Do you need a passport to go to Mexico? In general, the answer is Yes. There are some exceptions. The type of travel document you need to go to Mexico depends on several factors including where and how you’re entering the country, your nationality, and the length of your stay. Whether you’re flying to Mexico, driving across the border, or visiting Mexico on a cruise ship, this guide will help you determine whether or not you need a passport to go to Mexico.
In this guide, we’ll also cover other travel documents including the FMM permit, the passport card, Trusted Traveler program cards (SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST, and Global Entry cards), the temporary vehicle importation permit (TIP), temporary and permanent residency visas, and more. We’ll also outline Mexico’s entry requirements.
This guide focuses on U.S. and Canadian travelers but most of the info applies to travelers of other nationalities as well. Hopefully, this guide makes your trip to Mexico as smooth as possible.
Table of Contents
- Do You Need a Passport to Go to Mexico?
- Traveling by Air
- Traveling by Land
- Taking a Cruise to Mexico
- Do Kids Need a Passport to Go to Mexico?
- What Travel Documents are Required for Re-Entering the U.S.
- The Ready Lane
- The SENTRI Lane
- What if I Travel to Mexico Without a Passport?
- Do I Need a Visa to Go to Mexico?
- Information About Various Travel Documents: Passport Card, Trusted Traveler Card, EDL, etc.
- What is the FMM Form?
- What is the Temporary Import Permit?
- FAQ About Traveling to Mexico
Do You Need a Passport to Go to Mexico?
In general, yes. You need a valid passport to go to Mexico. A passport is required for entering Mexico.
In the past, U.S. citizens could visit Mexico without a passport. All that was required to cross the border was a driver’s license. When the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) passed on in June 2009, the rules changed. Now, most visitors need a valid passport.
There are some exceptions to this. Whether or not you need a passport to go to Mexico depends on whether you’re entering the country by land, sea, or air as well as your nationality. In the following sections, I’ll outline all of the travel documents you’ll need to go to Mexico.
Traveling to Mexico by Air
A valid passport is required to enter Mexico by air. Only passport books are accepted when flying to Mexico. Passport cards are not accepted for international air travel.
Everyone needs a passport book when flying to Mexico. This includes children of all ages. There are no exceptions. Once you arrive in Mexico, the Mexican authorities will check your passport and stamp it.
Your passport is the only document you need to bring with you when traveling to Mexico by air.
In order to enter Mexico, you will also have to submit a completed FMM form (forma migratoria multiple). You will most likely receive this form on the plane. A flight attendant will hand it to you during your flight. Alternatively, you can pick one up in the airport. Complete the form before going through immigration. I’ll talk more about the FMM later on in this guide.
In some cases, Mexican authorities might also ask to see some supporting documents about your trip. For example, they may ask to see your hotel reservation or proof of onward travel. If you plan to stay in Mexico for a month or more, you may be asked to provide proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your trip. A bank statement can act as proof of funds.
Traveling to Mexico by Land
Whether or not you need a passport to go to Mexico by land depends on your destination and how long you’re staying in Mexico.
If you’re staying within the border zones (12-15 miles or 20-25 km from the border) and staying for less than 72 hours, it is possible to visit Mexico without a valid passport and without an immigration form (FMM), according to this guide from Relaciones Exteriores. You will still need to present identification. Options include:
Trusted Traveler Program card (SENTRI card, NEXUS card, FAST card, or Global Entry card)
Enhanced Driver’s License
A passport is required to travel to Mexico by land If you’re traveling beyond the border zones or if you’re staying in Mexico for longer than 72 hours. Both passport books and passport cards are accepted for crossing the border on foot and in a vehicle.
In addition to a passport, you will also need to obtain an FMM visitor’s permit when entering Mexico by land. You can get this document at the border or online. You need a valid passport to apply for an FMM.
Children can travel to Mexico overland without a passport. Minors under the age of 16 may enter Mexico and re-enter the United States with a birth certificate or a naturalization certificate. I’ll talk more in-depth about this later on.
When driving across most land border crossings into Mexico, no one will stop you to check your travel document. You need to park and go to immigration to have your documents checked. To do this, follow the signs for ‘something to declare.’ You’ll find parking here. From there, you can walk to the immigration building to present your travel document to immigration and obtain your FMM.
