The Legalities of Bringing Your Pets to Mexico

Source: istockphoto

UPDATED 08/05/19

We often get emails from readers asking about the legal requirements to bring their pets into Mexico. I had some downtime today, so I thought I would go ahead and knock this post out.

The government agency tasked with overseeing the importation of pets and other animals is el Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad, Calidad Agroalimentaria (SENASICA) which falls under la Secretaría de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural (SADER).

In writing, the two agencies are often mentioned together and appear as SADER-SENASICA. I will be following this trend for the rest of the post.

Here is an interesting factoid: According to SADER-SENASICA, only dogs and cats are considered “pets” in Mexico.


Educational post on social media from SADER-SENASICA: “Remember that in Mexico only dogs and cats are considered pets.”

That may come as a shock to those of you who were planning on bringing your parakeet, ferret, rabbit or turtle on your next vacation to Cancun.

For those folks, I have good news. Although your animal is not technically considered a pet, it is still possible to bring them along with you. I will be discussing the requirements in the section titled Other Animals.

Important -The information in this article only pertains to importing animals into Mexico, it does not cover the requirements to export the animals from your home country. You will have to check with the appropriate agency back home to determine if there are additional requirements. 

Dogs and Cats

I like to follow a Q & A format when tackling a subject like this because it makes it easier for people to find the information they are looking for quickly.

Do I need any special paperwork to bring my dog or cat to Mexico?

You need a veterinarian to issue a certificate of health, on letterhead, for your animals. The certificate should have been issued no later than 15 days before travel.

Multiple animals can be included on the same health certificate. You must bring the original certificate and a copy.

According to SADER-SENASICA, the certificate should contain the following information:

  • Name and address of the exporter (address from the country of origin) and the importer (address of the destination in Mexico)
  • That the animal or animals have been vaccinated against rabies, include the date of the vaccination, and state how long the vaccination is good for. This does not apply to animals under three months of age.
  • That the animal was found to be clinically healthy prior to travel
  • That the animal or animals have had preventative treatment for internal and external parasites in the past six months and are free of external parasites.
  • The name of the veterinarian, professional license number and his or her signature

What happens if I don’t have a certificate of health when I arrive?

According to SADER-SENASICA, you may request the services of a Mexican licensed veterinarian of your choice and at your expense, to issue a new valid health certificate and/or apply the treatment required.

We know a few people who arrived with their dogs at the Cancun Airport without the required paperwork. They all said that a veterinarian responded to the airport within an hour to examine the animals and issue a health certificate. The cost for this service was around $100 USD.

When will I have to present my documentation?

Upon arriving in Mexico, you are required to get in contact with personnel from SADER-SENASICA. They will conduct a brief physical inspection of the animal and make sure that you have complied with all of the agency’s requirements. If all is well, they will issue you an import certificate.

Their personnel can be found at international airports, sea ports, and other points of entry into the country.

Are there any additional requirements that I should know about?

The pet must arrive in a clean kennel or carrier, free of any bedding or other accessories. If there is anything else in the kennel or container, it will be removed and destroyed (this does not apply to collars and leashes). The container will then be sprayed with a sanitizer.

There are also several restrictions related to the type and amount of pet food that you can bring with you. The safest thing to do is to only bring enough for the travel day and plan on buying more when you arrive.

Is there a fee to get an import certificate for my pet?

If you are transporting one to three pets, the import certificate is free. If you are transporting more than three, the costs is $2,087.00 pesos or about $112 USD at the current exchange rate.

Other Animals

I could have ended the post after the last section — as most other blogs do — but I promised those readers with critters other than cats and dogs that I would give them some info too.

I came across several expat and travel blogs that state unequivocally that it’s impossible to bring any animals other than dogs and cats into the country. I’m not sure where they got that information, but it conflicts with the information being provided by the Mexican government (SADER-SENASICA).

