The government agency tasked with overseeing the importation of pets and other animals is el Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad, Calidad Agroalimentaria (SENASICA) which falls under la Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA).
In writing, the two agencies are often mentioned together and appear as SAGARPA-SENASICA.
Here is an interesting factoid: According to SAGARPA-SENASICA, only dogs and cats are considered “pets” in Mexico.
That may come as a shock to those of you who were planning on bringing your parakeet, ferret, rabbit or turtle on your next vacation to Cancun.
For those folks, I have good news. Although your animal is not technically considered a pet, it is still possible to bring them along with you. I will be discussing the requirements in the section titled Other Animals.
Dogs and Cats
Do I need any special paperwork to bring my dog or cat to Mexico?
You need a veterinarian to issue a certificate of health, on letterhead, for your animals. Multiple animals can be included on the same health certificate. You must bring the original certificate and a copy.
According to SAGARPA-SENASICA, the certificate should contain the following information:
Name and address of the exporter (address from the country of origin) and the importer (address of the destination in Mexico)
That the animal or animals have been vaccinated against rabies, include the date of the vaccination, and state how long the vaccination is good for. This does not apply to animals under three months of age.
That the animal was found to be clinically healthy prior to travel
That the animal or animals have had preventative treatment for internal and external parasites in the past six months and are free of external parasites.
The name of the veterinarian, professional license number and his or her signature
What happens if I don’t have a certificate of health when I arrive?
According to SAGARPA-SENASICA, you may request the services of a Mexican licensed veterinarian of your choice and at your expense, to issue a new valid health certificate and/or apply the treatment required.
I haven’t met anyone who chose this route, but knowing what I do about Mexican bureaucracy — I wouldn’t recommend it. The best option is to arrive with a certificate of health in hand.
(Ed. Note: If you arrive to the airport in Puerto Vallarta with insufficient or the wrong paperwork, a Mexican licensed veterinarian will attend to you and your animal at your expense.)
When will I have to present my documentation?
Upon arriving in Mexico, you are required to get in contact with personnel from SAGARPA-SENASICA. They will conduct a brief physical inspection of the animal and make sure that you have complied with all of the agency’s requirements. If all is well, they will issue you an import certificate.
Their personnel can be found at international airports, sea ports, and other points of entry into the country.
Are there any additional requirements that I should know about?
The pet must arrive in a clean kennel or carrier, free of any bedding or other accessories. If there is anything else in the kennel or container, it will be removed and destroyed (this does not apply to collars and leashes).
There are also several restrictions related to the type and amount of pet food that you can bring with you. The safest thing to do is to only bring enough for the travel day and plan on buying more when you arrive.
Is there a fee to get an import certificate for my pet?
If you are transporting one to three pets, the import certificate is free. If you are transporting more than three, the costs is $2,087.00 pesos or about $112 USD at the current exchange rate.
Obviously some of the importation requirements will change depending on the type of animal. The key is knowing what the requirements are.
How do I find out what the requirements are?
Here is the good news, the Mexican government has created a site to help you find the import requirements for almost any animal. It’s called Módulo de Consulta de Requisitos Zoosanitarios para la Importación (MCRZI).
The bad news is the site is 100% in Spanish. If your Spanish reading comprehension skills are lacking, you may want to consider asking one of your Spanish-speaking amigos to help you.
How does it work?
This is a searchable database with drop down menus that will allow you to find out the requirements for importation. Once you locate the particular animal, you can print an official looking document with all of the information.
What if my animal does not appear in the system?
If the type of animal you are looking for is not in the system, or if the animal you would like to bring is receiving medical treatment, you will have to send your request via email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (for aquatic animals).
Is there a fee to get an import certificate?
Importation certificate for land animals: $2,087.00 pesos or about $112 USD
Importation certificate for aquatic animals: $2,187.00 pesos or $118 USD
If you have any questions about importing animals into Mexico, get with SAGARPA-SENASICA for clarification.