Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Flying into Mexico recently with Bella, our miniature dachshund, turned into a nightmare. We flew into the Puerto Vallarta International airport, as we have many times in the past 17 years, and proceeded, as always, to the Mexican Agricultural desk (zoo sanitary kiosk with the acronym SAGARPA) before entering Customs (Aduana).
We presented the documents that have always been accepted, a current rabies vaccination certificate and a Health Certificate from a vet in the U.S. that had been prepared two days before travel. We have always successfully imported our dogs using these papers whether we flew or drove into Mexico, though they were rarely asked for when we drove across the border.
Things aren't that simple with dog and cat importation into Mexico anymore. We found out the hard way that there is a new, more stringent law regarding cats and dogs entering Mexico, effective January 1, 2017. Apparently, Mexico started enforcing the new requirements in February 2017 and neither our U.S. vet nor our Mexican vet in Sayulita knew about the changes because both of our current Health Certificates from these vets were unacceptable when we presented our documents to the SAGARPA agent at the Puerto Vallarta airport. It was going to be a long afternoon.
The Mexican Agriculture Department (SAGARPA) agent patiently explained the new requirements to us, then told us that we could not bring our dog into Mexico without obtaining a valid Health Certificate. In addition to the Rabies Vaccination certification, the vet must now certify (provide proof of) two additional health conditions:
2. The dog (or cat) is free from external parasites (fleas/ticks) and has been treated for these within 6 months of the date of travel. The products used must be reflected on the Health Certificate. We told the SAGARPA agent that our vet in Sayulita, Mexico could verify over the phone that we buy Bravecto® from him to treat fleas and ticks and that we administer it to Bella every 12 weeks. That wasn't good enough, either.
The Agriculture agent continued explaining that he could call a vet from Puerto Vallarta and ask him or her to come to the airport and prepare a valid Health Certificate for us. This was the only option if we were going to leave the airport with Bella. So, I spoke on the phone with the friendly female vet (luckily, she spoke more English than I speak Spanish) and we agreed upon a price of 800 pesos ($45 US) for her to drive to the airport, examine our dog, and complete a Health Certificate. She added that she might have to administer a medication on site to be in compliance and this would be included in the price.
While we were waiting for the vet to arrive, the Agriculture Department Agent showed us a correctly completed Health Certificate and suggested that we take a photo of it for future reference. We were glad we did, because all of the information had become very confusing at this point. I later found additional useful information on Mexico Pet Import Regulations online at PetTravel.com.
We were exhausted from traveling, hungry, and ready to go to our home in Sayulita. The extra time this caused was difficult to handle, though we were glad the friendly vet came to the airport quickly. She gave Bella a tablet of a medication that she said would treat against both internal and external parasites and then completed a hand-written Health Certificate that the SAGARPA agent accepted as valid.
We then had to wait while the Agriculture agent created and printed 2 copies of an official SAGARPA "Certificado Zoosanitario Para Importatión," one for our records and one to give to Customs as we exited the airport. We were finally on our way!
Next time we won't fly into Mexico; we'll drive our motor home across the border. The final question to be determined: When we are ready to drive to Mexico, crossing at Nogales, AZ, we will find a vet in Arizona to do a Health Certificate?
How can a vet in the U.S. who is not familiar with Bella certify that our dog is free of internal and external parasites and list the products we used? My conclusion is that I will use Frontline Plus monthly on Bella during the few months we are in the U.S. and hold her Bravecto® tablet (for fleas and ticks). Just before we plan to drive across the border, I will take Bella to a vet for her Health Certificate and have the vet administer her Bravecto® tablet and her Heartguard Plus® (for heartworms and other worms) at the time of her examination.
I will probably need to be prepared for the vet to require blood and/or stool tests before administering the medications (more money and time). Then, I will make sure the vet completes the Health Certificate as required by the Mexican Agriculture Department. We'll see how that works. We'll also see if anyone asks for Bella's Health Certificate at the Mexico border. They haven't in the past, but this might be the year that they start requiring them when driving into Mexico. Anyone else have another idea?
Note: A helpful reader, Byron, supplied me with THIS LINK for current requirement for traveling with a pet to Mexico. When you reach this page, click on the BAR at the bottom of the page for Dogs and Cats. The Certificate Template under Option B is the one the vet can complete using their computer and then sign by hand.
See the original article for more information and photos.
About the AuthorTerry L. Turrell loves to live and travel in Mexico, loves to eat quality food, and is hooked on Zumba! After living and traveling in their RV for years, she and her husband, Jon, have moved to a small home in Mexico. Her eBooks, "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico" and "Retirement Before the Age of 59: Healthy Living in Mexico #2," are now available on Amazon.com. They describe the Turrell's adventures in Mexico and the beautiful life they've lived along the way, the fun Zumba experiences they've have, and how to live healthy in Mexico. Terry invites you to "Follow" her blogs: RetirementBeforetheAgeof59, HealthyLivingandTravelinginMexico, and ZumbaMexico to see how much fun Mexico is, or visit her website, HealthyLivingandTravelinginMexico.com.