Mexico Air Travel Rules

to/from the U.S.A.

Proof of Citizenship ||for minors || for Mexican citizens || Check In Time || Forms En Route || Travel Visa || Customs || Immunizations || DISABILITIES || Currency
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Before a citizen of any country will be allowed to board an international flight, they must present proof of citizenship and identity.

Should documentation not be adequate or sufficient, passengers may not be boarded. It is imperative that proper documentation be presented at time of check-in. It is also important to know that documentation may be checked on multiple occasions. Passengers are advised to keep proper documentation on their person during travel times.

Items accepted as proof
of citizenship/identity for U.S. citizens
  • A valid U.S. passport  - serves as both proof of citizenship and ID or,
  • A valid US driver's license (not expired). For ID only.
  • Original or certified Birth Certificate or a notarized photocopy of birth certificate along with a valid, government issued ID. (NO hospital birth certificates/records UNLESS it is a newborn less than 3 months old.) For citizenship only.
  • Military ID's are only good as government issued identification. They are NOT proof of citizenship.
  • Original certificate of Naturalization. No photocopies. Mexico will not accept them and the traveler may incur a fine upon returning to the U.S.
Items not accepted as proof of citizenship/identity
  • Expired passports or drivers licenses may not be accepted depending on the individual and local policy
  • Voter's registration cards are not accepted as proof of identity or citizenship.
  • No photocopies of passports.
  • No expired driver's license.
  • No gaming, membership shopping cards or credit cards with photos on them are accepted. The only exception is if the traveler has gone to the motor vehicle department to renew their driver's license and were given a receipt with license to be mailed.
  • If recently married and the name on tickets, ID, passport do not match, must travel with original or certified copy of the marriage certificate.
Proof of Citizenship/Identity

 for minors (children under 18)

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport - own
  • Passport - issued on their parents passport
  • Hospital issued birth certificate - only if child is less than 3 months old.
Minors are considered any child under the age of 18.

The policy for minors traveling out of the U.S. is very different than domestic travel policy and different forms of documentation are required.

The rules for minors traveling internationally are very strict. Therefore, online reservations for children under age 18 are not advised. Travel arrangements should be made by telephone or through a professional travel agent.

Minors traveling with only one parent
Parents will need to adhere to these parameters to be able to escort a minor (any child under 18) out of the country:
  • Notarized documentation from the non-present parent allowing the other parent to take the child out of the country.
  • If parents are divorced, must present court papers giving full or sole custody to parent traveling.
  • If parent is deceased, must present death certificate (original or certified copy).
  • If parents have joint custody and parent is showing a "restraining order" against the other parent, the traveling parent still must have notarized letter of consent. Restraining orders are not permissible as allowance to travel.
  • If a minor is traveling with another family member or friends, both parents must sign a notarized permission letter or they must produce information as if the minor is traveling with one parent. It is important to include departure and arrival dates in permission letter.
  • If the birth certificate does not list a father, there is no need for a permission letter.
Should parents or guardians be unable to present letters of permission, or any other documentation, they will not be allowed to take the child out of the country.



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 [F] English <-> Espanol <-> Portuguese
Items accepted as proof of citizenship/identity

 for Mexican citizens/nationals

  • Mexican Passport.
  • Mexican Birth Certificate (can be photocopy with government issued ID).
  • Resident Aliens must have passport in addition to Resident Alien card.
  • Electoral, Mexican voter's ID.
  • Cartilla, Mexican military Card.
  • Declaracion de Nacionalidad - letter from the Mexican Consulate with the Mexican seal and traveler's picture.
  • If the traveler is a resident alien from Mexico, the traveler must also have either a matricula or something from Mexico to prove their citizenship.
  • If the traveler shows up with nothing to prove citizenship, the airline will likely not allow you to travel.
Check In Time
International travelers need to check in for flights at least two (2) hours prior to departure.
Forms En Route
Once travelers are onboard the aircraft, there are certain forms that must be filled out completely prior to deplaning.

