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
Entry Requirements for Business Visitors
Entry Requirements for Residency
Entry Procedures at Mexican Ports
Mexican Customs Procedures & Allowances
Leaving Mexico / Consulates
Mexico Visitors Permit, FMM
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).
For countries that don’t need a visa, a Mexico Visitor’s Permit (FMM) will need to be filled out in place of a visa. This is a simple form: airlines pass these out aboard flights and should be filled out on the airplane before you land, or you can acquire one at all airports, as well as land border crossings and sea ports of entry. 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 charges a fee to all tourists and business visitors arriving in the country. The fee is approximately US$25.
- If you arrive in Mexico by land, you will need to get a visitors permit at the port of entry;
- If you fly to Mexico, air crews on international flights hand-out the visitor permit forms before the flight lands, and they are also available at Mexican airports, near the immigration desks
- If you are visiting a Mexican port(s) as part of a cruise ship, you’ll need to get a visitors permit at your first Mexican port of call.
How long is your FMM valid? When you enter Mexico as tourist or business visitor, then the immigration official at the port of entry will usually grant you 180 days’ stay; this will be written on the part of the form that’s handed to you for safe-keeping. Check to see how many days you are granted and calculate your exit date accordingly.
The Visitor Permit (FMM) will always expire after a maximum 180 days: it cannot be extended beyond the number of days the immigration official writes on the form (even if this is less than the maximum allowance of 180 days); and cannot be renewed: you must leave the country before it expires.
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, or at the airport, and apply for a replacement before you can leave. This will involve some form-filling and filing, and a trip to a local bank to pay your permit replacement fee (about US$30) 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 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 a replacement at one the country’s immigration offices or at the airport. The fee to replace thee permit is about US$30, 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.
ENTRY TO MEXICO: ESSENTIAL INFORMATION FOR ALL TRAVELERS
Documentation: For a summary of the documentation required to enter Mexico, see Documents required for travel and entry to Mexico
Minors Traveling to Mexico: Minors traveling to Mexico alone, or unaccompanied by at least one parent or their legal guardian: Read Traveling with Minors to Mexico.
Passport validity: The maximum period of time that a visitor/tourist may stay in Mexico under the auspice of a FMM (see above) is six months. Therefore we recommend that 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, especially if you can show a return air ticket. Notwithstanding this, we recommend that you and your family members hold passports valid for at least six months from the date you intend to enter Mexico.
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 Also: Passports Required for Air Travel to the USA.
For holders of 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. 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
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 Also: Travel to Mexico via the USA
Arriving to Mexico by cruise ship: If you are traveling on a cruise ship that visits Mexico, you will be asked to complete a Visitors Permit/FMM (see information above) at your first Mexican port-of-call. This FMM will be valid for a maximum of 21 days. Ask your cruise company for details.
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
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 and procedures used by tourists to enter Mexico (see section above for full details).
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-term 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 section on Mexperience for full information about doing business in Mexico.
See also: Living in Mexico part-time
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:
Residency visas and immigration
Our guide to Mexico Visas and Immigration page gives an overview of the requirements for temporary and permanent residency in Mexico. Also see the regularly-updated Mexico Immigration FAQs page for the most-commonly asked questions about immigration to Mexico.
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.
The entry procedure will vary depending on where you arrive in Mexico and whether you arrive as a visitor or resident.
See Procedures for Entering and Leaving Mexico for details about paperwork procedures depending on whether you arrive as a visitor, foreign resident, or Mexican national in Mexico.
If you arrive by land you’ll either enter as a pedestrian or with your vehicle. See information about taking your foreign-plated vehicle to Mexico.
If you arrive by air, you will need to clear Immigration and Customs at your first port of entry to Mexico.
Clearing Mexican Immigration
Once you arrive, take your passport and 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, stamp your visitor permit and passport, return a portion of the FMM to you (which you will need to surrender when you leave). Read more about Mexico’s Visitor Permit.
Like all countries, Mexico has policies on what can be brought in to the country without paying duties or taxes.
Your customs allowances when entering Mexico
Allowances are subject to change without notice, but detailed below are the principal items followed by some tips about entry to Mexico.
- 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;
- Ten packs of cigarettes (200 cigarettes total), twenty-five cigars OR 200 grams of tobacco (over 18s only);
- Vaping imports banned: The commercial import of vaping products was banned in February 2020; however, small quantities for personal use by visitors to the country should not be confiscated (vaping itself is not illegal in Mexico); bringing an ‘excess’ deemed reasonable for personal use may cause your entire supply to be confiscated.
- Three liters of liquor AND six liters of wine (over 18s 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.
Please Note: Refer to the Mexican Customs web site for full details about customs allowances as these limits are subject to change with little or no notice.
MEXICAN CUSTOMS: TIPS & ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS
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.
Don’t bring firearms or ammunition! 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.
See Also: Mexico’s Strict Gun Laws
Type and quantity of items : Don’t bring anything that obviously looks like you’re planning to resell goods; for example, several 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.
Drug smuggling: Every year, foreign nationals are arrested and convicted for drug smuggling in Mexico. 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 offenses (use of, import, export, dealing) are likely to land you in a Mexican prison 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 offenses are not uncommon in Mexico.
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 many 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 US dollar or euro amount of goods, ranging from about US$300-$500, depending upon the country. If you go over the 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
If you are in Mexico as a tourist/visitor: When you leave Mexico, you will need to surrender the FMM (visitor’s permit) you were issued with when you arrived. If you lose your visitor’s permit, you will need to re-apply for a duplicate, which carries a fee and some time-consuming procedures.
See also: Your Mexico Visitors Permit, FMM
If you are resident in Mexico be sure to complete a blank FMM (available from all ports) and attend the immigration desk at the airport or land border to show your residency card and get your FMM stamped before you leave the country. It’s very important to ensure that you undertake this procedure before you leave, keep your portion of the FMM safe, and then show the stamped portion of your FMM on your return to Mexico with your resident card—if you re-enter as a tourist/visitor, you can lose your residency status.
Foreign Embassies and Consulates
Foreign nationals may be able to get assistance from their country’s consulate. Read our article about seeking consular assistance in Mexico for further details.
Mexico in your inbox
Our free newsletter about Mexico brings you a monthly round-up of recently published stories and opportunities, as well as gems from our archives.