Driving to Mexico With Pets

View a template of an Accredited Veterinarian Certificate, created by the USDA, that meets current guidelines outlined by SAGARPA in January, 2017.

Do we need any special documentation to take our dog and cat to Mexico?

Yes. According to SAGARPA, an acronym for the Mexican government's Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación, and the USDA, in order to cross over the border into Mexico with pet dogs or cats you will need to carry:

  • An Accredited Veterinarian Certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian who has examined your pet no greater than 10 days prior to travel.

  • Make sure the Accerdited Veterinarian Certificate meets the updated guidelines, as outlined by SAGARPA on January 18th, 2017:
    • Proof of vaccination against rabies and distemper, administered at least 15 days before your pet enters Mexico, along with expiration date.
    • Confirmation that your pet has been treated against endoparasites and ectoparasites within the previous 6 months.
    • The certificate must be typed- handwritten certificates will not be accepted.
    • Make no modifications to the wording in the document.
    • No abbreviations are permitted on the certificate, ie. months, years, states, etc.
    • The certificate must be printed on the accredited veterinarian's letterhead and must include the veterinarian's accreditation number.
  • It is also recommended to bring proof of ownership just in case you need it.

Is there any information that should be included on the Accredited Certificate that my vet writes for our pet?

First, be sure that the actual dates of vaccination appear on the health certificate. According to the USDA, your certificate for each pet must...

  • be presented in duplicate (you should always keep an extra copy!)
  • clearly state your name and address
  • include a complete description of your pet (species/age/sex)
  • state that your pet has been examined and found to be free of all contagious diseases

Are there any special requirements for dogs and cats that reside in the border region of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California?

Yes. According to the USDA:

  • Cats and dogs that travel back and forth through the border zone will be allowed to do so with an Accredited Veterinarian Certificate issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian residing at the border zone (US or Mexico). The certificate must be in official letterhead and include his or her license number.
  • The certificate will be valid for 6 months.

My puppy was born two months ago, and isn't old enough yet to have all of her shots yet. What should I do?

Mexico will exempt the rabies vaccination requirement if your puppy or kitten is under 3 months old.

Will my pets have to be quarantined when entering Mexico?

Your pets will NOT be placed in quarantine when entering Mexico, as long as you have the necessary paperwork with you.

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?

According to the CDC: Adult dogs older than 15 months of age that have previously received a rabies vaccination given no earlier than 3 months of age and that has since expired may be imported immediately following booster vaccination, without the need to wait for 30 days.

Dogs that have never received a rabies vaccination before must be vaccinated at least 30 days prior to arrival in the US.

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!

Is it possible to get an International Certificate of Health and proof of vaccinations for my pets while I am in Mexico?

Yes, it is. For a small fee, you can get a Certificado Zoosanitario from a licensed Mexican veterinarian proving recent vaccination for rabies, triple canina and parvovirus. Remember that at least 30 days must pass after your pet is vaccinated before you may enter the US with it, or else you will have to place it in quarantine. The Mexican certificate of good health must indicate that your pet has been thoroughly checked out by a vet within the month (30 days) prior to your re-entry and clearly state that your pet is in good health. Any health certificate issued more than 30 days before your re-entry will not be accepted.

Can I bring my birds and ferret to Mexico?

Yes. Information can be found on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website.

Sources:
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
SAGARPA
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Updated on July 20th, 2017

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