Living, Mexico Essentials, Transportation

Mexico-US Land Border Restrictions Continue Until at Least July 21

The Mexico-US land border remains closed to all but "essential crossings" until at least July 21. This article lists the definitions of essential and non-essential crossings

US Mexico Land Border on Map

The land border restrictions announced on on March 20, 2020 due to the Covid-19 event were extended in April and May, and have been extended again.  The land border will now remain restricted to ‘essential’ crossings only until at least July 21, 2020.

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 July 21, 2020.

What is defined as an “Essential Crossing”

According to legal document published as a Notice 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 may 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.

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.

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 for Mexico (Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente), you can cross the border by road and return home to Mexico.  See this article on expiring residency permits if your residency permit is near or past its expiry date.

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  1. Ben says

    I want to go to Cedros Island (Isla de Cedros) this summer. The private plane from the fishing resort leaves from a small airport on the US side of the border, and usually refuels in either Ensenada (Military airport) or San Felipe, where we get the free 7 day visas, before flying to Cedros. Return is usually to TJ airport, then across the border to Brown Field for US CBP inspection. Does this all sound possible now? Thank you.

  2. gregory says

    can i travel from el paso into juarez mx as a tourist as of today

  3. Kim says

    I plan on traveling to Mexico thru San ysidro border just for a few hours. Any problems returning to the US?

  4. Alberto says

    I am a Mexican citizen and need to sign some bank papers in San Diego. Does anybody know if this would qualify as essential travel?

  5. Natalya Sandberg says

    We are family of 5 planning to drive to San Felipe (Baja) July 18. And yes, the purpose is tourism. What is the chance in July to be allowed to cross Mexican land border as “non-essential” travelers? Did someone cross the border the other day and how is the situation at the border?

    • Lester says

      Everything is closed in San Felipe; no bars, no sit-in dining, no quad rentals; everything except the beaches out of town. My folks are rushing back because covid infections rose from 7 to 90 people in a matter of days. They have a vacation home there and we were going to go this 4th of July but canceled; too much hassle for now.

      • Natalya Sandberg says

        Thank you Lester! It is very important information. Stay safe!

  6. Vanessa says

    My boyfriend and I need to get new 180 day tourist visas as well as a new car permit. We have a deed to the house that his mother owns in Casas Grandes and bills documenting that we’ve been staying in Mexico for the last 180 days. Does anyone know if they are granting new tourist visas and car permits at land boarders (specifically the Palomas,Chihuahua/ Columbus, NM)

  7. SveA says

    Hello, is there any restriction on flying from Mexico back to the US with a US visa? I cannot find any information on the topic of air travel between the countries that is not geared specifically to citizen or permanent residents of either country which I am not (EU citizen). I have a valid non-immigrant US visa and have not been out of the country this year. Planning a last minute trip to Cancun but am worried about reentering the US. This is by air, not land border crossing. Anyone here with a US visa that has traveled between the two countries recently?

    • Gessica says

      Hey I`m also planning on doing that. I’m a student with a F-1 visa but I’m currently in Brazil so I’m not allowed to re-enter the US bcs of the 14 day rule. I thought of spending 14 day in Cancun before flying back to the US. Not sure if will work, but I`m still planning on doing this. Let me know if worked for you. Good luck

      • Vinicius says

        Oi Gessica, estou na mesma situação, com os mesmos planos. Chegou a consultar com outras pessoas?

    • Isabela Oliveira says

      I hope to get those answers too. Im in the same situation as you!

  8. Angela Fraher says

    My husband and I are planning to travel to Rivera Maya in September. Can we still fly to Mexico and would the borders be open up for tourism?

    • Jason Beebe says

      You can fly to Mexico. A lot of the smaller airports are shutdown. Keep in mind a lot of the beaches are closed too along with the businesses around them.

    • Lilian says

      Yes, you can fly to Mexico, Cancun and la Riviera Maya is open for turist

  9. Donald Stout says

    We are buying a home in Puerto Vallarta with closing expected within a couple of weeks. We are planning to drive down from the US to PV in late July/early August to supervise some repairs on the house. I’m concerned about the report of roadblocks in some towns. I’m wondering if proof of ownership of the house, such as a copy of the deed, will be sufficient to get us through. We don’t have temporary or permanent residency. We will be driving on Hwy 2 from Naco on the AZ border, west to Hwy 15/15D and down from there. Thanks.

    • Javier says

      I wouldn’t chance it if your closing can be postponed. Local officials in small towns are turning away gringos from US out of spite. It’s revenge for US building the wall. I don’t blame them.

      • June says

        It’s not revenge, it is like that to keep both sides of the border with less people than usual means less people that will get sick, it’s logic.

