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Try one of the Mexpat Facebook pages. There is a very small information pool here. Consider how many members there are compared to the total expat population lakeside, AND how many of those members are active, AND how many have pets who are frequent flyers AND take their pets with them AND have already used a new program you just read about. You have a better chance of finding personal experiences from a much larger pool of expats.

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I'm a survivor of the Viajero Mascota Frecuente program application, and last week I completed my first trip using it. My post is long, but not nearly as long as the application process. But the new pilot program indeed speeds up the reentry process at the airport.

Like all things bureaucratic in Mexico, the process is a beating; more so, I imagine, because it is a new, pilot program. But I'm done (for six months) and, having returned last Monday evening via air with the dog's passport, the reentry process was painless. Getting the danged pet booklet? Not so much: two trips to the vet (Dr. Ladrón; I was his first to survive/complete the process) and one long Saturday afternoon at the airport.

The biggest problems are that (1) the process is new and the SAGARPA/SENASICA staff trained so far (at Miguel Hidalgo in Guadalajara) are few and not fully trained/experienced. Note that they are NOT available 24/7 (more on this below) nor can you make an appointment.

(2) The date requirements are incompatible between the program application and the vet's issuance of the papers that are (unchanged and still) required and must be presented. For example, you call Mexico City to request the application (no, it is not online--or it wasn't three weeks ago), download it, complete it and, within 15 days prior to travel, take it to a Mexican vet to complete the rest. That sounded reasonable...but...the vet's stamp and health certificate still is only good for 5 days, including the date s/he stamps and signs and your date of travel. So, that gives you maximum 4 days prior to travel, including your travel day. My flight was 6 am Weds; I am at the vet Friday and Saturday (so the dates will work). I go to the airport Saturday afternoon since that's when an agent is expected to be available. No appointments; they might be busy with a flight (understandable) or at a meeting or called away.

(3) They want info and papers they DON"T ask for on the form or on the three pages of instructions for completing the form.Despite speaking on the phone 4 times with 2 people at SAGARPA officed at the airport and once to someone in Mexico City (and all were polite and helpful and appeared knowledgeable and reasonable), it was a 3 1/2 hour process at the airport on a quiet Saturday afternoon while the agent completed the passport. (The SAGARPA/SENASICA window is next to the INM window. You phone the number on the paper posted on the window and they come up from their office downstairs. For. every. single. question. they. have. And. there. are. many.)

To complete the application, you need the usual information about the pet, including microchip numbers, identifying marks, name and address of the transporter/owner. You need the vet's Certificado de salud, along with the customary deparasiting and deworming within six months, including dates of application, expiry, lot number. All normal and expected. All the same travel requirements/restrictions apply as previously to the pet carrier: nothing but the pet--no toys or blankets, a day's rations, etc. All normal and expected.

A huge problem is that the form itself does not ask for all the information that the agent requires to issue the passport. Some of this is easy to add, but it requires one of about a dozen trips up and down from the SAGARPA agent since the additional questions are asked and answered one by one. For example, you need to add your contact (cel) and home telephone numbers. They want, in addition to your home address and city, the municipio, the zip code. (Count with me...this was Five. Separate. Trips.) They require your email address since all correspondence, approvals and (upon arrival, copies of your entry approval papers) are sent to your email. All easy to provide and add, but INDIVIDUAL trips up and down are made by the agent. Some day, they will perhaps update their application to include all the information they request. Today is not that day.

The bottom of the first page of the application asks for the internal/external parasite and deworming info. My vet administers, signs, stamps, and affixes his seal. But NO! This is SAGARPA paperwork and it must be redone BY THE VET without the signature, stamp and seal. After some negotiation, the agent agrees to just ignore the additional information he, for once, does not want. They do want the signature, stamp and seal on the customary health certificate, though, just not on the document they ask the vet to complete.

They want to see your passport. Why don't they ask for this stuff on the three pages of instructions? But I had it, just in case. Another trip up and down for the agent.

