A valid passport or passport card is required for all U.S. citizens traveling beyond the Mexican border zone – usually defined as within 20-30 kilometers of the border. Passports or passport cards are required for U.S. citizens 16 and older to re-enter the U.S. by land, and passports are required for re-entry by air.

U.S. citizens who do not have a passport should apply for one well in advance of their planned travel to Mexico. The website for the Bureau of Consular Affairs is the best source of information about U.S. passport applications.

Mexican immigration may not accept washed, mutilated, or otherwise damaged passports, and require their carriers to return to the United States.

Visas or tourist cards are not required for U.S. citizens visiting as tourist for 72 hours or less and remaining within the border zones.

Tourist cards are required for longer visits or for entry by air.

Tourist cards can be purchased at Mexican consulates, border crossings, tourism offices, airports, and airline offices. Travelers must keep their card with them at all times, since immigration federal officers have the right ask visitors to provide proof of their legal status at any time. Travelers without the proper documentation have occasionally been detained. It is also important to have passport and tourist card photocopies in case the originals are lost or stolen.

U.S. citizens must return their tourist card when they depart Mexico. Visitors who are unable to present their card may encounter significant delays and be asked to file a police report, pay fines, and obtain an exit visa.

Travelers visiting Mexico for business must complete and submit Form FFM. This form authorizes visitors to conduct business, but not to obtain employment. Non-tourist or business travelers, or any visitors remaining for more than 180 days, must have a Mexican visa and a valid passport to enter the country. U.S. citizens can apply for a Mexican visa at the Mexican Embassy or any Mexican consulate.

U.S vehicles traveling beyond the Mexican border zone may be confiscated unless the drivers obtain a temporary import permit. Only vehicles traveling in the Baja Peninsula or vehicles with the “Only Sonora” program are exempt from this requirement. This program allows any vehicle that enters at a land border in the Sonoran region to travel without a permit as long as it does not leave the region.

Evidence of citizenship, a vehicle title, vehicle registration, a valid driver license, and a processing fee are required to obtain a temporary import permit.

Drivers must also post a bond at an office of the Banjercito (Mexican Army Bank) to guarantee that the vehicle will be exported by a certain date. Cash deposits or credit card information is required, and go to a Mexican Customs office to avoid charges or receive a refund. Incarceration, fines, or vehicle seizure may result from driving into the Mexican interior without this permit.

Travelers should never accept the service of individuals outside permit offices who offer expedited service.

Dual U.S./Mexican nationals should carry citizenship documentation for both countries when traveling to Mexico.

Mexico considers U.S. citizens born in Mexico or to Mexican parents to be dual citizens of Mexico. Dual citizens may be required to complete a period of military service in Mexico, and may have difficulty receiving U.S. consular assistance in the event of arrest or other emergencies. Dual nationals must declare their U.S. citizenship when returning to the United States.

U.S. citizens must declare the value of any gifts they are carrying when they enter Mexico. There is a $75.00 duty free limit for entry by land, and a $300.00 limit for entry by air. Alcohol and tobacco products always incur a duty. Personal effects will not incur a duty unless they exceed certain limits specified by Mexican customs. Undeclared items may be seized by customs. Regulations are in place regarding imports, exports, and property donations, and visitors should contact the Embassy of Mexico or a Mexican consulate if they need details.

Foreign-nationals, and their families, who wish to settle in Mexico may apply for a Temporary resident visa. This visa comprises several categories such as:

  • Scientific Research,
  • Economic Solvency,
  • Real Estate Investment,
  • Education,
  • Marriage,
  • among others.The permit is usually issued for 1 year, but it is renewable annually for a further 3 years (3+1), provided that requirements are still met. Prior its expiration, a temporary resident may apply for a permanent resident permit if he or she has continuously resided in the country for 4 years (i.e. has paid Mexican income taxes).After 5 years of legal residency, a resident may be eligible for naturalization. To obtain citizenship it is must to have Spanish language skills and pass a test and interview about Mexican history, culture and values. Nationals of Iberian (Spain and Portugal) or Latin American countries may be eligible for citizenship after 2 years of legal residency.

If you are looking at getting a permanent resident visa in Mexico, there are a couple things you need to consider.

