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Formalities for travelling to Mexico

A trip to Mexico, one of Central America's stellar destinations, is a popular choice amongst tourists. The country is used to welcoming foreign visitors to its shoresand formalities for entry are easy to organise.

Before you leave

As with any visitor to Mexico, you need to be in possession of a current passport that is valid for the duration of your stay. UK residents visiting as tourists don’t need a visa if the stay is for less than 180 days. US citizens can enter the country for a period of up to 72hrs without a visa or tourist card. If you're staying longer the same rules as those for UK citizens apply. However it can get complicated as not all flights to Mexico are direct! Since 9/11, non-US citizens who plan to cross the border from Mexico into the US, need an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Autorisation). It costs around 14$ and can be obtained online within 72hrs.

Vaccinations are not obligatory to enter Mexico. But, as ever, it's wise to be up to date with your general vaccinations. It's also recommended that you get innoculated against Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Rabies.

Your UK/US driving licence is fine for hiring and driving a vehicle. But better to be safe than sorry, so consider investing in an International Driving Licence. US citizens need to apply to the AAA or NAC, at a cost of around 20$. UK citizens can get one from their local Post Office for a £5.50 fee.

On arrival

On arrival

On arrival, be it by land or air, you'll need to complete a tourist card. It's titled FFM - Forma Migratoria Múltiple. Once completed and stamped, you can stay on Mexican territory for a period of up to 180 days. You must keep it on you at all times and make sure you don't lose it. You'll need to present it when you leave the country. So keep it safe! It's a good idea to make a copy. That way, if you lose it, it'll be easier to convince the authorities that you're not an illegal immigrant. Worst case scenario is you re-apply for a tourist card at a local immigration office or in the airport before you leave. You'll have to a pay a fine of around 50$, but be warned, the amount you pay will often depend on how the immigration officer feels that day! In other words, 'Don't lose this card!'.

David Debrincat
459 contributions
Updated 28 September 2015
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