These forms are:
  • Tourist Card
    All U.S. citizens visiting Mexico for tourism or study for up to 180 days need a document, called a tourist card, to enter and leave Mexico. The tourist card is free and will be given to all travelers once onboard the flight to Mexico.
    Tourist cards are issued upon presentation of proof of citizenship, such as a U.S. Passport or a U.S. birth certificate, plus a photo ID. All documentation will be checked prior to boarding the aircraft, the Tourist Card can be given onboard the international flight. Tourist cards are issued for up to 90 days with a single entry, or if the traveler presents proof of sufficient funds, for 180 days with multiple entries.
    Travelers should keep their tourist cards on their person at all times. Travelers will surrender their Tourist Cards when departing Mexico. There is a fine if you do not have a tourist card to surrender.
  • I-94
    The I-94 form is used by the U.S. Immigrations and Naturalizations Service as a record of non-immigrants arrival in the U.S., and as a means of ensuring travelers depart from the U.S. within the time constraints recorded on the I-94. I-94 forms should be kept inside the traveler's passport.
  • Customs Declaration Form
    When returning from Mexico, travelers will need to declare everything they brought back that they did not take with them when they left the U.S.
Travel Visa
Visas are special notations and stamps, added to a passport by officials of foreign countries, which allow a person to enter and leave these countries. If a traveler wishes to stay in Mexico longer than 180 days, or if they wish to do business or conduct religious work, contact the Mexican Embassy or the nearest Mexican consulate to obtain a visa or permit.

If a visa is required, obtain it from the appropriate foreign consular representative before proceeding abroad. Allow sufficient time for processing the visa application, especially if applying by mail. Most foreign consular representatives are located in principal cities, and in may instances, a traveler may be required to obtain a visa form from the consular office in the area of his/her residence.
Travelers will be instructed to fill out the Customs Declaration form prior to deplaning. Passengers will then be escorted to the Customs/Immigration area, asked to show proof of citizenship and identity, and then they will be directed toward the Customs/Immigration area. Once in customs, passengers will be asked a series of questions about purchases they made while traveling, or if they are bringing any fruits or vegetables into the country. Baggage may be screened and dump searched at any point. This is a random search.

Tourists should enter Mexico with only the items needed for their trip.

Mexican regulations limit the value of goods brought into Mexico by U.S. Citizens arriving by air or sea to $300 US per person and by land to $50US per person. Other travel-related items may also be brought in duty-free. Amounts exceeding the duty free limit are subject to 32.8% tax.

What passengers must declare:
  • Items purchased and are carrying upon return to the U.S..
  • Items received as gifts, such as wedding or birthday presents.
  • Items inherited.
  • Items bought in a duty-free shop or on a cruise.
  • Repairs or alterations to any items taken abroad and then brought back, even if the alteration or repair was made free of charge.
  • Items brought home for someone else.
  • Items intended to be sold or used in business. Travelers must state on the customs declaration, in U.S. currency, what was actually paid for each item. If a gift, fare value must be estimated and item declared.
Joint Declaration
Family members who live in the same home and return together to the U.S. may combine their declarations. (One form per family)

