Get A Vet Check
Just prior to departure from the United States, the birds will require a visit to an approved USDA veterinarian (preferably an avian vet) for their international health certificates and blood work. Not all vets are permitted to do this paperwork so if your vet can’t, check with the USDA office in your state to find a vet that can. Two trips are needed, as the first trip to the vet and all the paperwork is necessary to be included in the CITES import permit request to Mexico.
We actually did this three times because the CITES permit from Mexico wasn’t issued before the 30 day time period for the vet papers expired. The health certificates are good for 30 days however, airlines generally don’t accept them if they are more than 10 days from issue date so be sure to check with the airline for its requirements if your trip involves flying into Mexico.
When I told our avian vet that we were exporting the birds to Mexico, she spent countless hours on the Internet and on the phone with the Virginia State USDA veterinarian, researching the requirements. We compared notes on research and were able to determine what papers Mexico might require. First, all paperwork must be typed and since her office had no typewriter, our vet sent her office manager in search of a typewriter! This is important because the Mexican authorities will not accept any paperwork that is not typed.
The papers that your vet needs to issue are:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service
- U.S. Interstate & International Certificate of Health Examination for Small Animals — APHIS Form 7001.
This is a thick carbon-copies form and multiple birds can be listed on it. The vet gets it from the State USDA office; USDA Addendum- Health Certifications for Ornamental & Songbirds (Pets) Exported From the U.S. to Mexico. One form per bird, this is a bilingual document and is the same as the Hojas de Fitzoosanitario from SENASICA. It is on the USDA website and must be signed by the vet and signed and sealed by the State USDA vet; U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service Certificate for Poultry or Hatching Eggs for Export — VS Form 17-6.
Our vet found that Mexico requires this for all birds, not just poultry — it is a little-known form, which took the USDA vet’s office three days to find. Under the remarks section our vet typed "This is a pet psittacine bird.” Multiple birds can be listed on one form, it must be typed and comes as carbon copies; Department of Agriculture Official Shipping Certificate & Vaccination Record for Small Animals — a Virginia State form, typed with carbon copies; and lastly, the blood tests — Mexico requires Avian Influenza, Salmonella and Newcastle Disease. The U.S. is free of Newcastle disease, which is covered by the statement signed by the vet on the USDA Addendum, so she didn’t test our birds for this. However, when Mexico insisted on re-testing our birds, they did a test for Newcastle. We also had additional paperwork available for the border crossing: the health records for all of our birds, including routine, annual blood tests.
Once all the blood test results have arrived and your vet signs the papers, all the papers must be signed and sealed with the USDA official seal by your State USDA veterinarian. In Virginia, that office is located in Richmond and the fee is $24 USD per bird. The USDA website lists all the offices of its state veterinarians.
All this paperwork is exhausting but with all this preparation, the trip should go smoothly. However, be prepared for additional changes in laws, rules, public servant opinions, etc. as anything can happen.
Plan On Quarantine
And keep in mind that Mexico can require your bird to stay in quarantine, be tested, inspected, etc., if its vet determines your bird doesn’t meet all his/her specifications. This can happen at the entry point so if flying into Cancun, which is the closet port of entry for birds into Merida, it is possible to be detained there for a day or possibly two weeks.
The Mexican authorities throughout Mexico checked all our paperwork. They are particularly sensitive about Avian Influenza and whether your bird was captured in the wild. Your bird really needs to have a leg band — our birds were checked for leg bands at every stop — they aren’t interested in the information on the leg band, just that the birds had them. It is a good idea to have a letter or bill of sale if the bird was purchased from a pet store. Our birds were either gifts from friends or rescues, so we didn’t have that, but I prepared letters in Spanish from our friends about the origins of our birds.
It is also very important, upon entering Mexico, to receive a document from Mexican Customs or SENASICA, which allows your bird to transit across state borders in Mexico. Without this document, the percentages are high for being stopped and detained with the possibility of destroying your bird. Mexican Customs also must sign the Mexican CITES Permit. Do not expect or depend upon the Mexican Customs personnel to know that they are supposed to provide this form or sign the CITES Permit — it all depends upon who trained them and how busy they are at the border crossing. We didn’t know this information, which came to haunt us later in the trip. This is very important!!!!!
For additional information on traveling with birds:
www.fws.gov — forms and information for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; also lots of information on Import/Export Permits, CITES Permits & Certificates; Traveling Abroad with your Pet Birds
www.customs.gov — U.S. Customs website — Pets & Wildlife: Licensing & Health Requirements
www.cites.org — Appendice lists, species database
www.aphis.usda.gov — USDA website — also National Center for Import & Export phone number is (301) 734-8364
The Center for Disease Control has no restrictions on exporting pet birds at this time but it’s a good idea to check anyway. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope this information helps with importing parrots! Our parrots are absolutely thrilled to be at our home in Mexico — they are happy outside playing, enjoying the sunlight and eating all the great fruits and vegetables.
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