When driving to Mexico, you will also need a valid driver’s license, proof of Mexican auto insurance, and your vehicle’s registration. Depending on your destination, you may also need a temporary import permit.
For more in-depth info, check out my guide: Driving to Mexico.
Traveling to Mexico by Sea
The rules for traveling to Mexico by sea are similar to the rules for traveling by land. In most cases, you need a passport book or passport card to enter Mexico by sea.
There is an exception. If you’re traveling to Mexico on a closed-loop cruise that starts and ends in the U.S. and does not stop at any ports outside of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), it is possible to take a cruise to Mexico without a passport.
A closed-loop cruise is a cruise that starts and ends at the same port. For example, if your cruise starts in San Diego and travels to Acapulco then returns to San Diego, it’s a closed-loop cruise.
If you’re on a closed-loop cruise, U.S. citizens can travel with just a driver’s license or other government-issued photo I.D. and an original copy of their birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, or naturalization certificate. No passport is required.
It’s important to note that most cruise lines recommend that you carry a valid passport, even though you don’t need one by law. Some cruise lines even require that every passenger has a passport. The reason is that you may need a passport book in an emergency situation.
For example, maybe you have a medical issue and you need to fly home. In this case, you’ll need a passport to re-enter your home country. Maybe you miss your departure and you need to fly to the next city to meet the ship. You’ll need a passport to board the plane, even for a domestic flight within Mexico. Maybe the ship has a mechanical failure and you need to fly home. Again, you’ll need a passport. To be safe, it’s best to bring a passport with you when entering Mexico by sea.
If you’re traveling to Mexico on your own boat, you will need a passport or passport card. There are no exceptions. You will also need to stop at immigration to get an FMM visitor’s permit. You can get an FMM at your first port of call in Mexico. Before you travel, you should check to make sure the port where you intend to enter Mexico has immigration and customs offices. Some smaller ports do not.
You’ll also need to obtain a temporary boat importation permit. You’ll need to obtain this document before you enter Mexican waters. You can read more about temporary boat importation here.
Traveling to Mexico with Children: Do Kids Need a Passport to go to Mexico?
Whether or not a child needs a passport to go to Mexico depends on the mode of travel. When traveling to Mexico by air, children of all ages need a passport book. Even infants. There are no exceptions.
Children under the age of 16 can travel to Mexico by land or sea with just a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, or a naturalization certificate. These documents are accepted for entering Mexico and re-entering the U.S.
Those under the age of 19 can also travel to Mexico and re-enter the United States with a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, or a naturalization certificate as long as they are traveling with an adult chaperoned organization such as a school group, sports team, religious organization, or a social or cultural organization.
In all other cases, the child will require a passport. Even if a passport is not required, it’s always a good idea to have one in the event of an emergency. With a passport, the child can easily fly home if necessary.
When a single parent or legal guardian plans to travel to Mexico with their children, they must carry an original notarized consent letter from the other parent or any other person who has legal custody of the child. This document will be required when re-entering the United States. This rule is in place to prevent child abduction. It ensures that both parents are aware that the child is traveling to Mexico.
If the child is a Temporary Resident, Temporary Student Resident, or Permanent Resident of Mexico, one parent must complete a SAM (Formato de Salida de Menores). This is required by INM (Mexico’s immigration authority).
What are Valid Travel Documents for U.S. Citizens Entering the U.S.?
The documents required to enter Mexico and enter the U.S. may be different depending on your mode of travel.
If you’re flying to the United States, you will need to present a valid U.S. passport before you’re allowed to board your flight. A passport is required for international air travel.
If you’re entering the U.S. by land or sea, you’ll need one of the following documents:
A valid passport (passport book and card styles are accepted for arrival by land or sea)
A trusted traveler program card (SENTRI card, NEXUS card, FAST card, or Global Entry card)
An enhanced driver’s license or enhanced identification card
Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
If you’re traveling on a closed-loop cruise, you can re-enter the United States with your original birth certificate and driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID.
In all other cases, you’ll need a passport.
If you are not a United States citizen, you may also need a visa to enter the United States. For more information, check out this guide.
What Document Do I Need to Use the Ready Lanes?
Ready Lanes are special lanes that allow travelers to cross back into the U.S. faster. Ready Lanes are available only to those traveling with Ready Lane-eligible travel cards. All you need to use the Ready Lanes is an approved Ready Lane-eligible card that contains Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.
Ready Lane-eligible cards include:
Enhanced driver’s license
Trusted Traveler Program cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST, or Global Entry)
Enhanced permanent resident card
If you don’t have a ready lane eligible card, you’ll have to use the general entry lane. On average, you might save 20-30 minutes by using the ready lane instead of the general entry lane. For more in-depth info on the Ready Lanes, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website here.
What Documents Do I Need to Use the SENTRI Lane?
Most US-Mexico border crossings have a dedicated lane for Trusted Traveler Program cardholders. Cardholders are permitted to use special lanes to expedite the border crossing.
On the US-Mexico border, these lanes are usually identified as ‘SENTRI lanes.’ There SENTRI lanes for passengers crossing by foot and in vehicles.
Different cards are issued for different purposes. The SENTRI card is a Trusted Traveler Program card that is designed for travel between the United States and Mexico. With a SENTRI card, the cardholder can use special lanes at land borders to expedite entry. Global Entry cards also allow you to use the SENTRI lanes.
Having a Trusted Traveler card greatly reduces the wait time at the border. Instead of waiting in line for 2 hours in the general entry lane or ready lane, you may only wait just 5-10 minutes in the SENTRI lane. The time savings is massive.
If you plan to drive between the U.S. and Mexico frequently, consider applying for a SENTRI card. To apply for a SENTRI card, you need to complete an online application. You’ll also have to undergo a background check and show up for a brief interview. Once approved, you can use the SENTRI lanes. SENTRI cards are not available to everyone. Those with a history of crime or who may pose a security risk are ineligible.
For more info, check out this guide to the SENTRI card.
Is a Passport Required for Taking Domestic Flights in Mexico?
Yes. You need a passport to fly domestically in Mexico. To board a domestic flight in Mexico, you need to present some form of ID as well as your boarding pass. If you are not a Mexican citizen or resident, most airlines will only accept a passport as identification.
If you are a Mexican citizen or resident, you can take domestic flights in Mexico without a passport. You just a government-issued ID or residence card.
Is a passport Required to Take a Long-Distance Bus in Mexico?
Yes. In order to purchase a long-distance bus ticket in Mexico, you must present identification. For foreign visitors, the only accepted form of identification is a passport. You may need to show your passport again before you’re allowed to board the bus.
In the past, you didn’t need any identification to take long-distance buses in Mexico. This rule was put in place to reduce migration from Central America to the United States.
You can still ride local transport and second-class buses without having to show ID. On these buses, you just hop on and pay in cash. You don’t buy a ticket in advance.
Can Canadian Citizens Visit Mexico Without a Passport?
In most cases, Canadian citizens must have a valid passport to travel to Mexico. A passport is required to enter Mexico by air. When traveling by land or sea, Canadians can enter Mexico with an alternative travel document such as a passport card or Trusted Traveler card.
What Happens if I Travel to Mexico Without a Passport?
If you try to fly to Mexico without a passport, you simply won’t be allowed to board your flight. The airline won’t issue you a boarding pass.
Cruise ship companies also check your travel document before you’re allowed to board the ship. If you don’t have a passport or alternative travel document, you won’t be allowed to board.
If you try to walk across the border to Mexico without a passport or alternative travel document, you will most likely be denied entry. At most borders, immigration checks everyone’s travel documents to make sure they meet the entry requirements.
It is possible to travel to Mexico without a passport or any other form of ID. When you drive across the border at most crossings on the US-Mexico border, you are not stopped at Mexican immigration or Mexican customs. You can simply drive into Mexico without stopping. There is no passport control on the U.S. side or the Mexico side. This is the case in Tijuana.
If you drive into Mexico without a passport, you can create several problems for yourself. Most importantly, you will be in Mexico illegally. You won’t have a valid FMM tourist permit. If you’re stopped at a checkpoint or by a police officer, you could be fined or deported from Mexico.
You’ll also run into issues when you’re trying to return to the U.S. You won’t have a valid travel document to get back into the country. In this case, you’ll be sent to a secondary inspection where you will be questioned. You’ll also have to prove your citizenship or residency before you’re allowed to re-enter the United States.
Do You Need a Visa to Go to Mexico?
No. Most travelers don’t need to arrange a visa in advance to visit Mexico. The FMM tourist permit works like a visa. You can obtain an FMM tourist permit on arrival or online. All you need is your passport. Check this list to see if you’re eligible for an FMM.
Some travelers do need to arrange a visa in advance. If you plan to stay in Mexico for more than 180 days, you’ll need to apply for a temporary resident visa. This visa allows you to stay in Mexico for up to 1 year and can be renewed. Permanent residency visas are available for longer-term residents.
Some nationalities also need to apply for a visa in advance to travel to Mexico. If your passport was issued by one of the countries on this list, you’ll need to apply for a visa at your nearest Mexican consulate or embassy. In order to do this, you will need a passport.
What are the Entry Requirements for Mexico?
For most travelers, all you’ll need to enter Mexico is a valid passport with at least one blank page for an entry stamp. The passport must remain valid for the duration of your trip.
If you’re flying into Mexico, you may also need to have a return ticket or an onward ticket. This is a common requirement. If you’re flying on a one-way ticket, you may be required to purchase a ticket at the airport.
You should also have a booking confirmation for accommodation for at least your first night in Mexico. If immigration asks you where you’re staying, you can show them the reservation. If you’re planning to stay in Mexico for more than a month, an immigration official could ask you to show proof that you have sufficient funds to support your stay in Mexico.
You must also comply with the country’s import and export regulations. These regulations prohibit the import of certain items, such as weapons and illegal drugs.
There are also duty-free import limits. If you try to import more than the limit, you’ll have to pay tax on the items you bring with you. The current import tax is around 16% of the value of the items you’re importing. You can read about Mexico’s duty-free limits here.
Do I Need an Import Permit for My Car When Driving to Mexico?
Whether or not you need an import permit for your vehicle depends on where you’re traveling in Mexico. If you’re traveling in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo, most of the state of Sonora, or staying within the border zone (12-15 miles or 20-25 km of the border), you don’t need an import permit. When you’re going anywhere else in Mexico, you will need an import permit. If you don’t have this document, your vehicle could be impounded. You can obtain a TIP near the border, online, or in certain Mexican consulates. I’ll talk about this document more in-depth later on.
Information About the Various Travel Document You can Use to Travel to Mexico
In this section, I’ll outline each of the different travel documents you may need to go to Mexico.
What is a Passport Card?
A passport card is a smaller, wallet-friendly version of a passport book. Just like a passport book, it proves your U.S. citizenship and identity and allows you to re-enter the country when returning home from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda. A passport card contains the same information as a passport book including your name, photo, passport number, date of birth, place of birth, nationality, and signature.
Canada also offers passport cards to Canadian citizens. A Canadian passport card can also be used to travel to Mexico.
The main benefit of a passport card is its compact size. Your passport card fits in your wallet with the rest of your cards. It’s the same size as a credit card.
A passport card is also cheaper than a passport book. A passport card costs $65 and a passport book costs $165. If you frequently travel to any of the aforementioned places, then a passport card might be for you.
Passport cards also have a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that contains the bearer’s information. The RFID chip is scanned when the bearer enters a port of entry, which allows passport officials to quickly and easily identify the passport card holder. This technology allows you to use the ‘Ready Lane’ when crossing the border with a passport card.
Keep in mind that passport cards can only be used for land and sea travel. They are not valid if you’re flying internationally. So if you’re planning to fly to Mexico, stick with the passport book. When buying a new passport book, consider buying a passport card along with it. It can come in handy.
What is a Trusted Traveler Program Card?
Trusted Traveler Program cards are ID cards issued to low-risk travelers by the U.S. government. They allow you to use dedicated lanes to expedite the border crossing when returning back home from Mexico. There are different Trusted Traveler Program cards for different purposes.
The SENTRI card is designed for overland travel between the U.S. and Mexico. SENTRI stands for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection. A Global Entry card can also be used.
To apply for a SENTRI card, applicants must complete an online application and undergo a background check. If approved, they will be issued a SENTRI card, which they can use to access dedicated lanes at select border crossings. SENTRI cards are valid for five years, after which applicants must reapply for the program.
SENTRI cards are not available to all applicants. Those with certain criminal convictions or who pose a security risk may be ineligible for the program.
However, for those who are able to obtain a SENTRI card, it can significantly expedite their travels. For example, the regular line to cross from Tijuana back to the U.S. might take an hour and a half. With a SENTRI card, you might be able to cross in less than 5 minutes.
What is an Enhanced Driver’s License?
An enhanced driver’s license (EDL) is a type of driver’s license that allows the holder to cross into the United States from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean without a passport.
In order to get an EDL, applicants must provide proof of U.S. citizenship, identity, and residency. Enhanced driver’s licenses can be renewed like regular driver’s licenses. They are valid for 4-8 years depending on the state that issued the card.
EDLs are also available to U.S. citizens who live in Washington state, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont. Several Canadian provinces used to offer EDLs but they have been phased out over the past few years. An EDL typically costs around $30-$40 more than a regular driver’s license.
What is the FMM Form (Forma Migratoria Multiple)?
The FMM form (Forma Migratoria Multiple) is a travel document that allows citizens from a number of countries to travel to Mexico without having to apply for a visa in advance. The FMM entry permit is available to citizens of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, European Schengen Area countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and a number of other countries. To determine whether or not you’re eligible for an FMM, look for your country on this list.
The FMM Visitor’s Permit allows you to stay in Mexico for up to 180 days. During that time, you can participate in tourism activities, do business, transit through the country, study, or volunteer. You are not permitted to be employed or earn money in Mexico while visiting on an FMM permit.
You can obtain an FMM entry permit on arrival at the port of entry or online in advance. The FMM is available at land crossings, sea ports, and international airports. It takes just a few minutes to get.
To get an FMM visitor’s permit, you simply fill out a form. The form requires basic travel information such as your name, date of birth, passport number, nationality, the purpose of your trip, etc.
If you’re staying in Mexico for less than 7 days, the FMM is free. If you’re staying for more than 7 days, it costs 595 pesos (about $30).
Officially, the FMM is a visitor’s permit or tourist permit. It is not considered a visa. The FMM is issued by the INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración). This is Mexico’s immigration authority
You may not be eligible for an FMM if you come from one of these countries. In this case, you’ll have to apply for a Mexican visa in advance from Mexican consulates or embassies.
For more info, check out my guide to the FMM Tourist Permit.
It’s important to note that the FMM entry permit is being phased out at some ports of entry. For example, Cancun airport no longer issues FMMs. Instead, they simply stamp your passport book. All of the rules remain the same. A new simpler entry system is being put in place.
What is the Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TIP)?
The Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TIP) is a legal document that allows one to temporarily import and drive a foreign-plated vehicle anywhere in Mexico for a predefined period of time. The TIP is available for all types of vehicles including cars, motorhomes, boats, etc.
You only need this document if you plan to drive outside of the free zones. The free zones include the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo, most of the state of Sonora (the Sonora Free Zone), and the border zone (around 20-25 km or 12-15 miles from any land border)
Only those traveling in Mexico on an FMM tourist permit, those living in Mexico with a Temporary Resident Visa, and Mexican citizens living abroad are eligible for a TIP. The TIP remains valid as long as your immigration document (up to 180 days if you’re traveling on an FMM tourist permit or one year if you have a temporary resident visa).
In order to apply for a TIP, you will need a valid passport book or passport card. You will also need Mexican auto insurance, a valid driver’s license, and your vehicle’s registration. If you are financing or leasing your vehicle, you will need a letter of permission from the company that owns the vehicle.
The temporary import permit is issued by Banjercito (a Mexican government-run bank). You can apply for it on their website and at Bajercito locations at most border crossings as well as certain Mexican consulates. If you apply online, you must apply 7-60 days before your trip. If you get your TIP in person, you can apply right before you cross.
The TIP is similar to a carnet de passage. It allows you to import your vehicle into Mexico without having to pay import tax on it. There is a fee of around $51 for the TIP. You’ll also have to pay a deposit of $200-$400 depending on the model year of your vehicle. This deposit is refunded when you export your car from Mexico before the TIP expires. You must cancel your TIP in person at a Banjercito office when you exit Mexico.
For more in-depth info, check out my guide to the Temporary Import Permit.
If you’re traveling in a region where a TIP is not required, such as the Baja Peninsula, you still need a driver’s license and your vehicle’s registration. Your vehicle could be impounded if you can’t prove ownership. You will also need temporary Mexican auto insurance. You can buy insurance at a kiosk near the Mexican border before you cross or online before your trip.
I always use Baja Bound Mexican Insurance. Click the link to get a free quote in just a couple of minutes.
FAQ About Traveling to Mexico
In this section, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about traveling to Mexico with and without a passport.
Why do I Need a Passport to go to Mexico?
A passport is an essential document for international travel. It is issued by a country’s government and serves as proof of citizenship as well as a form of identification. The passport allows travelers to enter and exit the country and prove their identity and citizenship when re-entering their home country. It is a required travel document almost everywhere.
Can a US Passport Card be Used to Travel to Mexico by Air?
No. Passport cards cannot be used for air travel. A passport card is a passport alternative that can be used for land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. A passport card is a valid form of identification and proof of citizenship, but it cannot be used for international air travel. To travel to Mexico by air, you need a passport book.
How Do I Enter Mexico with a Passport Card?
The process for entering Mexico with a passport card is the same as using a passport book. When you arrive at the land border or seaport, you will fill out an FMM form and hand the completed form to an immigration official along with your passport card. They will check your documents and send you on to customs. The only difference is that your passport won’t be stamped. Passport cards don’t have spaces for stamps.
When returning to the U.S., you can use the ‘Ready Lane’ if you’re using a passport card. This can speed up the crossing time. Once you reach the front of the line, you’ll scan your card at one of the RFID card readers. An immigration official may do this for you. You’ll then show your card to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.
How Long Does My Passport Need to be Valid to Go to Mexico?
Your passport must be valid for the duration of your trip to Mexico. If you’re planning to spend two weeks in Mexico, your passport must have at least two weeks of validity remaining. If you’re planning a lengthy vacation, you’ll need to make sure your passport will still be valid when you return home.
In general, it’s a good idea to have at least six months of validity remaining on your passport when traveling abroad. In fact, for most countries, this is an entry requirement. If your passport is expiring within 6 months, they won’t let you in.
However, Mexico doesn’t enforce this rule. If you’re planning to stay in Mexico for 2 weeks and your passport is only valid for a month, they will still let you in. When planning a trip to Mexico, make sure your passport will be valid for the entirety of your trip.
Do You Need a Passport to Go to Cancun?
Cancun is a beautiful resort town located on the coast of Mexico. It is a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. Many people wonder if they need a passport to visit. The answer depends on how you plan to travel to Cancun.
If you plan to fly, the answer is yes. You do need a passport to go to Cancun if you’re traveling by air.
If you are driving to Cancun, will also need a passport. To drive to Cancun, you will also need a Temporary Import Permit for your vehicle. It may be possible to enter Mexico with a passport card, enhanced driver’s license, or Trusted Traveler card (SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST, or Global Entry) and then drive all the way to Cancun.
Keep in mind that it’s an extremely long drive from the US-Mexico border to Cancun. For example, the distance from Houston to Cancun is about 1730 miles. This drive would take you around 33 hours.
You could visit Cancun without a passport on a closed-loop cruise. Many Caribbean cruises stop in Cancun. In this case, all you’ll need to visit is your original birth certificate and driver’s license. You can also visit a number of other popular cruise destinations this way including Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
It is always a good idea to carry your passport with you when traveling internationally, just in case. If you needed to fly home from Cancun for an emergency, you would need a passport to board the plane.
For more in-depth info, check out my guide: Do You Need a Passport to Go to Cancun?
Do I Need a Passport to Go to Tijuana?
No. It is possible to visit Tijuana without a passport. As long as you’re spending less than 72 hours in the city and you’re not leaving the Mexican border zone (12-15 miles from the border), you can visit Tijuana with an enhanced driver’s license or a Trusted Traveler card. If you’re staying longer or traveling further into Mexico, you will need a passport or passport card. For more info, check out my guide to driving to Tijuana.
Do I Need a Passport to Go to Mexico City?
Yes. In almost all cases, you need a passport to go to Mexico City. If you’re flying, you’ll need a passport to board the flight. If you’re driving, you’ll need a passport to get an FMM and TIP. You can’t travel to Mexico City on closed-loop cruise because the city isn’t on the ocean. There really isn’t any legal way to travel to Mexico City without a valid passport.
Can I Go To Mexico With a Real ID?
No. Real ID cards cannot be used for international travel. While Real IDs do have many benefits, such as allowing you to access federal buildings and fly domestically, they are not valid forms of identification for crossing into another country.
If you’re planning a trip to Mexico (or any other country), you will need to use a passport. While getting a passport may require a bit more effort than using a Real ID, it’s the only way to ensure that you’ll be able to cross the Mexican border without any problems.
Can I Go To Mexico With My Birth Certificate?
Mexico does not accept the US birth certificate as a form of identification for travel. You will need to have another form of identification, such as a passport, passport card, or Trusted Traveler card, in order to enter Mexico.
When returning to the U.S., a birth certificate is not sufficient on its own, but it can be used as one form of ID if you have multiple forms of ID with you. For example, if you’re traveling to Mexico on a closed loop cruise, you can use a birth certificate as one form of ID. You will also need a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license.
Children under 16 can travel to Mexico with only a birth certificate. They will need a notarized consent letter if they aren’t traveling with their parents or guardians.
How Do I Get a Passport?
Applying for a passport is actually quite simple. The first step is to gather the required documents. To apply for a passport you’ll need:
A passport application form- Form DS-11. It is available here
Proof of citizenship- This could be an expired passport, a birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship, or a naturalization certificate.
A valid form of ID- This could be a driver’s license, an old passport, Trusted Traveler card, military ID, etc.
Fees- You will need to pay an application fee. The current fee is $165.
You can find the full list of requirements here.
Once you have all of the required documents, you can begin filling out the passport application. Be sure to complete the application in black ink and include all of the requested information. Once you’ve finished the application, sign and date it. Then, submit your application along with the required documentation and fees.
You can apply for a passport by mail or in person at a passport acceptance facility. After your application is reviewed and approved, you’ll receive your passport in the mail.
For more information on how to apply for a passport, visit the State Department website.
On average, it takes 7-10 weeks to receive your passport after you apply. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time if you’re planning an international trip.
If you need your passport sooner, you can pay an expedition fee. This will guarantee that you receive your passport in 4-6 weeks.
You can also get a passport even faster by using the expedited services at a passport agency. To use one of these services, you’ll need to make an appointment and bring all of the required documents with you. You can usually get your passport in under 2 weeks this way.
Where Can I Go Without a Passport?
If you don’t have a passport and you don’t have time to get one but you still want to go on vacation, you have some great options. There are a variety of destinations where U.S. citizens can travel without a passport. A few options include:
Northern Mariana Islands
All you need to visit these places is a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license.
There are also a number of countries you can visit on a closed-loop cruise with just a state-issued photo ID and your original birth certificate. A few options include The Bahamas, Costa Rica, Belize, Bermuda, Jamaica, Barbados, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Mexico, and many more.
Of course, U.S. citizens can also visit all 50 states without a passport as well. There are plenty of great places to vacation without a passport.
Check out this great guide for a complete list of places you can go without a passport.
If you’re looking to travel to Mexico by air, you will need a passport. If you’re traveling by land or sea, a passport isn’t necessarily required. You can use a passport card. If you’re staying near the border zone and visiting for less than 72 hours, it is possible to visit without a passport. If you’re traveling on a closed loop cruise, you can visit Mexico with just a birth certificate and photo ID.
When traveling to Mexico, it is recommended to have a passport for optimal safety and security. If you have a passport, you can fly home in the event of an emergency situation.
If you want to breeze through the land border check with ease and avoid long lines, look into getting a Trusted Traveler Card such as a SENTRI card, NEXUS card, FAST card, or Global Entry card.
It’s also important to note that the rules can change without notice. Before your trip, it’s best to double-check which travel documents you need so you don’t end up getting denied entry at the border. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Have you traveled to Mexico lately? Share your experience crossing the border with or without a passport!
More From Where The Road Forks