Mexico Entry Requirements - Required Travel Documents for Travel to Mexico
A valid passport or passport card is required for all U.S. citizens
traveling beyond the Mexican border zone - usually defined as within
20-30 kilometers of the border. Passports or passport cards are
required for U.S. citizens 16 and older to re-enter the U.S. by land,
and passports are required for re-entry by air. U.S. citizens who do
not have a passport should apply for one well in advance of their
planned travel to Mexico. The website for the Bureau of Consular
Affairs is the best source of information about U.S. passport
Mexican immigration may not accept
washed, mutilated, or otherwise damaged passports, and require their
carriers to return to the United States.
Visas or tourist cards are not required for U.S. citizens visiting as
tourist for 72 hours or less and remaining within the border zones.
Tourist cards are required for longer visits or for entry by air.
Tourist cards can be purchased at Mexican consulates, border crossings,
tourism offices, airports, and airline offices. Travelers must keep
their card with them at all times, since immigration federal officers
have the right ask visitors to provide proof of their legal status at
any time. Travelers without the proper documentation have occasionally
been detained. It is also important to have passport and tourist card
photocopies in case the originals are lost or stolen.
U.S. citizens must return their tourist card when they depart Mexico.
Visitors who are unable to present their card may encounter significant
delays and be asked to file a police report, pay fines, and obtain an
Travelers visiting Mexico for business must complete and submit Form
FFM. This form authorizes visitors to conduct business, but not to
obtain employment. Non-tourist or business travelers, or any visitors
remaining for more than 180 days, must have a Mexican visa and a valid
passport to enter the country. U.S. citizens can apply for a Mexican
visa at the Mexican Embassy or any Mexican consulate.
U.S vehicles traveling beyond the Mexican border zone may be
confiscated unless the drivers obtain a temporary import permit. Only
vehicles traveling in the Baja Peninsula or vehicles with the "Only
Sonora" program are exempt from this requirement. This program allows
any vehicle that enters at a land border in the Sonoran region to
travel without a permit as long as it does not leave the region.
Evidence of citizenship, a vehicle title, vehicle registration, a valid
driver license, and a processing fee are required to obtain a temporary
import permit. Drivers must also post a bond at an office of the
Banjercito (Mexican Army Bank) to guarantee that the vehicle will be
exported by a certain date. Cash deposits or credit card information is
required, and go to a Mexican Customs office to avoid charges or
receive a refund. Incarceration, fines, or vehicle seizure may result
from driving into the Mexican interior without this permit. Travelers
should never accept the service of individuals outside permit offices
who offer expedited service.
Dual U.S./Mexican nationals should carry citizenship documentation for
both countries when traveling to Mexico. Mexico considers U.S. citizens
born in Mexico or to Mexican parents to be dual citizens of Mexico.
Dual citizens may be required to complete a period of military service
in Mexico, and may have difficulty receiving U.S. consular assistance
in the event of arrest or other emergencies. Dual nationals must
declare their U.S. citizenship when returning to the United States.
U.S. citizens must declare the value of any gifts they are carrying
when they enter Mexico. There is a $75.00 duty free limit for entry by
land, and a $300.00 limit for entry by air. Alcohol and tobacco
products always incur a duty. Personal effects will not incur a duty
unless they exceed certain limits specified by Mexican customs.
Undeclared items may be seized by customs. Regulations are in place
regarding imports, exports, and property donations, and visitors should
contact the Embassy of Mexico
or a Mexican consulate if they need details.
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