Pet Travel: Drive Your Pet from US to Mexico

How To Drive Your Dog or Cat into Mexico from the US and Back

To drive with Pets and enter Mexico from a US border, Mexican Law does not require a Health Certificate. Car Insurance (minimum Liability only) is required. Mexico is not a high-risk Dog Rabies country (CDC). Your Pet may be visually inspected for health at the border.  You may need documents on return to the US or onto Latin America, so having a Pet Health Certificate Vaccination Record, Rabies Certificate/Import Certificate and Parasite Treatment is recommended.

1.       Driving to Mexico with Pets–What Does My Pet Need?

DOCUMENTATION FOR YOUR PET: A Health Certificate is not always Requested or Inspected but You still one, Rabies or other vaccinations, no parasite prevention (screwworm, fleas, ticks mite, lice etc.), Import Permit or Medications records are required. 

Keep these documents with you in case you are asked upon reentry to the US or enter to another country.  Plans changes and if you need to fly back to the US you will need them for the airline. 

Your pet may be physically inspected at the border, but often is not inspected.

DOCUMENTATION FOR YOUR VEHICLE :  You will present a passport or US ID card/driver’s license and get a Tourist Visa  (FMM) for you and a Temporary Import Pass (TIP) for your vehicle, (Except Baja Peninsular where no TIP is required).  A TIP is tied to your immigration document and is valid for as long your immigration document is valid.

A TIP is legal document that allows a foreign-plated vehicle to be imported to and driven in Mexico for a defined period of time.  The vehicle must be exported (driven out of Mexico) before the TIP’s expiry date.  If you fail to export the vehicle and surrender/cancel the TIP, you will lose your deposit, you will not be allowed to import another vehicle in future; and you can also face fines and have your vehicle confiscated.

Anyone who wants to bring a foreign-plated vehicle into Mexico and drive outside of the Free Zones.  The Free Zones are:

  • within 25km of the land border;
  • the entire Baja California peninsula;
  • a defined area in the northern state of Sonora; and,
  • the southern state of Quintana Roo.

If you are going to drive your car farther than the 25km from the border or anywhere outside of a defined Free Zone, you must have a TIP to avoid fines and confiscation of the vehicle.

Where Can I Buy Temporary Import Permit (TIP) to Travel with My Pet to Mexico?

  1. Online

You can still obtain a TIP in-person at the border but applying for the TIP via the Banjercito site will speed the process and avoid potentially long lines at the border.

Note: If you apply online, you must first get your FMM online (or have your Residency visa or card issued) before you obtain the TIP.  When you get your FMM online, you must stop at the border and get immigration (INM) to stamp/validate the document.  Carry a printed copy of the FMM and your receipt to show proof of payment when you do this.

When approved, you will receive your TIP by email.  Print out your TIP and receipt and keep the printed copies with you while driving in Mexico.  Keep and use the email version only as verification of your TIP approval.

2. In person at the Land Border

Temporary import permits may be purchased at CIITEV offices located at Customs offices near various U.S./Mexico border locations in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.  Check beforehand that the crossing you use has a CIITEV office.  When you apply in person, Banjercito will send an email with your TIP and hand you a printed copy of the TIP and your receipt.  Keep the email and paper copies to hand at all times while driving in Mexico.

3. Buying a TIP at a Mexican Consulate

A limited number of Mexican Consulates in the United States offer a TIP-issuing service.  Although the Consulate acts as facilitator, it is Banjercito that issues the permit.  Consulates in the following US States offer TIPs (we recommend you contact them beforehand to ensure that their TIP issuing service is available):

  • Arizona: Phoenix
  • California: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Sacramento
  • Colorado: Denver
  • Illinois: Chicago
  • New Mexico: Albuquerque
  • Texas: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston

Driving with Pets from US to Mexico Map of Border Entry Points
Driving with Pets from US to Mexico Map of Border Entry Points

BANJERCITO is the government authority that issues vehicle permits allowing you to travel with Pets from US to Mexico. The process can be done online, at the Mexican border, or at certain Mexican consulates in the U.S. 

The process involves leaving a monetary deposit that will be returned upon the cancellation of vehicle permit when leaving Mexico.

RELATED: 18 Tips for Living in Mexico Including Pet Friendly Tips

Auto Insurance for Your Pet Road Trip to Mexico

You are required to have a Mexican Insurance policy or to show proof of financial responsibility.  Financial responsibility is proof of liquid funds (not credit cards) in case of accident.

Your US or Canadian auto insurance policy won’t cover you for third-party liability in Mexico.  Most US or Canadian policies include coverage for damage to your vehicle and its contents—not coverage for another vehicle in an accident.  The most important aspect of an insurance policy for driving in Mexico is third-party liability. By law, US and Canadian insurers are prohibited from providing liability coverage in foreign countries.  Liability coverage must be underwritten by a Mexican insurance company. 

What Other Documents Do I Need to Drive My Pets to Mexico from the US?

All foreigner visiting Mexico must fill out an Official Entry Immigration Form, also called a Tourist Card, prior to their arrival. Tourist cards are free and you can fill out and print the form at home. Keep this with you as you will need it to return or travel onto South and Central America

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 walking across the border into Mexico, you might find the immigration officer doesn’t request your tourist card. Still, it’s better to have it prepared – just in case.

