Immigration & Visas, Mexico Essentials

Procedures for Entering and Leaving Mexico

There are some straightforward paperwork procedures to engage with when you arrive to, and depart from, Mexico. This article describes them

Mexico Map and Passport

When you are arriving in or departing from Mexico, there are some straightforward paperwork procedures that you will need to engage with. Specific entry and exit procedures exist for foreign visitors, foreigners with resident visas and resident cards, as well as Mexican nationals and naturalized foreigners.

This article explains the procedures you need to engage with when you arrive to, and leave from, Mexico.

Foreign Visitors – If you hold a passport issued by one of the many countries on Mexico’s “no visa required” list,* you don’t need to apply for a visa to visit Mexico.  You can, instead, complete a Visitor’s Permit, also known as a FMM, at your port of entry.  There is a ~US$25 fee for the permit, which is usually included in your airfare’s “fees and taxes” if you fly in to Mexico; if you drive-in to Mexico, the fee is waived if you depart within 7 days of your arrival date. The visitor’s permit is valid for stays up to 180 days. Don’t lose the half of the form that is handed back to you at immigration as you’ll need it to exit the country. If you lose the permit; or keep the permit when you leave; or over-stay the 180 day limit, you’ll face some additional procedures: see this article for details about those situations.

Foreigners with Resident Visa Stamps: If you are arriving in Mexico with a resident visa stamp (sticker) in your passport provided by a Mexican Consulate abroad, you will need to fill out the Visitor’s Visa on arrival, but show the immigration officer the page in your passport with the residency visa stamp and double-check that the officer ticks the box on the form that reads “Canje” (exchange) NOT “Vistante.” If they admit you as a visitor/tourist, this will cause problems when you attend the immigration office to exchange your resident visa stamp for a residency card.  You the have 30 days to attend the immigration office and exchange your resident visa stamp for a residency card.

Foreign Residents with Resident Cards – Foreign residents who are in possession of a Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente card (or one of the old FM3 or FM2 residency permits) need to present their passport and resident card to the Immigration Officer at the port of exit (e.g. airport or border crossing), accompanied by a Visitor’s form (FMM), which is used by the government to record statistics.  There is no fee for this form.  Upon your exit, your document will be date-stamped, and one half of the form given to you for safe-keeping.  When you return, you must present your resident card and the exit form’s date-stamped copy issued to you at exit to the Immigration Officer at port of entry, who will retain the exit-form copy. If you re-enter Mexico as a tourist (Visitor) when you have residency in Mexico, your residency status may become invalid.

Mexican Nationals and Naturalized Foreigners – If you are in possession of Mexican passport, you will need to complete a form before you exit the country known as the Formato Estadístico para Mexicanos (FEM).  The government uses this to record statistics of Mexican nationals traveling abroad.

Leaving Mexico – If you are visiting Mexico as a visitor/tourist and you lose your visitor’s permit, you will need to attend a local immigration office (in a town or city or at the airport) to apply for a replacement; there is a fee of around US$40 involved—the local immigration office will advise you of the current replacement fee.  You will be required to undertake some paperwork, visit a local bank to pay the replacement fee, and return to the immigration office with your payment receipt from the bank to complete the replacement procedure and receive your duplicate copy.  This whole process can take up to an entire day of your time.  Take good care of your visitor’s permit and, in the event of its loss, we recommend you allow a whole day in your schedule to secure a replacement.

*If you are a passport holder of a country that is not listed on the “no visa required” list, read this article for further information and advice about applying for a visa before you travel to Mexico.

Further Information

Documentation: For a summary of the documentation required to enter Mexico, see Documents required for travel and entry to Mexico

Mexico Visa Requirements: Many people don’t need to pre-apply for a visa to visit Mexico, but some do.  Read Do I need a visa to visit Mexico? for details.

Residency in Mexico: For information about long-term residency, including permits for living, retirement, and working in Mexico, connect to the Mexico Immigration page and download a copy of our comprehensive Mexico Immigration Guide (eBook).

You can get full details about immigration procedures on your arrival in Mexico on our comprehensive guide to Mexico Entry Requirements.

