Travel, Living & Lifestyle in Mexico

Experience More of Mexico

Welcome. Sign In | Free Mexico Newsletter

Register for Vista, the Free Mexico Newsletter

Keep updated with news and opportunities about Living, Lifestyle and Real Estate in Mexico with our free Mexico Newsletter. Sign-up now and get the best Mexico Newsletter delivered by email free every month!

Mexico Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements

This guide explains what you need to know about entry requirements when you are visiting Mexico for leisure, for business, or to take up residency here.

Mexico Entry Requirements for Tourists and Short Term Visitors


Vacation

Lone Parents and Unaccompanied Minors: Important note for lone parents traveling with their children to Mexico and unaccompanied minors.

Visitors Permit - Visitante

Passport holders from countries on Mexico's no visa required list do not need to apply for a formal visa to visit Mexico. They may, instead, use a visitor's permit, known as a FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple).

If your country does not appear on the 'no visa required list', you should check with your nearest local Mexican Consulate for details of visa requirements before you travel to Mexico.

For countries that don't need a visa, a Mexico Visitor's Permit will need to be filled out in place of a visa. This is a simple form: pick one up from the check-in counter at the airport and fill it out on the airplane before you land or you can acquire one at all land border crossings. If the airline you are traveling with does not have any forms at the check-in desk or on-board the plane, don't worry, you can get one when you land in Mexico and fill it out before you line up to have your documents checked and stamped by the officials at the airport.

Mexico Visitor's Permit (FMM)

Mexico charges a fee to all tourists and business visitors arriving in the country. The fee is approximately US$22, and the money collected is handed to the Tourism Ministry to promote Mexican tourism.

Airlines normally collect the permit fee on behalf of the Mexican government and include the cost within the total airfare (under 'taxes and surcharges'), so in the majority of cases, there will be no need for you to pay the fee separately.

If you do not arrive in Mexico by airplane, then you will need to pay Mexico's Visitor's Permit fee separately if you travel beyond the 22 miles/35 km 'free zone' after crossing a land border into Mexico or arriving by sea on a private vessel. If you do this, you will have to complete the Visitor's permit at the immigration check-point and pay the fee separately.

Lost your FMM Permit? If you lose your FMM, you will need to visit one of the immigration offices situated in towns and cities across the country and apply for a replacement before you can leave.  This will take up to a day of your time; involve some form-filling and filing, and a trip to a local bank to pay your permit replacement fee (about US$40) before you return to the immigration office to receive your FMM replacement.

Kept your FMM Permit? We sometimes get emails from readers who have arrived home and realized that they still have their FMM tourist permits.  The best thing to do, if this happens to you, is to contact your nearest Mexican Consulate, who will advise what to do—and may ask you to send back it to them.

Over-Stayed on your FMM? If you overstay the time you were granted on a FMM permit (usually 180 days), you will need to visit an immigration office (or the immigration center at the airport) and pay a fine before you can leave the country.  The amount of the fine depends on how long you have over-stayed; it is calculated on a per-day basis and, at time of writing, will not be more than MX$6,000 pesos.  As with lost permits, you should arrange to secure your exit visa before your planned flight departure date, as otherwise you might miss your flight.

Important! KEEP YOUR VISITOR'S PERMIT SAFE!

If you do not have your FMM (Visitor's Permit) with you when you leave, you will need to undergo some Mexican Immigration red-tape and apply to get an exit permit. Exit permits cost about DOUBLE the normal entry permit cost (the current "lost permit fee" is around US$40 and there is a hassle factor involved). A lost permit, especially if you only notice at the airport when you are ready to leave, will delay your exit and may cause you to miss your scheduled flight.

Passports Now Required for Air Travel to USA

As of January 23 2007, all passengers—including US citizens—traveling to or through the USA by air will need to hold a valid passport. US Citizens are no longer able to use their birth certificate or driver's licence to enter the US by air from Mexico.
See Blog: Passports Required for Air Travel to the USA.

