New Requirements for Bringing Pets to Mexico

by Allyson Williams on September 4, 2012 · 110 comments

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July 2014 Author’s Note: Please view our Pet Travel Tips for up-to-date regulations and required documents for Mexico, the United States and Canada. Have questions? Feel free to leave a comment or question below.


Summer is quickly coming to an end and that means many of you are likely getting ready to head south to spend the winter in Jaltemba Bay or other parts of Mexico. If you are traveling with pets, we want you to be aware that the document requirements have recently changed.

Regardless of whether you will travel by land, air or sea, you are required to follow the same basic guidelines when bringing pets into Mexico. However, the regulations differ slightly for each country. We have contacted SAGARPA officials and our local USDA-APHIS office for clarification, and have done our best to include the updated regulations for Mexico, the United States and Canada on our Pet Travel Tips page to ensure that you and your four-legged friends have a hassle-free experience while crossing the border.

Update: Traveling with Pets of Mexican Origin

Added September 26, 2012

Thanks to Michael’s comment below, I emailed my contact at SAGARPA. He informed me that if your pet is of Mexican origin and you are traveling from the US or Canada, you can present the zoosanitary health certificate you received from your veterinarian before you departed from Mexico as long as a) it states the date of current rabies vaccine and b) you are traveling within 6 months from the date it was issued.

As I state on our Pet Travel Tips page, it is worth noting that while this information is posted on the SAGARPA website, we called our local USDA-APHIS office for confirmation. The USDA officials we spoke with were not aware of this regulation, nor do we know anyone who has traveled from the US/Canada to Mexico with a Mexican health certificate as their only form of documentation.

I have updated our Pet Travel Tips page to include this new information, and we will update it further as more information becomes available.

Update: New Non-Official Bilingual Letterhead Health Certificate

Added September 29, 2012

Our local USDA-APHIS office just informed me that there is an updated Non-Official Bilingual Letterhead Health Certificate. This recent change was due to the fact that Mexico now accepts the 3-year Rabies vaccine. I have added a copy of this new document to our Pet Travel Tips page.

{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Donkle May 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I am so concerned right now. I just read where (on a different site) that rabies must be within one year and not after thirty days before entering Mexico? My dog has a three year rabies shot that is current but was given two years ago. And we leave in eight days so I cant just go get one because it is shorter than thirty days before leaving. Anyone tried to get into mexico with a three year vaccination that was given longer than a year ago? I am going to be in Mexico for three months so I cant just not take my girl! Any input? Thanks


Allyson Williams May 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Hi Lisa, I just emailed you as well. Mexico now accepts the 3-year rabies vaccine. Just make sure you bring the original (and a copy) of her Rabies Certificate and Travel Health Certificate, preferably bi-lingual. If you are flying, double check with the airline to make sure they don’t require additional documentation.


Kayleb Holden June 20, 2014 at 5:56 am

It is one of the hardest parts of travelling with your pets. You have ot make sure you are following all the right rules and regulations and each country has differing ones. They often change, as your example above illustrates. It is always best to get in contact directly and find out what you need. The same goes for places you have previously visited because regulations are updated often.


Roger July 31, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Hello! I have read the information you have on your blog regarding traveling to Mexico with a dog, however, I am not able to identify the answer to my question. Your website states:
‘Animal/s has been vaccinated against rabies. Indicate the date of vaccination and the date through which the vaccination is valid. Animals younger than three months are exempted from this requirement.’
My Questions:
1. What is the meaning of vaccination validation date?
2. What does rabies vaccine be current mean – is it one year/3 years from the date of vaccination?
Sorry, I am totally confused and need to know if my dog has to be re-vaccinated prior to traveling back to Mexico. I have read Mexico is now on a 3 year rule to conform with US and Canada. Trying to avoid excessive vaccination. thanks for any info you can provide.


Allyson Williams July 31, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Hi Roger. If you haven’t already done so, click the link to read our updated Pet Travel Tips. There, it states that Mexico accepts the 3-year rabies vaccine from the US/Canada. Not sure where you see “vaccination validation date.” I hope this answers your question. If not, post again.


