mexican sign

When you are in Mexico on vacation or touring, you won’t need to carry your passport unless you know you’re going to need it for a specific reason… like to verify your identity when exchanging money or checking into your hotel. 

Does Mexico require you to keep your passport on you?

If you are stopped for immigration purposes, you could be asked for both your passport and entry permit. They can detain you if they would like while they review your paperwork and situation. There are immigration checkpoints in Mexico’s interior, including popular tourist destinations. These checkpoints are all over the country, not just at the border.

That being said, I typically leave my passport back at the hotel and I know lots of people who leave theirs at their hotel as well so as not to get their wallet or passport stolen or lose it somewhere. I have never been stopped by the police and asked to see my passport.

Related: Should you carry your passport with you in Europe?
Related: Should you carry your passport with you in France?

Tips for traveling with ID in Mexico

1. One thing you could do is keep a color copy of your passport with you if that makes you feel better.

I have a friend who was in Cancun for a break from the winter weather in Minnesota. One day, she went to breakfast with friends and she left her passport on the table at the restaurant. She realized she had left it just a few minutes after leaving and ran back but it was too late: her passport had been stolen.

2. If you’re planning something, like swimming or a scuba dive where you feel like you won’t have a safe place to lock up your passport or keep it on you, you might want to leave it back at the hotel. I would.

Lock it up in the safe in your room. They are typically very safe and secure. Yes, I know they can be broken into if someone is really trying, but they typically are quite safe and unless you have someone who is really out for you, or you have done something to make the hotel staff really grumpy, you will be fine.

Typically people that try to tell you hotel safes aren’t secure, are trying to sell you something… or are paranoid. Yes, even if it is a really legit website or a close friend.

It boils down to personal preference and how much risk you’re willing to take on for yourself and those traveling with you during your trip abroad.

mexican suburban street with cars and people

So You Know – You might get hassled by your insurance company if you don’t lock up your ID or passport in the hotel safe.

3. I carry a color copy of my passport or my driver’s license with me. You could carry another form of ID as well. If you were to lose your passport it could be hard to re-enter the US. It’s doable, but a bit of a hassle. Consider carrying a color copy of the Bio/identity page and the latest entry stamp if you do this.

4. Also, keep a digital copy on your phone. This could come in handy as well, especially in combination with the paper one.

mexico city and people

If you need to, for any reason, be quickly admitted to the Embassy of your country, then carrying something that can prove your citizenship can be very beneficial for you.

5. Don’t just leave it in your luggage! It is more likely to get stolen there.

6. Be careful if someone starts talking to you in the middle of a busy touristy spot. It might be fine, but it might not. It could be a distraction ploy by a pickpocket. They work in teams where one distracts, and the other steals.

7. Be careful if a vendor of any kind requires you to leave your passport as security to rent a car boat or scooter! Feel the situation out and see if you can leave them your paper copy. 

I just did that in Mexico to rent a scooter but they looked pretty legit, and I knew we weren’t going to be rally-driving the scooter so I felt the risk was pretty low. It turned out fine.

Though they could have scammed us by claiming that we damaged their vehicle… or kept it if we legitimately damaged the vehicle.

8. If you do get your passport stolen, it’s important to notify the nearest Mexican authority and file a police report with as much information as possible:

The date, time, location (street address if possible), the vehicle’s color, license plate number, details of how you had your belongings (wallet or bag) open, etc.

Do you have to carry your passport with you in Mexico?

It boils down to personal preference and how much risk you’re willing to take on for yourself and those traveling with you during your trip abroad.

I can’t tell you what to do, but just let you know what Mexican law is and what I do. You can go from there.

The law requires it, but people don’t carry their passports with them. I don’t know anyone who has been stopped and asked for their passport, but I have read online of folks who have, and they just call back to the hotel or resort and get things sorted out pretty quickly.

mexican beach resort

Can I carry my passport outside the resort?

You can carry your passport off the resort, but I don’t. I only ever take my passport out of the hotel safe if I’m going to the bank to exchange money, checking out of the resort, or traveling from state to state in Mexico, even if I will be back later that day. There are frequent checkpoints when crossing state lines and they will ask to see your passport.

According to the law, you should keep it on you at all times.

TIP – Put a large paperclip inside the inside of the back cover of your passport book. They will issue you a receipt when you clear immigration in Mexico, which you may need to submit to them upon your departure from Mexico. Put this little receipt under the paperclip that you just added to the back of your passport. Doing it this way will reduce the risk of losing it, and you will have it right where you need it to show the immigration officers upon your return to the US.

Mexican burro taxi

Do I need to carry my passport with me in Cancun?

It is good to carry a valid form of identification in Mexico, as we mentioned earlier. The same goes for Cancun and other Mexican cities.

Do you have to carry an ID in Mexico?

The Mexican authorities want you to carry your ID with you if you are in Mexico, but you don’t have to. However, It could be helpful to carry photocopies of your passport and driver’s license with you though, just in case you get stopped and asked for some form of ID. 

I hope you found this post helpful.


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