Pet Travel Tips & Regulations / Adopting a Pet in Mexico

Updated September 2015

Regardless of whether you cross the border by land, air or sea, you are required to follow the same basic guidelines when bringing pets into Mexico. We have contacted SAGARPA officials and our local USDA-APHIS office for clarification, and have done our best to include the current regulations for Mexico, the United States and Canada. We highly recommend that you read through the regulations for the country you are traveling to (and from) to make sure you comply with both. We also suggest that you contact your personal vet and your airline to confirm that this is all you need to travel, as each state and airline can establish their own rules.

Anyone traveling with pets is now required to stop at the SAGARPA/SENASICA Office at your port of entry (the office at the Puerto Vallarta airport is located before the baggage claim area). Here, an officer will ask you to present a valid health certificate and perform a quick physical inspection of your pet(s) to make sure they are in good physical condition and that their rabies vaccines are current. The officer will enter your name and information into his computer and present you with an import health certificate, which you have to sign and later present to the person in customs. The entire process can take between 30-60 minutes, so be sure to plan a little extra time if someone is picking you up.

Pet Travel Tips Table of Contents:

Important Airline Travel Tips

It is important to note that each airline has their own policies and that they can change at any time. Being aware of the following information can make your trip planning process a lot less stressful.

Airline Travel Tips

Important Air Travel Tips

  1. Some airlines do not allow pets to travel in cabin; and others may impose pet restrictions (weight limit, minimum age, breed and carrier size) and/or require special reinforced crates for certain breeds.
  2. Airlines typically allow only one pet carrier per ticketed passenger and many airlines enforce a maximum weight limit (usually 16-25 lbs. total including carrier).
  3. Make sure your pet carrier is “airline approved.” You can purchase soft-sided carriers at pet stores in the US or Canada and at most vet clinics in Puerto Vallarta.
  4. Please keep in mind that if you are bringing a pet in-cabin, the pet carrier will likely count as either your carry-on bag or personal item.
  5. The number of pets allowed in-cabin on each flight is determined by the airline, so we suggest booking your pet when you make your reservation to secure their spot.
  6. The pet travel fee can range between $50-200 USD (one way), depnding on the airline.
  7. If you plan to travel during the summer, be sure to research the airline’s pet embargo policy before you book your flight, as many airlines do NOT allow pets as checked baggage or in cargo when temperatures are too warm.
  8. Some airlines require that the Health Certificate is signed up to 5 days prior to flying.

Please check with your specific airline to make sure you understand their rules and that they don’t require any additional information and/or paperwork as indicated either above or below.

Airlines that Allow Pets

Airlines that Allow Pets

FAQs and Clarifications about New 2014-15 Regulations

Updated November 2014

Health/Rabies Certificates

Health/Rabies Certificates

There has been a lot of talk on our forum recently from people being held up at SAGARPA because they didn’t have the rabies lot number listed on their Rabies Certificate. I always recommend that you bring the original copy of both your pet’s current Health Certificate and Rabies Certificate (as well as copies) and make sure one of them includes:

  • Date the rabies vaccine was given
  • Product name and lot number
  • Expiration date of vaccine (when your pet is due to renew)
  • Any other vaccinations or treatment your pet has received

All current regulations for pet travel within the US, Canada and Mexico are listed below.

Rabies Vaccine (1-Year vs. 3-Year)

Rabies Vaccine (1-Year vs. 3-Year)

Mexico now allows pets (dogs and cats) to enter Mexico with a 3-year rabies vaccine from the US/Canada as long as the proper paperwork accompanies the pet, including a copy of the Rabies Certificate that indicates that the vaccine is still current (see below). This regulation change basically makes it possible for those of us who have had our pets vaccinated using the 3-year vaccine to not have to re-vaccinate our pets unnecessarily.

The exception is this… if your pet (dog or cat) is originally from Mexico (rather than the US/Canada), and your pet has been vaccinated in Mexico with a 1-year vaccine (which is standard here), you are required to show the Mexican booklet you received from your Mexican vet indicating the original vaccine date. Obviously, pets of Mexican origin cannot re-enter Mexico if their vaccine has expired (and obviously pets from the US/Canada cannot enter Mexico if their 3-year vaccine has expired).

All current regulations for pet travel within the US, Canada and Mexico are listed below.

