Do You Need a Passport To Go to Mexico in 2023?

Mexico is fast becoming one of the worlds hottest destinations for both tourists and digital nomads. But do you need a passport to go to Mexico?

Whether you dream of lounging on the white sandy beaches of Cabo San Lucas or traversing the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, you will want to be clear on what travel documents are necessary before entering Mexico as a foreigner. 

do you need a passport to go to Mexico
The magical ruins at Chichen Itza

As a United States citizen, do you need a passport to go to Mexico? Yes, Americans need a passport to enter Mexico in 2022. 

Depending on how you travel – by land, air, or sea, Mexico will require your passport book But, of course, there are other documents needed as well.

Below you will find out about various documents you need for your trip to Mexico.

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Do You Need a Passport To Cross the Mexico Border by Car?

Do you need a passport to cross the border by car? Yes!

You can cross the border by car with a passport book or a passport card as a U.S. citizen. Your passport should have more than six months’ validity.

In addition, you will need a temporary import permit for your vehicle and the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM).

It’s essential to travel with valid proof of automobile registration. If you enter Mexico with an expired U.S. vehicle registration, the Mexican authorities may confiscate your vehicle. 

What Is a Passport Card?

A few countries will accept the passport card as identification for international land and sea ports of entry. However, it’s not acceptable when traveling internationally by air.

Using a passport card rather than the passport book can make traveling more accessible for those crossing the border often. This is because there are designated “Ready Lanes” for passport card holders. These “Ready Lanes” can reduce wait time and speed up your processing. 

Countries that accept the passport card are as follows:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • The Caribbean
  • Bermuda

You can apply for a passport card by mail at your nearest embassy or consulate.

Do you need a passport to go to mexico
The Xochimilco canals in Mexico City

Do You Need a Visa To travel to Mexico?

Do you need a visa to travel to Mexico? In general, a visa isn’t required.

U.S. citizens don’t need a visa to travel to Mexico as long as the following are true: 

  • Your visit is for tourism
  • You’re visiting for business or studies
  • You won’t receive any remuneration from Mexico
  • You don’t stay longer than 180 days. 

Although a visa isn’t required, a completed FMM is. 

Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM)

The FMM, also known as the Mexico tourist card, is issued by the Instituto Nacional de Migraciόn (INM). Every person must fill this form out if they’re coming to Mexico for tourism, schooling, or business. It can be filled out online or at border control.

If you fill it out online, the completed form will be sent to you via email. You must print it out, bring it with you, and present it to the immigration authorities. 

At the border, the authorities will keep one part, and you will retain the other part of the card. You must keep your card with you until you leave Mexico. Immigration authorities will ask you for it as you leave the country. 

The FMM allows people from the United States to stay in Mexico without a visa for up to 180 days. As of January 2022, the fee for the FMM is approximately $33.00.

Do you need a passport to go to mexico
The bustling Chinatown district in Mexico City

Temporary Import Permit

If you’re crossing the land border with a car, you’ll need a temporary import permit. You can receive this permit from the Banjercito by applying online, at some Mexican consulates in the U.S., or at the Mexican border. 

You’ll need to leave a monetary deposit by cash, debit, or credit card. The cost will be plus VAT according to the exchange rate and will depend on the vehicle. The fees currently run between $200 and $400. When you leave Mexico and cancel the permit, it will be returned to you. 

The relevant Mexican consulates are: 

  •   Texas: Dallas, Houston, and Austin
  •   Illinois: Chicago
  •   California: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Sacramento
  •   Arizona: Phoenix
  •   New Mexico: Albuquerque
  •   Colorado: Denver

Other Documents Needed

Now that we’ve answered the question, “do you need a passport to go to Mexico?”, you may be wondering what other documents you need to bring with you on your trip.

Currently, Mexico does not require vaccination or negative Covid testing for entry. Remember to check the most up-to-date information for re-entry into the U.S.

Suppose you’re traveling as a single parent with your minor child. In that case, you should carry a notarized consent letter from the other parent. 

Immigration may also ask you for additional documents at the port of entry to prove the purpose of your visit. 

Explore the hip town of Sayulita

Documents for Tourists

If you’re visiting Mexico for tourism purposes, keep a copy of your hotel reservation, itinerary, and departure tickets. 

Documents for Students

If you’re visiting as a student, bring a letter of invitation or acceptance from the institution showing you will be taking courses, conducting research, or undertaking academic training for less than 180 days. 

Documents for Business

If you’re traveling for business purposes, you will need a letter from the (non-Mexican) company you’re employed with. This letter must be in Spanish and must state that the company will be responsible for paying you.

Alternatively, you’ll need a letter from the Mexican company who invited saying you’re not being paid for your activity there. 

Questions You May Be Asked at the Border

It’s important to remember that foreign countries aren’t required to allow entry to everyone approaching the border. In particular, if you’ve been charged with or convicted of a serious crime, you may be denied entrance. 

Do you need a passport to go to mexico
Local vibes in San Miguel de Allende

Countries want to make sure you’re traveling legally and have reason to be in the country. To establish this, the immigration authorities may ask you a few questions at the border entry point, such as:

  • Why are you traveling to Mexico? 
  • What activities will you do while in Mexico? 
  • Where are you staying?
  • Do you have friends or family in Mexico?
  • How long will you be staying?
  • How will you leave the country? 

Often people feel intimidated at border crossings because of the formalities. Always answer the authorities truthfully and succinctly, and you will most probably be let on your way with a smile.

Note: If you’re a digital nomad and you’re planning to live and work in Mexico – don’t mention this to immigration! Tell them you’re a tourist, or that you’re visiting friends or family. Otherwise, you’ll be pretty much admitting that you’re going to be working illegally in Mexico – which may get you into a sticky situation. There’s no digital nomad visa for Mexico yet.

Other Considerations 

It’s unlikely you will have any problems while you’re visiting Mexico. But in case you do, it’s good to keep the U.S. Embassy information on hand:

Website: U.S. Embassy Mexico City

Telephone: 011-52-55-5080-2000

Emergency Telephone: 01-55-5080-2000, extension 0

Email: [email protected]

If you have any issues with the Mexican authorities, you have the right to contact the U.S. Embassy or any of the Consulates.

Do you need a passport to go to mexico
Cholula, Mexico

Returning From Mexico

We all like to bring a few souvenirs back with us when traveling. When you’re returning to the U.S. from Mexico, remember you must declare the following items:

  • Food and plants
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Currency
  • Pharmaceuticals

Final Thoughts – Do You Need A Passport To Go To Mexico?

Do you need a passport to visit Mexico? Yes, you need a passport and several other documents when traveling to the country.

It’s common to see immigration checkpoints throughout Mexico, especially in tourist areas. The authorities can ask you for both your passport and your entry permit at any time. Therefore, be sure to carry both with you at all times.

Of course, it’s always best to check the Mexican government’s current requirements for complete entry information. 

Having your travel documents prepared ahead of time will facilitate a stress-free and smooth beginning to your trip to Mexico! 

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