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Traveling to Guatemala With a Dog: Step-by-Step Guide

Update – June 2022

Guatemala is on the list of 113 countries that have a high rate of dog rabies.

The CDC has lifted the “ban” on dogs entering and leaving Guatemala.

However, there are a few additional requirements you need to know before you go!

There are important steps you must take to bring a dog to Guatemala and for taking your dog back home from a trip to Guatemala

It is important to distinguish between the airline requirements for bringing dogs to Guatemala and the Guatemala government’s requirements for taking your dog to Guatemala.

This article will share information about both.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to bring a dog to Guatemala.

Step A – Must haves before you go

Your dog must have…

To be at least 6 months old
A valid US-issued rabies vaccination certificate
An ISO-compatible microchip
To be in good health

These are all requirements needed in order to return to the U.S. after visiting Guatemala with your dog.

Step B – Health Certificate

Guatemala’s Government Requirements

Here is what you need to take a dog to Guatemala. No matter if you are flying or driving into Guatemala, the government requires 3 things:

  1. Have your USDA Accredited Veterinarian use USDA’s online Veterinary Export Health Certification System (VEHCS) to complete health certificate for Guatemala.

    Note: APHIS7001 FORM no longer accepted!

  2. Signed rabies vaccine certificate that is current and will not expire while in Guatemala

  3. Confirmation the dog/cat is being treated for prevention of external and internal parasites

Note: You do not need a “Pet Passport” – this is not part of Guatemala’s official requirements.

bringing dogs to guatemala requires a health check from a certified veterinarian

When traveling with dogs to Guatemala you must prove the dog is healthy.

There is a new health certificate form for Guatemala is called “Veterinary Health Certificate for Export of Dogs, Cats from the United States of America to Guatemala”.  It is in both English and Spanish.

This new health certificate must be completed and signed by USDA Accredited Veterinarian.

Be sure to provide the veterinarian with the address of where you will be staying/living while in Guatemala. This is part of the requirements.

Next… have the APHIS office endorse the health certificate.

APHIS is a branch of the USDA.

It stands for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Step C – Getting the Health Certificate Endorsed by the USDA Veterinary Services Office – APHIS

The good news is that you don’t need to go to a Veterinary Services Endorsement office anymore to get the official endorsement stamps.

Guatemala accepts a digitally endorsed health certificate.

This is done with the USDA’s online Veterinary Export Health Certification System (VEHCS).

Keep in mind the USDA veterinarian completing the health certificate must have an eAuthentication account in order to submit to the VEHCS portal.

The health certificate is completed within the VEHCS portal.

The signed Rabies Certificate is uploaded into the VEHCS portal as well.

The cost to submit these forms is $38. This is paid through the VEHCS portal.

Once the form is uploaded, a tracking number will be issued.

It can take 3 to 4 days to process.

I was told that once the form is received, they will prioritize according to the travel date.

Common mistakes that are made and can cause a rejection and delay:

–  Rabies Certificate not signed

–  The old form was submitted – not the new one

Once the paperwork is reviewed and endorsed, the veterinarian will print out completed and endorsed forms.  Ask for additional copies or get color copies made.

The airlines will be able to use the same paperwork for their requirments.

CDC Portal about bringing pets to Guatemala.

Our experience flying into the Guatemala International Airport with our dogs

Editors note: The following account was done before 2020.

We landed at the Guatemala airport with all our dog’s paperwork stamped and ready for entry into Guatemala.

First, we went through the customs area and had our passports stamped. We kept the dogs in their soft-side carriers during this process.

Next, we picked up our luggage and let the dogs out of their carriers.

We were directed to a government office in the baggage claim area. It was a small room with a desk and a printer/scanner.

The official took all the paperwork and scanned each page into their system, then handed the originals back to us.

The official did not provide any government form stating the dogs were legally admitted to Guatemala.

Before we left the office, I asked if there were any special requirements for taking our dogs home or out of Guatemala. And there were!

Be aware… there are strict requirements for taking a dog home from Guatemala.

In conclusion, I would say the experience of bringing our dogs into Guatemala went smoothly. We followed all the government requirements for traveling to Guatemala with a dog.