U.S. Passport Cards

U.S. passport cards are less expensive than passport books and can be used by U.S. citizens who cross the border between the United States and Mexico by land or sea. These look like a driver's licence, and are more robust and less bulky than a passport book. You can learn more about Passport Cards on this page of the US State Department web site.

US Passport Cards Not Valid for Air Travel: If you are a holder of a U.S. Passport Card, please note that this is NOT valid for air travel to Mexico. Passport Cards can only be used to cross the border between the United States and Mexico by land or sea ports. A passport is required for air travel to and from the the United States (see previous heading).

Traveling to Mexico via the United States

As of January 12th, 2009, the United States government introduced new rules for travelers entering the country using the Visa Waiver Program (Wiki). From this date, persons wishing to enter the USA for a visit, or simply in-transit to another country (including Mexico) using the Visa Waiver, must pre-apply online for permission to travel to the United States.
See Blog: Travel to Mexico via the USA

Passport Validity

The maximum period of time that a visitor may stay in Mexico without a formal visa is six months. Therefore your passport, regardless of country of origin, should be valid for a minimum period of six months, however long you intend to stay to avoid any potential problems at the port of entry.

Immigration authorities at the port of entry may allow or deny entry of any person into Mexico. If you have a passport that is valid for less than six months and you intend to stay in Mexico for a short period of time—perhaps a vacation—the Immigration Officer might allow you entry.

Notwithstanding this, we recommend that you and your family members hold passports valid for at least six months from the date you plan to enter Mexico.

Arriving to Mexico by Cruise Ship

If you are traveling on a cruise ship and dock at one of the Mexican ports, you DO NOT need to a Visitor's Permit or visa to enter Mexico, regardless of which country your passport was issued by. Special arrangements are made for passengers who visit Mexico temporarily from cruise ships which negate the need for Visitor's Permits or visas.

Traveling in Transit Through Mexico

As of February 17, 2004 foreigners passing through one of Mexico's international airports to a third country no longer require a visa or any migratory documentation, provided that they remain at the airport and depart Mexico within 24 hours of arrival.

See Also: Entry Procedure at Mexican Ports

[Menu]

Entry Requirements for Business

Mexico welcomes business visitors and makes the immigration procedure for short visits straightforward by means of a special section on the Visitor's Permit described above.

Business Visits to Mexico

If you are traveling on business, or representing a company to conduct business in Mexico, and you hold a passport from a country on Mexico's "no visa required list" you do not need to apply for a formal visa to visit Mexico. You can, instead, use a visitor's permit—the same entry permit used by tourists to enter Mexico (see above).

If your country does not appear on the no-visa list, you should check with your nearest local Mexican Consulate for details of visa requirements before you travel to Mexico.

Longer Business Visits: More than 180 Days

If you plan to work or live in Mexico for a period over 6 months (180 days), you will need to apply for a business visit visa. This visa enables the visitor to live, work and do business in Mexico, provided that certain criteria are satisfied. You can get more detailed information about long-term living and working permits on Mexperience by connecting to the Immigration Page that contains lots of information and advice about living and working in Mexico and that is part of our comprehensive Living and Working section.

See Also: The Business Center on Mexperience for full information about doing business in Mexico.

[Menu]

Entry Requirements for Residency

People wishing to travel to Mexico to live, work, or retire must meet certain criteria to do so.

Mexperience has comprehensive sections of information dedicated to these topics of interest:

Living and Working in Mexico

Mexperience publishes extensive guides and information about living and working in Mexico. Connect to the Living and Working section for full details.

Retirement in Mexico

If you want to retire in Mexico, connect to the section about Retiring in Mexico for detailed guides and information.

[Menu]

Entry Procedure at Mexican Ports

Most visitors to Mexico will arrive at an Airport, often Mexico City's International Airport, Benito Juarez or an airport at one of Mexico's main tourist areas, e.g. Cancun, Puerto Vallarta or Los Cabos.