US/Canadian Paperwork

US/Canadian Paperwork

A quick reminder… anyone traveling with pets MUST comply with both countries regulations, not just Mexico. In other words, if you are traveling from the US/Canada to Mexico, you need to provide the proper paperwork required to LEAVE the US/Canada, as well as to provide the proper paperwork required to ENTER Mexico. In addition, individual airlines can dictate their own rules, so I highly recommend that everyone check with their particular airline to see if they require any additional paperwork.

All current regulations for pet travel within the US, Canada and Mexico are listed below.

Mexican Pet Travel Regulations mexico-flag-small

Information from SENASICA/SAGARPA

Bringing Pets to Mexico

Importing Pets to Mexico

In Mexico, only cats and dogs are considered pets for purposes of regulation. Remember that you may travel freely throughout Mexico with your pet without requiring health regulation, it is only required when bringing your pet into Mexico from another country. If you wish to bring other live animals (such as a bird, reptile or hamster), you must complete a series of requirements.

Consult the requirements for import listed here, and familiarize yourself with the pet inspection process conducted at all points of entry into the country.

When Traveling with Your Pet to Mexico

When you arrive to Mexico with your pet, you must contact SAGARPA/SENASICA personnel who will conduct a brief physical inspection and verify that your pet is in compliance with the following requirements:

1) A Health Certificate in original and simple copy, issued by a either private or official Medical Veterinarian indicating (you may have more than one pet on a single certificate):

  • Name and address of the exporter and importer (address of origin and destination address in Mexico).
  • That the animal has been vaccinated against rabies, indicating the date of application and expiration date of the vaccine. Pets under 3 months of age are exempt of this requirement.
  • That the inspection prior to travel found the animal to be clinically healthy.
  • That the animal has undergone a preventive treatment against internal and external parasites, at most six months prior to travel and is currently free of ectoparasites.
    (Please Note: This requirement DOES NOT APPLY to pets from or originating in the US and Canada.)
  • Name, signature and professional license number of the Medical Veterinarian issuing the Health Certificate.

If the above requirements are not met, you may request the services of a Mexican licensed Medical Veterinarian of your choice and at your expense, to issue a new valid health certificate and /or apply the treatment required.

2) Your pet should arrive to Mexico in a container, kennel or carrier of any sort, that is clean, without bedding, cloth material or accessories, for these will be retained by the OISA official for destruction. The container will then receive a preventive spray treatment by the SAGARPA/SENASICA official.

3) You may bring a day’s ration of dried dog food when traveling with your pet and/or an unopened bag which must be properly labeled in English or Spanish stamped by the food inspection authority; or the product must comply with the combined MCRZI requirements originating from authorized countries, packaged, tagged and without content of ruminant origin.

(Please Note: A total of 20 kg per family is allowed, in up to two packages equaling that amount.)

4) If you send your pet in cargo, it is important that you verify all requirements of the airline of your choice and consider the need to utilize the services of a Customs Broker to clear Customs prior to compliance with SAGARPA/SENASICA tariff free regulations.

(Please Note: The Health Certificate issued by a private Medical Veterinarian should be printed on letterhead, with the professional license number or a photocopy of the license, signature in original and simple copy form.)

If you are transporting one to three pets, the Animal Health Import Certificate process is free of charge. If you are importing four or more pets, the fee of the Import Certificate would be $1,882.22 pesos (this amount may vary in conformance with the Federal Tax Law). This payment can be made using the e5cinco form via bank window or internet.

Remember that compliance with the regulations established by SAGARPA/SENASICA do not exempt you from compliance with regulations of other authorities at the point of entry into Mexico.

Traveling with Pets of Mexican Origin / Returning to Mexico – From the US/Canada

Traveling with Pets of Mexican Origin / Returning to Mexico – From the US or Canada

You may present a Health Certificate issued in Mexico as long as the rabies vaccine is current and the date on the certificate is within 6 months of your return date to Mexico. Alternatively, you may present a vaccine booklet showing that the rabies vaccine is current.

October 20, 2014 Editor’s Note: I arrived at the Puerto Vallarta airport today. When I got to the SAGARPA Office, I presented the Mexican Health Certificate I used when I left Mexico 4 months prior (per the regulation above). The SAGARPA agent informed me that since my pet was vaccinated for rabies in the US, I still needed to provide him with a US/Canadian Health Certificate and/or Rabies Certificate indicating that my pet’s rabies vaccine is current. I don’t know if this is required at all ports of entry, but it’s better to be safe, than sorry.

Traveling with Pets of Mexican Origin / Returning to Mexico – From Other Countries

Traveling with Pets of Mexican Origin / Returning to Mexico – From Other Countries

You are exempt from presenting a Health Certificate if prior to your departure you received a Mexican Export Certificate of Animal Health within six months of your return and the rabies vaccine remains current.

