Many foreigners who move to Mexico bring their beloved pets with them. In the following instructions, we are focusing only on dogs and cats when we say “pets”. The rules for your pet pig, bird, snake or other creature will likely be different, and if you are interested in importing any animal other than a cat or dog, it would be best to check with the consultants at Yucatan Expatriate Services, who can investigate the latest rules for any out-of-the-ordinary pets.
If you drive, fly or sail into Mexico, it is important to have your papers together and ready to show the authorities. You will quickly learn that having something out of order in Mexico gives someone in a government office a chance to hold up your show, and if they can, they usually will. Better to have everything and more in one handy packet and be prepared for any contingency. With that in mind, the following are the documents that you must have and the procedure you will likely have to follow. You must follow three steps to import your pet:
Present your documents to the OISA
The documents that you collect and bring for your pets must be presented at the Offices of Agricultural Health Inspection (Oficinas de Inspección de Sanidad Agropecuarias) located in:
- International Airports
- International Seaports
You will need a Health Certificate of Export for each individual pet. This may also be known as an International Health Certificate, and is obtainable from most vets in the USA or Canada. Be sure to have the original and at least two copies (one is required, an extra one just in case). The International Health Certificate must be issued by the corresponding Federal Authority of the country where the pet is coming from or by a veterinarian of that country. Most veterinarians will be happy to issue these certificates.
The International Health Certificate issued by the veterinarian must be on their letterhead, with an indication of their professional standing. In most cases, their letterhead will indicate their title and qualifications, but if you want to make doubly sure, bring a copy of their license or business license. The International Health Certificate has a maximum validity of 10 days after being issued. This requires planning, so be sure to schedule an appointment to see your vet and get the document close to your departure date. The closer the date, the better, as that leaves you a few days grace period in case of emergency (flat tire, flight delays, etc.). The International Health Certificate should indicate:
- Name and address of the exporter (that is you, the owner) and importer, as well as information identifying the pet and the pets final destination.
- Rabies vaccine, indicating the date of application and duration of the vaccine. Exempted from this requirement are pets under three months old.
- That at the time of inspection of the pet, it was found clinically healthy before it began traveling.
NOTE: If you choose to get the Health Certificate with the USDA official format, make certain that it is signed and sealed by an official member of the USDA in order to be valid.
If the International Health Certificate is missing the information about vaccinations, you will be allowed to submit an immunization card or cartilla de vacunación (original and copy), stating the vaccines received and the dates of those vaccines. If you do not have proof of these vaccines, your pet will not be allowed into Mexico and you will be required to obtain the vaccines before the pet may enter.
Physical inspection of pets in the OISA
In order to verify that the physical description set forth in the International Health Certificate matches the animal that you are bringing into Mexico (sex, race, color), there will be a physical inspection.
In the past, if it was found that the pet had external parasites, the inspector would call in a Veterinarian of his choosing to apply the required treatment, and the owner would be charged the vet’s services at whatever rate that vet chose. This is no longer necessary. However, making sure your pet has no external parasites will ensure that no official has any excuse to charge you money for a perceived problem.
Issuance by the OISA of the Animal Health Certificate for Import
Once you have met the requirements, the inspector at the OISA will prepare the Health Certificate for Import or Certificado de Importación.
Importing one or two pets does NOT require a fee for the Health Certificate for Import. More than two pets will incur a fee of $1,817.00 pesos , to be paid via the website or at a bank. While you arrange to pay this fee, your pets will be held by the Customs Authority (Aduana). If you are importing three or more pets, Aduana will transfer them to the cargo area (in the airport), while you comply with the national regulations for commercial imports and complete the procedure through the OISA.
Details to Keep In Mind
In the regulations are a few caveats that you should be aware of. The regulations state that even though an animal measures up to all the above-mentioned health requirements, the documents are still required. Just because your animal is healthy and maybe you have the vaccination records with you, that doesn’t exempt you from having to prevent the International Health Certificate, signed by a legal veterinarian.
The regulations also state that you may not import a bed and/or similar materials to accompany the animals. Technically, you are only allowed to include a ration of food enough to feed the animal until the day of arrival.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I don’t have any document when I arrive in Mexico?
If you do not have the required paperwork, your pet will remain in the offices of the OISA until a veterinarian brought in by the department checks and certifies its health status and applies both a rabies vaccination and preventive therapy parasiticide. After this, you will be allowed to continue the process of import. This, of course, can cost both time and money, all paid by you, the pet owner.
What happens if I have a small animal of another species, for example, reptiles, songbirds and ornamental birds, ferrets or turtles?
There are special requirements for other animals. You can read more about these requirements (in Spanish) in the section of Animal Health Requirements for Import on the OISA website. MCRZI stands for Módulo de Consulta de Requisitos Zoosanitarios para la Importación.
If you do not find your particular type of pet on that page, you can direct a request (in Spanish) to the General Director of Animal Health located in Avenida Cuauhtémoc No. 1230, Col. Santa Cruz Atoyac, Del. Benito Juárez, CP 03310, Mexico. Phone numbers for that office are 01 (555)-905-1066 and 01 (555)905-1072 or Toll Free in Mexico 01-800-987-9879. Please be prepared to speak Spanish if you call this phone number.
Where can I direct questions or complaints about this process or similar issues?
If you have questions or complaints about the Animal and Plant Inspection Service, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, we suggest that you compose your complaint or question in Spanish for the best results.
You can also contact the Internal Control Group in SENASICA, Secretary of the Public Service and Area of Responsibility and Complaints.
Av. Insurgentes Sur No. 489, PH1,
Col. Hipódromo Condesa, C.P. 06100, México D.F.
Ph: 01 (55) 3871-8349 or 3871-8300, ext 20349,
YES Can Help!
If you have one or two average sized pets, this is a process that you should be able to navigate yourself, with little or no Spanish skills. If, however, you have very large pets, more than two pets, or out-of-the-ordinary pets, you may have trouble with the ins and outs of governmental regulations in Spanish. The consultants at Yucatan Expatriate Services have helped many expatriates import their pets to the Yucatan. If you need help, give us a call at +52-999-927-2437 or email us at email@example.com. We look forward to helping you!