Pet Travel. Made Easy.

New Rules For Traveling To Mexico With A Dog

Living in Tucson has opened up all kinds of new travel opportunities for Bailey and me! It’s just 90 minutes to the border at Nogales, Mexico, and with the recent changes, traveling to Mexico with a dog has gotten even easier. But remember, it’s just as important to get back into the United States as it is to get into Mexico – so be sure you are covered for both directions!

Traveling with Your Dog to Mexico |


Traveling With A Dog To Mexico

What People Need

All foreign citizens traveling to Mexico must fill out an Official Entry Immigration Form, also called a tourist card, prior to their arrival to Mexico. Tourist cards are free and you can fill out and print the form at home. When you arrive at the border, present the immigration officer with your printed tourist card and your passport. Since your information will already be in their system, once your tourist card is stamped, you’ll be off to enjoy Mexico!

If you are driving in Mexico, you will also need to purchase Mexican car insurance. Most U.S. insurance policies will not fully cover you if you have an accident in Mexico.

When you return to the United States from Mexico, U.S. citizens need to show a valid passport. If you are traveling by foot or car, you can provide a U.S. Passport card, which is a less expensive alternative to a full passport, but can only be used for land and sea travel from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean.

Traveling to Mexico

What Dogs Need

On December 16, 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that cats and dogs traveling to Mexico from the U.S. no longer need a health certificate. Now, upon arriving in Mexico, travelers with the pet dogs and/or cats must visit the Mexican Animal and Plant Health Inspection Office (OISA), and see the person working with SENASICA.

The agent will perform a physical inspection of your pet to determine the following:

  1. Your pet shows no sign of infectious and contagious diseases,
  2. is free of ectoparasites, and
  3. has no fresh wounds or wounds in the process of healing.

Only the portion of food used to feed the animal during the day of arrival will be allowed.

If you travel regularly between the U.S. and Mexico with your dog, you can request to register in the “Pet Program – Frequent Traveler.” For further information, refer to the USDA website.

Pet Travel Preparation

Traveling to Mexico with Pets with Health Issues

If your pet is being treated for lesions and/or infections due to a skin condition, you should present the SENASICA agent with the diagnosis and treatment instructions from your veterinarian. This information should be presented on letterhead, including the veterinarian’s professional registration number (or equivalent).


Things to Consider When Traveling With a Dog to Mexico

On our trip to Nogales, I found everyone to be very friendly, and they treated Bailey like a celebrity! A few mentioned that she looks “like the dog on TV.”

In Mexico, shopkeepers are generally less fussy about letting animals in stores, so traveling with Bailey was easy. However, in Mexico and other Latin countries, you will often see dogs running loose in the streets. If you have a reactive dog, which Bailey is sometimes, this can be a stressful experience. Fortunately, the dogs we encountered in Nogales were easily shoo’d away and we were able to continue our shopping.

READ MORE ⇒   11 Tips For Greeting a Strange Dog

Nogales Mexico Market Traveling with Your Dog to Mexico |


The other issue I noticed was an abundance of discarded food in the street. This can be true of any city, but there was a LOT of mischief for Bailey to find on the streets of Nogales. I had to wrestle rib bone from her, and we were both on high alert after that.

Based on our brief experience, a border town day trip probably isn’t the best option for my dog along. However, the seaside resort of Puerto Penasco is calling our name! I think Bailey will love the beaches and there will be more outdoor activities for us to enjoy together.

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What Your Dog Needs to Re-enter the United States

Ironically, it’s a bit easier coming back into the U.S. than it is traveling with your dog to Mexico. In December 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their rabies vaccination requirements for dogs entering the United States. Now, only dogs coming into the U.S. from counties considered high-risk for importing rabies must have a rabies certificate. Mexico is not among the list of countries considered high-risk on the CDC website, so proof of rabies vaccination is no longer required for dogs coming to the U.S. from Mexico.

Have you taken your dog to Mexico? How was your experience?



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  • Mahmood Mokhtari says:

    I just came back from Mexico thru Nogales border. Going into Mexico back in early December, there was no problem whatsoever. They did not even ask a single question about my dog. I had spent over $200 on vet bills to get all the shots he needed & the accompanying letter of his good health. On our return to the US, it was the same. No questions asked nor documents required by the inspecting border agent.

    • Amy at says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Mahmood! The new rules haven’t been in place very long, so hearing from people who’ve been across the border really helps. Safe travels to you!

  • Cassie Celis says:

    We are bringing home a puppy (5 months old) from Mexico into the US. He has received his first shots but the papers are in spanish. Do the papers need to be professionally translated to english?
    Thanks in advance

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Cassie! Congratulations on your new addition. As long as your pup appears healthy, there is no longer a need to provide your pet’s vaccination documentation when you’re driving across the border from Mexico to the US. If you’re flying, you’ll have to contact the airline to determine their requirements. Good luck and safe travels!

  • KamikoK says:

    Do you know if we need crates or carriers for our two dogs?

    And do they provide visas at the border like they do when you travel by air? Or do we have to print them out beforehand? This is mine and my husband’s first time traveling to Mexico by car (and with pets), so we have no idea what to really expect.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Kimiko! The rules say that pets must be in crates or carriers. However, I’ve been hearing from people who have crossed the border that they did not have them, and there was no problem. It may depend on where you’re driving across. Unfortunately, that’s the best information I have.

      As for visas, my understanding is that you’re meant to complete the paperwork online and print it to take with you. Again, whether it is checked or not could depend on where you cross. I hope that’s helpful and that you have a great trip!

  • Crategirl says:

    Is taking insulin into Mexico for my dog an issue?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Crategirl! Thanks for your note. To my knowledge, there are no restrictions on taking any medications for your dog into Mexico. I hope you have a great trip!

  • Adam says:

    We fly to Mexico frequently from California with our small ESA dog. All Mexican airlines have asked us for health certificates and we have always been stopped at customs in Mexico. 99% of the time we are delayed by either Mexican airline employees or Mexican custom officers. They check and re check and check again all of our paperwork. In fact on our most recent trip 11/2019 they asked for our paperwork six different times. I haven’t flown since the new law and am curious to see if the Mexican airline have updated their policies. I checked online and see that they still require health certificates.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Adam! Thanks for sharing your experience. And yes, in almost all cases airlines require health certificates for pets that will be flying – even if they’re not leaving the United States. I don’t expect the airlines to relax their rules, but the documents required to drive or walk across the border are less. Safe travels to you!

  • Laura says:

    I crossed the border on December in Texas and they did not ask for anything with our dog. I had heard about the rule changing and called The USDA office before our we left. They told me I needed to still get the health certificate so we paid 180 dollars for it and then we didnt need to show it and they didnt even look at our dog.

    • Amy at says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Laura. And I’m sorry that you had to pay for a health certificate. The reports I’m getting from others traveling across the border are very similar to yours. Safe travels to you!

  • Mark says:

    We travelled to Mexico with a Yorkshire Terrier in 2019 upon deboarding we went to customs, then to baggage claim and then exited the airport, no one asked anything about the pooch or had to provide all the documents we have to jump hoops through to get prior to leaving US soil.

    Same with returning, no one asked or directed us in regards in our 4 legged cutie.

  • Jess says:

    It looks as though they have to spray down the carrier? Im pregnant and hoping to travel to mexico next month with my dog and am not comfortable with strange sprays on his carrier. Anyone have experience with this?

  • Steen says:

    This touches on the food situation (looks like only enough to feed the dog for the day). It does not say anything in regards to a crate.

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