Here is screenshot from an article that was posted on the official government site ( on July 19, 2016:


Translation: Do you like to travel with your pets but they aren’t dogs or cats? Don’t worry, el SENASICA has established measures so you can carry them and bring them to the country without any inconvenience. So your ferret, hamster, turtle, snake, or any animal that might be your pet will be able to go on vacation with you.

Well, that seems pretty clear to me.

Obviously some of the importation requirements will change depending on the type of animal. The key is knowing what the requirements are.

How do I find out what the requirements are?

Here is the good news, the Mexican government has created a site to help you find the import requirements for almost any animal. It’s called Módulo de Consulta de Requisitos Zoosanitarios para la Importación (MCRZI). 

The bad news is the site is 100% in Spanish. If your Spanish reading comprehension skills are lacking, you may want to consider asking one of your Spanish-speaking amigos to help you.


How does it work?

This is a searchable database with drop down menus that will allow you to find out the requirements for importation. Once you locate the particular animal, you can print an official looking document with all of the information.

I played with this program for awhile and I found it useful. Here is an example of the requirements sheet (PDF) that I created to import a ferret (hurón) from the United States to Mexico: click HERE

Link to the site: MCRZI portal

Link to instructions on how to use the site: Site manual

What if my animal does not appear in the system?

If the type of animal you are looking for is not in the system, or if the animal you would like to bring is receiving medical treatment, you will have to send your request via email to or (for aquatic animals).

Is there a fee to get an import certificate?

Importation certificate for land animals: $2,087.00 pesos or about $112 USD

Importation certificate for aquatic animals: $2,187.00 pesos or $118 USD

Let’s Wrap this Up

This post went a little longer than I like. I tried to keep it as concise as possible but I didn’t want to risk leaving out anything important.

If you have any questions about importing animals into Mexico, get with SADER-SENASICA for clarification.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

24 Comments on "The Legalities of Bringing Your Pets to Mexico"

  1. Alfred Torrence | September 15, 2016 at 7:05 am |

    We have a dog that cannot ever be revaccinated due to an auto immune disorder. He is past due for rabies vaccination. The dog is very healthy otherwise. Can I get a letter from our vet stating this is the case and include it with the standard paperwork to enter Mexico? Anyone have an idea? We own a place in PV and will be spending longer periods of time there.

    • There are two email adresses in the post. If the pet has any health issues or is receiving any treatment, you will have to send your request to them. I am sure they can give you a definitive answer.

  2. I bring two dogs to Mexico with me every year. I never had a problem with documentation until last year. My vet that did not include the original health certificate with my paperwork. He only gave me copies. These were not acceptable when I arrived in Cancun. Also,
    although the health certificate says it’s good for 30 days in the US, it is only good for five days on entering Mexico. So make sure you schedule your vet visit visit only five days before your flight. Because of this I had to get a new health certificate from a Mexican vet. I called one of the vets listed on the sheet given to me at customs. For $100 USD he came to the airport within 20 minutes and issued the certificate without ever taking the dogs out of their crate. He just looked at the original paperwork and did up a Mexican version. This whole process took about an hour and I was on my way minus $100.

    • Thanks for sharing that. That was very informative.

      The U.S. Consulate in Mexico says that the exam has to be done within 15 days and the Mexican site does not list a time at all for dogs and cats. It does, however, list one when I ran the requirements for a ferret: 10 days. This is certainly a country of inconsistencies.

  3. Thomas Geronimo | September 15, 2016 at 9:22 am |

    Paul, do you know anything about having prescription medications shipped to Mexico. I know that a lot of meds are less expensive than in the US, but I get quite a few through Tricare (I’m retired Military) and wonder if I could have them sent by a mail forwarding service . Thanks.

    • No, sorry. I haven’t encountered that one yet but I think it is a good idea for a future blog article.

  4. We have two 100lb dogs and intend to drive into Baja through San Diego. Obviously 2 large crates would take up an enormous amount of room in the back of our SUV (not even sure they’d fit) and so our dogs never ride in them. And my male dog does not like strangers. The health certificate is no problem, but have you heard from anyone else on how this works for people driving in with pets?