Roger July 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Hi Allyson, Thank you for your response. I found the ‘vaccination validation date’ on your website under US Regulations for Exporting Pets to Mexico (HC must contain….).I have read the updated info regarding 3-year acceptance by Mexico but am unsure whether that means 3 years from the time the vaccine was given or the expiry date of the vaccine? Would you be kind enough to clarify this point? Thanks, again.


Allyson Williams July 31, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Roger, The rabies vaccination is currently given every 3 years in both the US and Canada. Not long ago, Mexico only accepted that it be given yearly. There was a recent change, and it is good for us and our pets… so we don’t have to over-vaccinate them.


Lisa July 31, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Just came here to Mexico with my dog, three year rabies is accepted


Sway February 19, 2015 at 3:48 am

Amazing! Is that the only required vaccine? My dog is obviously up to date on all vaccines but did they specifically chec for dates on others?


Allyson Williams February 19, 2015 at 11:44 am

Sway, I’m not sure which vaccine you are referring to, but you can find all up-to-date requirements by clicking the link provided in the article.


Roger August 1, 2014 at 6:15 am

Allyson and Lisa, thank you for your comments. Lisa, when you said in an earlier post your dog had the 3 year vaccination which is current, how did you determine it was current? Is it from the expiry date of the vaccine itself? I am still confused, please help me understand. Thanks.


Allyson Williams August 1, 2014 at 8:46 am

Roger, When we say that the 3-year vaccine is current, we mean that Mexico now accepts the 3-year vaccine from the US/Canada (before they wanted it given every year). Your vet will need to indicate when your pet when given his last rabies shot on the health certificate. That date is what’s important to note.


Roger August 1, 2014 at 9:10 am

Thank you both for the clarification. However, the vaccination was given to my pup in Mexico. Does that factor in for the 3 year rule, or does the vaccine be given in Canada for it to apply?


Allyson Williams August 1, 2014 at 9:13 am

Roger, Email me directly at


Allyson Williams August 1, 2014 at 9:14 am

Roger, Let’s back up. Where are you now and when/where are you traveling? When did your dog get his last rabies shot?


Lisa August 1, 2014 at 8:59 am

Three years from the date given. It expires after three years. It should have an expiration date on your vet’s paperwork. If that date has passed it is expired.


Shel August 2, 2014 at 5:57 am

Hi, I am having the same concerns as Roger. My dog was given her rabies shot in Mexico in December last year. When I wrote to the vet in Mexico, they confirmed Mexico has a one-year rabies policy. I then wrote Senastica and they wrote back saying the same thing. I turned around and wrote to the manufacturer of the vaccine – same responses all this week! How can I find out in writing that a 3 – year rabies shot given in Mexico will be accepted when I travel back this year? Is there an official website that states this? Thanks for the help.


Allyson Williams August 2, 2014 at 8:37 am

Shel, unfortunately there is not. I have corresponded with the head of SARGAPA/SENASICA on several occasions and he confirmed that this is the case. I have also confirmed with both my vets in Mexico and to top it off, we travel with our pups back and forth from the US/Mexico at least twice a year. Can you tell me where you go in Mexico? Please email me directly at


Elaine August 2, 2014 at 9:07 am

Not to muddy the waters, but here in the Baja, I have been told by two vets that they don’t do 3 year rabies. I just asked again in March and my dog was given a one year rabies. Here they give you a booklet with the tag from the vaccine bottle stuck onto the rabies page.

As an aside, coming from Canada, I have only used the vets Health Certificate (in English) entering Mexico. Obviously the more documentation you have the better.


Allyson Williams August 2, 2014 at 10:06 am

Folks, you are talking about two very different issues.

For anyone who has had their pets vaccinated in Mexico, you will need to find out if your specific vaccine is a 1-year or 3-year vaccine. You will obviously need to have your pets re-vaccinated accordingly.

This particular issue has nothing to do with the fact that Mexico currently accepts the 3-year vaccine for the travel health certificate. This regulation change basically makes it possible for those of us who have had our pets vaccinated using the 3-year vaccine to not have to re-vaccinate our pets unnecessarily.

