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Pet Birds Entering the United States from Mexico

Pet Birds Entering the United States from Mexico


For pet birds entering the United States (U.S.) from Mexico, the requirements generally include:

  • appropriate U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) certifications and permits;
  • a Veterinary Services (VS) import permit.
  • an original health certificate issued or endorsed by the government of Mexico
  • upon entry in the U.S., disease testing and a 30 day quarantine


There are fees associated with all VS services; in general, you can expect to pay a minimum of $700.00 for these services.

Do you need a permit?

If your bird is entering at a LAND border port If your bird is entering at an AIR or SEA port
Import Permit

Entry Prohibited


Veterinary Health Certificate

Entry Prohibited



Entry Prohibited

30-Day Federal Quarantine

Veterinary Inspection upon Entry

Entry Prohibited


Travel Requirements

To make the travel process easier for you, we have broken the process into steps and have listed the approximate time frame that each step will likely take to complete.  Please note that each step below has expandable text that will provide additional detail on the requirements including fees.

60-90 days prior to scheduled departure

Your pet bird must have been in your possession for a minimum of 90 days immediately before travel, and must not have been in contact with any other birds or poultry.

All pet birds from Mexico, regardless of whether they have ever been in the U.S., must go to federal quarantine for at least 30 days upon entry in the U.S.  These pet birds may also only enter the U.S. at certain designated ports.

You must make arrangements for your pet bird to fly into the U.S. at one of the airports associated with a USDA Animal Import Center. 

Designated Airports

Permanently Staffed Airports

Chicago, Illinois (ORD)

Los Angeles, California (LAX)


Jamaica, New York (JFK)

Miami, Florida (MIA)

Your bird must travel directly to one of these ports of entry without first stopping at any other U.S. port.  Contact VS personnel at the Animal Import Center to make a reservation for your pet bird and to discuss arrangements to transport your pet bird to quarantine upon arrival into the U.S. 

You will need to allow plenty of time at the designated port to complete all activities involved in getting your pet bird to federal quarantine. If the designated port is not your final destination and you need to make a connecting flight, please make sure you have a minimum of 4 hours between your flights. The time required may vary by port; you can contact VS personnel at the port to discuss logistics.

Please note: FWS may have additional restrictions related to eligibility, please see STEP 2 for contact information.

60-90 days prior to scheduled departure

In the U.S., FWS regulates birds protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 (WBCA).  There are extensive U.S. entry and exit requirements for birds regulated under these laws, so it is critical that you contact FWS to discuss their processes and fees if your bird is regulated by them. To determine your pet bird is regulated by FWS, please visit their website at: and review the fact sheet at: You may also contact them directly at 703-358-2104 or 800-358-2104.

30 days prior to scheduled departure

All pet birds entering the U.S. at an airport or seaport must have a VS import permit. For all pet birds from Mexico, you will submit the permit application to the VS National Import Export Services (NIES) Staff in Riverdale, Maryland.

You must apply for a VS import permit approximately 30 days prior to departure. You need to know your route of travel and specify a travel date before applying. The import permit is valid for 30 days from your specified travel date. If your travel plans change and your pet bird will be arriving in the U.S. more than 30 days after the travel date specified on the import permit, you will have to apply for an amended permit or a new permit. Permits can only be amended (for an additional fee) before they expire. Once your permit expires, you will need to submit a new import permit application.

Fees for VS import permits:

9CFR 130.4 “initial permit” – this fee is charged per application so if you have more than one pet bird but they are all traveling with you at the same time, then all of the birds should all be listed on the application and one permit can cover them all.

9CFR 130.4 “amended permit” – this fee is charged ONLY if you need to amend a permit that has already been issued (for example if your travel route or port of entry changes).

Applying for an import permit is done by completing and submitting an Application for Import or Intransit Permit, called the VS Form 17-129. The VS Form 17-129 can be completed and submitted via e-mail, standard mail, or fax OR completed and submitted electronically on-line via the ePermits system. Please allow 7-10 business days from the time your import permit application is received for it to be issued.

Permits can be emailed or mailed to the importer via U.S. Postal Service. You should indicate how you would like to receive your permit when you submit the permit application. If you have not received your permit at least 72 hours ahead of scheduled travel, call the office where you submitted the application and ask about the status. Note: If receiving the permit by email, use a color printer to print your document, as you must have one with a blue signature.

