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Street with colorful flags in Durango, Mexico, Historical Center
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Mexico Passport Requirements: Do I Need a Passport to Go to Mexico?

It wasn’t long ago that U.S. citizens could travel to Mexico without a passport, but times have changed. As of 2010, a U.S. citizen must have a valid passport with enough blank pages for entry stamps or a valid passport card to visit the country. The documents you’ll need depends on whether you are entering by land, air, or sea—read on to find out everything you need to know about the passport requirements for your specific trip.

Mexico Passport Requirements for U.S. Citizens

Close up of person stamping a United States passport
flowertiare | Adobe Stock

Passport requirements for U.S. citizens entering Mexico vary whether traveling by air, land, or sea. Travelers may be required to obtain additional permits or authorizations depending on the means of entry. Regardless of how they arrive, all travelers must present either a passport book or card before they are permitted to enter Mexico. No visa is required for U.S. citizens staying up to 180 days.

Traveling to Mexico By Air

A valid passport book with enough blank pages for entry stamps is necessary for passengers arriving by air when visiting Mexico. You may also be asked to provide proof of economic means along with a return ticket home.

Previously, passengers arriving by air had to fill out a physical form called the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) and pay a $35 fee, typically included in the airline surcharges. However, most Mexican airports have phased this out in favor of its digital counterpart, the Forma Migratoria Multiple Digital (FMMD). At certain airports, travelers may receive a stamp in their passport instead of a physical form. Pay close attention and follow the instructions given upon arrival. 

Traveling to Mexico By Land

Travelers crossing a land border may use a passport book or passport card and, if they plan to remain within the roughly 12-mile “border zone” for the entirety of their trip, are not required to fill out an FMMD. However, travelers planning to go beyond that zone must complete a physical FMM at a National Institute of Immigration (Instituto Nacional de Migración or INM) location. This form is necessary when traveling in and leaving Mexico, so keep it in a safe spot along with your other travel documents. 

Travelers driving their U.S.-registered vehicles beyond the border zone must also obtain a special vehicle permit. These permits can be obtained at the border, at a consulate, or ahead of time online through the government agency Banjercito. Drivers will be required to provide a valid vehicle registration and their FMM form, and to leave a deposit that will be refunded upon leaving the country.

Traveling to Mexico on a Cruise

Passport cards are valid for entry into Mexico by sea. However, it’s best to take your passport book with you on a cruise if your itinerary involves stops at international ports outside of Mexico or in case of an emergency. 

If you are traveling on a closed-loop cruise—or a cruise that departs from and returns to the same U.S. port—all you need to re-enter the United States is an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL). An EDL contains an RFID chip with the owner’s biometric data and can be used as proof of citizenship. This is not the same as a REAL ID, which can be used to fly domestically but cannot be used to cross an international border. Currently, Enhanced Driver’s Licenses are only available to Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington residents.

Please note that your destination ports—including those in Mexico—still require the appropriate passport book or card and will not accept an EDL for entry.

More Information When Visiting Mexico

Green pushpin on Mexico on globe
Zerophoto | Adobe Stock

Do I Need a Passport to Travel to Baja California?

Yes, travelers still need a passport to travel to Baja California and Baja California Sur. However, these areas, along with Sonora, are part of a “hassle-free” zone that waives the need for the above-mentioned vehicle and entry permits.

What Should I Do If I Lose My Passport in Mexico?

If you lose your passport while in Mexico, dial 078 from any phone for embassy and consulate information. From there, ask to speak to the Consular Section to report your documents missing and make an appointment to apply for an emergency passport.

Are there vaccine requirements for U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico?

No vaccinations are required. However, the CDC does provide a list of recommended vaccines for travelers.

What is the Difference Between a Passport Book and a Passport Card?

A U.S. passport book has 28 or 52 pages and is valid for ten years. It is required for air travel to all foreign countries. A U.S. passport card looks similar to a state ID and contains all personal information found in a traditional passport. It can be used for U.S. citizens traveling by land or sea to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and certain countries in the Caribbean and is cheaper to apply for than a passport book.

What is a REAL ID?

A REAL ID is a new form of state identification that follows a uniform set of security standards across states and will be required to board domestic flights beginning in May 2025. Read our guide here to learn more about the REAL ID Act and what it means for your travel plans.

Where Can I Find Information on Mexico Travel Advisories?

The U.S. Department of State provides detailed information, including travel advisories and passport validity requirements, to your destination.

What Is the Best Way to Plan a Trip to Mexico?

Visit Mexico is an excellent resource for things to do and places to stay, as well as everything you need to know before you go when planning a trip to the country.

Check out our handy guides to some great destinations in Mexico, like top hotels, the safest places for U.S. tourists to travel, and our guide to the capital, Mexico City. When planning your itinerary, don’t forget to check out the best trip-planning apps, flight search sites, and—of course—packing lists.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Kate H. Knapp contributed to this story.

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