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Pet Travel Tips and Adoption Information

Updated November 2013

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. However, the regulations differ slightly for each country. 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 below. We highly recommend that you also read through the regulations for the country you are traveling from to make sure to comply with both.

Here are a list of recent updates:

November 1, 2013 – 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.

October 12, 2013 – It appears that officials and gate agents seem to understand the new regulations and there have been no changes to the information listed below.

November 5, 2012 – I flew from the US to Puerto Vallarta yesterday with my pups for the first time since the new regulations were implemented. Anyone traveling with pets is now required to stop at the SAGARPA/SENASICA Office at your port of entry (the office in PV 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). The officer seemed especially interested in making sure my pups were in good physical condition and that their rabies vaccines were current. The officer entered my name and information into his computer. Several minutes later, I was presented with an import health certificate, which I had to sign and later present to the person in customs. The entire process took close to 45-50 minutes. There were several people in line even on a Sunday afternoon, so be sure to plan a little extra time if someone is picking you up.

FYI: I asked the officer several questions about the new process and documentation needed, and he confirmed that everything we have listed below about the new health certificate requirements is accurate and up-to-date.

Sept. 29, 2012 – Our local USDA-APHIS office just informed me that there is an updated Non-Official Bilingual Letterhead Health Certificate. I have added a link to this new document below. 

Sept. 26, 2012 – Thanks to Michael's comment on our recent blog article, I emailed my contact at SAGARPA. He 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 a) it states the date of current rabies vaccine and b) 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! See below for more information.

June 7, 2012 - Read about how the change in the new regulations transpired in an articled entitled, New "No Pets In Cabin" Policy Could Change the Way We Travel to Mexico.


Mexican Regulations for Importing Pets from the United States or Canada

Requirements as of April 13, 2012 from SENASICA/SAGARPA

To travel with your pet (dog or cat) to Mexico you need to present a Health Certificate (original and a copy) issued by an approved official veterinarian or by a private veterinarian from the country of origin. The certificate must come on letterhead with the veterinarian license number printed on it. You will need to present this certificate at the Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection (OISA) located at the port of entry.

The certificate must state:

  1. The importer / exporter name and address.
  2. That animals have been immunized for rabies (date and expiration of vaccination). Animals under three months are exempt of this requirement.
  3. That a previous check up showed no signs of disease.

Note: If you choose to use the USDA Health Certificate official format, make sure it is signed and sealed by official USDA personnel to make it valid (3).

Other Important Information:

  1. Pets must enter the country in a clean cage or kennel, with no bed or accessories. Otherwise these items will be removed and will go under a prophylactic treatment if considered necessary by SENASICA personnel. (1)
  2. You are allowed to bring in your pet's food but it must come in its original package, with the USDA/CFIA seal and no more than one portion for pet is permitted (2). Please note that in Mexico you may find pet food under the registration and approval of SAGARPA.
  3. If you are traveling with three or less animals you are exempt of any fees. If you are traveling with four or more pets, you should make the required payment for the issuance of the certificate ($1,817 pesos). You can pay online or at the bank.

Notes: After speaking with SAGARPA, this is our understanding of these guidelines:
1) Kennels lined with removable padded liners, absorbent pads or paper are allowed.
2) Only enough food for a days travel is acceptable.

3) See #3 in the US regulations section below.
 

We highly recommend that you also read through the regulations for the country you are traveling from to make sure to comply with both, as the rules are different for each country. You can find the export requirements for the United States and Canada below...


US Regulations for Exporting Dogs and Cats to Mexico

Requirements as of August, 2012 from the USDA

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

The animals shall be accompanied by either:

  1. A VS Form 7001 health certificate (HC) in English and Spanish (3), issued and signed in duplicate by a USDA accredited veterinarian within 10 days prior to export (4), and must be signed and sealed by a Veterinary Services veterinarian. Please Note: Mexico will reject VS Form 7001 health certificates if they are not signed and sealed by a Veterinary Services veterinarian (3). OR
  2. The HC issued and signed by an accredited veterinarian on his letterhead certificate that includes the accreditation number of the signing veterinarian (5).

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 vaccination and expiration dates of the rabies vaccine. 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:

  1. 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 US or Mexico. In this case, the licensed veterinarian must use his letterhead and must write his license number in the certificate.
  2. 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.

