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Last updateFri, 20 Nov 2020 11am

The ABCs of bringing your pet into Mexico

Recent letters to the editor indicate that some people aren’t doing their homework when it comes to crossing international borders – in this case to Mexico – with their pets. Nor do they appear to give adequate consideration to their pets’ comfort when making their travel arrangements.

As most people know, “how we do it at home” is irrelevant. Every country has different regulations relating to obtaining permission to cross its borders. It is the traveller’s responsibility to find out what is required and provide it. Whether it’s an entry or exit visa for a human, or health certificates for the import or export of animals, advance preparation is essential.

Dogs and cats have accompanied me to countries in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America and each has different requirements. Three dogs travelled to Mexico: one from Europe, then two from the United Kingdom – one in 2012 and another in 2013. We encountered no difficulties checking-in with the airlines – each of which also has specific requirements – nor in complying with the requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, where we transited, or those of Mexico’s SAGARPA-SENASICA regulations.

Do Your Homework

The trick is to do your homework, both in terms of entry regulation compliance for each country whose borders you cross and the requirements of the airline(s).

Start by checking Mexico’s SENASICA entry requirements for dogs and cats. These details are current and dated 23 December 2013, but it is always wise to check the website:  www.senasica.gob.mx/?Idioma=2&id=623 (English) or www.senasica.gob.mx/?Idioma=1&id=623 (Spanish) to ensure that you have the latest information.

Returning to Mexico

SENASICA says, “If you are returning your pet from the United States 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 six months of your return date to Mexico. Alternatively, you may present a vaccine booklet showing that the rabies vaccine is current.

“If your pet is returning to Mexico from any other country other than the United States or Canada, 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.”

First time arrivals in Mexico

Mexico requires that you present the inspectors with one original and one copy of the Zoosanitary Certificate for Export (Health Certificate) issued by the corresponding federal authority, or issued by a veterinarian, in both cases from the country of origin of the pet.

International APHIS documentation is one option, but to fully comply with all Mexican authorities’ requirements, plus those of the airlines, I asked my vet to issue four originals of a custom’s certificate which was fully compliant with SENASICA’s regulations and which included the travel details and overnight stops en route [See: 5 below]. This then covered the three airline check-ins and the U.S. and Mexican entry requirements, as follows:

Certificates issued by the veterinarian:

  • Must be printed on official headed notepaper and be valid within ten days of issue.
  • Must show veterinarian’s official accreditation to practice – a valid license number code or country registration.

Must include details of:

  • Name and address of the exporter and importer, as well as the pet identification data (chip) and pet’s final destination: eg: Jane Brown – owner travelling with dog.
  • Pet’s breed, description, date of birth and microchip/tattoo number (if any).
  • (Optional) Travel details: eg: London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare + date. Overnight + date. Chicago O’Hare to Benito Juárez México City + date. Mexico City to Guadalajara + date.
  • Owner’s permanent address and telephone number in Mexico.
  • Details of rabies vaccine type, indicating vaccination date and duration of effectiveness.  (Animals under three months of age are exempt from this requirement.)
  • That the animal has undergone a preventive treatment against internal and external parasites, maximum six months pre-travel and is free of ectoparasites (pets originating from the United States and Canada are exempt).
  • That the inspection prior to travel found the animal to be clinically healthy.

These are the current requirements for importing dogs or cats into Mexico. Next week we will look at airlines’ and IATA’s pet travel regulations and restrictions, crate requirements and permitted contents, pet travel tips, food and water and the Agricultural Health Inspection Office (OISA) inspection procedures on arrival in Mexico.

As the SAGARPA-SENASICA website says: "Avoid unnecessary delays – get informed of requirements before you travel!"

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