Traveling to Mexico With a Dog
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Traveling to Mexico With a Dog: A Step by Step Guide

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 go to Mexico every year for work, and this year I decided it was time for Boogie and Marcelo to come along. They’d be joining me in Mexico City for 12 days of fun and exploration. Here’s how we brought them with us. 

Traveling to Mexico With a Dog

Traveling to Mexico With a Dog

Step 1: Country Requirements

We checked Mexico’s policy for entering the country with pets, and then double checked the information on their government website. Then, we triple checked by emailing the embassy. 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 get verbal and/or written confirmation before we start the process so we’re 100% sure of things and don’t waste time. Better safe than sorry!

To enter Mexico, we had the option of either A. Getting an International Health Certificate, also known as the APHIS 7001 form, issued 10 days before departure by a licensed veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA or B. Getting an accredited veterinarian to print out a health certificate on their letterhead. We would also need a valid rabies vaccination. 

This choice was a no-brainer. Option A, the International Health Certificate, would require a whole extra step – either shipping the documents overnight to the USDA or visiting an office in person, plus paying the fees! By doing option B, we’d be saving time and money. 

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. 

Lucky you! That makes things even easier. 

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) in the cabin, even if the dog is an ESA. They were automatically off the table for us (Boogie is a pug after all).

Ultimately, we decided to fly American Airlines, even though they didn’t offer direct flights.

We’ve flown with the dogs on AA many times before, and have always had great experiences with them. 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. Plus, the layover wasn’t long, and it was at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, a very dog-friendly airport with great pet relief areas. 

We chose our flights, purchased our tickets, and emailed the airline to let them know we’d be flying with dogs. It’s important to contact the airline with your flight information ahead of time, since many companies limit the number of pets allowed on board. 

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: Call the Vet

Once your date is confirmed, you’ll need to call your vet.

Speak to them about your travel plans, the requirements, and set up an appointment. If your dog has a valid rabies vaccine, schedule your appointment for 8 – 10 days before your departure date. If they don’t, you’ll need to get a vaccine at least 21 days before departure.

Our dogs were up to date on rabies, so we scheduled an appointment 9 days prior to leaving. When we informed our vet of our travel arrangements and the necessary documents we’d need, the office manager was doubtful. They said we needed an International Health Certificate, and would have to get it endorsed.

Here’s where our anal triple checking came in handy. We forwarded them our email correspondence with the Mexican embassy. They looked over it, and agreed. All we’d need is a filled out form printed out on letterhead and signed by the vet.

We used this certificate template provided by the embassy. Done and done! 

Step 4: Vet Visit

A dog at a fountain in Mexico City.

The vet checked over our dogs, filled out the document, and gave us the green light on travel. All good!

Step 5: Paperwork

Remember: It’s important to stay organized throughout, and to keep a record of everything you’ll need to enter the country. 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 6: Flight Day

The flight was super early, so the dogs got a very light breakfast 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. The gate agent reviewed our documents and carrier, and we were good to go.

Step 7: Arrival Check

When we landed, we went through immigration, grabbed our bags, and were motioned towards an area to get checked by a health inspector.

A Mexican officer looked over both dogs, checked our documents and made copies of them. She asked if we had dog food* with us and we said no (more on that in a later post). 

*For those planning to travel with commercial dog food, the rule is: you can bring a day´s ration of dried dog 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.

The official seemed unsure of what to do at times, often asking nearby workers for help.

She filled out some entry forms and gave us copies of our documents, keeping the originals for herself. This was unusual; typically officials make copies for themselves and always return original documents, which we use to exit the country as well. We questioned this decision, but she assured us it was ok.

Either way, we knew we were ok since we had had the vet print out our forms twice, so we had a back up original copy to use when leaving. 

Welcome to Mexico!

Traveling to Mexico With a Dog


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. Please follow the guidance on the APHIS page.

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!

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  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.

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