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

3) 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; see #5 below) onto the electronic form to make it bilingual (we've added the necessary statements in red as an example; click here to view). Please also see a list of additional items we suggest you add to this form (see #5 below).

This form is no longer printed in triplicate. Instead, it is now electronic and fillable. You or your vet can download the APHIS VS 7001 Form here. It should be printed in color (not black and white) on regular paper and your vet should sign it in blue ink. Keep in mind that you no longer need the VS 7001 Form to enter Mexico, but according to the USDA, the form may be required by your airline (to board the plane in the US). Contact your airline to determine whether or not this form is needed.

4) Some airlines require that the certificate is signed up to 5 days prior to flying, so be sure to check with your specific airline to make sure their rules are the same, and that they don't require any additional information and/or paperwork.

5) 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. Note: This document was provided to us by the USDA-APHIS-VS MN Export Department in St. Paul, Minnesota and is up-to-date as of August 2012. However, 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
» Name of veterinarian, address, phone number, National Accreditation Number, License Number

» and State of practice

6) We also recommend that you check with both your vet and your airline to confirm that this is all you need to travel, as each state and airline have their own rules.

Notes from US Consular Agency in Puerto Vallarta:

Posted August 8, 2012

The General Direction of Agriculture (SAGARPA) has regulated the importation of all domestic pets (cats and dogs) into Mexico. This Mexican institution has required Mexican Customs to collect a “clean bill of health” for every pet upon entering the country. To comply with this requirement, one of the following may be submitted:

A recent (within 30 days) certificate of good health issued by a registered US Veterinarian (DVM):
This letter must be on the veterinarian’s office letterhead with his/her address, phone number, National Accreditation number, License Number and State of practice. The body of the letter must certify that he/she has inspected the animal and that it appears to be in good health and free of any contagious diseases. The letter should also contain the following information: name of pet, species, breed, age, sex, color and size. It must also mention the last date of parasite treatment, viral and rabies vaccinations.

USDA APHIS Form 7001:
This form must be completely filled out with your address in the US, the address the pet is going to in Mexico, a certification by a registered veterinarian and an official seal by a USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services Offices. Please note that APHIS 7001 Forms without the USDA/APHIS-VS seal and veterinarian certification WILL NOT be accepted anymore. The form is only valid within 30 days of being sealed. (download the APHIS VS 7001 Form)

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.

A recent (within 30 days) certificate of good health issued by a registered Mexican Veterinarian (MVZ):
This letter must be on the veterinarian's office letterhead and mention of his/her address and phone number, as well as his/her “Cedula Profesional” number. The body of the letter must certify that he/she has inspected the animal and that it appears to be in good health and free of any contagious diseases. The letter should also contain the following information: name of pet, species, breed, age, sex, color and size. It must also mention the last date of parasite treatment, viral and rabies vaccinations. Visit the yellow pages website for a list of veterinarians in the Puerto Vallarta.


Canadian Regulations for Exporting Pets to Mexico

Requirements as of November 14, 2012 from Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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.


Mexican Regulations for Traveling with Pets of Mexican Origin

Requirements as of September 21, 2012 from SENASICA/SAGARPA (link is in Spanish)

According to the SAGARPA website, if your pet is of Mexican origin and is coming from the US or Canada, you can present the health certificate issued by your veterinarian prior to your departure from Mexico, provided that:

  1. The health certificate indicates the date of current rabies vaccination, and
  2. The health certificate is issued within 6 months of travel.

If your pet is of Mexican origin and is coming from elsewhere in the world (other than the US or Canada), click the link above for additional information.

Note: It is worth noting that while this information is posted on the SAGARPA website, we called our local USDA-APHIS office for confirmation. The USDA officials we spoke with were not aware of this regulation, nor do we know anyone who has traveled from the US/Canada to Mexico with a Mexican health certificate as their only form of documentation. We will update this section as we learn more.


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. 


Bringing Pets back to Canada

Please be aware that Canadian Pet Travel requirements changed on November 1, 2013 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.

Domestic dogs and cats entering Canada do not have to be quarantined.

For additional information, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for import requirements for Dogs and Cats.


Adopting a Pet from Mexico

Many tourists who visit the Jaltemba Bay area come to realize how many stray animals here need homes. If you are interested in adopting a pet, contact the Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue. To learn about exporting your new friend back home, see the information above. And don't worry, it's easier than it sounds. There's no doubt about it... rescue animals make the best pets!


Helpful Links

Helpful and informative links for traveling with your pets…