That route takes you through some small towns and off the beaten path. Not safe. I suggest crossing the border in Texas and taking the main toll roads that run through the center of Mexico. The toll roads are in excellent condition and… Read more »
Thank you for all the great information that you have provided.
May I ask this question?
We are moving permanently from Los Angeles to Baja California Sur, we’re driving and entering the border in Mexicali. with our 2 labradoodles who have all the necessary documents from the veterinarian. You mention we don’t need Temporary Vehicle Import Permit? do we need a FMM?
Hola Liliaana! Thank you for your great questions! =8-) Yes, Baja is part of the Mexico Free Zone. The Mexico Free zone encompasses areas along Mexico’s northern and southern borders states, typically 12 to 16 miles from the border (20 to 26 km). Also, the entire Baja peninsula, a large portion of Sonora, and Quintana Roo lie within the free zone. Within the Mexico Free Zone, travel without a temporary importation permit (TIP) is allowed and unrestricted. You still need Mexico car insurance. Yes, you still need to get an FMM Tourist VISA to enter Mexico legally. This is a… Read more »