Mexico drops health certificate requirement for tourists traveling with pets

2020-1-2 iStock-900225742 - Mexican pets vacation - EDIT.jpg

If you have “get pet health certificate” on your mid-winter Mexican getaway to-do list, you can cross it off.

As of December 16, pet owners traveling to Mexico no longer require a health certificate signed by a veterinarian to bring a dog or cat into the country, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS). (If you planned on bringing your pet ferret to frolic on the beach, you’re out of luck on the paperwork front—the new pet travel guidelines apply only to dogs and cats.)

To find out more about the new changes, NEWStat reached out to Jayme Hennenfent, DVM, MS, a senior veterinary medical officer in the USDA APHIS.

Hennenfent told NEWStat that Mexico’s governmental agency with authority over requirements for import of live animals, the National Service of Health, Safety, and Agricultural Food Quality (SENASICA), updated the requirements to import domestic dogs and cats as pets to Mexico in mid-December. “This update included removal of the requirement for a health certificate,” Hennenfent said. She added that SENASICA didn’t give a reason for the change, but added that it wasn’t unusual, as other countries “often change or update import requirements for live animals.”

NEWStat asked Hennenfent what pet owners traveling to Mexico could expect when entering the country. She said they should expect to visit a Mexican Animal and Plant Health Inspection Office (OISA) to contact the official personnel working with SENASICA, who will then inspect the animals. “Once this inspection is completed, the travelers and pet(s) will be able to enter Mexico.”

(Possible good news if you’re vacationing some place other than Mexico: pet owners and veterinarians alike should be advised that some foreign countries that require signed health certificates for pets now accept digital signatures.)  

For more detailed information on taking pets to Mexico and what to expect at the border, Hennenfent recommends that travelers check out the complete, updated requirements on the APHIS pet travel website.  

Not having to get a health certificate makes taking pets to Mexico easier, but what about bringing them back home again?

“The requirements and procedures to bring animals to the United States from Mexico haven’t changed,” Hennenfent said. “The United States doesn’t require a health certificate or proof of rabies vaccination for dogs and cats entering from Mexico.” Hennenfent stressed that pet owners should check the requirements for the particular US state to which they’re returning. And if they and their pets are travelling by air, “They should check with the airline for any additional requirements,” she added.

For complete details about bringing a pet into the United States, check out the APHIS import of pets page.

Photo credit: © iStock/damedeeso