Taking your Dog to Mexico: Health Certificate and Vaccination Requirements

One of the reasons we chose Mexico for our current, post-European adventure was because getting there is easy.

Flying Archie from Canada to the Netherlands and then back again was incredibly stressful. Between the vaccinations, regulations, health certificates, flight arrangements, and safety fears, there was a lot to arrange and then worry about. (FYI if you want to know how to fly your dog to Europe without stressing out, my new ebook tells you how.)

We’d briefly considered heading to SE Asia next, but after considering the paperwork, expense, and logistical headaches of flying a terrier from Vancouver to Bangkok, I’m sure it’s no surprise that an easy drive south of the border quickly won out.

If you’re thinking about driving to Mexico with your dog, here’s what you will have to do.


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 include:

  • the importer/exporter (that’s you, the owner) name and address.  Also a destination address. If you haven’t made housing arrangements yet, just use a hotel address. No worries.
  • confirmation that the animal has been immunized for rabies (date and expiration of vaccination). Animals under three months are exempt of this requirement.
  • confirmation that a physical check-up showed no signs of disease.

Time/Money Saving Tip: If you get the health certificate done in the border zone (California, Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas), it won’t have to be signed by a government vet (which may require a pricey Fedex and takes valuable time). A licensed vet in the border zone only needs to use his/her letterhead and write his/her license number in the certificate. If you’re traveling from somewhere else and seeing the vet for the first time, remember to bring copies of your dog’s vaccination records.

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 anyway, so I had that done in Vancouver before we left.

Because we took our time getting to the border, we couldn’t have our certificate done in Vancouver. It would have expired before we reached to Mexico. Instead, we got the health certificate in Phoenix, just before we crossed.

I’m so glad we did, because we lucked out and found an absolutely marvelous vet. (Dr. Foster of the Banfield Pet Hospital inside of Petsmart (yes, Petsmart!) — Metrotown/31st Ave. Click that link for their contact info AND a coupon for a free first-time visit, a savings of $50.)  Archie is terrified of vets. He’s sensitive and feisty, so he gets scared and snappy. But Dr. Foster had a wonderful bedside manner, unlike anything I’ve seen before. She didn’t rush Archie through the appointment. Instead she gave him time to smell the equipment, she spoke kindly to him, and she let me hold him (and feed him sausages) during the exam. She even taught me a special dog hold that prevented squirming and biting. Everything went smoothly. It makes me realize how impatient Archie’s Vancouver vet was!

If course when we crossed the Mexican border the next day, the border agents didn’t give a hoot about Archie or his paperwork. Since then I’ve spoken with dozens of people who’ve driven their dogs to Mexico, and no one else has been asked for paperwork either. So get it done, but don’t worry about it, because chances are no one is even going to look at it.

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