Mexico travel requirements

Mexico Travel Requirements – Documents and Visas

In March 19, 2018

With vacations to Mexico being one of the more popular and accessible warm destinations, the question of which travel documents are necessary to enter the country is a pretty common one. While there was a time that a US birth certificate was an acceptable form of documentation and proof of residency, border crossings into Mexico have become a bit more involved in the last few decades. Depending on where you’re from, If you are from a country on Mexico’s ‘no visa required” list, you may only be required to present a passport and visitors permit. On the other hand, if you are a resident  of a country not on this list you may be required to obtain a travel visa for entry. These requirements vary depending on the purpose of your visit to Mexico.  While most travelers are there for leisure, business trips and permanent relocations are also reasons people may be headed to Mexico.

Can you go to Mexico without a passport?

While showing your state issued driver’s license used to be sufficient to gain entry into Mexico, that is no longer the case. As of 2009, entry into Mexico requires a passport book or card. It’s important to keep in mind that requirements are different depending on your form of travel.


can you go to mexico without a passport

If traveling by air, you’ll need a US Passport to enter Mexico.

Mexico travel requirements based on means of transportation:

  • Flying into or out of Mexico – Regardless of age, any US citizen flying into or out of Mexico will need to have a valid US passport. A US passport card is not acceptable.
  • Driving across borders – If you’re crossing the border by land, you’ll need one of the following forms of identification to regain entry to the US after your stay:
    • US Passport Book
    • US Passport Card
    • Nexus, SENTRI or FAST card
    • Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL)- Currently, only a small number of states offer Enhanced Driver’s Licenses

Arriving via cruise line or boat – If you’re plan is to board a boat and set sail to Mexico for a long stay, travel to Mexico from the US will require the same forms of ID as traveling there by land. In the event you’re on a closed loop cruise (a cruise that leaves and returns to the same US port) you can get by with just a state issued ID and a certified copy of your birth certificate.

travel to mexico from US

When traveling to Mexico by car, you have a few options when it comes to ID. You’ll still need a visitor’s permit to travel outside the free zone, however.

Mexico travel requirements – Visitors Permits and Visas

Since the US is on Mexico’s “no visa required” list, the documentation required to travel in Mexico is fairly easy to obtain. Business travelers and tourists may use what is known as a visitors permit, or an FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple) instead of a Mexico tourist visa. This visitors permit can be obtained in several different ways depending on your means of travel to the country. The fee associated with the visitors permit is about US $22. There is a 35 KM free zone once entering the country, and for this area you will not be required to hold a visitors permit.

When flying to Mexico, most airlines will provide you with the paperwork and fee schedule onboard your flight. In some cases, you will be able to fill out this paperwork at the check in counter before you board your flight. In the event you don’t have the opportunity beforehand, you’ll be able to handle these documentation requirements once you land in Mexico and before you’re required to show your travel documents and leave the airport. If you’re arriving in Mexico by any other means of transportation, simply inquire about the forms necessary at your port of entry or border crossing.

Your visitors permit will generally be granted for a 180 day stay. In the event you were granted less time than that and would like to stay longer, you’ll need to visit a local immigration office. Overstaying your permit will result in mandatory fines that you’ll need to pay in order to leave Mexico.

Travel to Mexico is fairly simple when it comes to necessary documentation and accommodations but be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to obtain passports, certified copies of birth certificates and any other important documents before your trip. Whether you’re headed to Mexico for business or travel, we here at VitalChek wish you the very best time south of the border!


  1. What if a minor age 12, will he require a passport traveling by land coming back to the states?

    1. Hello Brian. More than likely the child would need at least a passport card to travel from the U.S. to Mexico and back. We suggest you contact the U.S. Consulate and/or visit the U.S. State Department website for the latest travel information and advisories.

      1. I need to go to Mexico on Dec 26 2019. I don’t have a passport. I’m used to just driving up and showing my regular California ID and birth certificate to the border patrol and thats it. Will I still be able to do that or is there a more stricter policy than there was in July, just this summer 2019?

        1. Hello Efham. Your best bet might be to contact the US and Mexican embassies for the latest document requirements. The US State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs also provides valuable travel information. Click here to visit their site.