Upon arrival, you will need to have your documentation ready:

  • Passport (we recommend it is valid for at least 6 months - see note above)
  • Visitor's pemit provided by the airline or at the local port of entry, or other permit (e.g. Temporary or Permanent Resident or Business Visa)
  • Customs Declaration Form

Clearing Immigration

Once you arrive, take your forms to the immigration area and line up in the lane signposted for foreign visitors. At the desk, an immigration official will inspect your documents, write the number of days on the FMM permit (a leave of stay equaling 180 days is given as standard), stamp your FMM and Passport, return a copy of the FMM to you and ask you to proceed to customs.

Important! KEEP YOUR VISITOR'S PERMIT SAFE!

If you do not have your FMM (Visitor's Permit) with you when you leave, you will need to undergo some Mexican Immigration red-tape and apply to get an exit permit. Exit permits cost about DOUBLE the normal entry permit cost (the current "lost permit fee" is around US$40 and there is a hassle factor involved). A lost permit, especially if you only notice at the airport when you are ready to leave, will delay your exit and may cause you to miss your scheduled flight.

Loss of Mexico Visitor's Permit

If you lose your Visitor's Permit, you will need to visit the local Immigration Office (ask for the Oficina de INM - Instituto Nacional de Migracion), complete some forms, go to the local bank and pay the fee, and return to the immigration offices with a receipt from the bank to get a duplicate permit.

Extending Your Mexico Visitor's Permit

When you enter Mexico, the Immigration Officer will write a number on your Visitor's Permit which states the maximum number of days you are allowed to remain in Mexico. In most cases, the official will give you the full 180-day allowance. If the officer writes a lesser number on the permit (e.g. 90 days), you can have your Visitor's Permit extended, for up to a maximum of 180 days from the date you first entered Mexico. To do this, you will need to visit the local immigration office, pay the Visitor's Permit fee (again) for each extension of stay. Usually, the immigration office will extend the permit to its maximum allowance (180 days from date of entry). Also see Living and Working in Mexico (Immigration) for more details about Mexican Immigration Policy.

Over-Staying Your Mexico Visitor's Permit

If you overstay while visiting Mexico on a FMM permit (the usual allowance is 180 days), you will need to visit an immigration office (or the immigration center at the airport) and pay a fine before you can leave the country.  The amount of the fine depends on how long you have over-stayed; it is calculated on a per-day basis and, at time of writing, will not be more than MX$6,000 pesos.

[Menu]

Customs Procedures and Allowances

Vacation

Once you have claimed any baggage, take it and your Customs Declaration Form to the exit gate, where you will be presented with a Red/Green Traffic Light.

Below the traffic light is a button, which you will be asked to press. If the light flashes green, you walk through without being inspected. If the light flashes red, your bags will be inspected, either casually or thoroughly.

Your Customs Allowances When Entering Mexico

The full list of allowable items is detailed on the customs entry form that you must sign at the port of entry. Allowances are subject to change without notice, but detailed below are the principal items followed by some tips about entry to Mexico.

Also See: Mexico Residents Shopping Abroad

  • Personal Luggage: including new and used goods for personal use to include clothes, footwear, personal hygiene and beauty items which, according to the form: 'reasonably respond to the duration of the trip and that due to its quantities may not be used for commercial purposes';
  • Two photographic or video cameras and twelve rolls of film or videotapes;
  • Two mobile phones or pagers;
  • One used or new laptop; one used or new printer; one projector;
  • Two used or new items of sports gear;
  • One CD player or portable music player; one DVD player;
  • One musical instrument;
  • Three surfboards; four fishing rods; a pair of skis;
  • Twenty packs of cigarettes and twenty-five cigars OR 200 grams of tobacco (over 18's only);
  • Three liters of liquor AND three liters of wine (over 18's only);
  • There is a US$300 tax exemption on items you import (in addition to those already listed above) when you enter the country by means or air or maritime transport; the exemption is reduced to US$50 if you travel in by land, except at Easter, Summer Holidays and Christmas time, when the land exemption limit is increased to US$300.

Tip: See the Mexican Customs Web site at www.aduanas.gob.mx for full details about customs allowances as these limits are subject to change with little or no notice.