Please, avoid delays by getting informed of the requirements before you travel!

Editor’s Note: Our contact at SAGARPA informed me that if your pet is of Mexican origin and you are traveling from the US or Canada, you can present the zoosanitary health certificate you received from your veterinarian before you departed from Mexico as long as:

  • It states the date of current rabies vaccine and;
  • You are traveling within 6 months from the date it was issued.
  • And no, the cute little Chihuahua you rescued, adopted or purchased in Canada does not qualify as Mexican

us-flag-smallUS Pet Travel Regulations

Information from USDA and APHIS-VSPS MN

US Regulations for Exporting Pets to Mexico

US Regulations for Exporting Pets to Mexico

According to the Mexican regulations, only dogs and cats are classified as pets.

The animals shall be accompanied by either:

  1. An APHIS Form 7001 Health Certificate (HC) issued and signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian within 10 days prior to export. The certification statements (#2 and #3 below) need to be included on or with the 7001. The two statements should be in English and Spanish. The 7001 must be signed and sealed by a Veterinary Services veterinarian.
    — or —
  2. The HC issued and signed by an accredited veterinarian on their letterhead certificate that includes the accreditation number of the signing veterinarian. The certificate must be issued within 10 days of export.

The HC must contain the following information:

  1. The HC must contain the name and address of the importer and exporter. When the exporter and importer is the owner, the home address and the destination address of the owner of the pet must be given.
  2. Animal/s has been vaccinated against rabies. Indicate the date of vaccination and the date through which the vaccination is valid. Animals younger than three months are exempted from this requirement.
  3. Animals were inspected and found clinically healthy prior to export.

Special requirements for dogs and cats residing in the border zone (States of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas):

  • Pets traveling between the United States and Mexico will be allowed with a HC endorsed by Veterinary Services or a HC issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian residing at the border zone of the U.S. or Mexico. In this case the licensed veterinarian must use his letterhead and must write his license number in the certificate.
  • The health certificate will be valid for 6 months.

Other requirements:

  • Personnel from the Office of Animal Health, Aquaculture, and Fishery will inspect the animals and documents. Pets with external parasites will be treated by a private veterinarian chosen by the pet owner who will pay for the cost of the treatment. At inspection, animal cages must be clean. After inspection, the attending official will disinfect animal cages without cost.
  • To comply with dispositions established in Article 24, 32 and 89 of the Federal Law of Animal Health, the importer must present the health certificate at the port of entry. The health certificate must meet the requirements of this Zoosanitary Requirement Sheet (HRZ) and must contain the identification of the pets and destination of the shipment.
  • Compliance with the sanitary requirements indicated in this document does not exempt the importer of presenting documents required by other authorities.

Links to Required Forms

Links to Required Forms

Editor’s Note: See below for more information on how to use these forms correctly. Please note that failure to present any of these documents will result in the pet being held up in customs until a registered veterinarian can be called. In addition to paying the veterinarian’s fee for an airport inspection, a wait of several hours can be expected, especially during weekends and holidays.

Commonly Asked Questions about Forms

Commonly Asked Questions

We have contacted SAGARPA and our local USDA-APHIS office for clarification, and have received the additional information:

1) APHIS-VS 7001 Form 

Here are the USDA Guidelines for APHIS 7001 Form (from APHIS-VSPS MN):

  • Multiple Pages: Issuing veterinarian need only print out the first page and sign the first page. VS will endorse that single page. If copies are needed, then the document may be photocopied.
  • Continuation Sheet: At this time, there is no electronic fillable continuation page. In the interim, issuing vets may use the hard copy continuation page, or create an addendum to the certificate using a Word document.
  • Certificate Number: APHIS VS will assign a unique certificate number when we endorse the certificate. If APHIS VS is not endorsing the document, then no number will be assigned to the form.
  • Interstate Movements: From an APHIS VS perspective, a number is not needed for interstate movements. Issuing veterinarians should not assign their own number or call APHIS VS for a number. Note: APHIS VS will not assign a number for interstate movements. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health requests that accredited vets use the Minnesota Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (LS 00167-09) for interstate travel originating from Minnesota. This form may be ordered online.
  • Printing: It should be printed in color ink (on regular paper) so the seal is orange, but it is not required. Multiple copies are no longer required. Please sign in BLUE INK. It has come to our attention that a non-orange seal may cause issues at the port of entry for some countries.
  • If the letterhead certificate is used, the APHIS 7001 Form does not need to be endorsed by an APHIS office. Please check with your airline as they may require the APHIS 7001 Form to board the plane in the United States.
  • USDA Note: Mexico will reject VS Form 7001 health certificates if they are not signed and sealed by a Veterinary Services veterinarian. In addition, all health certificates must be type written, or done in word processor or computer. The number of the health certificate must be also type written or in a word processor or computer. Hand written documents will be rejected.

