Original Passport, FMM or Resident's Cards Are Now Required By Mexico Immigration
- Last Updated: January 11, 2022 by Ann & Ron Reid
- Driving to Mexico, Legal
México Travel Alert!
México’s immigration authorities are now requiring all foreigners, whether tourists with FMMs or temporary or permanent residents to present their ORIGINAL travel documents when asked by authorities. Your travel documents are either your passport and FMM or your resident’s card. They will no longer accept copies of your documents. If you don’t have your ORIGINALS, you will be detained until your immigration status is determined.
INM Increasingly Enforcing Immigration Laws
México’s Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), otherwise known as immigration, has stepped up enforcing México’s immigration laws. You need to know and understand these laws, because if you are caught without your “condition of stay” documents (the term México uses), you can be detained for up to 60 days until the authorities can determine your immigration status.
“Condition of Stay” Documents Are Required Upon Arrival in Mexico
México requires all foreign visitors who do not have resident status to obtain a Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM), often called a tourist permit or visa (even though it is not a visa), upon entry into México, whether by land, air, or sea.
Plane: When you arrive by plane, the FMM is the document handed to you to fill out shortly before landing. Its cost is included in your airfare.
Land or Sea: When you arrive by land or sea (except cruise ships), you need to seek out the INM office and get an FMM, for which there is a fee. If your stay is for seven days or less the FMM is free, otherwise the cost is $638 pesos (around $32 USD) as of January 2022. It increases a little every year.
Cruise Ships: Cruise ship passenger badges serve as the FMM.
The FMM is required no matter where you are going in México or how long you intend to stay.
There Are No “Free Zones”
Many people have confused the areas of México in which there is no Temporary Import Permit requirement for vehicles to mean that no FMM is needed. That is simply not the case. If you are a foreigner in México, you need either a resident’s card or FMM, those are your “condition of stay” documents. Without them, you are in México “irregularly” — the term México uses for people without legal status.
Land Arrival Can Be Confusing
Arriving by land can be confusing, as the customs officers just wave you through the border. Do not be confused. Those are Aduanas (customs) agents, and they have nothing to do with immigration. They WILL NOT stop you and ask you for your condition of stay documents as it is simply not their job. It is your responsibility to know what you need to be in México legally (or “regularly” as México terms it).
Immigration Document Copies Are NO Longer Accepted
As for your documents, for many years México has accepted copies of your documents, such as your passport and/or resident’s card. This has changed and they will NOT be accepted. Now, only your originals will be accepted. And, as stated above, if you don’t have them, you will be detained until your immigration status is verified. No, they will not let you run home or back to your hotel to get them!
Document Copies Are Still a Good Idea
Making copies of all your important documents is still a good idea. Should you lose them, or they’re stolen, having copies available will greatly assist in getting replacements. But you need to carry your originals on your person when you’re out and about in México.
So, remember — Whether you are traveling to México as a tourist or are a foreign resident of México, you must remember to keep either your passport and FMM or your resident’s card on you in a secure location. There are more and more immigration checkpoints popping up around México, especially in high tourist areas. You don’t want to be caught out and about without them!