Returning to the U.S. with Pets

Returning to the US With Pets

Will my pets have to be quarantined when returning to the US from Mexico?

Generally speaking, dogs and cats will NOT be quarantined as long as they are healthy and have the required paperwork to enter the US. However, according to the Pets and Wildlife Division of US Customs, all domestic pets once taken out of the US are subject to the same requirements upon returning as pets entering the US for the first time. More detailed information about returning to the US with an animal may be found on the Department of Health and Human Services website

How will I know if my pet is going to be quarantined?

Pet dogs and cats may be examined at the border into the US for any sign of diseases that could be transmitted to other animals or humans. Dogs and cats that are entering the US from Mexico must have a valid rabies certification.

Will I have to pay a re-entry fee for my pets?

Thank goodness, some good news! There is no "duty" or fee for dogs or cats re-entering the US.

We are US citizens living in Mexico who want to visit family in the US for a few months. Do we need to fill out additional paperwork for our Mexican dog? Are there any special rules we need to know about?

As with all other domestic cats and dogs entering the US, you will have to bring proof of your pet's vaccinations and a recent certificate of health with you. The good news is that when your dog is originally from Mexico, and you have a health certificate issued in Mexico from the Mexican Consul, you can bring your dog back to Mexico by using those same documents as long as you do so within 6 months. You will not be required to get a new certification or proof of vaccination while you are in the US - as long as you don't stay for more than half a year.

My family is planning to stay in Mexico for a long time. What happens if my pet's vaccinations run out while we're there?

You must have proof that your pet has been vaccinated at some time between 12 months and 1 month prior to your re-entry. If your pet does not have proof of a valid rabies vaccination when re-entering the US, or if the vaccination took place within the thirty days prior to your re-entry, US Customs will quarantine your pet at the place of your choosing until a full 30 days have passed since the actual vaccination took place.

If your pet has not been vaccinated at all for rabies and distemper within the past calendar year, it can only be re-admitted to the US if it is quarantined immediately upon re-entry at the place of your choosing. You must get it vaccinated within four days of its arrival at your final destination, but no more than 10 days after its arrival at the port of entry (border). It will then need to stay in quarantine for a full 30 days.

Importation of dogs and cats into the US is regulated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

According to the CDC, all domestic cats and dogs must show no evidence of disease that can be communicable to humans at the port of entry.

Even if all of your paperwork is in order, if your dog or cat does not look like it is in good health, further examination by a licensed vet (at your expense!) will be necessary before your dog or cat is allowed to re-enter the US!

If your pet has not been vaccinated at all for rabies and distemper within the past calendar year, it can only be re-admitted to the US if it is quarantined immediately upon re-entry at the place of your choosing. You must get it vaccinated within four days of its arrival at your final destination, but no more than 10 days after its arrival at the port of entry (border). It will then need to stay in quarantine for a full 30 days.

My wife fell in love with a puppy in Mexico and wants to adopt it. Can we bring it home to the US legally?

Yes, but your wife will have to be patient. According to the CDC, unvaccinated puppies that are younger than 4 months old have to be confined until they are at least 3 months old. So, in order to bring your puppy back to the US, you and your wife will have to put it in quarantine immediately upon entry. When it turns three months old, you will have to pay to have it vaccinated. Before you can take that squirming, yelping bundle of energy home with you though, you will have to wait for 30 more days until your new puppy is given its health clearance.

I am legally blind and own a certified Seeing Eye dog that I cannot function successfully without. Is my animal still subject to the same rules and restrictions which apply to the re-entry of domestic pets from Mexico?

Unfortunately, even if you depend upon your dog for sight and constant assistance, it will not be allowed re-entry to the US if it appears to US Customs inspectors to be ill in any way, or if you do not have the proper paperwork. All of the same rules and restrictions apply to Seeing Eye dogs that apply to regular domestic pets.

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