SUGGESTED TIME FRAME: 21 days prior to travel

All pet birds arriving from Mexico must undergo a pre-export isolation for at least 21 days prior to travel.

  • Pre- export isolation must:
    • Occur for at least the 21 days immediately preceding the date of travel to the U.S.
    • Be supervised by an official government veterinarian, or by a veterinarian in the country from which your bird is arriving who issues the export health certificate and has been authorized by the foreign government to supervise the quarantine.
      • NOTE: This isolation can be accomplished in the home so long as it is under the approval of the veterinarian who will issue the health certificate. There can be no other birds in the home (unless they are being shipped and are listed on the import permit).
  • Once pre-export isolation has been completed, the pet bird must be transferred directly from the isolation location to the port of embarkation (airport) in a carrier that has had seals applied by the government veterinarian.

The seals must have identifying marks or numbers which are then recorded on the health certificate.

within 30 days prior to travel (airlines may require a shorter time frame)

All pet birds entering the U.S. from Mexico are required to have a health certificate issued within 30 days of travel by a veterinarian in Mexico. The health certificate must be stamped by the official government veterinarian of Mexico.

The U.S. can accept any health certificate template, as long as it meets the following guidelines:

  • The health certificate is issued or endorsed by a full-time salaried veterinarian of the national government within the agency responsible for animal health in Mexico.
  • It is dated within 30 days of the date the bird leaves the foreign country.
  • It is in English or contains a complete written English translation within the document.
  • It clearly identifies the bird, and the identification matches the import permit.
  • The animal is exported in accordance with the laws of the exporting country. NOTE: some countries require the VS import permit before they will issue a health certificate.
  • The import health requirements defined by VS are met.
    • The health certificate must indicate the seal numbers that were applied by the official government veterinarian to the carrier which your bird will be in during its travel to the U.S.
    • The health certificate must contain the following statements:
      • The bird is being exported in accordance with the laws of that country.
      • The bird was not vaccinated against any H5 or H7 subtype of avian influenza.

A. The bird was not vaccinated against Newcastle disease. 
B. The bird has been vaccinated against Newcastle disease (avian paramyxovirus) at least 21 days prior to export, using vaccines that do not contain any velogenic strains of Newcastle disease virus.

  • The bird has been examined within 24 hours of export by the veterinarian issuing the health certificate and showed no evidence of any communicable diseases of poultry.
  • The bird has not been exposed to other birds during the pre-export isolation period.
  • The bird was isolated for a minimum of 21 days immediately prior to export.
  • The isolation was supervised by an official government veterinarian or by an authorized veterinarian in the exporting country who issued the export health certificate.
  • The bird was moved directly from the pre-export isolation location to the port of embarkation to the United States.

Additionally, you should carefully review your VS import permit to make sure there are no other requirements or certification statements listed. If you see requirements on your import permit that are different from what is listed above, please check with the office that issued your permit to be sure you understand all the requirements.

Note: It is important to check with the veterinary authorities of Mexico make sure they don’t have additional export requirements (some countries require testing for birds to leave the country, even though it isn’t required by the U.S. when entering). The veterinarian issuing the health certificate should be your contact for any local government requirements.

when flight is scheduled

You will need to discuss with your airline carrier any specific requirements they have related to your pet bird travel.

Airlines may have different requirements for when the health certificate must be issued.  They may also require that the pet birds travel as cargo, which can impact where your inspection occurs on arrival. The airline can also provide information on their requirements for carriers/cages, feed/water, and documentation.

minimum of 72 hours prior to arrival, preferably as soon as flight is scheduled

You must contact the VS port office at least 72 hours prior to arrival to alert port personnel of your arrival and discuss arrival plans.

Your VS import permit will list contact information for the first port of arrival. You should call or email the port as soon as possible to make arrangements for when you arrive. The port personnel can provide you more information about the specific process at that airport and what you should expect on arrival. Make sure to tell the port personnel whether your bird is traveling in the cabin with you, as accompanied baggage, or as unaccompanied cargo (manifest cargo), since that will alter where the vs personnel will meet you to take your pet bird. The port personnel will review your import permit and discuss any additional requirements that might be listed, and can discuss fees and payment options.

Based on your earlier contact with FWS (STEP 2), you should know whether your pet bird is subject to any additional FWS requirements. You will need to coordinate with port FWS personnel to arrange for any inspection or document review that might be needed.