I hope this helps clarify. If not, please feel free to email me directly at


Shel August 3, 2014 at 7:06 am

Elaine, thank you for sharing your experience. It is really helpful and makes sense why all my inquires to Mexico have come back indicating they have a one-year vaccination in place in Mexico.


david snow August 14, 2014 at 9:22 am

For her first rabies shot, we were told to get it 30 days prior to travel from Mexico. Do any subsequent rabies shots also be given 30 days prior to departure – in this case from Canada to Mex?


Allyson Williams August 14, 2014 at 9:32 am

David, I don’t know why your vet mentioned anything about giving the vaccine 30 before traveling, and there aren’t “subsequent” shots needed for rabies, so I guess I can only suggest that you ask your vet to confirm.


david snow August 14, 2014 at 9:37 am

Hi Allyson, Thanks but by subsequent rabies shot, I mean the ones that are given annually or 3-yearly. What I meant does my dog now have to be given the annual shot 30 days prior to travel? Checked with his vet, they did not know!


Allyson Williams August 14, 2014 at 9:43 am

Thanks for clarifying David. Just like with any vaccine, your pet will be to be re-vaccinated for rabies when the vaccine expires, in other words, 3 years after the date it was given (if it is a 3-year vaccine). When you travel, your vet will need to include this date on the Health Certificate, along with the other items listed on our Pet Travel Tips page. Hope this helps.


david snow August 14, 2014 at 9:45 am

My question was really whether my pet will need to be revaccinated 30 days prior to travel.?


Allyson Williams August 14, 2014 at 10:40 am

David, Your pet only needs to be re-vaccinated when his rabies vaccine expires.


david snow August 14, 2014 at 11:03 am

Allyson, thanks, but my pet will require revaccination just before traveling and that is the reason I need to understand if he must get the revaccination 30 days prior?


Allyson Williams August 14, 2014 at 11:14 am

There is no rule that states anything about any vaccines (or other treatment) being given so many days before you travel. Your pet’s rabies vaccine expires when it expires and you need to have your pet re-vaccinated then, whether you are traveling or not. I hope this makes sense.


jo December 20, 2014 at 11:16 am

Thanks for all the terrific, up to date and clear info on pets coming to Mexico!!!

My question is similar to David’s and may answer his as well. I believe if your pet has never been vaccinated it must be 30 days before travel, if it is a “booster” then simply kept current-as the dog/cat would technically already be vaccinated-but ready to ‘expire” .
This is the point I am trying to clarify to avoid 2 vet visits with 3 dogs within a one month period. I have read the rabies vaccine must be 15 days prior, within 30 days prior and with no specified time period prior to arrival other than the vaccine being “current”.
On the other hand the Health certificate must be acquired 10 days – at most- before arrival . I am trying to factually determine if I can have my dogs vaccinated and get the Health Certificate on the same day -10 days before arrival. I did email SARGAPA/SENASICA but have not yet heard back on this.
I may as well also ask if it is possible to have a 14 year old exempt from vaccination- or if any one knows acceptable health conditions for exemptions.
Thanks so much for this fabulous resource!!


Allyson Williams December 21, 2014 at 8:57 am

Jo, the only time requirements (i.e. 10 or 15 days prior) are from the airlines. I believe they simply want to make sure that you visit your vet just before you travel to ensure that your pet(s) are healthy enough to travel. As far as rabies vaccinations go, we have added an FAQ section on our Pet Travel Tips page that spells out what is really needed…

Hope this helps!


jo December 21, 2014 at 10:00 am

Thanks so much is a joy to find one source of up to date a accurate information!! I had read through your pages at least 3 times before asking my question (and like others many other sources with misinformation)because there is so much information I am cautious that something is left out or incorrect -sorry it is my nature :-) or that consular info is not accurate. I am flying from Canada with WJ and there is no date requirement that I see. I had a quick look through the others and noted a mix of none to 15 days.


jo December 21, 2014 at 11:35 am

Sorry to be nit picker..replying to this again after a bit more research..and this is why things get confusing.
The CFIA website for pets leaving Canada states >>As specified on SENASICA’s website, you must present the border authorities with an original and a copy of a veterinary health certificate that has been issued within the last 10 days.<<
Well SENASICA, according to their website, their pet travel docx, and your information, does not in fact, specify such a thing at all.
No wonder this drives people crazy. Of course the safe and simple solution is just to get the certificate 10 days before travel whether it is in fact required.