Visitors to Mexico for leisure or business visits lasting 180 days or less, and who are passport holders of one of the many countries which don’t require a visa to enter Mexico can complete a visitors permit, known as Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM, at their port of entry.

If you drive to Mexico, you will need to get a visitors permit at the port of entry;
If you fly to Mexico, air crews on international flights might hand-out the visitor permit forms before the flight lands, and they are also available at Mexican airports, near the immigration desks

You can get your FMM online and print this out to take with you; the official at the port of entry will stamp the printed form. See Here to Apply Online for your FMM

If you are visiting a Mexican port(s) as part of a cruise ship, you’ll need to get a visitors permit at your first Mexican port of call.

(If the country that issued your passport appears on this list of countries which do require a visa for Mexico, read this.)

Fee for Mexico’s Visitor Visa (FMM)
If you arrive by land and leave Mexico within 7 days of your arrival date, there is no fee for the permit. If you fly into Mexico from overseas, the fee is usually included within your air ticket’s “fees and surcharges.” The fee is approximately US$25.

Keep Your Visitors Permit (FMM) Safe

Once completed, the immigration official at the port of entry will stamp both halves of the form and hand you the smaller half, stamped with the date you entered the country. It’s important to keep this document safe, as you will need to surrender it when you leave Mexico.

If you are departing Mexico on a flight, your airline will insist you surrender your stamped half of the Visitors Permit to them before they allow you to board.

If you have a Visitors Permit and are leaving the country by land you should voluntarily surrender your form to an immigration official before your departure. Failure to do so might cause delays the next time you try and enter Mexico.

Your Mexico Visitor Permit: FAQs
Here are the most frequently asked questions about Mexico’s visitor permit

How long can I stay in Mexico with a Visitors Permit (FMM)?
Your visitor permit is valid for the number of days granted by the immigration official and written on the permit —that will never exceed 180 days, but may be less than 180 days— starting from the date of your arrival. The arrival date is always stamped on the permit.

Read this article about the number of days being granted to people arriving in Mexico under auspice of a visitor permit, FMM.

This allowance is given per entry: every time you exit and re-enter Mexico on another date the allowance ‘resets.’ (You surrender your current FMM when you leave and get a new FMM when you return.)

If you enter Mexico as a tourist or visitor, to volunteer, or as a business visitor, then the immigration official at the port of entry will grant you a maximum 180 days to stay in Mexico.
The number of days you are allowed to stay will be written on the part of the form that’s handed to you for safe-keeping.
The date stamped on your permit is your arrival date.
To determine the latest date you must leave Mexico, count the number days (some months are longer than others) from the arrival date stamped on your form.

RELATED: 18 Tips for Living in Mexico Including Pet Friendly Tips

What If Your Pet Has Health Issues at the US Mexico Border?

You Pet may be inspected for general health at the border. If there are signs of disease or wounds, you may need to wait while you contact a local Veterinarian to arrive and treat your Pet.

If your pet is being treated for lesions and/or infections due to a skin condition, 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)

If you and your Dog or Cat frequently travel between the U.S. and Mexico, consider registering in the “Pet Program – Frequent Traveler.” For further information, refer to the USDA website.

Bringing Pet Food into Mexico

Mexico allows a limited amount of pet food for you to carry with you.  A supply of one day’s meals is suggested. Mexico has many of the same brands of Pet food as we find in the US. Mexico has many of the same retailers for Pet Supplies such as Costco, Petsmarts and Walmart. Also, many Veterinarians make house calls in Mexico if your Pet needs medical attention.

Driving Back to the US from Mexico with Your Pets

CATS: A Health Certificate is not required by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for entry of pet cats into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them.

However, pet cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans.

If a cat appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense might be required at the port of entry.

Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States.

However, some states require vaccination of cats for rabies, so it is a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination (CDC).

DOGS:  Dogs that have not been in a high-risk country in the previous 6 months are not required by CDC to present a rabies vaccination certificate or other paperwork, but vaccination against rabies is recommended. (CDC).

Mexico is not a high-risk country. This applies to pets, not dogs imported for research purposes.

Pet Inspection at the US and Mexico Border

Your pet may be physically inspected.  It must be healthy.  If the pet does not appear healthy (sickly, fresh or healing wounds) you will likely be turned away. Mexico recognizes only Dogs and Cats as pets. All other animals enter under other rules.

SENASICA inspectors are not present at every crossing. In fact, many travelers report to us that there are very few. Still, it is possible. It is good practice to have all your Pet’s documentation with you. Once in a while, travelers find themselves in an emergency and need to fly back to the States with their Pet. Pets will be inspected at airports. See AEROMEXICO-Flying with Pets to Mexico or VOLARIS-Flying With Pets to Mexico

TIP:  A “Pet Passport” is not an official document as are human passports.  A “Pet Passport” is all the documentation you pet may need for travel: ID, Photo, Health Certificate, Vaccination records, Rabies Certificate, Parasite Prevention documentation and Medication.

TIP: WAZE App can be very effective alternative to Google Maps. Mexican use Whatsapp as their primary means to message everyone: Veterinarians, Shopkeepers, Hotels, Restaurants and friends.

RELATED: Pet Friendly San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

AND, Guide to Pet Friendly Mexico City, Mexico

18 Tips for Living in Mexico Including Pet Friendly Tips

Pets, US to Mexico, and Back–Fast Facts and Links

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