Children & infants are allowed the same exemption as adults, except for alcoholic beverages.
Restricted Items
  • Cultural Artifacts and Cultural Property - The U.S. restricts import of any pre-Columbian monumental and architectural sculpture and murals from central & South American countries.
  • U.S. Law specifically restricts the importation of Native American artifacts; Maya Pre-Columbian archaeological objects from Guatemala; Pre-Columbian archaeological objects from El Salvador and Peru.
The items below may be imported as long as accompanied by a permit issued from the country of origin.
  • Automobiles - Imported cars must meet American standards.
  • Ceramic tableware - These items are not prohibited or restricted, but some tableware made in foreign countries contain dangerous levels of lead in the glaze. The lead can seep into food and beverages.
  • Firearms - The ATF regulates and restricts firearms and ammunition. Passenger should contact ATF for further details pertaining to specific types of firearms and ammunition.
  • Fish & Wildlife-Contact Fish & Wildlife department about importing/exporting.
  • Game & Hunting Trophies - Contact Fish & Wildlife services about importing/exporting.
  • Meats, Livestock & Poultry - Contact USDA at 301-734-7830.
  • Plants - All plants being imported/exported requires a permit from the USDA. Call 301-734-8295.
  • Gold - Depending on where gold was purchased and what kind of gold it is.
  • Medication - Most medications purchased in another country are not allowed into the U.S., unless there is a U.S. doctor note with the passenger. Travelers should only take necessary medicines.
Items NOT allowed, even with a permit.
  • Absinthe - liquor
  • Trademarked & Copyrighted articles - counterfeit of a federally registered trademark are subject to seizure and forfeiture.
  • Dog & Cat fur - Illegal in the U.S. to import, export, distribute, transport, manufacture, or sell products containing dog or cat fur in the U.S.
  • Drug Paraphernalia - Illegal unless prescribed by a doctor.
  • Fruits & Vegetables - Importing fruits and vegetables is not recommended as fruits and vegetables often contain insects.
Duty Free Duty - The amount of money paid on items coming from another country. It is similar to a tax, except that duty is collected only on imported goods.

Dutiable - Describes items on which duty may have to be paid. Most items have specific duty rates, which are determined by a number of factors, including where the traveler got the item, where it was made, and what it is made of.

Declare - Telling the Customs officer about anything the traveler is bringing back that was not with the traveler when the travelers left the U.S..

Exemption - The Duty-free exemption, also known as the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise the traveler may bring to the U.S. without having to pay duty. Travelers may bring back more than the exemption, but will have to pay duty on it. In most cases, the personal exemption is $400US, but there are some exceptions to this rule.

Items exempt:
  • Items that are in the traveler's possession (that accompany the traveler) upon return to the U.S..
  • Items declared to customs.
  • The traveler is returning from an overseas stay of at least 48 hours.
  • The traveler has not used the exemption, or part of it, in the last 30 days.
  • Items that are not prohibited or restricted.
Consulate Consulates are government offices located in a particular country. In case of any problems such as deportation, or incarceration, the consulate general should be contacted immediately.

Consulates are also good in cases where travelers have lost, or have had stolen, their citizenship or identity documentation. In any case of emergency, travelers should be directed to the local consulate. The Consulate will be able to help travelers get in touch with other family members should the need arise.

Local Hotels should be able to direct passengers to the consulate.

Passengers needing the consulate should contact:
  • Embassy of Mexico's Consular Section
    2827 16th Street N.W.
    Washington, DC 20009-4260
    Or the nearest consulate general.
Immunization No immunizations are required to return to the U.S.

Under the International Health Regulations adopted by the World Health Organization, a country may require International Certificates of Vaccination against yellow fever, especially if you are traveling from an area of the world that is infected with yellow fever. Check with your health care provider or your records to insure immunization (i.e. tetanus and polio) are up to date.

Prophylactic medication for malaria and certain other preventative measures are advisable for travel to Mexico.

Detailed health information is included in health Information for International Travel, available from the U.S. Government printing office for $20 or may be obtained from a local health department or physician. Travelers can also contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) or online at

Special Needs Passengers If a traveler has a disability, the traveler may find it difficult getting around some parts of Mexico. There are few wheelchair ramps and wheelchair access bathrooms in Mexico currently. In some cities, there aren't stairway handrails. The sidewalks are typically narrower and aren't maintained as well.

Travelers should check with the hotel or resort to ensure handicap needs can be met.

The Mexican government permits tourists to exchange dollars for pesos at the fluctuating free market rate. There are no restrictions on the import or export of bank notes and none on the export of reasonable quantities of ordinary Mexican coins. However, gold or silver Mexican coins may not be exported.


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International Airlines




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Last updated Oct-04