  2. What are the restrictions traveling from US to Cabo if you have a DUI conviction?

    1. Thank you Kim. While we do our best to provide travelers with known documentation requirements for traveling internationally, we do not have expertise on travel restrictions for things such as a DUI conviction or other legal proceedings. For that information, you may want to check the U.S. State Department’s website for any travel restriction information, or consult with legal counsel for specifics.

  3. We are plannng to drive to visit Mexico. My partner had his driver’s license stolen and is out of state for three months.
    He may not have his driver’s license replaced by the time we want to travel to Mexico.
    If he is not driving the vehicle, can he still get into Mexico and later re-enter the U.S. with only a passport card?

    1. Hello Rebecca. While the article states that he should only need one of the listed forms of documentation to cross the border, it is better safe than sorry. Due to the current tensions with regard to the border you might consider contacting the state department to verify the requirements before you travel. Another thing to look into is whether your boyfriend can order a replacement driver’s license online or if he will need to go in person.

  4. I was born in mexico, now im a resident of the U.S. Im planning a trip to Mexico, and i am traveling by bus. Do i need a passport or my green card enugh?

    1. Hello Adolfo. While it is possible you won’t need either to cross into Mexico, it is more than likely you will need one or both to cross back into the U.S. Better safe than sorry!

  5. What are the required documents for (US Citizens)kids that are 2 and 5 Going Into Mexico via car/land? Does just a Certified Birth Certificate work? And does the Birth Cert work with the FMM? I cant find anything online on any Government website. Thanks Alex.

    1. Hello Alex. Your best bet for obtaining the most up to date information regarding traveling to Mexico with children would probably be the U.S. State Department Passport division. Please click here for contact information.

  6. I am dual citizen and plan to travel to mexico in may. Could i make it across and back with only my drivers license or with my drivers license and birth certificate?

    1. Hello Jorge. More than likely you will need your passport to cross back and forth.

  7. What if I am only coming into Mexico for a funeral of a family member?

    1. Hello MaryAnn. Before traveling to Mexico, you may want to consul with the U.S. State Department – Bureau of Consular Affairs to verify the documentation you will need. Please click here to visit their website for more information.

  8. hello I live in usa now and I am married to a Mexican citizen can use my married licess from Mexico to return to Mexico to be with my wife with out any other papers

    1. Hello Manuel. More than likely you will need more than your marriage license to travel back and forth to Mexico. You may want to check with Customs for more information on what documentation will be sufficient.

  9. I was under the impression that a Real ID would suffice for travel by air to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean. Is this not the case?

    1. Hello Alan. We recommend you verify with your airline or TSA what documents you will be required to produce to travle to Mexico.

  10. If you lived in the USA illegally since you were a child, but have now been ordered to the Consulant in Mexico, can you take a taxi from Texas to Mexico, & if so what documents are needed at the border?

    1. Hello Terri. You might consider contacting border patrol to determine what documents you will need.

  11. I have an enhanced driver’s license and want to get on a cruise ship departing and returning to San Diego. Do I need a passport or can my enhanced driver’s license be enough?

    1. Hello Wendy. Thanks for reaching out with your question.We suggest you contact your cruise line directly for more information on what documentation will be acceptable for your travel plans.

  12. I will be sailing the Baja ha ha from San Diego then in Cabo flying home I have a British passport but I have a USA permanent residency card Do I need a visiting Visa or is this something I can get as we enter by boat into Mexico

    1. Hello Nicky. If you have a travel agent assisting you, they may be able to answer your questions regarding the documentation you will need. Otherwise, consider consulting with the state department or consulate to make sure you have the proper documentation for your travels.

  13. I have a passport and passport card for Mexico, but neither are with me. I know it’s a stretch but is there any way I can get to Mexico with pictures of the documents and a US driver’s license?

    1. More than likely pictures of the document would not be acceptable.

  14. If my friends and I are traveling to Mexico for a little while, he has a license and me and the other friend ONLY have an ID. Would that be sufficient enough for she and I to regain entry into the US or no?

    1. Hello J.K.We suggest that you contact the US and Mexican embassies for the latest document requirements. The US State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs also provides valuable travel information. Click here to visit their site.

  15. I am a US citizen. I also have a Permanent Residence Visa for Mexico. What travel documents are required by Mexico to fly to the US? What travel documents are required to return by air to Mexico?

    1. Hello Debbie. Any US citizen flying into or out of Mexico will need to have a valid US passport. We do suggest you contact the US and Mexican consulates and/or your airline to find out if any additional documentation will be necessary.

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