Are you looking at moving to Mexico full time? Do you have any family connections in Mexico? Are you a retiree and can prove your retirement status? Also, can you prove that you have substantial funds in your account to live a happy life in Mexico?

There are a couple questions that you need to figure out before you apply for a permanent residency visa. The big question is, do you have four consecutive years of regular status as a Temporary Resident? Or do you have two consecutive years of regular status as a Temporary Resident, where the Temporary Visa was issued through marriage to a Mexican National or a foreign permanent resident?

Make sure you are aware of each of the requirements and that you figure out which visa is the best for you. It would be beneficial to hire an immigration lawyer. Your lawyer will help you to speed up this process. Also, he will help you complete the tasks needed to get your residency a lot easier and perhaps, even faster. When you hire an immigration lawyer, this will save you time going back and forth to the immigration office. When you do need to meet and sign documents, your immigration lawyer will provide you with all the details needed. For more questions on visa’s and anything you would like to know, we would recommend contacting your Mexican Consulate in your home country and discuss further whatever questions you might have!

How to get a Mexican work permit

In order to work in Mexico you need a Mexican work permit from the Institute of Immigration (Instituto Nacional de Migración – INM). With the work permit you can apply for a residence visa.

Since a change in legislation in 2012, you need to have a job offer or work contract from a company registered in Mexico to apply for a work permit. The company has to apply for the work permit with the INM and you can stay in Mexico on a tourist visa until you are cited to collect your visa in the Mexican consulate of your home country. You then have to leave Mexico and pass an interview at the consulate abroad, after which you get your work permit.

For the application, the company has to submit various documents, e.g. a proof of tax payments, a list of employees and their nationalities, the personal identification of a designated representative. Furthermore, a copy of your passport or other ID has to be submitted.

Once the application is accepted, the INM will process the case and make a decision within 20 days. If the application is approved by the INM you will have to go to your Mexican consulate and pass an interview to collect your work permit.

After your arrival in Mexico you and your family members must register at the INM within 30 days. Your spouse and children will normally get dependant visas but they are not automatically granted a work permit. If your spouse wants to work in Mexico he or she will have to apply for their own work permit separately.

Can you convert your visitor status to a work status in Mexico?

Technically, no. Foreigners with a visitor status can have a company they want to work for apply for a Mexican work permit with the National Institute of Migration (Instituto Nacional de Migración). While the application is processed, visitors can stay in Mexico until they are cited by said Institute to collect the permit at the consulate of their home country. They have to leave Mexico and collect the permit. Only after that can you apply for a residence visa.

If you are driving to the interior of Mexico past the Free Zone (21 Km or 25 miles from the border, 98 Km or 60 miles in Sonora or outside of the states of Baja California), you are required to obtain a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit. This permit is issued by Banjercito, the national bank for Mexico.

Who can request a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit?
  • U.S., Canadian and all foreign citizens
  • Mexican Nationals with legal residence abroad or who have proof of working for more than one year outside of Mexico by means of official documents
Where can I obtain a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit?
  • If you live in the United States or Canada, you can request a temporary vehicle importation permit Online – Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit
  • At some Mexican Consulates in the U.S. Check here for the office closest to you.
  • Banjercito offices located at the Mexican Border Crossings

It is recommended that you process your request at least 7-10 days in advance of your trip. Once you complete the online process you will receive the permit and the hologram at the US or Canadian address you provided.

Can I obtain a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit the same day I request it?

Yes, you can obtain the permit by visiting the Banjercito office at the Mexican Border Crossing or at any Mexican Consulate that offers this service.

How long is the Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit issued for?
  • Foreigners: The duration of the permit will be the same as the length of the tourist visa.
  • Mexican residents abroad: In a period of one year (12 months), you are authorized to keep the vehicle in Mexico for 180 days with multiple entrances.
What do I need to get a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit?
  • ForeignersValid ID (passport, naturalization certificate) and copies of the Visa issued by the Mexican Immigration offices.
  • Mexicans: a document proving legal residence abroad or an official document to prove the migratory status authorizing them to work abroad for up to one year (examples include definitive or temporary resident card, passport (not Mexican passport).
  • Both Foreigner and Mexicans will need:

original and copies of their vehicle Title OR Current Registration

– credit/debit card in the same name as the Title/Registration

– $200 – $400 U.S.D. to leave as a deposit. See below. The deposit will be returned If you return the Vehicle Importation Permit before it expires.

