Bringing Your Dogs & Cats

How to bring your Dogs and Cats into Mexico

When you cross over the border into Mexico you will have to present: A pet health certificate signed by a registered veterinarian in the United States and issued not more than 5 days before arrival into Mexico. It needs to have an official printed letterhead that shows the vet’s credentials with a copy of the vet’s license. Also on the letter you need to put the pet’s name, age, breed, and sex, and it must match the animal’s description when you enter Mexico. You also need to have your name and home address and your destination on it.


  • Pet health certificate
  • Vet’s printed letter head with credentials
  • Certificate must have pet’s name, age, breed, and sex
  • Your name,home address and your destination.

Vet’s printed letter head with credentials

There is a U.S. Federal form that your vet can use but it will cost an extra 125 dollars. It all depends on how thorough you want to be. Some sites say that the vaccination certificates and the other information written on the vet’s letterhead will be sufficient. It would be a good idea for you to ask your veterinarian if he usually just writes the letter or if he thinks you will need that form. Ask him what he will charge to do the certificates on top of the exam and shots. Some vets don’t charge extra for filling in the forms, some charge a lot. You should know in advance what you are getting into with the vet.

I have read conflicting things about what you need. I have also talked with many people who crossed the border in their cars and all the border guards did was pat their animal on the head and wave them on through.

A friend last night told me that her friends couldn’t get their dog through customs in Guadalajara because their vet in the States forgot to check the box that said the dog was free of internal and external parasites. They had to call the vet. Fortunately he was in his office and he faxed another form down to them with that box checked. So you see, there is great variation with the rules. But from what I have heard, it is much easier to bring a pet by car across the border than by plane.

As with many other things in life, especially in Mexican life, the reality of a situation doesn’t always match the official expectations.

I certify that I have examined the above-named animal

One site said that no particular form is needed. It could just say, ”I certify that I have examined the above-named animal and found it to be clinically healthy and free from external and internal parasites.” Written and signed by the veterinarian. It could even be written on the proof of vaccination certification or on the official letterhead.

Another site said you have to have the official federal form from the United States Government. I say, ask your vet what is needed and how much extra it will cost for the form on top of the exam and shots. This official health form is going to cost you an extra 125 dollars. You may want to just have the vet use his own letterhead. You choose.

The Access team contacted Alaska Airlines and they didn’t ask for the official form, just the vet’s own letterhead and information on it. It would be best to ask the airlines which forms they ask for before you buy your ticket.

If you are driving over the border, it is your choice as to how thorough you want to get. If you try to drive over with no documentation, you may get sent back.

We are going to try to clear this up a bit:

  • You will need a certificate of vaccination from the veterinarian stating the animal has been vaccinated for rabies (not more than 12 months prior to arriving in Mexico, The type of vaccine should be included.) Also it has to state that the animal has been given shots for hepatitis, pip and leptospirosis. (Some people say that you only need the rabies certificate.) But you do need the vet to say that the animal has been examined and is free of internal and external parasites and is in good health. Are you confused yet? If not, here is more information.
  • Bring two copies of this certification and statement down with you. The statement can be written on the certificate of vaccination. Or use the U.S. Govt. form. Your vet may have one in his office and it will cost you an extra 125 dollars to use this form.)
  • You need the vet’s signature and date it was signed on it. It has to be no more than five days prior to entry into Mexico. When I called Alaska Airlines the representative said it had to be no more than 30 days prior to the flight. It said 5 days on their site. I have also read that it couldn’t be older than 72 hours from the time the vet signed it. So many rules, which ones to follow? It is all up to you. Just remember that the more short cuts you take, the higher the risk of not getting your pet over the border.
  • You are required to bring an original and one photocopy of these documents and your pet to the Office of the Inspector for Agricultural Health at your port of entry. ( I am assuming that is the title of the customs agent at the airport.) This is all confusing to me too. Almost enough to just leave the animal at home. But be patient. There is more.
  • A permit fee is charged at the time of entering into Mexico. I haven’t found out anything else about this fee. Maybe it is another of those instances of reality vs. the rules.
  • A pet less than three months old it is exempt from the certification of vaccination. Lucky you if you have a younger animal to bring through. You get to avoid some of this.

If you want to be more thorough, look at this official site: Senasica. They have extensive information.

Also, call your vet and ask some questions and call your airlines. I fly with Alaska Airlines. They allow you to bring in two free checked bags into Guadalajara and I always have lots of clothing to bring back here. They allow the pet to be in your cabin with you if it is very small and is able to stand up in the pet carrier and can turn around when it is under the seat. That isn’t very high, maybe 15 inches. Otherwise, it has to go below. It costs an extra hundred dollars each way to bring the pet on Alaska Airlines. You will have to investigate the rules and costs of other airlines flying into Guadalajara.

On returning to the States you have to have proof of vaccination against Rabies within the past 12 months. If you are flying, I suggest you also ask the airlines what they require. Some airlines also ask for a certificate of health from a Mexican Veterinarian.

If you are driving, the rules won’t be as stringent. But you should for sure have that up to date rabies certification. It doesn’t hurt a dog or cat to have another shot if it isn’t quite a year since the last one. I wish you good luck and no delays when you bring in your pet. It will be worth all this trouble. It is a beautiful place for animals here.

[Note]Please Note this article now has an update, please read the following:[/Note]

[Alert]”In some cases, custom officials at the airport may request the form that has been signed by your US or Canadian Vet, also be signed by a Mexican Vet. Of courses it is almost impossible to see a Mexican vet in the US or Canada but you could do the following:”[/Alert]

[Info]1)      Contact a Mexican Vet here in Lake Chapala, scan him the form (signed by your vet) and have him sign it with his license number attached to the document, then have him scan it and send it back to you.
2)      Depending on what airport you arrive at (assuming you are arriving at the Guadalajara Airport), search online for a Vet that has an office close to the airport or request the same vet you contacted in Lake Chapala to be on call. Just in case customs does require the form signed by a Mexican Vet, you can call him upon arrival and have him come to the airport. Of course this evolves a fee for the VET.[/Info]

By, Evelyn Walker Team
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