  10. Lee Edmond says

    My wife and I are hoping to retire in Quintana Roo, but planned on traveling on a 180-day tourist visa while checking it out. We are traveling in a motor home with a towed vehicle. We are fully informed regarding the usual requirements, but until reading this article, believed that we would not be allowed to enter Mexico until the border was “opened” to non-essential travel. The article makes it sound like our only issue will be the possible road-blocks after entering Mexico. If we plan on staying on the toll-roads and heading south as expeditiously as possible, should we still expect issues or might we be able to get to Quintana Roo without much hassle?

    • Russ Rahn says

      Last week, I drove from Queretaro to Nuevo Laredo on the toll roads. I didn’t see any roadblocks on south bound side other than the long established one near Matehuala (for north bound and south bound traffic).

      • Wil Roy says

        So you can’t get to Mahaheul from Tulum?

  11. JL. says

    Can I citizen of the U.S. cross to Mexico? I’m going To the border in SanYsidrio and wondering if I could cross??

    • Mananero says

      Yes you can cross. The land border at San Ysidro is open both ways.

  12. Curt Hopkins says

    Here is a tricky one. My sister in law and brother in law came to visit us in the US along with their 2 year old son. All three have Mexican passports. Due to COVID they could not get back to Mexico and my sister in law had her baby in the US. To fly back the baby needs a passport and only “Life or Death” situations can get a passport. They have the baby’s birth certificate. Their visas are close to expiring and the one may lose his job since he is not back in Mexico. Suggestions?

  13. Carol says

    I need to travel to Mexico for surgery. I don’t have a passport, but the surgeon’s coordinators say a driver’s license and birth certificate are fine. However, my driver’s license just expired and they still aren’t renewing them due to COVID (I have to do it in person this time). In the US, they are “extending” them and honoring them until DMVs start renewing again, but will Border Patrol honor it when coming back into the US?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Carol,
      This CBP website page explains what documentation you need to enter the US.

      The US border officials *might* let you back in with a birth certificate/driver’s license, but officially only minors can use a birth certificate to enter.

      To enter Mexico by land you need a passport or passport card; you can find details about documentation required on this Mexperience article:

      • Claudia says

        I apply for my passport but just have receipt. It doesn’t state what other document you can present to get permit?

    • rick says

      hi I just went down last weekend and got back across with my birth certificate and a old driver license and I am going again this weekend with the same I am going by Mexicali going threw san diego is a little harder but Mexicali I had no problem

      • melody says

        Hi rick,

        You were able to only show the birth certificate and driver license? I am going down there in Jan. for medical travel but will be traveling with another us citizen (like me) and he does not have a passport so just wondering if San Ysidro is open on the border for US citizens who wish to go into mexico for medical procedures?

  14. Lorena says

    Is the border open with people traveling with a visa?!?

  15. Romo says

    I heard that no children are allowed to pass the border, and only 2 adults per car, is this true?

    • Inocencia Quintero says

      My mother, 3 siblings and I are wanting to travel to Mexico to see our great grandfather who is sick (not related to COVID just of old age). We are planning on going June 27th. We were wondering if we will even be allowed to get a permit at the border for the car and allowed into the country? Also heard about returning on certain days due to how your car license plate ends?

      • Mexperience says

        Hi, there are no restrictions on entering Mexico, only entering/returning to the USA, but see article above and some comments too about possible road blocks near the US-Mexico land border. Your car’s Temporary Import Permit lasts for as long as your visitor visa (FMM) — usually 180 days. You must drive the car out of Mexico before these expire.

  16. Annie Virgen says

    Hello! I want to start my enrollment into a Mexican University, I am in the need to travel over there to get all the papers and stuff to start my enrollment and Start school this September. Can I still travel to Mexico?

  17. Juan gonzalez says

    Can I get a car permit in Mexico due to covid?

  18. Kelly Douglas says

    My daughter lives in California and wants to fly into Guadajara to visit me. When can she fly into mexico????????😁

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Kelly,
      The land-border restrictions do not affect air travel presently. Mexico’s airports remain open and there are no restrictions to enter Mexico by air, but you should check with the airlines on their requirements for travel.

  19. YT says

    Hello, I’ve been going to San Miguel Allende and stay at my sister’s house for the last few years until the pandemic hit. I have a local doctor’s appt in 5 June hoping the travel ban would be over. Now it looks like it’s been extended to 23Jun. Without a resident card or utility bill, would I be able to enter BJX with a note from my Mexican Doctor?
    Thank you!

    • Mexperience says

      Hello YT, one of the definitions of “essential travel” is “Individuals traveling for medical purposes” so you can make the journey on that basis. We do recommend you take a letter from your doctor as they may ask for evidence of your travel purpose at the border.

