Part of the reason we chose Mexico for our next adventure is that we could drive there.
Scout lobbied hard for Thailand, a place I love, but after all the traveling we did last year, the thought of flying Archie halfway around the globe (again) made me go fetal. The problem wasn’t just the complicated paperwork. It was also the flight time.
Last year when we flew non-stop to Amsterdam, Archie had to be crated for more than 11 hours, an eon for an active dog. He survived, thankfully, but by the time I collected him in baggage claim, he’d had enough of the crate and had started to dig his way out. Poor baby. So 11 hours in a box is pretty much his limit.
Had we flown to Bangkok (including stopover), the poor dog would have been crated for more than 22 hours. That’s ridiculous. I considered adding a week’s layover in Hong Kong as a break for Archie (and street-food glutton fest for us), but that would have involved even more paperwork, expense and logistical headaches.
Driving south of the border was just SO much easier.
(I had to jump through a lot of hoops to bring Archie to Europe. If you’re planning a similar trip and want to know what’s involved, read how to bring your dog to Europe.)
HOW TO DRIVE YOUR DOG TO MEXICO
FIRST: Go to the USDA Plant & Animal Health Inspection Service website. Scroll down to the “Dogs & Cats” section, and click to download a PDF with current rules for driving your dog across the Mexican border.
Briefly, here’s what you’ll need
1. An APHIS Form 7001 health certificate issued and signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian within 10 days prior to export.
The certificate must state:
- The importer/exporter (that’s you, the owner) name and address. Also a destination address. We hadn’t rented a house yet, so we just used a hotel address. No worries.
- That animal has been immunized for rabies (date and expiration of vaccination). Animals under three months are exempt of this requirement, and
- That a previous physical check-up showed no signs of disease.
Time/Money Saving Tip: Get the health certificate done in the border zone (California, Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas), and you won’t be required to have a government vet signature (which will probably require Fedexing). In this case your (licensed) veterinarian must use his letterhead and must write his license number in the certificate. Also remember to bring copies of your dogs vaccination records to show the vet.
2. Proof of vaccines against rabies and distemper, administered at least 15 days before the arrival of the pet in Mexico.
There. That’s all there is to it.
Archie was due for a distemper booster, so I had that done in Vancouver before we left.
Because we slow-traveled our way to the border, we couldn’t have our certificate done in Vancouver. Instead, we stopped in Phoenix and saw a vet there, the day before we crossed into Mexico. And I’m so glad we did because this was the best vet office on the planet. Archie is terrified of going to the vet. But these folks were so freaking good, they even managed to take Archie’s rectal temperature, a herculean feat.
(Apparently there are so many aggressive dogs in Phoenix, that these folks know all the tricks for handling fearful dogs. No joke. The vet, Dr. Foster, and her assistants are the kindest yet most effective dog handlers I’ve ever come across. If you are passing through Phoenix, do yourself a favor and take your dog to them. They’re at Banfield Pet Hospital inside of Petsmart – Metrotown/31st Ave. Click that link for their contact info AND a coupon for a free first-time visit, a savings of $50.)
After all that, when we crossed the Mexican border the next day, no one asked or seemed to care about Archie’s paperwork. And of the dozens of people I’ve talked to who’ve driven their dogs to Mexico, no one else has been asked for dog paperwork either. So get it done, but don’t sweat it. Chances are, it won’t even come up.
Are you traveling to Mexico with your dog? Let me know how it turns out!