Bringing Pets to Mexico- Step By Step

Pets are our family members, and many of you will likely plan your move to Mexico around your furry friends comfort.

With this quick guide, I hope to help you answer the questions of

  • How do you bring your pets if you’re driving to Mexico?
  •   How do you bring your pets if you are flying?
  •   What documents do you need to have handy?
  •   How to find services that bring your pets from the USA/Canada to Mexico.
  •   And what resources you can look into to help you make the move.

So, let’s first cover how to bring your pets to Mexico if you are driving.

Bringing pets to Mexico
Bringing pets to Mexico is very easy with the right preparation.

Driving to Mexico with Pets

As of 2019, Mexico no longer requires a health certificate if your pet is from Canada or the U.S. by land. That means you can drive to the border without needing a health certificate. However, there are still some steps you have to follow per the USDA (source: USDA)

When you arrive at the border, an agent will ask you, “algo que declarar?” (something to declare?) You need to declare any living animals, so please let the border agents know you have a dog/cat. Also, according to Mexican customs laws, you can bring up to 2 animals per person into Mexico.

After two pets, you may be asked to pay an import fee per pet. However, this is up to the customs agent at the border. The average fee for 3 pets or more is $1620 MXN.

You can pay online with this link: https://sistemasssl.senasica.gob.mx/hojaAyuda/derechosViaInternet.jsp

Remember that many border agents in Mexico might not inspect your car or your pets. In Mexico, many things are done randomly and not for every entry. However, to be prepared is to be safe!

  1. Upon arrival to Mexico with your pet dog(s) and/or cat(s) in a clean cage(s)/carrier(s), travelers must visit the Mexican Animal and Plant Health Inspection Office (OISA) to contact the official personnel working with SENASICA. The official personnel will verify the following:
  2.   That the dog(s) and/or cat(s) do/do not present signs of infectious and contagious diseases.
  3.   The animal(s) is/are free of ectoparasites.
  4.   The animal has all current shots, including rabies. A letter from your vet should suffice to indicate that your pet is current on all vaccinations.
  •  The animal(s) does/do not present fresh wounds or wounds in a healing process. Suppose your pet is being treated for lesions and/or infections due to a skin condition. In that case, you should present the SENASICA agent with your Veterinarian’s diagnosis and treatment instructions. This information should be presented on letterhead, including the Veterinarian’s professional registration number (or equivalent).

Please remember that in Mexico, only cats and dogs are considered pets. If you wish to bring reptiles or birds, that is a separate process.

Bring your dogs and cats to Mexico
Bring your dogs and cats to Mexico

Once You Cross The Border

If your pet(s) is/are under treatment due to lesions and/or infections on the skin due to mites, dermatomycosis, dermatophytosis, hairless, or surgery, you should present to the official personnel of SADER/SENASICA the diagnostic and treatment instructed by the Veterinarian. And that the Veterinarian thinks the pet is in good health to travel. Such information should be presented on letterhead, including the professional registration number (or equivalent). Enclosed on the letterhead should be the professional registration number (or equivalent).

When the cage/carrier is dirty and/or contains bed disposable (newspaper wood – other materials) toys or edible products, disinfection will be applied, removing all that is inside of the carrier/cage for proper destruction.

Only the portion of food used to feed the animal during the day of arrival will be allowed. 

Flying to Mexico With Pets

Before you fly with a pet into Mexico, you must find out whether airlines allow pets to go in cargo or the cabin. Each airline has its requirements—some will not put pets in cargo in the summer, and some will not allow more than 2 animals per flight. Another thing you’ll have to consider is that Mexican customs law states that you are allowed to bring up to 2 animals per person into Mexico.

After 2 pets, you may be asked to pay an import fee per pet. However, this is up to the customs agent at the airport. Most people flying with more than 2 pets will ask a family member or friend to bring their additional pet. Two people can bring up to 4 cats or dogs into Mexico.

Airlines Have Their Requirements, And They May Differ From The Government 

Although Mexico does NOT require a health certificate for pets from the U.S. or Canada, the airline may require a health certificate.

We recommend checking the airline’s pet policy at least 3 months in advance to know if they’ll allow a pet on the flight you want to take. Determine if your pet can go “in-cabin” or must go in “cargo” and what the requirements are. Some airlines may have a pet limit per flight. It’s important to ask.

Vaccines/Shots

Make sure your pet is up to date on rabies and deworming shots. Depending on the airline, your pet’s vaccines should be administered at least 30 days before travel dates. Deworming or parasite treatment before travel dates.

Confirm the costs

Some airlines require phone reservations for pets in cabin and/or cargo. However, more and more airlines allow online bookings. You can expect to pay around $150-$500 USD for your pet to fly with you. We suggest you book your and your pet’s flights at least a month in advance. Aeromexico allows you to get a rough quote for your pet to travel in cargo.

Service Animals

You may bypass the restrictions if, for example, your pet is certified as a “service animal” and you have a letter from your doctor certifying the reason you need a service animal. Don’t attempt to get your pet on the plane by buying an online service animal certificate – the airlines are “onto” those schemes.

