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What Documents Do I Need for Mexico Travel?


PASS Passport Card Back

PASS Passport Card

Screenshot courtesy DHS
Question: What Documents Do I Need for Mexico Travel?
Answer: To return to the US from Mexico by land, sea or air after June 1, 2009, you must now present a passport or PASS card (available to anyone) or Enhanced Driver's License (residents of some US states can get these). You can no longer use just proof of US citizenship, like an embossed birth certificate, with a government issued photo id (more on those below). Regardless of id choice, you also need a tourist card.

Identification Acceptable for Crossing US/Mexico Borders by Land

It was the case for decades that US citizens could use a combination of proof of US citizenship, like a birth certificate, *and* driver's license or other state-issued photo id, to return from Mexico to the US, and was still the case that passports weren't needed to return from Mexico by land even after it became necessary to use a passport to return to the US by air in 2007; all of that changed after June 1, 2009, and you must now have a passport, PASS card, Enhanced Driver's License or other acceptable ID (list is just below).

Tip: it is far cheaper to get a passport at your leisure than to rush a passport just before you need it. If you need to rush a passport application, though, do it yourself -- no need to pay even more to a passport expediting service.

Get a Mexico Tourist Card

A Mexico tourist card, also called an FMT, is a government form declaring that you have stated the purpose of your visit to Mexico to be tourism, and which must be carried while you are visitng Mexico. Although more than one kind of Mexico visa exists, this is a simple declaration of your intention to vacation in Mexico for not more than 180 days.

If you are driving to Mexico, you can get a tourist card at or near the border. If you are flying to Mexico, you will get a tourist card on the plane.

Where Will I Need to Show My Documents in Mexico?

Whenever you cross the Mexico border, you will need to show your travel documents.

Keep Track of Your ID and Tourist Card

You will need to turn your tourist card in when you leave Mexico, and you will need ID at different points during your Mexico visit -- when cashing traveler's checks or using a credit card, for instance.Keep your id and your tourist card together -- try keeping both in a passport holder.

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