We all really enjoyed our 3 months in Guatemala and were so happy to have our girls – Olivia and Sofia with us!

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.

Requirements for bringing your dog to the U.S.

Here is a link from the CDC about bringing your pet to US.

As always… Safe Travels!

You may be interested in…

What you need to know about leaving Guatemala with a pet

Our experience attending a pet friendly Spanish school in Guatemala – SISAI Spanish School

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

How To Find a USDA Accredited Veterinarian

Guatemala requires that the health certificate be issued (completed, signed, dated) by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian.

A USDA Accredited Veterinarian has completed formal training from the National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP) in the state(s) they are licensed to practice medicine in.

Accreditation is state-specific and is voluntary (not all veterinarians are accredited).

Use the NVAP self-search tool for finding accredited veterinarians in your area

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Valeria

Hello, I am traveling with my dog for the first time to Guatemala. Your information has been extremely helpful. I was just wondering if I am traveling on the 23rd of December, the international health certificate should be submitted 10 days before I leave? Or is it 15 days before I leave I have heard different infromation everywhere?
Thank you!

Megan

Hello! My dog has a current 3 year rabies certificate issued ~15 months ago. I have seen some places that the most recent vaccine needs to be within 12 months, but not less than 30 days from departure day. Do you know if this is true? I’ve seen other places that say if it’s a booster, it can be less than 30 days from departure date. Also, some things I’ve read say dogs must be vaccinated against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus… again within 12 months, but not less than 30 days from departure. Same as above, I have valid 3… Read more »

Megan

Oh my gosh, thank you so much! This is such a relief to have clear guidance. So grateful! Will follow your guidance.

Philippe

Hi, I will fly from Canada to Guatemala with my dogs.
What will be needed?
thank you

Anneka

Hi! We are traveling to Guatemala in the next 22 days and our vet just told us that Guatemala requires for our cats to be vaccinated 30 days prior to entering the country, but we also seen on other websites it says 21 days.
do you think this will be a big deal?

Karl

What if I am just passing through to the western Belize border. No stops in Guatemala.

Ana Rosales

I am traveling to Guatemala

Ana Rosales

Where can I find the veterinary Health Certificate for dogs and cats both in English and Spanish

Chelsea

Hi! I am traveling with my service dog from Miami to Guatemala City on May 2nd. I’m returning back to Miami on June 2nd. I have applied for the health certificate to leave. It’s looking like I will need to have another health certificate done for my dogs re-entry into the US, correct? (She meets CDC requirements to re-enter without an import permit.)

I’m flying with Avianca and I’ve been trying to get clear word on requirements to prevent any mishaps. Thank you!

Chelsea

Awesome thanks!! So I have to get the health certificate for the airlines? That paragraph is a little confusing as it states the certificate isn’t needed but the export paperwork aka certificate needs approval?

Chelsea

Hey! Just wanted to give you an update! Our trip to Guatemala was smooth as ever! I flew with Avianca out of MIA to GUA, in MIA the airline counter reviewed my paperwork, and then I just went to board! When we arrived in GUA, we got our bags and went through Customs. Customs looked at the health certificate and gave me a stamp for 30 days (the length of my stay) and on we went! Simple and fast! Thank you for your help and input!! I’ll send another update when we get our certificate here in Guatemala to return… Read more »

Jose

Hello,

Thanks for all your notes and details process on how to bring your pet from USA to Guatemala, I am traveling with my puppy this coming wednesday 03/09 and uploaded the rabies signed vaccine certificate with the updated form into VEHCS portal. However, I haven’t received an answer yet, any recommendation? what it will happen if I do not receive the health certificate endorsement?

Jose

Thank you very much again for the detailed information. Our current vet Couldn’t make the certification but We were able to find certified Vet that help us out her in California. It was pricy: health check up, time to fill the application, doctor fee, upload file for a grand total of $460 however, we make it to Guatemala successfully Without major inconvenient. Currently, planning to return home with our puppy and wanted to ask for your help again. By looking into the CDC requirement and because we stay less than one month it looks we count with everything has a valid… Read more »

Scott Woods

Will Guatemala accept a 3-year Rabies? Also, what if you are only traveling through Guatemala on the way to Nicaragua. This will all be in by car and not plane.
Thanks,