Health Certificate

Depending on which airline you and your pet are traveling on, your health certificate should be issued within 10-15 days of travel. Mexico does NOT require a health certificate- the airlines are private businesses, and some DO require a health certificate.

Work With An Expert

There are times when you may be moving to Mexico with more than one pet. Or you may be moving to Mexico on one visit and plan for your pets to catch up to you on a different occasion once you are settled in.

Regardless of your situation, you may need some extra help. For this reason, we have some excellent pet transport recommendations. For a fee, you can hire an individual to fly to the USA or Canada to bring your pets down to Mexico.

Our vetted contacts are knowledgeable and very pet-friendly. Plus, they know the ins and outs. Save yourself time, effort, and stress. They’ll hold your hand throughout the whole process. When you purchase our complete Mexico Relocation Guide, you get our directory of contacts across Mexico, which includes our pet transport contacts.

Arrival Of Your Pet At The Airport

Upon arrival at an international airport in Mexico, you must meet your pet in the cargo section. Depending on the airline, they will give detailed instructions on where to meet your pet.

You and your pet must go to the SAGARPA-SENASICA office inside the airport to present your health certificate. The authority or official will then do a thorough examination to make sure your pet is in good health. He/she will check your dog’s characteristics, such as sex, breed, color, and other factors that match your health certificate.

SENASICA will usually only allow your pet into Mexico with a reasonable ration of food for a day. Although we have been told that the personnel are usually very lenient and don’t usually make you throw out extra food, be prepared to do so.

SENASICA does not charge you for the inspection and importation of a pet into Mexico.

SENASICA Requirements for Pet Travel Into Mexico

Contact SENASICA’s official personnel to obtain an import certificate

for your pet. The officer then will carry out a physical and documental

inspection to verify compliance with the following requirements:

  • If you are traveling from a country other than the USA/Canada-Submit, an original Good Health Certificate (with a non-certified copy) valid for at least 15 days after issuance and containing the following items: The certificate must be issued by an official veterinarian of
  • the competent authority or a private practice veterinarian. If issued by
  • the latter, the certificate must be printed on company letterhead with the
  • printed professional license number or a photocopy thereof (or an
    • equivalent.)
  • Name and address of the exporter (country of origin or departure)
    • and the importer (destination address in Mexico).
  • Date of application of the rabies vaccine and validity thereof
    • (animals younger than 3 months old are exempt from this requirement).
  • The animal(s) must have been found clinically healthy at the
    • inspection before their trip.
  • The animal(s) must have been dewormed within the
    • past six months and must be free of ectoparasites.
  •  In the event of non-compliance with the above, contact a
  • veterinarian in Mexico (of your choice and at your own expense), who will
  • apply the corresponding treatment(s) and issue the corresponding health
    • certificate.
  •  Your pet must be carried in a clean crate or container, without a bed,
  • implements, or accessories (toys, treats, or other items manufactured with
  • ruminant ingredients); otherwise, such items will be removed for
  • destruction. The crate or container will undergo preventive treatment
  • through spraying by official personnel from the Secretariat of
  • Agriculture-SENASICA. Your pet can enter with its collar, leash, etc.
  •  You can carry a daily ration of balanced feed in bulk. We remind you
  • that most dog foods are available for purchase in Mexico.
  •  So you document your pet as cargo and, verify the requirements with your
  • airline of choice, and consider using the services of a customs agent for
  • processing and release of your pet from Customs.

Hiring A Service to Bring Your Pets

Many of our customers don’t want to put their pets through the stress of flying. Or it may be a situation where your pet cannot fly because of specific breed restrictions.

For this reason, we have a directory of recommended pet transport companies that can bring your furry friends from the U.S./Canada to Mexico. Most of our contacts have very comfortable vans which are fully equipped to handle large kennels.

Some of our recommended contacts will fly your pets on your behalf. You will need to cover the cost of their flight to your hometown and cover the flight to the final destination in Mexico, as well as pet fees and airline fees.

If you’d like to work with one of our recommended contacts, consider buying our complete Mexico Relocation Guide. Once you purchase the guide, you get instant access to our directory of recommended contacts across Mexico.

Other Tips and Resources

To consider when choosing an airline for your pet:

Some airlines have restrictions on pet transport during extreme summer or winter months. Check this first!

Most airlines will allow you to take a small pet in the cabin as long as your pet meets certain weight and size restrictions. Check with the airline to know how many pets you can take per person.

If your pet isn’t used to being in a kennel for long periods of time, consider getting them used to their travel kennel a few months before your travel. Put some toys or blankets in their kennel to train them in the meantime. That way, on travel day, they will be less stressed.

If at all possible, try to arrange for your pet’s flights to be as direct as possible. The less time your pet has to spend traveling, the less stress they will experience.

To find dog-friendly lodging across Mexico, we recommend using BringFido.com, Booking.com or Airbnb.com and using the “pet friendly” filters.

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

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Comments

  1. Troy Wickenheiser says

    Looking for help/information on moving horses into Mexico.
    Also looking for real estate agents in the Guadalajara that deal with acreages.
    Thank you Troy.

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