Editor’s Note: If you choose to use the VS 7001 Form as your only form of documentation, you need to get it numbered and stamped at a APHIS-VS Area Office office near you to make it official (cost is $37 USD and by appointment only). In addition, you need to type all the certification statements (everything listed on the Non-Official Letterhead Certificate in English and Spanish) onto the electronic form to make it bilingual (we’ve added the necessary statements in red as an example above). Please also see a list of additional items we suggest you add to this form.

2) Bilingual Letterhead Health Certificate: 

If you choose to use the Letterhead Certificate as your form of documentation instead, your vet needs to type it up (in English and Spanish) on his/her office letterhead and sign it to make it official. Click here to download a copy of the 2012 Non-Official Bilingual Letterhead Health Certificate (updated Sept. 29, 2012) that your veterinarian can use. This document was provided to us by the USDA-APHIS-VS MN Export Department in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Editor’s Note: After reading through the current SENASICA guidelines, and corresponding with both SAGARPA officials and our vet in Puerto Vallarta, we recommend that your vet include the following information as well in order to meet the Mexican entry requirements:

  • Species (dog, cat, etc.)
  • Description of the animal (size, color, etc.)
  • Whether or not the animal has been sterilized
  • Date of rabies vaccination, product name, lot number and expiration date of vaccine
  • List all other vaccinations given
  • List internal and external parasite products used (flea, tick, heartworm, etc.) and the date of last application
  • Note that the pet was inspected and appears to be in good health and free of any contagious diseases; and
  • Name of veterinarian, address, phone number, National Accreditation Number, License Number and State of practice.

Bringing Pets back to the US

Bringing Pets back to the US

According to the CDC, the regulations required to bring your pet back into the US are the same whether you drive or fly. Although a health certificate (called a “Certificado Zoosanitario” in Mexico) is not required by the CDC for entry into the US, most airlines and some states require them. Dogs and cats are subject to inspection at the border and may be denied if they do not appear to be healthy. Therefore, it is a good idea to get a health certificate from your vet. Dogs must also have a certificate showing that they have been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry in the US. Some states require cats to be vaccinated for rabies, so check with your local authorities before traveling.

If you are flying, you should check with your airline to make sure they do not require any additional information and/or paperwork.

Visit the CDC website for more information.

canada-flag-smallCanadian Pet Travel Regulations

Information from Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Canadian Regulations for Exporting Pets to Mexico

Canadian Regulations for Exporting Pets to Mexico

As specified on SENASICA’s website, you must present the border authorities with an original and a copy of a veterinary health certificate that has been issued within the last 10 days.

You have two options for this document:

  1. Have your veterinarian issue the certificate. It must be printed with the clinic letterhead, and contain the license number of the certifying veterinarian as proof of that veterinarian’s right to exercise his/her profession. No official endorsement (signature by a CFIA veterinarian) is required, if this option is chosen.
    — or —
  2. Use the General Health Certificate for Cats and Dogs to facilitate your pet’s export process. This document should be completed by your veterinarian and brought to your local CFIA District Office for official endorsement. There is a fee for this service.

The General Health Certificate for Cats and Dogs meets Mexico’s import conditions. Please note that Mexico may change these requirements without notification to the CFIA. As a result, it is strongly advised to review this certificate to ensure that all requirements are addressed.

Canadian Pet Travel requirements have recently changed for importation of commercial dogs (including rescue dogs) and dogs less than 8 months of age. You can find more information on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website.

Bringing Pets back to Canada

Bringing Pets back to Canada

Visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website for pet import information and regulations for transporting commercial/rescue animals back into Canada.

Helpful Pet Travel Links

Helpful and informative links for traveling with your pets…

Helpful Pet Travel Tips

Adopting or Fostering a Pet from Mexico

Many tourists who visit our part of Mexico come to realize how many stray animals here need homes. If you are interested in adopting or fostering a pet, you can contact these wonderful organizations.

Adopting or Fostering a Pet from Mexico

To learn about exporting your new friend back home, contact the groups listed here. And don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds. There’s no doubt about it… rescue animals make the best pets!