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Crossing the Border
Before you plan to cross the border, make sure you understand the paperwork and identification you’ll need for your visit. Here is an overview of important guidelines:
Documents Necessary to Travel to Mexico
Tourist Card FM-T
US citizens are not required to have a visa or a tourist card for tourist stays of 72 hours or less within "the border zone," defined as an area between 20 to 30 kilometers of the border. US citizen tourists traveling beyond the border zone or entering Mexico by air must pay a fee to obtain a tourist card, or FM-T, available from border crossing points or airports within the border zone and most airlines. The fee is generally included in the price of a plane ticket. Please note that travelers not in possession of their FM-T card at the point of exit from Mexico may face a fine from Mexican Immigration.
All Mexican permits or visas must be returned to a Mexican Immigration office at a Mexican Port of Entry upon final departure no later than five days following the expiration date. An exit stamp should be obtained.
Non-Immigrant Right (DNI)
Visitors to Mexico must pay a non-immigrant right (DNI). This fee, which is typically $200 (MXN), allows visitors to be authorized as non-immigrants.
Passport and ID Requirements
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires all persons, including US citizens, who are traveling to and from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Bermuda to have a passport or other WHTI compliant document, such as a Passport Card (PASS Card), that establishes identity and citizenship to enter or re-enter the United States.
The approved documents include a passport, a passport card, a NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST trusted traveler program card, or a state- or province-issued enhanced driver’s license. Travelers under age 16 need to present only a birth certificate or alternative proof of citizenship.
How do I obtain a passport?
- Passports are obtained from the US State Department
- See a list of passport acceptance facilities in your area
- Download an application for a passport
What is a Passport Card/PASS Card? Passport Cards (PASS Cards) are WHTI-compliant documents designed for US citizens who frequently cross the border via land and sea ports of entry in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. PASS Card cannot be used for air travel.
- Learn more about the PASS Card
For more information, visit:
Customs Limits & Inspections
Visitors to Mexico who take goods other than their personal belongings must declare the items and pay resulting taxes. A partial list of personal belongings includes:
- 12 video cassettes, five laser discs, five DVDs, 20 CDs or audiotapes
- Four fishing canes, two pieces of used sports equipment
- Books and magazines in such quantities that it would not seem they are for sale
- Pharmaceuticals for personal use (note: if you use psychotropic drugs, you must carry a copy of the medical prescription with you.)
- Adults 18 and older may bring up to 20 cigarette cartons, 25 cigars, 200 grams of tobacco
- Adults ages 18 and older may bring up to three liters of wine, beer, or liquor
Mexican regulations limit the value of goods (above and beyond the personal possessions listed above) brought into Mexico by US citizens:
- Visitors arriving by air can bring into Mexico goods valued up to US $300 per person.
- Visitors arriving by land can bring into Mexico goods valued up to US $50 per person.
- Amounts exceeding the duty-free limit are subject to a 32.8 percent tax.
For a full list of personal belongings, visit Sonora Tourism.
Visitors arriving by plane, or bus will be required to press a "fiscal stoplight." If the light turns green, the visitor will not be subject to a customs inspection. If the light turns red, a customs officer will inspect your luggage and your customs form. Declare any relevant objects before pressing the stoplight button.
Items Prohibited From Transport into Mexico
Do not bring the following items into Mexico:
- Explosives and related chemical substances
- Recreational drugs
- Narcotics, psychotropic, and other illegal substances
The preparation, sale, purchase, supply, transportation, introduction, or removal from the country of any of the above items is a crime punishable by 10 to 25 years in prison.
Items Prohibited From Removal from Mexico
It is unlawful for anyone to remove wild plants, animals, archeological treasures, documents, or historic objects belonging to the national patrimony.