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Immigration & Customs

Requirements may vary depending on your country of origin. Most state departments have very informative websites available.

US State Department: Passport Information and Applications
Canadian Passport Information and Applications
I'm Canadian. Do I need a passport?

New travel requirements are in place for all U.S. citizens traveling throughout the western hemisphere. All persons, including U.S. citizens are now required to present a valid passport to enter or re-enter the United States. Children are also required to carry a valid passport.

While Mexico may require only proof of citizenship in the form of photo ID and birth certificate, you will need a valid passport to re-enter the U.S.

Below is the official State Department bulletin:

  • Beginning January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable.
  • As early as January 1, 2008, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. While recent legislative changes permit a later deadline, the Departments of State and Homeland Security are working to meet all requirements as soon as possible. Ample advance notice will be provided to enable the public to obtain passports or passport cards for land/sea entries.


Just a reminder: If your travels will require you to enter the United States, you will be required to present a valid passport.

It's not an official requirement for Canadian citizens to present a passport for entry into Mexico at the moment, but you will need one if you're traveling through the United States. If you have a direct flight from Canada to Mexico, you don't need a passport, it is sufficient to show proof of identity and citizenship (for example with a birth certificate and driver's license).

Keep in mind, however, that a passport is the best form of international identification and having one can help prevent hassles! This from Passport Canada's website: 

Although the Government of Canada recommends that Canadians travelling to any destination outside of Canada carry a valid passport, it is not mandatory to do so for travel to Mexico.

Entry Requirements into Mexico:

  • Valid passport (the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade highly recommends that Canadians travel with a passport),


  • Proof of citizenship and photo ID.
    Proof of citizenship includes original birth certificate, citizenship card (naturalization certificate) or a notarized affidavit of citizenship (a statement under oath before a notary public, commissioner of oaths or lawyer identifying oneself with another document, stating date and place of birth, and reason for not having an updated passport or original birth certificate).

    Acceptable photo ID includes driver's license or health card with photo.

    People born in Quebec must present a birth certificate issued after January 1, 1994, by Le Directeur de l'etat civil in the Province of Quebec. Please note that according to a provincial measure announced on October 24, 2001, baptismal and birth certificates issued by Quebec religious, municipal or judicial authorities prior to 1994, are not considered proof of citizenship.

All persons entering the United States, regardless of age, are now required to carry a valid passport. For families traveling with children, this may mean applying for first passports or renewing passports. Passports for children under the age of 16 are valid for only five years.

For parents traveling with children. In an effort to curb international child abduction Mexico requires that the guardian or parent of any child traveling internationally with only one parent, provide a notarized consent from the absent parent , to immigration authorities in order to cross international borders.

Non-U.S. citizens must contact both the Mexican Consulate and/or U.S. Immigrations regarding required documents. Please be advised; laws and regulations regarding documentation for international travel change frequently, and should be checked each time one travels internationally.


Please check with a Mexican Consulate for information on specific items that may be subject to duty. The most commonly encountered restrictions are (import duties could be assessed if you exceed these amounts):

  • Some food items - especially grains, fresh produce, other plants and seeds.
  • Cigars and cigarettes - You are allowed up to 20 packs per person.
  • Liquor and wine - You are allowed up to 3 liters per person
  • Film or videocassettes -You are allowed up to 12 rolls/cassettes
  • Medicine for personal use - A copy of the prescription is required if you will be entering Mexico with a prescription medication.
  • Illegal controlled substances & drugs - Don't even try.
  • Firearms - only for hunting and must obtain a permit from the Mexican Consulate in advance

The Immigration counter is your first stop after you disembark the plane/ship. Here you will present your passport (or birth certificate) and Tourist Visa, which will be given to you and should be filled out completely, on the plane. Your tourist visa and passport will be stamped to make your arrival official. Your passport and tourist visa with you at all times while in Mexico (if possible make copies in case you lose your originals). Next proceed to the baggage claim area for your luggage.

Customs is your last stop. Have your Customs Declaration Form ready as you approach the official and customs station (the other form you were given on the plane/ship). Mexico has adopted a "Red Light - Green Light" system for customs. If you have put "Nothing to declare" on this form, you will be asked to push a button....... If the light is green you can exit without inspection; if the light is red you will be subject to inspection. This is a random system, and therefore there is no way to know whether you will get a green or red light. Consequently you need to be honest on your Customs Declaration and declare anything over and above what is allowed, paying all applicable duties. If you do not, and are caught by a red light, the fines may be very steep. One note, Mexican customs officials may assume you know about the "Red Light - Green Light" system and not say a word. No problem, step up & push the button.