Flying with Your Dog to Mexico: New Health Certificate Rules

There are probably a hundred reasons I could give for moving to Mexico, but one of them most definitely is that it was the easiest place on my list to bring my dog, Porkchop. Porkchop is a five year old brindle mutt weighing about 30 lbs. For most of his life he has been A Very Bad Dog, but after five years, several thousand dollars in professional training, extensive efforts to socialize and correct my bad parenting, and a couple of months of Prozac, he’s turned into a mostly pretty good guy and I’m extremely grateful for his company. He’s my “kid,” ya know? Obviously, leaving him behind in Alaska was NOT an option, but flying him to Portugal or Spain (original top destinations) seemed like an impossibility for a poorly crate trained dog that had never flown before.
Enter Mexico, stage left. Mexico seems to be one of the more dog friendly countries you can haul your pet to outside of the US (and easier than Hawaii.) They require little more paperwork than a standard health certificate, and if your vet is like mine that extra form shouldn’t cost much, if anything.
HOWEVER, there has been a shakeup in recent months, and Porkchop and I were “lucky” enough to experience the results of that first hand upon entering the country at Puerto Vallarta airport in early February.
A subtle line regarding endo- and ectoparasites has been causing some pet owners to be delayed at customs, often having to wait for a local vet to be called in to administer a wormer or parasite control of some sort before being allowed to leave. This can cause you and your pup (or cat) to be held up for extra HOURS (depending on who is available to make an airport call) and may cost a good deal of extra money.
There has been much debate in various forums as to whether this change is a NEW rule or simply a NEWLY ENFORCED rule. Either way, it’s important to note and clarify with your vet before boarding a plane with your pet.
This is what my certificate said:

This is what the OISA officer showed me as an example of what they wanted:

What the rules say

Per the Mexico equivalent of the USDA (SAGARPA-SENASICA,) these are the latest requirements to import dogs and cats as of November 2016 as run through Google Translator:

Upon entering Mexico …
You must contact the official SAGARPA-SENASICA personnel to make a  Certificate of import  of your pet, for this purpose, the official will perform a  physical and documentary inspection, to verify compliance with the following requirements:
1. Present a  Certificate of Good Health  in original and simple copy with the following elements:

  • Issued by an official veterinarian of the competent authority or if it is a particular one, on letterhead, with the number of the professional certificate printed or a photocopy of the same (or its equivalent).
  • Name and address of exporter (in country of origin or provenance) and importer (destination address in Mexico).
  • Date of application of the rabies vaccine and its validity (animals under 3 months of age are exempt).
  • That at the pre-trip inspection, the animal or animals were clinically healthy.
  • That the animal or animals have been dewormed internally and externally within the previous six months and are free of ectoparasites.
  • If you do not comply with the above, you must contact a Veterinarian (of your choice and for your account in Mexico), who will issue the health certificate and apply the corresponding treatment.

2. Your pet must enter a carrier or container, clean, without bed, without implements or accessories (toys, sweets, prizes or other objects, made with ingredients of ruminant origin), otherwise they will be removed for destruction. The carrier or container will receive preventive treatment by sprinkling by the official staff of SAGARPA-SENASICA; You can enter with your necklace, strap, etc.
3. You can enter the ration of the day of balanced food in bulk. We remind you that in Mexico we have this type of food that has the Registration and Authorization of SAGARPA-SENASICA.
4) If you send your pet documented as cargo, check the requirements on the airline of your choice and consider the need to use the services of a customs agent for release to Customs.

See the original here.
It does seem that OISA is less inclined to let things slide lately that they might have previously overlooked, so be sure all of your I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. A few things that have hung people up recently include having a stamp or computer generated signature instead of required hand-signed original certificate and a lack of official letterhead and/or license number.
One excellent tip we found in discussion was to have your vet e-mail the pertinent certificate and information along with your flight information to the proper authorities at your destination airport to ensure it is acceptable and expedite the process on your arrival. (Be sure to still bring the original plus copies.)
In Puerto Vallarta, send that information to:

Contact: Amaro Venegas Castillion or

You can find contact information for other airports here.
Another good reminder is to have things to clean up after you pet within easy reach as sometimes the wait can be long and you must clear customs completely before taking your pet out to relieve itself.

Bottom Line

BE VERY SURE your certificate includes all possible details of all recent parasite treatments for internal and external parasites, including brand name and active ingredient. Bring receipts if you have them.
If you typically administer something like Frontline or Revolution at home, space it out in such a way as to allow your vet to administer a dose at your health certificate appointment as many vets will not put it on the certificate if they haven’t applied it themselves.
If your topical external parasite treatment does not include coverage for internal parasites (such as Revolution does,) ask your vet a dose of a mild wormer such as a pyrantel just to be on the safe side. This is a very gentle and inexpensive wormer that is commonly given to puppies and kittens and will satisfy the authorities and save you a $50+ additional vet fee at the airport.

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2 thoughts on “Flying with Your Dog to Mexico: New Health Certificate Rules”

  1. I LOVE reading your blog…I just discovered it, I was in Puerto Valarta with my dog Gia for 6 weeks and decided to move to a much quieter and calmer place, Mismaloya, which I’m sure you are familiar with As an accomplished artist I’ll be creating a new business with prints from my many works I have that have sold around the world. As a former gallery owner in Dallas, the stress of work and operating a business day and night has been replaced with sounds of the ocean,incredible views, lower blood pressure, and a desire for only the simplest of what life can give me and what I can give back.
    I’ll be following you and our uncanny similarities of just picking up and going and starting over .
    Thank-you! Ronald & Gia

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