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

Update – February 2023

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 Guatemala Consulate to stamp the paperwork anymore. Everything is done online through the VEHCS system.

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

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

You also do not need to go to the Guatemala Consulate to stamp the paperwork.

Guatemala accepts a digitally endorsed health certificate which is done on the VEHCS system.

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.

 

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.

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.

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

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

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

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Sophie Campbell

Hi thank you so much for this detailed blog. I don’t suppose you are able to help me find the government requirements for arriving into Guatemala with a dog from the UK? Thanks so much!

Sophie Campbell

Thank you so much for the link! That’s so helpful. I don’t suppose you know if we will have any issues if we are transiting several countries between UK and Guatemala? And if the UK will still be considered our country of origin after short layovers in other countries? Thanks so much in advance!

Sophie Campbell

Wow okay. How were you able to verify this? As it definitely isn’t the case for Canada as you need to have spent 60 days or more before it’s considered your county of origin. We were able to verify this with a government contact but our Spanish will definitely not enable us to do this for the Dominican Republic or Guatemala…!
Do you think this is the case even for just an overnight layover?!

Kathy

or question #2 is there any airline flying to Guatemala that will allow a dog larger than will fit under the seat???

Kathy

Hi- I am wondering if anyone has driven to Guatemala with their dog and whether it is safe or even possible? I believe my dog is too large to fly (at least in cabin…) and am considering driving. I would be going for a month or so. I have driven to Guate in the past but not with a dog and it was many years ago before the drug cartels were such an issue…

Kathy

Hi DL- thanks for the tips- I will check out those pages. In that I am leaving from WI flying out of LAX would not be practical…

Beverley Steenkamp

Hi. Beverley Steenkamp here. We live and are exploring the planet on/from our yacht. We hope to leave the US in late December 2023 and head to Guatemala via Belize. As we are sailing it will take about 8 days to reach Belize where we will explore and rest and explore for a week or two and then another 5 days to reach Guatemala. We have 3 dogs on board with us. Our dogs are older and do not leave the boat, other than for emergency vet services, where we are unable to get a vet to come to the… Read more »

Josh

Hello Deborah, I am traveling to Guatemala with two dogs November 25th and I have a couple questions. Can you get the USDA process done with hard copy only or does it HAVE to be done through the portal? I sent the health certificate to their offices in Wisconsin and got them back singed already. If you get the health certificate approved by the USDA with a hard copy only, do you need to send that to the Guatemalan consulate? I know you said it is not required if done through the portal, but I am not clear on if… Read more »

Josh

Thank you so much for your response! You have been incredibly helpful. I am flying American Airlines and they have a requirement that the health certificate be completed by the vet within 10 days. I was hoping you could share with me where you saw that the Guatemalan government has a requirement that the health certificate be completed by a licensed vet within 15 days? I keep seeing either 30 days or 10 days for Guatemala depending on where I check. It looks like I will need to get the health certificate filled out again by a licensed vet and… Read more »

Josh

Hello Deborah! I have just a couple questions. For some context, I am traveling to Guatemala Nov. 25th with my two dogs. I got the health certificates and rabies certificates filled out by my vet and sent a hard copy via mail to the USDA offices in Wisconsin. My vet was not willing to use the online portal so we did everything hard copy only. The USDA signed and stamped the health certificates and rabies certificates and mailed them back to me. I thought I was all set but now reading through the comments on this page I am wondering… Read more »

Jess

It does say this: “Carné de vacunación, indicando las vacunas aplicadas, en un período no menor a 1 mes y no mayor a 1 año.” but it doesn’t say which one they want the dogs to have…

Jess

Hi,
My dog’s vet is an accredited veterinarian but he never has filled out a International Health Certificate for Guatemala. Those Certificates are vague. Do they need to list all shots and medications that my dog has had alone with the Rabies certificate? Can you be more especific on how that certificate has to be filled out? Thanks

Jess

Thanks for replying to my question, but again, I find conflicted informations about what is it that my dog will need. For instance; what about the “Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus” that the dog has to have for traveling that some people mention in other websites?

Jess

So the veterinarie just has to fill out the question on the form, present the rabies shot certificate and sign it as statement that my dog is healthy, vaccinated against rabies, and treated for endo- and ectoparasites. And that’s it?

Andréanne

Bonjour, je veux aller habiter au Guatemala et j’habite au Canada. Je me demandais si toute ses restrictions s’appliquait aussi je suis tellement perdu avec toute ces informations je croyais que je n’avais besoin que du certificat sanitaire international et de tous ses vaccins a jours ? Merci. 450-521-1816

Ivonne

Hellow im going to Guatemala in two months do any body know if i need my dog vet form endorce and stamp by guatemala consulate?
Thank you

Ivonne Porter

Thank you so much i been take my litle one but i stop going because de covid but im planning to travel in couple months i have a good register vet here in Mew Jersey but since everything change i want make sure i i will go to Guatemala and come back with my dog.
One more question i dont need to see a vet in guatemala to leave the country rite?
Thank you 🙂

Ivonne Porter

Thank you for all you information but i think i will cancel my plans to go because i was planing to go only for 7 days and the week i pick was holy week wich is big holiday in guatemala and addition to that try to get vet certification will be nightmare sice is holiday season i dont want to risk my dog stock in guatemala just for 7 day vacation .
Thank so much for all information you provide 🥰

Ivonne Porter

Hola i just find out from Guatemala goverment page https://visar.maga.gob.gt/visar/2021/sa/Reqmascotas21.pdf
If you stay less than 30 days you dont need veterinary in guatemala because you can use the same papper work forms ffom entrance this is only if you stay less than 30 days ONLY.
This may help for other short vacation pet travelers owners.
🙂