Ah...he needs photocopies. Of freaking everything, including the aforementioned passport and the application. I should have expected needing copies but, alas, I did not ask that in any of my prior phone calls nor do the three pages of instructions that come with the form say that. Lo siento. they cannot make the photocopies (they didn't request so I could bring them) and he has no idea where you can get copies made at the airport. (Thank goodness for Platinum status and a nice aa ticket agent on a quiet afternoon. And I begged, I must admit. He looked up my flight, confirmed the pet's reservation number, and came back with my copies. Note to self to send him an Outstanding Service Award chit. Where did I put them?) And rumor has it from a cleaning guy there that farmacia Benavides at the other end of the terminal has a copier. Don't know if it works or if it is for public use.

You need to have a photo of your pet (no photo requirements provided), either hard copy or digital. (This is not requested either on the application or the instructions, but it was on the cover email to the documents the person in Mexico City sent me). I take a picture with my phone, print it in color, and take it to the airport with my application. But he wants it ELECTRONICALLY as well as on paper to continue with the process. So, I find the photo on my phone and email it to the address the agent gives me. I go to the restroom waaaaaay down the terminal; we are now into this ordeal nearly 2 hours and the caramel latte wants out. I run since I am positive this is the one instance the agent will return in a flash. (Not so.)

He's baaaack!!! Ah, "but the color of your dog does not match the color of the dog in the photo." (I cannot make this crap up.) But it is as described on every single document, including his previous certificados de salud, original AKC paperwork, for his 10-year life (all of which I have with me.) He is undeterred. We discuss the word "tricolor"; the agent tells me some people say their dogs are "blue" but actually they are "grey". I tell him to write whatever color he wants, so long as he will be working my return flight in five days. He writes "brown and white". (My AKC dachshund is a tricolor--red piebald: sable hair with black tips with significant white markings. Sigh.) Back downstairs for the agent; I'm tempted to sprawl on the floor for a nap. My back hurts. Lunch ($160 pesos) is delivered for the agent.(Whaaat? You just came on duty--I was here waiting for your shift! I'm your first customer.) He gets it (smells great) and...goes back downstairs. It's another half hour or more. I call downstairs and ask if I am supposed to wait or will he be back? He will be back, he says.

He's back. Again. And wants photocopies front and back of the cédula profesional of the vet and says it is required. Whaaaat? Never in my life have I been asked for this, nor is it on their hinky form. Luckily, he agrees to let me email it to the same email address the photo went to. (The following Monday morning,  I call the vet, go get the papers, email them to the agent.)  He brings me my passport. YAY!!! Success? Not so fast...remember, he tells me, this is to speed reentry INTO Mexico. He specifically tells me that I still have to get the US vet to complete the frickin' papers within the five days (I will now be at 10 days from the issuing/departure vet's health certificate till my return) since the Mexico programa mascota viajero is only for reentry and they are not responsible if the air carrier does not accept it for departure. So, once  in the US I have to get a vet's appt, pay yet again for the APHIS and pet importation paperwork, in case he is right. As long as I am there, I ask and my US vet confirms my dog is a tricolor "red piebald" and patiently points out the sable red, black tips, big white pattern and assures me he is not brown and white. AHA! Vindicated.(But that only gets me satisfaction, nothing else.)

And after all of this? My newly minted programa mascota frecuente "pet passport book"  is/WAS* good for only 6 months. There is no process for renewal; you REAPPLY all over again. (However, when I flew in last week, the agent who did the pet inspection (the usual, but the paperwork goes fast and yes, I did get my barcoded reentry doc via the email address they had requested in round 7) told me that the passport is now good for ONE YEAR* BUT...you still have to go to your vet to update the six month schedule for internal/external parasites and deworming. He did contradict the agent who issued my documents and tell me that I DO NOT NEED while outside of Mexico to get the APHIS/US pet importation papers that I just spent $186 US to get, but now he and his coworker disagree. He walks me to the red light/green light (leaving the couple with two dogs and no new program papers to sit on the bench) and I patiently spend another 10 minutes as he tells the agent there that this is the new procedure and what she is to look for, page by page. I'm "this"  close to the door.... Green light! I haul ### and don't look back.

 In closing, it's almost necessary to be a native or fluent speaker of Spanish to navigate the phone calls and the airport process. Watch your dates carefully and, until they are more familiar with the process, expect to spend a significant amount of time at the airport for your application process.) To help those of you interested, I took copies of the application and instructions on a flash drive and gave to Dr. Ladrón's receptionist so you can avoid a call to Mexico City. I also went back to Dr. Ladrón's upon my return and detailed the experience with them, so they know what is required.

 

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