For more information on FWS requirements, please visit their website and review the fact sheet. You may also contact them directly at 703-358-2104 or 800-358-2104.

variable, to be done day of departure

Make sure to send all the required documentation with your pet bird.

You will need to have the following items:

  • The original health certificate issued in Mexico
  • The original VS import permit
  • Original CITES documents (if your pet bird is regulated by FWS)
    • Contact FWS with any questions about CITES documents.

All documentation should accompany the pet bird during travel.

on arrival, allow 4 or more hours

You will need to clear your pet bird with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when you arrive in the U.S.  

If your bird is flying with you and is not manifested as cargo (i.e. you do not have an airway bill), you will need to declare your bird to CBP when you clear customs. Typically you will then be directed to a secondary CBP agriculture inspection, which is most likely where the VS port personnel (and FWS inspector if required) will meet you.

If your bird is flying as cargo, you will have to talk to the airline cargo company to find out where your bird will be transported after landing, where to obtain your documentation, and what the procedures are for clearing your bird through customs. If you are on the same flight, you may have to travel to the cargo facility warehouse to meet the port personnel (and FWS inspector if required) after you clear customs and passport control. You may need to take your bird’s paperwork to another location to clear your bird through customs.

on arrival

For all pet birds traveling to the U.S. from Mexico, VS port personnel will meet you to take your bird to quarantine.

All pet birds traveling from Mexico must complete a 30-day federal quarantine. Once your bird has cleared customs, VS port personnel will meet you or your bird at the location discussed when you provided your 72 hour notice of arrival.  If the port personnel taking your bird into possession notices an issue with the health of your bird or a problem with your paperwork, they will notify the port veterinarian who will discuss options with you at that time.  VS port personnel will oversee the transport of your pet bird to the Animal Import Center (AIC) to start quarantine. You should have already discussed arrangements for transport, which vary by port of entry, with the AIC staff.

Once at the federal quarantine facility, VS personnel will collect cloacal samples from your pet bird to test for avian influenza and Newcastle disease.  You will be responsible for paying the laboratory testing fee.

Fees for federal quarantine
9CFR 130.10 “user fees for pet birds (b)” – fees vary depending on how many birds are in the isolette (which will be determined by the APHIS personnel at the quarantine facility). Fees are for standard care, feed, and handling per day during the quarantine period.

Fees for testing
9CFR 130.15 “virus isolation” – this fee is also charged per “lot” and samples from up to 5 pet birds may be combined. You will be charged this fee twice – once for the initial cloacal swab test, and then again when the second set of samples are collected and submitted. These fees are charged directly by the laboratory when the samples are received, so you must provide a separate form of payment which is sent to the lab (check, money order, credit card, or APHIS user fee account).

Overtime charges
9CFR 97.1 “Overtime work at laboratories, border ports, ocean ports, and airports” – see the first chart. If your flight arrives before or after normal port duty hours (these will vary from port to port but are typically 8:00AM-4:30PM), you will also be charged overtime fees. These will vary depending on the location and the specific time of service, so you will need to contact the specific port you are flying into to get an estimate.

Compliance charges
9CFR 130.4 “import compliance assistance – simple or complicated” – this fee may be charged per lot. You may be required to pay an import compliance assistance fee if there are any discrepancies in your paperwork, or if you arrive in the U.S. without appropriate notification to the port veterinarian.

7-14 days after arrival

All pet birds are required to have two sets of samples collected and tested for avian influenza and Newcastle disease. The first sample is collected on arrival, and the second set approximately 7-14 days later.

VS personnel at the federal quarantine facility will collect samples from your bird. You will be responsible for paying the laboratory testing fee.

30 days after arrival

All pet birds are eligible for release from quarantine 30 days after arrival, assuming the birds are healthy and both sets of samples collected by VS tested negative. Your bird is not officially released from quarantine until you are notified by VS. Once your bird has been in quarantine for 30 days, and has had two sets of negative test results, it can be released from quarantine. You will need to make arrangements with the quarantine facility to pick up your bird after the 30 days are up. These arrangements should be made prior to the end of the quarantine to avoid extra charges.

Considerations for airline travel:

Airlines may have separate and additional requirements. Check with your airline to determine what requirements they may have, if any. 

Additional information about APHIS’ role in international health certificate endorsement.

View requirements for returning to the US with your pet

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