    • Heather–driving across the border is easier than flying into Mexico. You don’t need to crate your dogs when driving. My research is all for AZ through Lukeville to Puerto Peñasco–but driving through the Tijuana border crossing should be very similar. Be sure to have copies of photos for both dogs. They’re sometimes requested, and will definitely help if one gets lost. Important to know is that while everyone needs Certification that their pet was considered healthy within 10 days of travel, as a resident of AZ/CA/NM/TX, your health certificate is valid for 6 months. Absolutely check the gov’t sites to see if there’s anything new when you’re ready to travel–rules can and do change.

  5. Thanks! The topic has been on my mind, as we’ll be bringing our three cats to BCS with us this fall. I had read somewhere (I don’t remember where) that there is a limit of two pets, but from this post it sounds like there isn’t.

  6. Thanks Paul, hope it’s okay to add a link to you blog on my more anecdotal post on the subject?

  7. I’ve traveled with my dog for ten years to Cancun sometimes with a State health certificate and sometimes with an international health certificate. Now my vet is telling me that I have to have a new International Health Certificate which I took with me the last time I traveled to Cancun. The problem is my vet says the International Certificate is a requirement now for Mexico and the new price is somewhat more than what I used to pay because they say it’s a lot more involved. My question is does Cancun really care if it’s a State Certificate as long as it has all the information on it? Or is this new Certificate really coming from the powers that be in Mexico.

    • It doesn’t mention that it has to be an “international” certificate on the offical site for SAGARPA-SENASICA. There is a link to the requirements in the article. If can always send your question directly to SAGARPA-SENASICA to get a definitive answer. Once you get it, I would carry a copy of it with me to avoid any confusion in the future.

  8. Lynda McLean | January 9, 2017 at 7:29 am |

    What bout bringing horses into Mexico? Althpugh I will probably have her shipped down as hauling them myself will be too stressful. Thanks.

  9. If using Google Chrome, you can set it to automatically translate pages not in English. Go to settings–> advanced settings–>Languages and then check the box “offer to translate pages that aren’t in a language you read”. Then you’ll get a little “translation” icon in the far right of your address bar You also can always right-click on the page and should see “Translate to English” as one of the options. Not always perfect, but it definitely helps.

  10. I have a registered service dog, golden retriever, which is a hearing alert dog. When I move she will be on the plane with me in the cabin, not in a crate. Do you know of any special procedures or documentation required in addition to what you’ve already mentioned for service dogs? And I know many people have Emotional Support dogs that aren’t crated as well.

    • Michelle B. | January 5, 2018 at 11:38 am |

      Hi Cheryl! I have a therapy dog and wondered if you had discovered any information on the topic? (As mine won’t be crated as well) Thanks!

  11. Hello there I am importing two ferrets and have printed the same document as you showed us here. Thank you!!!! Did anyone bother you at the airport to inspect? My biggest worry is having to hire a broker?? Would love to know your experience.

    • Hi Abby. Did you print the document specifically for ferrets? The requirements change based on the type of animal but you can look up the requirements at the link provided. We haven’t personally brought any animals through the airport but several of our neighbors and friends have. None of them have reported any problems.

      I would recommend bringing the print out of the import requirements with you just in case you end up dealing with someone who is unfamiliar with the the specific requirements. It always helps to have something in hand.

  12. Does the health certificates need to be in English and Spanish? I read on another site that it does. Do we need a health certificate and APHIS7001 form? Do I need to original copies? If they keep one I thought I might need an original to return to the US. It is true you also need the vet to put date of last frontline treatment?

  13. I was just about to ask the same thing about the certificate Beth, whether it needs to be in Spanish. That wouldn’t be available in my country, so I would have to get a copy translated, notarised I suppose, but no original in Spanish would be available.

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