Entering Mexico can be done by land, sea, or air, but each method has its own unique process. Here’s a simplified guide to help you understand the requirements. Remember, it’s a good idea to check with the nearest Mexico Consulate for any updates or temporary restrictions. (Information as of August 2023)

IMPORTANT: No matter how you enter Mexico, NEVER bring Drugs, Guns, or Ammunition. Ignoring this warning could lead to serious consequences.

Required Documents: Whether you’re in Mexico briefly or for an extended stay, you’ll need a valid US Passport or a Mexico/Canada travel card (card is only good for land entry) issued by USDHS to return to the United States. In the past, a birth certificate or state ID sufficed, but this has changed.

Customs Inspection: At all entry points – whether you walk, drive, arrive by air, or sea – customs inspection is mandatory. If you’re bringing items worth over $300, you need to declare them, with a 25% tax on the excess (subject to change). Approach customs and receive a GREEN or RED light. Green means you’re clear; a Red light leads to a secondary inspection, which usually takes a few minutes. If you enter by car, the light is at the border; by sea or air, press a button after walking up.

Tourist Visa: If you’re staying in the Hassle Free Zone or near the border, you might not need a tourist visa (FMM). Always check for recent changes before entering. To obtain a Tourist Visa, you’ll need a valid passport or a Mexico/Canada travel card. Make sure your entry document is valid for at least six months beyond your arrival. You’ll get the bottom half of the Visa upon entry, which you must keep for departure. Losing it results in penalties and delays.

Entering by Car: Prior to entering Mexico by car, you MUST buy Mexico auto insurance. Mexican authorities don’t recognize USA insurance. Get this insurance, with a minimum of $300,000 liability coverage, from border areas or online.

Entering via Air and Dealing with “The Gauntlet”: After getting your passport stamped and tourist visa approved, you’ll face customs with the red and green lights. From there until you exit, you’ll encounter persistent Timeshare Salespeople. They offer taxis, hotels, and more, trying to engage you. Ignore them and head to the exit for real taxis. Avoid getting caught up in their sales tactics.

Always remember, Mexico’s entry rules might change, so stay informed before your trip.



MexiDad travels Puerto Vallarta and other places in Mexico to bring you a curated list of the best establishments for Expats and locals alike.