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.
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.
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 (gob.mx) 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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (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.