Mexico, sunny Mexico. Mexico has long been a favorite tourist destination for North Americans, and increasingly so for European tourists. What’s not to love? Perpetual sunshine, plentiful beaches, rainforests, hiking, amazing scenery, and a very rich history and heritage. 

graphic image with text - Do you need a passport to go to Mexico?

And how about the culture? Mexican culture is a rich blend of native traditions influenced by colonial Spanish settlers. Plenty of great food to eat, lively music, and alluring traditional dances. 

Do U.S. citizens need a passport to go to Mexico, with the country being so close to the United States? Yes. U.S. citizens must present a valid U.S. passport book or card, as well as a Multiple Migratory Form (FFM) entry permit (also known as a “Tourist Card”) issued by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), which you should keep safe, as you’ll be asked to present it as you depart Mexico.

If you’re getting a blank FFM to fill out from an agent of the government of Mexico, you’ll probably need to present your passport and be ready to discuss the purpose of your trip. Travelers should also be sure to enter the country with valid proof of their automobile registration, even for border areas. You might also be asked to present such documentation as hotel reservations, return tickets, etc.

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What Travel Documents Do I Need for Mexico?

To travel to Mexico, you should have a valid passport (valid through the entire length of your stay) or some other travel document. You’ll also need a properly completed FFM form (Tourist Card) that will be provided to you by your airline or at whatever entry point you use to enter Mexico.

Keep these documents handy and in a safe place; you will be asked for them as you leave the country to return. If you’re driving, you should have your car’s registration on hand, and you may be asked to present hotel reservations and return tickets, as authorities may request more information about the purpose of your visit. 

Can I Travel Inside Mexico Without a Passport?

As with many experiences in Mexico, you can’t always accurately predict the same, consistent outcome. A lot depends on the agent/officer/employee you interact with. Some U.S. travelers report being able to fly within the country of Mexico without a passport, and without any problems.

Others report having to present an affidavit declaring their U.S. citizenship if they don’t happen to have their passport handy. The best rule of thumb to follow is to always carry your passport and FFM tourist card on hand, packed tightly and safely away so you can present it and avoid delays.

Related: Do you Need a Passport to go to Aruba?

Can I Visit Cancún Without a Passport?

International travelers (other than U.S. citizens) are required to present a passport as well as an FMM (Tourist Card) to enter Cancún. 

Though U.S. passports are strongly recommended, depending on the port of entry (including Cancún and a long list of frequently visited Mexican border towns, U.S. citizens do not need a passport to enter. In addition to official valid photo ID (Drivers license, state-issued ID), they may also use their:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Voter Registration Card
  • Citizenship Card
  • Certificate of Naturalization

U.S. travelers will also need their properly completed FMM.

Can I Go to Mexico With a Real ID?

No. REAL ID cards/enhanced IDs cannot be used to enter Mexico, Canada, or any other international travel. In a pinch, you might get lucky, depending on the agent you interact with who may allow a driver’s license or REAL ID (driving across the U.S.-Mexican border for a short visit after which you’ll drive back to the U.S. typically has less stringent passport requirements).

Even if you think you’ll be able to simply use your ID or birth certificate, it’s always recommended to travel to and from Mexico with your passport, just to be on the safe side.

Can U.S. Citizens Enter the U.S. Without a Passport?

U.S. citizens, including dual citizens, are required to use their U.S. passports to enter and leave the U.S.  You won’t need an FMM to enter the U.S., you’ll only need to present it as you’re leaving Mexico.

Can I Use My Birth Certificate to Go to Mexico?

For U.S. citizens crossing the border into Mexico via land, often all that’s needed is a driver’s license, enhanced ID, and/or birth certificate, though those rules have tightened up recently. 

Technically speaking you now have to be carrying an ID card, an enhanced driver’s license, or other acceptable ID. Acceptable forms of identification include the following:

  • A valid passport (valid for the duration of your visit)
  • State-issued enhanced Driver’s License or ID
  • Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, FAST, SENTRI)
  • Tribal Cards with Enhanced Tribal Features  
  • The Native Tribal Identity Card of the Indian tribes
  • Form I-872, fill out the form. American Indian Card
  • U.S. Military Identification (military travel orders may be requested) 
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner’s Document (documentation of maritime official business may be requested)  

Can a U.S. Citizen be Denied Entry Back Into the USA?

Documents get lost or stolen all the time, as tourists are easy targets. Technically, no U.S. citizen can be denied entry back into the United States, though if illegal activity is suspected, he or she may be delayed by further questioning and inspection of property.

Can You Go to Mexico With a Driver’s License?

Yes, and no. Mexican regulations are less stringent for U.S. travelers than for travelers from other countries, and crossing the border by car tends to have less strict requirements. But you can never predict an outcome, as a lot will depend upon the agent with whom you interact. The best rule of thumb to keep things safe and smooth is to carry your passport in a secure place, along with your FMM tourist card.

Related: Do you Need a Passport to go to Hawaii?

So, Do I Need a Passport to Go to Mexico?

Yes, by all means. You should carry a valid U.S. passport book or card, as well as an FFM entry permit.

You’ll also want to have valid proof of your automobile registration, even for border areas, as well as proof of hotel reservations, return tickets back to the U.S., etc., in case you’re asked to present them. 


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