Traveling with dogs to Mexico
Learn the facts about traveling with dogs or cats into Mexico; leaving from the US, Canada, Central America.
Understand what documents are required to bring your dog or cat into Mexico.
Know the timeline requirements for each document requested by the U.S., Mexico and the airlines.
There is a lot of information on the internet on what Mexico requires when traveling with dogs to Mexico.
Much of the information you read does not distinguish between airline requirements and what the Mexican government’s requirements are for traveling to Mexico with a dog or cat.
If you are driving into Mexico with pets, the requirements the airlines have will not apply to you.
It is important to know the difference between Mexico’s requirements and the airline’s requirements
No matter if you are flying or driving into Mexico, the Mexican government requires 3 things:
- a certificate of health
- proof the rabies vaccine is up-to-date
- your pet is being treated for parasite prevention.
The above is true regardless of the country you are traveling from – North, Central or South America.
You do not need a “Pet Passport” – that is simply a marketing gimmick to sell you something you do not need.
When traveling with dogs to Mexico you must prove the dog is healthy.
In order to do that you need a Health Certificate from a licensed veterinarian.
There are two ways to obtain this “health certificate”:
- the health information is completed on a specific government form, such as the APHIS7001 (U.S.)
- or the health information is typed up in a letter from a licensed veterinarian on their office letterhead.
It must completed within 15 days of entering Mexico. Note: most airlines have a shorter window (5 – 10 days).
The airlines originating from the US require the APHIS7001 health certificate; however the timeline to get this completed differ by airline.
Some airlines require the certificate to be done within 5 days of flying (Volaris), others 10 days.
Therefore, depending on whether you are flying or driving to Mexico with your dog, that will determine when you need to obtain a certificate of health for your dog.
What the health certificate must include:
a) The address of where you are living now and the address of where you will be staying/living next with your dog.
b) Name of pet, type of breed, any distinguishing marks, age, sex, color. If the pet has a microchip.
c) Record/listing of all vaccines, the 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.
d) Confirmation the dog is currently being treated against external parasite (ectoparasites) and internal parasites (endoparasites).
– Ectoparasites are: fleas, ticks, mites, and lice. Products such as Bravecto or NextGuard prevent ectoparasites.
– Endoparasites are: heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Interceptor is a product commonly used for this.
e) Confirmation that the dog’s rabies vaccines are up to date and meet the date requirements.
Which are no less than 30 days and no more than one year. Providing those dates are crucial.
Other supporting documents – Rabies Certificate
Beside the health certificate you must provide the 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.
I always ask for a copy of the veterinarian’s license to prove she/he is a licensed veterinarian.
More on the rabies vaccine
Mexico does recognize a 3-year rabies vaccine.
However, most airline require a vaccine/booster within the last year.
I asked a veterinarian in Mexico what the rules were for rabies vaccines.
She told me that entering Mexico from another country requires a vaccine booster within a year. However, once in Mexico, every 3 years is OK.
They just want to make sure the dog has no chance of having rabies.
What is the SAGARPA-SENASICA and why do I need to know about it?
This is the Mexican government agency tasked with overseeing the importation of pets and other animals.
The acronyms means the following: el Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad Calidad Agroalimentaria (SENASICA) which falls under the Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA).
All ports of entry into Mexico have an Oficinas de Inspección de Sanidad Agropecuarias (OISA) – airports, ocean ports and land ports.
If you are driving into Mexico the customs and border agent is not part of OISA.
They may ask to see the health certificate paperwork but they do not officially register the health certificate with OISA.
They do not provide the SAGARPA-SENASICA certificate of importation.
I still recommend getting the health certificate and proof of treatment against parasites and the rabies vaccine certificate when driving over the border with your dog or cat into Mexico.
If you are flying into Mexico you will automatically be directed to the OISA office for inspection.
The pet’s information will be logged into SENASICA’s computer systems.
This can take 30 minutes to an hour. Keep this in mind if you have a connecting flight.
Once completed they will provide you with the certificate of importation.
It will look like this.
Leaving Mexico with your dog
Traveling with dogs out of Mexico does not require any extra steps (such as Guatemala does) thank goodness.
All the above information is needed when flying or driving out of Mexico with your dog or cat.
Official Mexico Government Guide for entering the country
More information on traveling with pets to Mexico can be found in this official guide from Mexico.
This guide has general information about entering Mexico, driving into Mexico, bringing pets, entering with your belongs or gifts and much more.
Information on dogs (mascotas) is on page 37. Although the guide is in Spanish you can copy and paste into the Google translator.
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