– About $51 U.S. for the cost of the permit

– Mexico insurance policy

*If the vehicle is a company car, rental car, leased or financed, you will need to obtain a letter of permission from the lien holder/company/lessor to take the vehicle to Mexico.

Do I need to have Mexico Insurance?

Yes. Proof of financial responsibility is now required to obtain your Vehicle Importation Permit. In addition, Mexico doesn’t recognize foreign insurance. In case of an accident, even if you are not at-fault, you will need “proof of financial responsibility,” and you will need an insurance policy issued by a Mexican Insurance company.

How much does it cost and how can I pay?

The fee for the temporary importation of a vehicle is approximately $51.00 U.S.; this fee is the same whether the permit is obtained at the border or at a consulate. The fee when obtaining the permit online is $45.00

guarantee deposit for the return of the vehicle to the US is required for all vehicles. The amount of the guarantee will be determined by the year of the vehicle. The guarantee will be refunded upon cancellation of the vehicle permit at a Banjercito office as long as it is prior to the expiration date of the permit. The refund will be made in the same form as the deposit was made.

You can pay the permit fee and guarantee deposit with credit or debit card (Visa or MasterCard) with the importer’s name or in cash.

Year Guarantee Deposit
2007 – newer $400.00 USD
2001 – 2006 $300.00 USD
2000 and older $200.00 USD


Who is allowed to drive my vehicle?
  • Foreigners: the owner/importer, his/her spouse, ascendants (parents), descendants (children) or siblings, even if they are not foreigners, and foreigners that hold a migratory status authorizing them to do so or a Mexican national, as long the owner is in the vehicle.
  • Mexicans: the owner, his/her spouse, ascendants (parents), descendants (children) or siblings, only if they have a legal residence abroad, a foreigner with the appropriate migratory status, and any other person, as long as the owner/importer is in the vehicle.
How can I cancel my permit?

When leaving Mexico you must visit the Banjercito office at the border in order to obtain the cancellation documents that prove your vehicle is returning to the U.S. or to register the vehicle return to have a record of the days used.

Upon cancellation on or before the expiration date of the permit, you will receive the guarantee deposit back in the same form as it was paid. If the permit is not canceled on time, you will lose the deposit. If the permit is not canceled at all, you will lose the deposit and will not be able to import any other vehicle to Mexico in the future until the permit is canceled. Additional fees and fines will be assessed.


Read your vehicle importation permit carefully; remember that you are obligated to comply with these customs provisions.

To verify the status of your vehicle importation permit, go to

If you have any questions about your permit, please email:


The information contained on this page is subject to change without notice by the Mexican Government. For updated information, please visit, Aduana

Regulations below are applicable for dogs and cats entering Mexico including service and emotional support animals. Owners of other animals should proceed to step #11.

  • Pet Microchip

Mexico does not require that your pet be identified with a pet microchip, but it is recommended that you microchip your pet and register your contact information prior to traveling as a means of identification should your pet be lost or separated from you.

If your pet does not have a registered microchip, make sure your pets are wearing tags that identify them and have contact information for the owner.


Proof of current vaccination against rabies at least 15 days prior to entering Mexico must be provided. Mexico will accept the 3 year vaccine from dogs and cats entering the country from the United States or Canada. All details about the vaccine must be on the health certificate. If your dog or cat is originally from Mexico (rather than the US/Canada), and your pet has been vaccinated in Mexico with a 1-year vaccine (which is standard here), you are required to show the Mexican booklet you received from your Mexican vet indicating the original vaccine date. In all cases, the vaccination must not have expired.

Dogs must also be vaccinated against hepatitis and distemper.

Kittens and puppies under the age of 3 months are exempt from the rabies vaccination requirement.

Rabies Titer Test

A rabies titer test is not required to enter Mexico from any country.

