The land border restrictions announced on March 21, 2020 due to Covid-19 —and extended each month since then— have been extended again. The land border between the United States and Mexico will now remain restricted to ‘essential’ crossings only until at least October 21st, 2020. Air travel between the United States and Mexico remains unrestricted. News of the extension was confirmed on September 17, by the Mexican Ministry of the Exterior.
US-Mexico Land Border Closed to All But “Essential Crossings”
The Mexico-US land border is closed to all but “essential crossings.” Non-essential crossings are prohibited until at least October 21st, 2020.
What is defined as an “Essential Crossing”
According to legal Notices published on the US Federal Register, “essential travel” (permitted crossings) are defined as:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
- Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);
- Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
- Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico in furtherance of such work);
- Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to Covid-19 or other emergencies);
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico);
- Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S.
- Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
- Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
What crossings are prohibited now
According to the Notice, the following activities do not fall under the definition of “essential travel” and are prohibited:
- Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events);
- It has also been stated that shopping trips and routine family visits are prohibited;
- Mexicans and other foreign nationals with US tourist visas are not permitted to enter the United States by land, rail or sea ferry unless they can prove their trip falls under the definition of “essential travel” as described above.
Flights not affected, but…
According to the official Notice, the land border restrictions do not affect flights to and from Mexico “at this time,” but you should check with the airline you intend to travel with as restrictions might be in place depending on your destination(s). Countries in Europe and elsewhere are beginning to introduce quarantine periods for arriving passengers, including their own citizens/residents.
Rail and sea travel
Freight rail and sea travel is not affected, but passenger rail and sea ferries between Mexico and the US are affected by these restrictions.
US and Canadian citizens returning home
US citizens and lawful permanent residents of the US returning home to the United States are not affected by these restrictions.
Canadian citizens who wish to drive home are probably able to cross into the US for onward passage to Canada, but we recommend you contact the Canadian or US Consulate for advice.
If you have a foreign-plated vehicle in Mexico
If you are currently in Mexico with a foreign-plated vehicle with a TIP (Temporary Import Permit) we understand that Banjercito —the Agency that administers the permits— is not giving any extensions to TIP expiry dates due to Covid. If you fail to drive your vehicle out of Mexico before the TIP expires, the vehicle will become illegal in Mexico (this affects the validity of you your auto insurance) and you will lose your deposit. A TIP’s validity is usually tied to the expiry date of a Visitor Permit (FMM) or a Residente Temporal permit.
Traveling to Mexico from the United States
Mexico has not imposed any legal restrictions on passengers or vehicles entering Mexico by land from the United States; however, we understand that tourists may be turned away and that several towns near the US land border have set-up road blocks to demand ID from people arriving; people are being turned back at these road blocks if they cannot prove they live locally.
If you’re a Mexican citizen, or you have a legal residency permit, —or residency visa sticker to exchange for Mexico Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente status— you can cross the border by road and return home to Mexico. See this article on expiring residency permits if your existing Mexican residency permit is near or past its expiry date.
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