Mexico City is one of the most popular travel destinations for Americans and with it being so close to the US, you might be wondering if a passport is required for travel. In order to have a safe and hassle-free trip, it is important for American travelers to find out about the travel documents required to gain entry into Mexico City.
In most cases, a passport is required for travel across the US-Mexico border, but there are exceptions.
A passport is not the only accepted identification
According to the US state department, US citizens must present one of these documents, in addition to an entry permit to enter Mexico:
- A passport book or
- A passport card
- An enhanced driver’s license
US citizens traveling on maritime business may present a Merchant Mariner document instead.
If the US traveler is entering Mexico by land (meaning they are driving or walking across the border) with the intent to travel beyond the immediate border region, that traveler must have an entry permit, which requires a valid passport. Drivers will also need to show valid proof of automobile registration to enter Mexico.
Warning: entering Mexico with an expired US vehicle registration could lead to confiscation of the auto by the Mexican Authorities. To further complicate things, permits are not required when driving into the Baja Peninsula.
Note: Mexican nationals entering the US by land or sea, must present a valid passport and a visa.
Brief history of entry laws
In the past, Americans who are traveling to Mexico City by air needed to have a passport. Those who are traveling by land or sea needed only to show their driverâ€™s licenses or birth certificates. A new law was imposed on the 1st of June, 2009 made it compulsory for all US citizens to show a valid passport, a passport card, or any document approved by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) when they travel to any place in Mexico.
A passport card or a WHTI-compliant document can only be used if travelers are entering Mexico by land or sea. The WHTI-compliant documents that are valid for travel to Mexico include: enhanced driverâ€™s license issued by a state; NEXUSÂ or SENTRI trusted traveler card; enhanced tribal card; Native American Tribal ID with photo; Form I-872 American Indian card; US Military ID with military travel order; and US Merchant Mariner document for official maritime missions.
Do the passport rules apply to travelers of all ages?
US citizens who are under the age of 16 do not need a passport when they travel by land or sea to Mexico City, but are required to bring their birth certificates or naturalization certificates. Both original and copy birth certificates can be used. Those who are legal permanent residents of the US may or may not need to present a passport to gain entry into Mexico, depending on which country they come from. They only need to show their I-551 Permanent Resident Cards when they return to the US.
The best method is still a passport
Whether it is an official requirement or not, it is advisable for those who are traveling to Mexico City to bring a passport, because a passport is considered the best form of identification in a foreign land. It will not only help US travelers gain entry into Mexico with minimal hassle; it may also be required when they get involved in accidents or unknowingly break the law.
Other than a valid passport, it is also a good idea for US travelers to get a good travel insurance policy before they travel to Mexico City. Many things can happen when people are traveling in a foreign country, and having travel insurance will protect them from losses that are incurred as a result of accidents. Since the food, weather, and standard of living are different in Mexico City, there is a higher chance that travelers may fall ill during their trips. Also, the crime rate in Mexico City is quite high, and tourists are one of the main targets for theft. Travel insurance will cover medical expenses, loss and theft, and cancellations, and it will ensure that travelers will have peace of mind when they are vacationing in Mexico City.