Traveling to Mexico With a Dog
| |

Traveling to Mexico with a Dog: A Step by Step Guide (Updated 2023)

Mexico is one of my favorite countries to visit! It’s incredibly colorful, the people are warm, and the food is insanely delicious. Plus, our neighbor to the south is only a short plane ride, and sometimes even a car ride, away. 

I used to go to Mexico every year for work, so I began having Boogie and Marcelo come along with me. Since those days, they’ve traveled to Mexico City and Sayulita for fun and exploration, and lucky for us, it’s only gotten easier! Mexico no longer requires an international health certificate if you’re coming from the USA. Yay!

If you’re thinking of bringing your dog to Mexico, it’ll be no sweat. Here’s how we brought our dogs with us. 

Traveling to Mexico with a dog

Traveling to Mexico With a Dog

Step 1: Country requirements

In 2019, Mexico changed their policy for dogs and cats entering the country from the USA:

Update effective 12/16/2019: A health certificate for dogs and cats is no longer needed to enter Mexico. Dogs and cats may be taken to the border without health certificate documentation, they will be inspected by SENASICA upon arrival. 

That’s right, you can skip the vet visit (as long as your pet is up to date on their vaccines), and skip the forms and APHIS stamp! All you’ll need to bring your pet to Mexico is a valid rabies certificate and a healthy pet!

A little reminder: The internet is a great source of information, but websites aren’t always up to date, and policies can change at any time. We like to double (and sometimes triple!) check a country’s policy before we start the process so we’re 100% sure of things and don’t waste time. Better safe than sorry!

Step 2: Make travel arrangements

Many airlines make the trip down to Mexico City, but it’s important to check their rules before booking a flight. Airlines have different regulations, no matter the route.

For example, Volaris, a budget airline with flights to/from Mexico City, does not allow brachiocephalic breeds (flat nosed dogs) to fly in cabin. They are automatically off the table for us when we’re flying with Boogie, our pug.

We’ve flown on American Airlines, AeroMexico, and JetBlue when flying to Mexico with our dogs.

If you find an airline you like, stick with them! It helps to have a track record of successful flights with a company under your belt, to pull up in case you get an unfriendly gate agent or have any other issues.

Choose your flight (fly direct if possible to make things easier), purchase your tickets, and then contact the airline to let them know you’ll be flying with dogs and pay the fee.

This last step is important, since many companies limit the number of pets allowed on board. You want to make sure there is space for your dog!

Next, check the carrier requirements for flying in cabin. Be sure your pet’s bag fits requirements and will be accepted on the air craft.

Step 3: Dust off your pets rabies certificate

Once your date is confirmed, you’ll need to make sure your pet has a valid rabies certificate.

If your pet isn’t up to date on their rabies vaccine, you’ll need to get one at least 21 days before departure. Ensure their vaccine is valid and that it doesn’t expire before or during your trip.

Once you’ve procured a copy, print it out and put it somewhere safe.

Remember: It’s important to stay organized so you’re not scrambling on flight day! Make additional hard copies of all of your documents, and keep digital copies on your phone. These simple moves will save you time and energy when traveling. 

Step 4: Flight Day

On flight day, be sure your pet gets a light meal and a good walk before heading to the airport early.

Give yourself plenty of time at the airport to check in and go through security.

Once the gate agent reviews your documents and carrier, you are good to go.

Check the pet service areas at your airport before going so you’ll know if you have to get in an extra walk before going through security or not.

Check out our flight day tips so you’re fully prepared.

Step 5: Arrival Check

When you land, you’ll go through immigration, grab your bags, and then head to the inspection area to get checked by a health inspector. There will be a sign that reads “Oficina de Inspeccion”.

A Mexican officer will look over your dog, check your documents and make copies of them. We were also asked the following questions:

  • Our dogs age.
  • To see his rabies certificate.
  • If my dog had traveled/flown before.
  • Our flight number.
  • The address for where we were staying.
  • If we had packed any dog food*.

The inspector will make copies of your passport and your dogs rabies certificate, and give you a form to hand to officials before exiting the airport.

The entire process should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

*A note on dog food: For those planning to travel with commercial dog food, the rule is you can bring a day´s ration of dried food and/or an unopened bag which must be properly labeled in English or Spanish and stamped by the food inspection authority; or the product must comply with the combined MCRZI requirements originating from authorized countries, packaged, tagged and without content of ruminant origin. A total of 20 kg per family is allowed, in up to two packages equaling that amount.

However, when the inspector asked us about dog food, we simply said we didn’t have much and we were waved through. None of the food we carried, either in our carry on or luggage, was inspected or stamped.

Welcome to Mexico!

Traveling to Mexico With a Dog

What was your experience like going to Mexico? We’d love to hear.

Here’s more information on flying with your pet, including a travel checklist and the best pet carriers for every budget.

Pin for later!

If you’re traveling to Mexico with a dog, here’s a step by step guide of what you’ll need to enter the country. Viva Mexico!

Similar Posts


  1. People often ask us about traveling with pets, but we precisely are postponing having a dog because we travel so much. We might have to rethink that because clearly it’s very doable, you just need to do a bit of research. Thank you for this thorough article!

  2. I’ve always been interested on how people get to travel with their dogs. Based on what I’ve randomly seen on Facebook, I think it’s pretty risky and tedious. But it’s harder to leave them alone at home, right? Thanks for this post! At least now I’m knowledgeable if even I want to get to Mexico with our pets!

  3. Do your pets travel in the cabin with you? We have a full grown GSD and we’re looking at our first long term stay next winter in Mexico. She’s a big baby and I have heard that the travel in the belly of the plane is pretty brutal for them. She does have separation anxiety and I think the engine noise would totally freak her out!!! Can we buy a seat for her?

    1. Airlines typically only allow dogs in cabin who either A. are small (usually 20lbs or less), B. are emotional support animals, or C. are service animals. Another option is to hire a pet service like Pet Jet, that will transport your dog for you (with a human, in a small plane), but they tend to be quite pricey.

  4. Hi, I read on some website that we will need an exit permit to exit Mexico as well. Do we get this permit on the day we leave from the authority at the airport? Should I arrive at the airport early to get this permit?

    1. Hi Pam,

      I used the same paperwork I entered with when I left Mexico, but my dogs stay was very short (2 weeks). If your stay falls within their timeline, you can exit with the same paperwork. If it’s a longer stay, you will have to get new documents (from the vet, etc).

      Hope this helps!

  5. Did your pets ever get sick? Im planning on traveling with two Boston terriers, and I’m going into a ranch type of town. With the different food and environment, did they adapt well?

    1. Hi! We feed our pups homemade food, which is easy to make wherever we go (just veggies and chicken mostly, with some supplements added). The food is the same, so they don’t get sick. They always adapt super well to the new environment, and love the new smells!

  6. Lovely blog and ADORABLE pets. I would like to add though that these requirements are true from traveling from the USA, Traveling from some European countries will require a pet health certificate. Mainly if you are traveling through other countries and or have layovers. I found this out when flying from the UK. It’s annoying but necessary I suppose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *