Mexico’s entry requirements can be a bit confusing. The system has slightly different sets of rules depending on your citizenship as well as where and how you enter the country. This guide will help you determine whether or not you need a visa to go to Mexico. It also outlines the different types of visas and entry permits available to decide which you need for your trip. This guide also explains exactly how the FMM visitors permit and temporary vehicle import permit (TIP) work. Finally, I will outline the entry process for driving into Mexico, entering on foot, and flying into Mexico. Hopefully, this guide makes your trip a bit smoother.
Table of Contents- Mexico Entry Requirements
- Do you need a visa to go to Mexico?
- Types of Mexican Visas
- The FMM Visitors Permit Explained: What is it and how does it work?
- Entering Mexico Overland from the US
- Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TIP) Explained
- Flying into Mexico
- Entering Mexico from the South: Crossing from Guatemala or Belize
- How to Avoid Paying the Mexico FMM Visitors Permit Fee Twice
- A Few Border Crossing Tips
Do You Need a Visa to Go to Mexico?
Whether or not you need to apply for a visa before you travel to Mexico depends on which country issued your passport, which country you are a resident of, which visas you currently hold, as well as the purpose and length of your trip. In this section, I’ll outline who does, and who does not need to apply for a visa before arriving in Mexico.
You can enter Mexico without arranging a visa in advance if any one of the following applies to you:
- The country that issued your passport is on this list of countries that don’t require a visa to visit Mexico. You won’t need a visa as long as you’re traveling for leisure, volunteering, or business without employment for 180 days or less.
- You hold a permanent residency visa or a multi-entry visitor visa for the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, or a European Schengen Area country. Before you travel, you should still contact your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate just to be sure that you’ll be allowed to enter. In some cases, there may be other requirements.
- You are a legal resident or a citizen of Mexico. This includes temporary residency permits (Visa de Residente Temporal) or permanent residency permits (Visa de Residente Permanente).
- You hold an APEC Business Travel Card. This is a travel document that is issued to business travelers. It allows you to visit other APEC countries for business purposes without arranging a visa in advance. For more info, check out apec.org.
If you meet one of the above criteria, you can enter Mexico for tourism purposes and stay for up to 180 days without arranging a visa in advance. All you need is a valid passport with a blank page for the visa stamp. When you arrive, you’ll be given an FMM visitor’s permit. More on that in the next section.
If the country that issued your passport appears on this list of countries that do require a visa to visit Mexico, and you do not meet any of the above 4 criteria, you will need to apply for a visa before traveling to Mexico. You can apply at your nearest Mexican consulate or embassy. If you don’t, you will be denied entry.
Regardless of your passport and residency, you will need to arrange a Mexican visa in advance if you plan to:
- Stay in Mexico for longer than 180 days without leaving
- Work or start a business in Mexico
- Study in Mexico (this includes language schools)
- Marry a Mexican Person
Types of Mexican Visas
Mexico offers three different types of visas.
- FMM Visitor Permit (Visitante)
- Temporary Residency Visa (Visa de Residente Temporal)
- Permanent Residency Visas (Visa de Residente Permanente)
Which visa you need depends on the purpose of your trip and the amount of time you plan to spend in Mexico. The application requirements vary depending on the type of visa you’re applying for.
FMM Visitor Permit (Visitante)
The Visitor Permit is for people who are visiting Mexico for tourism purposes, business trips, or volunteer trips that last 180 days or less. You cannot extend or renew it. It works like a tourist visa.
If you do not need a visa to enter Mexico (as outlined above), the Visitor’s Permit is issued at the airport, land border, or seaport when you arrive in Mexico. You will fill out a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) and pay a 575 peso (around $30) fee. I’ll talk more in-depth about the FMM in the next section.
This permit is good for multiple entrances into Mexico if you’re crossing the border by land. If you’re flying in, it’s only good for one entrance.
Temporary Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Temporal)
The Temporary Resident visa is for people who plan to stay in Mexico for longer than 180 days but less than 4 years. Typically, immigration issues this visa for one year. After the year is up, you can renew it for an additional 1,2, or 3 years. You can enter and exit Mexico as many times as you like with this visa. Retirees, students studying abroad, professionals with certain skills, investors, temporary workers, and those planning to get married in Mexico would require a temporary residency visa.
There are a number of different classes of Temporary Resident visa available. Which one you need depends on what you plan to do in Mexico. These are non-immigrant visas. You can only participate in specific activities authorized under the visa. For example, some Temporary Residency visas allow you to work and earn money while others don’t (lucrative vs non-lucrative).
The exact requirements to obtain a Temporary Resident visa depends on the class of visa you’re applying for. For example, if you’re not going to work in Mexico, you must prove that you have sufficient income or assets to support yourself. If you are planning to work in Mexico, you’ll need visa sponsorship from your company in most cases. You may also be able to get a temporary residency visa by investing a certain amount of money in Mexico. In some cases, someone with an in demand professional skill may also qualify for this visa.
You cannot apply for a Temporary Resident visa in Mexico. You need to obtain the visa at the nearest consulate or embassy before you arrive. They will stick the visa in your passport. You must visit an immigration office within 30 days of your arrival in Mexico. At the immigration office, an official will stamp your Temporary Resident visa and issue you a plastic Temporary Resident ID card.
You cannot renew the Temporary Resident Visa after holding it for 4 years. At that point, you must apply for a Permanent Resident visa or leave Mexico.
Permanent Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Permanente)
The Permanent Resident visa is designed for people who plan to reside in Mexico long term and maybe even apply for citizenship. This is an immigrant visa. To qualify for a permanent resident visa, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- Hold a temporary resident visa for 4 years
- Have close family living in Mexico
- Marry a Mexican national or permanent resident and hold a temporary resident visa for 2 years
- Meet the requirements of being considered a political refugee
Once you receive your Permanent Resident visa, you will also receive a plastic ID card indicating your immigrant status. With this visa, you can apply for citizenship or naturalization.
The FMM Visitors Permit: What is it and How Does it Work?
FMM Visitor’s Permit (Forma Migratoria Múltiple) is a travel document that allows citizens of the United States, Canada, and a number of other countries. to enter Mexico without arranging a visa in advance. The FMM is issued on arrival by the INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración).
The FMM visitors permit allows you to stay in Mexico for up to 180 days for tourism or business purposes. You are not permitted to work, study, or earn money in Mexico with an FMM.
FMM visitors permits are issued at the land border, airport, or sea port where you arrive in Mexico. Recently, Mexico started offering online applications for the FMM. You fill out the form, pay, print it out, then get it stamped at the border. You can apply for the FMM online here.
This section outlines the FMM. For more in-depth info, check out my complete guide here.
What You Need to Get an FMM Visitors Permit?
- Passport. When crossing by land, you can use either a book or card style passport. When flying in, you need a passport book.
- 575 Pesos (about $30). Immigration charges this fee at the border or airport.
- A completed FMM form. Forms are handed out at the point of entry.
FMM Entry Permit Cost
If you plan to stay in Mexico for less than 7 days, there is no charge for an FMM. If you’re staying longer than 7 days and less than 180 days, there is a 575 peso (about $30) fee for the FMM.
The fee must be paid in cash at the border or airport. At the northern border, you pay when you enter. At the southern border and airports, you pay when you exit. When you pay, you’ll be given a receipt. The immigration official who stamps you in also stamps the receipt. Keep this as proof that you have paid.
Tip: When you fly into Mexico or arrive on a cruise ship, the fee may be included in the price of your ticket. Check this with your airline or cruise line before you arrive so you don’t pay twice.
Who Needs an FMM?
Everyone who is not a Mexican resident visa holder or Mexican citizen needs an FMM to enter Mexico. Even if you’re only crossing the border for a couple of hours and staying in the border zone, you still need to get one. In the past, there was a ‘free zone’ where you could travel without an FMM. In 2015, the law changed. Kids under 2 are not charged for an FMM. They will need a passport.
If you hold a passport from a country that requires a visa to enter Mexico, you’ll need to arrange a tourist visa in advance with your nearest Mexican consulate or embassy instead.
How Long Can You Stay with an FMM Visitor’s Permit?
The FMM Visitor’s Permit is valid for up to 180 days (about 6 months) from the date that you entered Mexico. The number of days that you’re given is up to the agent that issues you the permit. Most give 180 days to everyone. If you indicate on the FMM form that you’re staying for fewer days, they may just give you the number of days that you wrote in.
The officer at passport control will write the number of days you are granted on your visitor’s permit. You should calculate your exit date so you don’t overstay accidentally.
There are a couple of cases where the immigration officer may automatically grant you fewer than 180 days. For example, when you transit through Mexico, you may only get 30 days. When you enter on a cruise ship they often only grant 21 days.
Making Multiple Entries on an FMM
You can enter and exit Mexico overland as many times as you like until your FMM expires. In the past, the FMM was only good for one entry. This policy recently changed.
There is one exception to this rule. When you take an international flight out of Mexico, you must turn your FMM into the immigration official that stamps you out of Mexico before boarding the plane. You’ll have to fill out a new form and buy a new one when you come back.
When you leave Mexico overland at the end of your trip, you do not have to turn in your FMM. Just discard it. Of course, if the immigration officer asks for it, you need to hand it over.
Trips Longer than 180 Days with an FMM
If you wish to stay in Mexico for more than 180 days should apply for a Temporary Resident or Permanent Resident visa. You would apply for these at your nearest Mexican consulate or embassy before your trip.
Alternatively, you can leave Mexico before your FMM expires then return for another 180 days. There is no time limit as to how long you need to leave before returning for another 180 days.
People do stay in Mexico long term on an FMM visitor permit. Sometimes for years. With computerized permit logging and facial recognition technology, it is possible for Mexico to track how much time you spend in the country on an FMM permit. The problem is that you could be questioned or denied entry if you continue making visa runs and living in Mexico. If you’re planning to live in Mexico, it’s best to just get the proper visa to avoid any surprises or immigration problems.
What if You Lose your FMM?
If you lose your FMM visitor permit, you need to go to an immigration office to get a replacement. This involves filling out a few forms and paying a replacement fee at a nearby bank. I’m not sure exactly how much the fee is. I have read conflicting reports from $30-$60 (around 500-1200 pesos). Comment below if you know how much the fee is. You can find immigration offices in most cities as well as international airports.
Overstaying an FMM Visitor Permit
If you overstay your FMM, you will be fined. The fine is charged on a per-day basis. The maximum fine is around $350 (7000 pesos). You pay this fine at an immigration office or the airport. Try to handle this a few days before you leave so you don’t miss your flight. Better yet, don’t overstay.
Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TIP) for Mexico: What is it and when do you need it?
The Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TIP) is a document that allows you to temporarily drive a foreign plated vehicle in Mexico for a predefined period of time. The TIP allows you to drive anywhere in Mexico for up to 180 days if you’re traveling on a visitor permit. A TIP is required for cars, motorhomes, motorcycles, and boats. Only people traveling in Mexico on an FMM permit, Temporary Resident Visa, and Mexican citizens are eligible for a TIP.
The TIP works similar to a carnet de passage. It allows you to import your car without having to pay tax on it. If you don’t export your vehicle before the TIP expires, you will lose the deposit you paid and face fines. If you’re caught without a TIP, your vehicle could be confiscated.
Banjercito issues the TIP. This is the only agency that issues TIPs. To apply, visit the Banjercito website here. You can also buy a TIP at most border crossings.
You only need one TIP per car. The TIP owner’s spouse, kids, parents, or siblings can drive the vehicle as long as they are insured and have a non-Mexican driver’s license. Other people can drive as long as the owner is in the vehicle and they have a non-Mexican driver’s license.
This section outlines the most important points about the TIP. For more in-depth info, check out my complete guide.
Where is a TIP required?
You’ll need a tip if you want to drive a foreign plated vehicle anywhere in Mexico except the free zones. In the free zones, you do not need a TIP. The free zones include:
- The entire Baja Peninsula. This includes both Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur
- Sonora Free Zone. Here is a map of the Sonora Free Zone.
- Within 25km of any land border
- The state of Quintana Roo.
How Long is the TIP Valid?
The TIP is linked to your visitor’s permit or visa. It is valid for as long as your immigration document is valid. If you’re traveling on an FMM visitor’s permit, the maximum TIP validity is 180 days. If you’re traveling on a temporary resident visa, the TIP is valid as long as your visa is valid. You cannot extend or renew a TIP. You can make multiple entries as long as the TIP is valid.
What Documents do I Need to Get a TIP?
- Passport or passport card
- A Mexican immigration permit- This could be an FMM permit or Temporary resident visa only. You can’t get a TIP with a Permanent residency visa.
- Non-Mexican drivers license
- Your vehicle’s title and registration- If the title is in your spouse’s name, you’ll need to bring your marriage certificate. If it’s in somebody else’s name, you can’t get a TIP.
- Proof of temporary Mexican auto insurance
You should gather all of the above documents before applying for your TIP.
Where to Get a TIP
You can get a TIP either online or in person.
The easiest way to get a TIP is by applying online on the Banjercito website here. You must apply 7-60 days before you travel to Mexico. To apply, you can upload the required documents in PDF format and pay the fee by credit or debit card. Before applying for a TIP online, you will need to get your FMM permit online or get a temporary resident visa. You will receive your TIP by email. Print the document and receipt out and carry it with you while driving in Mexico.
You can also get TIP in person at some border crossings. You will need to go to a CIITEV office to apply in person. These are located near select crossings in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. Before you travel to the border, you should verify that there is a CIITEV office where you plan to cross. Banjercito will send you an email with a copy of your TIP. They will also print you a hard copy that you can carry with you.
You can also apply for a TIP at a few Mexican consulates in the U.S. These include Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Denver, Chicago, Albuquerque , Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston. Banjercito still issues the TIP if you apply at a consulate. The consulate just facilitates the process for you.
When you apply, you will have to sign a declaration stating that you will export the vehicle before the TIP expires and that you will obey all regulations related to the TIP.
What if you don’t have a title because the vehicle is leased, financed, rented, or owned by a company?
If you are financing or leasing your vehicle, you won’t have a title. In this case, you will need a notarized letter of permission from the lienholder or leasing company. You’ll also need your lease or credit contract. If the vehicle is a company car, you need a notarized letter of permission from the company that states that you are an employee and are permitted to drive the vehicle into Mexico. If you rented the vehicle, you need a notarized letter of permission from the rental agency.
How Much Does the TIP Cost?
The current fee is 1060.18 Pesos. That’s around $50-55 depending on the exchange rate.
In addition, you must pay a deposit. The amount of the deposit depends on the age of your car.
- 2007 and newer- $400
- 2001-2006- $300
- 2000 and older- $200
The deposit is refunded when you export your vehicle and cancel the TIP. The refund process can take a couple of weeks. Your money will be refunded back to your credit card or in cash if you paid in cash.
You can pay with cash or a non-Mexican credit card that is in your name.
Canceling the TIP
You must cancel or surrender your TIP at an approved Banjercito location at the end of your trip after you exit Mexico. You do not have to exit at the same border you entered. The person whose name is on the document must show up with the vehicle to make the cancelation. This must be done before the TIP expires. This way, customs knows that you have exported the vehicle from Mexico and followed up your end of the deal. You’ll get your deposit back if you followed all of the rules.
If you don’t stop to cancel your TIP at the border, you’ll have to drive back to make the cancelation. Remember that not all borders have a Banjercito office so you should check before you cross. You can’t cancel the TIP online or anywhere within Mexico. Only on the border. If you don’t cancel your TIP, you won’t get your deposit back and you can never get another TIP.
Entering and Exiting Mexico
The entry and exit process varies slightly depending on where and how you cross the border. For example, crossing the Northern Border from the U.S. works slightly differently from crossing the southern border with Guatemala or Belize. Driving across is slightly different from crossing on foot. Flying into and out of Mexico has a slightly different set of rules as well. In the following sections, I’ll outline a few key differences. Hopefully, this makes the border crossing process a bit smoother and less stressful.
Entering Mexico From the US
This is the border that I have the most experience with. Having spent over a year living in Tijuana and working in San Diego, I have crossed this border hundreds of times. The process of crossing and obtaining an FMM at Mexico’s northern border is a bit different than the rest of the country. Here’s how it works for crossing by foot and in a car.
Walking Across the Northern Border to Visit Mexico
When you cross the northern border to Mexico on foot, you must show your passport and pass through immigration and customs. The process is the same for entering Baja and the Sonora Free Zone. The steps are as follows:
- Follow the signs to the Mexican immigration building and get into the line for non-Mexican residents.
- Once you reach the immigration desk, the official will hand you an FMM. Fill it out and hand it to the official along with your passport.
- If you indicate on the form that you are staying less than 7 days, the official will stamp your passport and send you through. (Skip to step 7 if staying less than 7 days)
- If you indicate on the form that you are staying for more than 7 days, the official will direct you to a bank window to pay the FMM entry permit fee.
- After you pay the fee, you will be given a receipt.
- Go back to the immigration desk and present your receipt to the official along with your passport. They will stamp your FMM permit, passport, and receipt and send you through. Keep your receipt and FMM.
- After passing through immigration, continue on to customs. At most borders, you will be asked to place your luggage on a belt to pass through an x-ray scanner to check for contraband. Occasionally a customs officer may bags. If you have something to declare, go up to a customs desk and pay your import tax before proceeding to the scanner.
- You can now exit the building. You’re in Mexico.
Driving Across the Northern Border to Mexico
Typically, cars are not stopped when entering Mexico from the United States unless something looks suspicious. The Tijuana border, in particular, is the busiest crossing in the world. They just don’t have the manpower to check every vehicle entering. Before you cross, you want to make sure you have all of your documents in order. If you don’t, you could get sent back when you encounter a checkpoint.
What documents you need to drive across depends on how long you plan to stay, what you plan to do, and where you plan to go.
If you plan to drive outside of the Baja Peninsula and Sonora Free Zone, you’ll need to get a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TIP). You’ll also need the proper immigration document (an FMM visitor’s permit, visa, or residence permit depending on how long you plan to stay and your citizenship.
If you don’t plan on driving outside of the Baja Peninsula or Sonora Free Zone, all you need is the appropriate immigration document. To be safe, you should also get a temporary Mexican auto insurance policy.
You need to gather all of your documents before you cross the border. The TIP, FMM, and Mexican auto insurance are available at most large border crossings. Be sure to check before you leave for your trip. You can also get them online before your trip.
Before you can apply for your TIP, you’ll need to get your FMM permit or temporary residency visa and temporary Mexican auto insurance. You will also need all of your supporting documents and copies of each.
Flying into Mexico: The Entry Requirements
If you don’t require a visa to enter Mexico, the only document you need when flying in is your passport. You need a book-style passport to fly to Mexico. Card style passports are not accepted when entering by air.
During your flight, a flight attendant will hand you an FMM form to fill out. Fill this out on the flight so you’re ready when you arrive at immigration. if you don’t get an FMM form on the flight, you can get one at immigration in the airport. You should fill this form out on the plane so you’re ready to go through immigration when you arrive in Mexico.
If you already have a valid Mexican visa in your passport, like a Temporary Residency Visa, you don’t need to fill out an FMM form.
You will not be charged the visitor’s permit fee at the airport on arrival in Mexico. Simply hand over your passport and completed FMM form to the immigration official. They stamp it and send you through.
Tip: Check your ticket to see if you’ve already paid the entry permit fee– Most airlines include the visitors permit fee in the price of the ticket. If you’ve already paid the visitors fee, be sure to print your ticket so the immigration official stamping you out doesn’t try to charge you again when you exit the country.
Flying Out of Mexico
If you are staying in Mexico for more than 7 days and are flying out, check your ticket to see if you have already paid the visitor’s permit fee. It should be outlined in the ‘taxes and fees’ section of your ticket. Print the ticket to show proof when you exit. If you have not already paid the fee, be prepared to pay 575 pesos when you leave the country.
If you are staying in Mexico for less than 7 days and are leaving by air, check your ticket to see if the airline you flew in on charged you for the visitor’s permit. Contact them for a refund as you didn’t need to pay the fee.
Exiting Mexico Overland
If you are staying in Mexico for more than 7 days and are exiting overland to the South, check your ticket to see if you have already paid the visitor permit fee. If you have, print the ticket to show proof when you exit. Be prepared to pay the 575 peso fee when you leave if you haven’t already paid it.
If you are staying in Mexico for more than 7 days and are exiting overland to the North, you won’t be checked upon exit. You avoid paying the 575 peso fee unless the airline already charged you.
If you are staying in Mexico for less than 7 days and are exiting overland, you have nothing to worry about. You won’t be charged when you exit.
Entering Mexico From the South: How to Cross The Border From Guatemala or Belize
Most tourists make this crossing by bus. The process is as follows:
- Once the bus reaches the border control of the country you are leaving (Guatemala or Belize), exit the bus with your passport so immigration can stamp you out. Usually, you don’t need to collect your luggage for the exit procedure. The bus staff will let you know either way.
- If you are traveling from Belize to Mexico, there is an exit fee of 40 Belize Dollars or 20 USD. If you are traveling from Guatemala to Mexico, there is no exit fee. Many times immigration will try to collect a 10 Quetzales (about $1.50) exit fee. This is a scam. You may be able to talk your way out of it or just pay it and move on. They may not even ask. It just depends on the immigration official that you talk to.
- After getting stamped out, get back on the bus. You’ll drive for a few minutes to Mexican immigration.
- Once you arrive at Mexican immigration, collect your luggage and get in line with your passport.
- Someone will hand you an FMM visitors permit form to fill out. Complete the form while you wait in line.
- Present the completed FMM along with your passport to the immigration official.
- After reviewing the documents, you’ll be stamped in and sent to customs. At most southern borders, you will not be charged anything upon entry.
- At customs, you will be asked to place your bag on a belt to pass through an x-ray machine. Some borders have a system where everyone who passes through must press a button. This button controls a stoplight device that flashes one of the lights at random. If the light is green when you press the button, you are free to go. If you get a red light when you press the button, they search your bag. This is just a random system for checking bags for contraband.
- After clearing customs, you are free to load your luggage and get back on the bus.
Overall, this crossing is pretty smooth. Wait times typically aren’t too long. The only scam you may encounter is the ‘exit fee’ at the Guatemala border. The Belize exit fee is kind of annoying but there is no avoiding it. Mexican immigration officials are always pleasant and professional in my experience.
How to Avoid Paying the Mexico Visitors Permit Fee FMM Twice
Many travelers end up paying the FMM fee twice and think they got scammed. There is no scam. The fee is legitimate. Mexico just has an inconsistent system for collecting it. As we have seen, at some ports the fee is collected on arrival, and at others, it’s collected upon exit. This section explains how to avoid paying twice.
The northern border is the only part of Mexico where you must pay the 575 peso FMM fee on arrival if you will be staying longer than 7 days. At the southern border and airport, immigration generally collects the fee when you leave.
The north is different because there is no passport check on the Mexican side when you exit from the north. No stamp. No nothing. You go straight to US immigration. It would be impossible for immigration to collect the fee upon exit so they collect it when you enter.
I don’t know why Mexico doesn’t check passports upon exit in the north. It probably has something to do with the volume of people crossing. For example, the border at Tijuana is the busiest crossing in the world. Tens of thousands cross every day. Evidently, Mexico decided that it just wasn’t worthwhile to check them all.
This is a problem if you plan to enter Mexico in the north and exit in the south or fly out. For example, many backpackers enter Mexico from the US at Tijuana, travel down Baja and through the rest of the Country before flying home or continuing to Central America. Many travelers also decide to fly out of Tijuana airport to save money on flights.
The only way to avoid paying the fee twice is to keep your receipt. It is your proof of payment. Show it to the immigration official at the airport or border when exiting and they will not charge you a second time.
If the airline charged you for the visitor permit fee when you purchased your ticket, simply print the receipt so you have proof that you’ve already paid. Make sure you print the ‘taxes and fees’ part that outlines the fee. Nobody is trying to charge you the FMM visitors permit fee twice. They just need to see proof that you’ve already paid.
I didn’t know this when I traveled through Mexico last year. I flew from Tijuana to Mexico City and traveled around Southern Mexico. When I crossed to Guatemala, I received an unpleasant surprise. I had lost my receipt and had to pay a second fee. I tried to talk my way out of it but the guy wasn’t having any of it.
Border Crossing Tips When Visiting Mexico
- If you know you’re going to have to pay the visitor’s permit fee when you leave, make sure you’re carrying enough pesos. The current fee is 575 pesos. Most borders accept dollars too but you’ll end up paying more with the exchange rate. Most borders have an ATM or currency exchange nearby but it’s best to be prepared.
- Don’t travel without an FMM. It’s possible to drive across the border in the north and enter without any documentation. This is fine if you’re just visiting a border town. Once you travel further into the country, you could be stopped and checked at a police checkpoint. If you’re caught without the FMM, you will be fined or sent back to the border to get one. I met an overland traveler who didn’t get an FMM when he entered in the north. He ended up paying $100 in the south to exit.
- Be careful in border towns. For whatever reason, many border towns have high rates of crime. This is mostly cartel-related. Tourists are generally not targeted. Still, it’s best to exercise some caution. Do a bit of research on the specific border that you plan to cross. These days it’s best to avoid Juarez, unfortunately. Tijuana is a safe place to cross.
- Keep your receipt when you pay for your visitor’s permit so that you can prove that you’ve already paid.
- Don’t overstay your visitor’s permit or visa. You probably won’t get deported but there is a fine.
- If you lose your FMM, visit a local immigration office. They can reissue a new visitor’s permit for a fee.
Final Thoughts About Mexico Entry Requirements
While living in Mexico, I have crossed from San Diego to Tijuana hundreds of times and have never had a problem. The entry and exit process is always smooth and easy. I have also flown into Mexico several times and crossed the southern border between Mexico and Belize and Guatemala. All of the immigration officials that I have encountered in my travelers in Mexico have been professional. I have never encountered a scam while passing through Mexican immigration. Overall, it’s an easy country to visit. Hopefully, this guide has cleared up any uncertainties that you may have had.
Have you visited Mexico lately? Share your experience entering the country in the comments below!