  • Ticks & Tapeworm Treatment

Within 6 months of entering Mexico, your dog or cat must have be treated against internal and external parasites by a licensed veterinarian and the products used must be reflected on the health certificate. Cats and dogs must have treatments for ticks shortly prior to entering the country. Tick-borne infections such as ehrlichiosis are not unusual in the country, so it is wise to protect your pet.

Health Certificate

When traveling Mexico from either Canada or the United States, your veterinarian has two choices of forms that he can use, both of which are acceptable to Mexico.

Option A: If your pet is traveling from the United States, then a USDA-accredited vet can issue the APHIS form 7001 within 10 days of travel. If your pet is traveling from Canada, the Canada Export Tri-Lingual Veterinary certificate can be used. If your veterinarian chooses to use either of these certificates, then it must then be endorsed by the USDA or the CFIA respectively. The form is valid for 30 days to return to the United States.

Option B: If your pet is traveling from either country, your veterinarian can use a template which is then printed on their letterhead within 10 days of travel. No changes should be made to the wording in this document. If the pet is traveling from the US, the certificate must be signed by a USDA-accredited veterinarian. If your pet is traveling from Canada, the form must be signed by a licensed veterinarian in Canada. This form does NOT need to be certified by either the USDA or the CFIA and should be completed within 10 days of entering Mexico.

If your pet is traveling to Mexico from another country other than the US or Canada, then option B with a current health certificate is what your pet will need.


Other Information

If you are transporting one to three pets, the Animal Health Import Certificate process is free of charge. If you are importing four or more pets, the fee of the Import Certificate would be $1,882.22 pesos (this amount may vary in conformance with the Federal Tax Law). Additionally, you must use a customs agent in Mexico to obtain the permit for you and to handle the entry of your animals.

Mexico has launched a new Frequent Travel Program for Pets program. The registration requirements include filling out an application, attaching a health certificate issued by a Senasica-authorized vet and providing records of a current rabies vaccination and treatment against ectoparasites and endoparasites.

The document can be obtained at Agricultural Sanitation Inspection offices located at airports in Cancún, Guadalajara, Querétaro, Zihuatanejo, Toluca and Mazatlán.

Applications can also be made in both terminals of the Mexico City International Airport and at the Senasica central offices, also in Mexico City. The program is free.

You may want to bring along a bit extra pet food, especially if your pet has specific needs or is particular about a certain brand. Larger cities will have big grocery stores (Gigante, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club) that do stock a variety of pet foods, but that may not always be the case in smaller locales. Also, if you expect to travel to more remote regions like Baja California, it’s best to have food on hand for the trip.

Entering Mexico by Air

There are multiple international airports in Mexico where pets can enter the country.

All domestic dogs and cats must be free of evidence of disease communicable to humans when examined at the port of entry to Mexico. If your dog or cat is not in apparent good health, further examination by a licensed veterinarian may be required at your expense.

Puppies and Kittens

As Puppies and kittens that are not yet 3 months old should not be vaccinated for rabies, they may enter Mexico without rabies vaccination.

Banned Breeds

Mexico does not ban breeds, however, some cities do. Visitors to these cities will be responsible for their pet’s behavior.

Returning to Mexico

Pets returning to Mexico are subject to the same passport requirements as those entering for the first time. This means that pet owners returning to Mexico should have a new health certificate completed by a vet in the country you are visiting if you stay for more than 30 days.

If your pet is leaving Mexico, then you should have all documentation required for your destination country available.

Other Animals

Birds are permitted to enter Mexico from areas that have not had Avian Influenza incidents. Owners of birds may want to contact veterinary authorities in their originating country for additional information.

Domesticated rabbits can enter Mexico with their owners with a current health certificate (see above) and proof of rabies vaccination.

Invertebrates, tropical fish, reptiles, amphibia, mammals such as rodents are not subject to requirements of rabies vaccination, but may have to meet other requirements and should have a health certificate to enter Mexico Pet owners are strongly advised to seek further information from the relevant authority of their country and/or that of the country of destination.


If your pet is not a dog, cat or ferret, and especially if it is a turtle or parrot, you should verify that it is not protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  You will need to apply for additional permits if this is the case. Over 180 countries participate and enforce CITES regulations.


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