Bringing Prescription Drugs to Mexico

You are allowed to bring prescription drugs into Mexico provided that you have the accompanying documentation which proves a medical need. If you or a member of your family are taking prescription drugs, be sure to take the prescription/doctor's note with you, which includes the patient's name and the name of the medication(s) to prove medical need of the drugs you are carrying in case your luggage gets inspected.

Tips About Entry in to Mexico


  • Don't bring anything that obviously looks like you're planning to resell goods; for example, five laptop computers. These items will get heavily taxed or confiscated;
  • Items for personal use will be allowed, new or used, but only in quantities that are commensurate with the definition of 'personal use.' If you are carrying large quantities of anything, or if the Customs Inspector believes you are trying to commercialize any of the goods you are carrying, then you may be interviewed further;
  • Don't attempt to smuggle any narcotics - not even small amounts of 'soft' drugs, e.g. cannabis/marijuana. You may be required to present documentary evidence for any powerful prescription drugs you need to carry on your person (i.e. doctor's prescription). See note above about prescription drugs;
  • Narcotic offences (use of, import, export, dealing) are likely to land you in a Mexican prison (not pleasant) for many years. Don't expect your consulate to bail you out because it won't be able to. 20-25 year prison sentences for drug and serious firearm-related offences are not uncommon in Mexico;
  • A foreign firearms license is not valid in Mexico; if you own a gun, don't take it to Mexico with you and don't bring any ammunition with you either. The only exception is a firearm and ammunition used for hunting purposes; but you will need to apply for a special permit - contact your local Mexican Consulate. Being in possession of lethal knives, firearms of all types, and even a single round of ammunition is a Federal crime in Mexico: caught in possession of a firearm can land you in very serious trouble—even if you have a license for it that was issued in your home country.

What You May Bring Home from Mexico

Customs allowances into your home country will depend on where you live.

If you are planning to do a lot of shopping in Mexico, you should check at the information desk at (air)port of departure in your home country for the latest duty-free allowances.

Most goods classed as art and craft work are free of import taxes and you can bring as many home as many as you like, provided the quantities would be considered 'for personal enjoyment'. Check with your local port/customs authorities for details.

The following items are are typical of duty-free allowances in most industrialized countries:

  • 200 Cigarettes;
  • 50 Cigars or 250g of Tobacco;
  • 2 Liters of wine;
  • 1 or 2 Liters of Liquor (depending on country);
  • 60cl of perfume;
  • In addition to the above: a dollar/euro amount of goods, ranging from about $300-$500, depending upon the country. If you go over monetary limit, duty and tax is usually payable on the whole amount not just the sum above the limit;
  • Exact rates and amounts vary by country/trading block. Check with the information desk at your home country's port of departure for the latest details on allowances

Ground Transport

Once you have arrived in Mexico and cleared immigration and customs, you have various ground transportation options available to you. Read the guide to Arrival in Mexico for complete information and advice.

Leaving Mexico and Consular Contacts

Leaving Mexico

When you leave Mexico, you will need to surrender the tourist permit you were issued with when you arrived (residents will need to show their residency cards). If you lose your Tourist Permit, you will need to re-apply for a duplicate, which carries a fee and some time-consuming procedures:

Important! KEEP YOUR Visitor's Permit SAFE!

If you do not have your FMM (Visitor's Permit) with you when you leave, you will need to undergo some Mexican Immigration red-tape and apply to get an exit permit. Exit permits cost about DOUBLE the normal entry permit cost (the current "lost permit fee" is around US$40 and there is a hassle factor involved) A lost permit, especially if you only notice at the airport when you are ready to leave, will delay your exit and may cause you to miss your scheduled flight.

Loss of Mexico Visitor's Permit

If you lose your Visitor's Permit, you will need to visit the local Immigration Office (ask for the Oficina de INM - Instituto Nacional de Migracion), complete some forms, go to the local bank and pay the fee, and return to the immigration offices with a receipt from the bank to get a duplicate permit.

Embassies and Consulates


[Menu]