  20. Chris says

    My wife and I live in Mexico. I have a temporal but my wife does not. She visits our children quite often. We have a lease with both our names on it. Do you believe she will be able to return to Mexico with a copy of the lease?

    • Trent says

      They said no restrictions going into Mexico. I came back into the US on May 29 with my vehicle, and they were asking I wanted an entry permit. I was there to cancel and get my deposit back

  21. john donnahoe says

    I have a home in San Carlos Sonora Mexico, and a home in Arizona, I was in Arizona when the restrictions were published, I need to get back to my San Carlos home, will I be prevented entry.

    • Dulce says

      I live in San Felipe, Baja California and there are checkpoints where you need proof of your Mexican address. So have your electric or water bill or something else official with your address on it or you may be turned back.

    • john tew says

      since you have a passport, no problem.but there r restrictions. no tourists. I live as does my son, in juarez. he works in el paso. border guards know him. your situation. call your border crossing, explain what you want to do. may need to have on you proof that you live in san carlos..

    • Ryan says

      You will have no problem if you have a home in San Carlos. Just have something handy to prove that you have a residence there (like a bill).

  22. Laurence says

    I have hired a Mexican National, who has been living in the USA for the past 10 years, to be my fishing lodge manager on Holbox Island.

    the Island is not allowing Tourists, but they do allow “workers”.
    Would he qualify to be allowed onto the island.

    • Mexperience says

      Laurence, if your employee crosses the border for work purposes, then that would likely fall under ‘essential travel’… you should probably check with the Island authorities on Holbox, in the case they may be demanding to see papers, to ask what documentation your employee may require to be allowed access to the island.

  23. John Eynon says

    Is the border in San Diego open to tourist traveling by car throughout Baja.

    • Don Neilson says

      From a close friend who lives in Rosarito Beach, B.C.: On the northern outskirts of Ensenada, police have set up a roadblock where they are checking I.D. If the occupants of the car do not have I.D. with an address beyond that point, the driver is denied entry to the city.

  24. Arlene says

    What measures will take place at airports if I fly to Mexico….ie: temperature-taking, personal history, etc.?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Arlene, check with the airlines you are flying with for info about travel requirements and procedures.

  25. hillel batafik says

    Where is an explanation about restrictions for going from the USA into Mexico?

    • Mexperience says

      These are described in the last sub-heading/paragraph of the article.

  26. JOHN J DUPREE says

    I’m with newly attained Residente Permanente status. When wrapping up processing of my visa, I inquired about the requirement for a form documenting my exit from Mexico to present upon reentry and how that is achieved driving into USA. The INM agent grimmaced and said not to worry about it, only when walking through to USA I should get the form with no comment about my driving back into Mexico with no form. This discussion occurred prior to the COVID -19 pandemic. I understand that Mexico will let me return but will I be required to have official documentation of my prior exit now? Must I park on the Mexico side and risk the exposure walking out and returning in the ssme manner?

    • Dulce says

      I have had my Residente Permanente since 2013 and when walking or driving across the border I have never stopped to fill out the FMM or to return it. I fill it out only when I am flying out of Mexico or in. Even now with the current situation.

    • Jack B says

      I recommend that you get the FMM filled out before you leave Mexico just in case somebody asks for it on the return trip. It’s necessary for air travel, and I think it would be a good idea to have extra documentation with you. It does not cost anything. If you are driving by road up to Nogales, the place you need to do this as at kilometer 21.

  27. Russ says

    Although it is recommended that you stay where you are, people are still crossing the border. As it relates to Canadians there has been a great exodus to the north and none are being denied entry into the USA if they are travelling home (provided they have the right to be in the USA)

  28. Therese Cappadonia says

    I cannot find information regarding returning to México from USA. We have our 3 year temporals. If we should need to go NOB during this time, will we be allowed to return on those temporals?

    • Ryan says

      You will have zero problem returning and no one will ask to see your documents. I cross back and forth regularly (including today).

  29. John Griffiths says

    It sure would be nice to see at least one news agency US or Canadian let the loads of Canadians that winter here in Mexico know if they are able to cross the US/MEX border on their way back to Canada. Even the Canadian Embassy her does not say anything, not that I can find. All talk is about flying home.


    • Ian Irving says

      Global Affairs Canada has advised that I contact the US border services at the land crossing I intend to use. I haven’t been able to return to Canada yet as a family member has been recovering from a recent surgery.

      • Charles Kerr says

        we are Canadian citizens who have been in Mexico since before Christmas and were not aware of the march border closure when it happened, our plan was to wait until the planned April opening which has now been extended, We would like to drive home crossing the US border at Mariposa and continue on to British Columbia in the most expeditious manner possible. Are we allowed to cross the border into the US?

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