Requirements for Bringing a Dog from Mexico to the U.S. (or, My Dog Is An Outlaw)

Crossing the US border at Reynosa/McAllen

Yesterday, before a routine crossing back into the U.S., it hit me that we didn’t have Archie’s health certificate and vaccination records with us. Ruh ro!

For the record, I didn’t forget the stuff. It was in a briefcase of paperwork that was stolen last month. And it didn’t dawn on me that the paperwork had been in the briefcase until we were just about to cross and there was no time to replace it.

When you drive (rather than fly) across international borders, agents rarely ask for the dog’s paperwork. At least they haven’t in 80 plus times we’ve crossed borders with Archie into Canada, the US, Mexico, and dozens of countries in Europe. But since there was nothing I could do, I just willed Archie’s streak of unchallenged border crossings to continue.

In the end we got a pretty severe grilling from the Texas border agent. (Nomadic families don’t compute. The old refrain “Where do you live?” trips us up every time.) But after 15 sweaty minutes of brusque questioning and stern, disbelieving looks (“What do you mean, ‘Spanish immersion?'”), we dodged the bullet. The agent didn’t ask for the dog’s paperwork and Archie made it through.

If you are bringing your dog from Mexico to the US, these are the documents you should have:

  • Dogs must have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry into the United States. These requirements apply equally to service animals such as Seeing Eye dogs.
  • If you came from the US originally and your dog’s health certificate is still valid, you’re good to go. Nothing else is needed.
  • A general health certificate is not required by the CDC for entry of pet dogs into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. So if you’re flying, check with the airline. As you probably already know, flying is always more exacting than driving, so don’t neglect this.

Here’s a link to the CDC’s page on bringing a dog into the United States.

Here’s a link to the USDA’s page on bringing pets into the United States

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kerri September 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I had to laugh about the question “Where do you live?” That one trips us up too. In fact we botched that question so badly in London, we got sentenced to “the chairs of shame” until the supervisor gave the okay for us to go. Hope that rest of your trip went well!

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2 Renee September 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Haha, “chairs of shame.” That’s about right. This agent was SO suspicious of us. The whole “Spanish immersion for our homeschooling daughter” thing nearly short-circuited him.

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3 Rhonda @Laugh Quotes September 12, 2013 at 4:24 am

Where are you from is such an easier question. My favorite to date was something like, “Why are going to stay in “here” for so long?

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4 Gary November 2, 2013 at 4:22 am

Is it difficult or do you have links, about a pet coming from U.S. into Mexico?
Gary

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5 Renee November 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

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