Allyson Williams December 21, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Hi Jo, no apology needed and your conclusion is exactly what I would have suggested (i.e. the 10 days). And yes, this is just one of the oversights on the three government websites, which is why we’ve tried to compile everything on one nice, neat little page for all to find.


pam September 9, 2014 at 10:00 am

what shots and others do I need to bring my dog on a flight to and from Mexico?


Allyson Williams September 9, 2014 at 10:05 am

Pam, you will find a list of everything you need to do to travel with your pet to Mexico in the Pet Travel Tips link on this page. Feel free to contact us if you have questions after you read through it.


Jeff September 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Hi there I took my dog to Mexico in April from Canada and I’m planning on going back in November just wondering if there were regulations on how many times you can take your dog to Mexico in one calendar year?


Allyson Williams September 30, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Hi Jeff, there are no rules that I have come across that dictate the number of times you can travel with a pet to/from Mexico. I travel back and forth at least 2-3 times each year and have never had an issue.


Jeff September 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Awesome Allyson thanks so much!


Jesica October 1, 2014 at 6:52 pm

hi I am traveling with my 2 maltipoos and I read that the health certificate has to be at least 3 days old. please help me


Allyson Williams October 1, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Jesica, the travel health certificate for each pet must be filled out by your vet and dated 10 days prior to crossing the borer.


Paula October 20, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Allyson, on your pet travel tips page you talk about the health certificate. You also posted an answer “Jesica, the travel health certificate for each pet must be filled out by your vet and dated 10 days prior to crossing the border.” Can I get a health certificate and successfully cross 30 days later? Aren’t you glad this isn’t a rabies question? lol….
Thanks for such a great website and your answers. I have tried to talk to someone at the Mexican consulate as well as the USDA and I can’t even seem to be able to speak to a human. All of the Internet information seems to vary so much. I will write in after we cross the border and let you know how it goes.


Allyson Williams October 21, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Paula, I have contacted SAGARPA directly to ask your question. I hope to have an answer for you in a few days.


Paula October 22, 2014 at 10:29 am

Thank you! It is quite a relief to have found someone like you, on the ground in Mexico, to help with getting our furry family member safely, hassle free, across the border.


Wendy November 24, 2014 at 5:24 am

Hi we are moving to Mexico in the summer 2015. We have just booked our tickets and are moving from Europe with our Golden Retriever. We have purchased her a crate according to regulations. Just wondering is there anything else we need to take care of and what might we expect upon arrival? As far as picking her up how quickly do we get her? We will fly into Cancun

Thank You for any tips help and info


Allyson Williams November 24, 2014 at 6:54 am

Wendy, We only update the requirements for Mexico, the US and Canada, which you can view here… / I recommend that you contact both your local vet and your airline to see what paperwork they require where you live in Europe.


Pamela December 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I left Vancouver and drove to California with my Dacshund, she has all her vaccinations up to date June2014, I have all the papers, and when I crossed into the USA on Nov 12 they asked a few question and sent me on my way, didn’t even ask to see her papers. We are now planning on travelling to Mexico for at least a month, not sure if by air or car and now I’m reading I need to take her to a vet for a special health certificate. I called a vet in Indio and he says he’s happy to take my $100;) is this necessary and is the form only good for 10 days, also am I allowed to bring her dog food?


Allyson Williams December 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm


You can find the answers to all your questions on our Pet Travel Tips page.


jacob henry December 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

So i am moving to Cozumel Mexico the 1st of the year and i am taking my animals with me. What exact paperwork do i need to get them in the country?


Allyson Williams December 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Jacob, You will find all the latest requirements on our Pet Travel Tips page. Simply follow the link from this page to get there.


Alisa Malloch February 21, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Hi Allyson
We are currently in Rincon and are interested in adopting a great local dog. How do we visit the shelter? We leave Feb 26
Thanks so much


Allyson Williams February 22, 2015 at 8:27 am

Hi Alisa, please contact Lin Chimes at Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue… I will also pass along your email address.


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