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17 Comments

  1. Wil says

    Hello,
    I entered mexico in texas at the pharr bridge. But when i got to the other side, there were no people. I had to stop at a lift gate arm, where it seemed my picture was taken by a machine, and then the gate arm lifted and I drove on through. I kept expecting to be stopped to have my passport stamped and pay my vehicle deposit and get my forma de immigration. But there was noone there and no where to stop and no signs. Before I knew it, I was in mexico driving down the highway on my way to oaxaca amd chiapas Was there somewhere I was supposed to go? I was trying to follow the law and procedures, but somehow i dont think I did. Am I breaking the law? What comsequences can I expect? What shoukd I do?
    Thank you

  2. Deann says

    We have airline tickets leaving out of Tijuana and my sons passport will not be here in time will he be able to still get the FFM permit with only a drivers license and Birth Certificate? We’re US citizens

  3. Ann says

    I am hoping to get some clarification on whether a felon from the U.S. is able to travel to Cabo. I see conflicting opinions on this so maybe you are able to give me accurate information. Are criminal records from the United States checked upon entry at the airport?

  4. miriam lalwani says

    Subject: Belizeans Wanting To Go Home.

    To whom it may concern,

    Good afternoon, i am a Belizean currently seven months in India seeking options to go home.We came to India due to the passing of my husband’s father, but due to Covid19 haven’t been able to go back home. My name is Miriam Ruby Lalwani and my husband is Dharmendra Lalwani, together we have a daughter Shanaya Lalwani.

    I have submitted applications for approval to reenter Belize and have been approved but cant seem to find a way to get access to Belize.This is because as time drifted away we met another issue my husband’s Mexican VISA expired, the Mexican embassy here is closed at the moment and cant seem to find another option. Our hope was to reach Belize through Cancun and access the nothern Belize boarder through land since there seems to be no flights available from Cancun to Belize. I was hoping if u can assist us with any other possiblities to get his VISA renewed or possibly another route option that does not require it. We just want to get back home to our lives and our Jobs.

    I want to thank you for taking time out to consider our situation and would be greatly appreciative of any courtesy u can provide. I can be contacted to my cell number 917412086630 or to the above email.

    Yours sincerly,
    Mrs. Miriam Ruby Lalwani

  5. Julita Awo Salac says

    My name is Julita . Holding philippine passport.
    I am legally married to a mexican but his living in US..we want to live in mexico what is the best for me to do, first i need a visa . How to apply . Please i need your help. Thank you

  6. Jaime Contreras says

    Hello Mexperience.
    I’m in the process of buying a property in CDMX. Can I fly into Mexico to take care of things related to this purchase between Aug 1 to 9? Also, I have dual citizenship. Which is the most recommended way for traveling, as Mexican or as American? I have both passports. Thank you and look forward for some info. Regards.

    • Mexperience says

      Hello Jaime,
      There are no restrictions when you fly to Mexico, but check with the airlines for schedules and and policies they have in place. You can enter Mexico with your US or Mexican passport. There are no restrictions on American passport holders entering Mexico by plane.

  7. Carlos says

    Hola ,yo necesito viajar a el Salvador atraves de México y Guatemala ,es posible que yo pueda entrar por el paso y salir en la frontera con Guatemala?si lo es que trámites tengo que hacer, por su atención gracias.

  8. Braulio De Anda says

    Are they starting to stop American citizens from returning on planes from Mexico? I was just told that one of my friend’s brother wasn’t allowed to return on Friday, July 3. He was told that until further notice.

  9. Bryon R MacDonald says

    Hello Colleagues: I have a Permanent Resident Card since May 2019. I just drove into California at Mexicali and just showed my US Passport at border did not process a MX FMM yesterday when crossing yesterday July 5.

    I am thinking of leaving my car in San Diego and flying back to Puerto Vallarta where I live on my sailboat. I have my Perm Resident Card and senior discount card with me — can I do this???

  10. Susan says

    We returned to Mexico from the US this month June to renew our Temporary Residence cards for 3 years. We had to buy a TIP at the border. They made the TIP for 30 days. But we do not intend to return to the border for several months. Your website states that the TIP is good until our Temporary Residence card expires. But what happens if we return to the US and then want to drive back to Mexico. Do we have to purchase another TIP?

  11. Erik Gonzalez says

    Can you drive to/from Mexico without passport if you have a permanent resident card in the US?

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