Do You Need a Visa to go to Mexico?
Planning a trip to Mexico? You may be wondering if you need a visa to go to Mexico. The answer is maybe. But you will need an FMM or Forma Migratoria Múltiple tourist permit.
A visa is an official document allowing you to enter a given country and is usually stamped or glued into your passport. The FMM is a card or form you carry with you and is used in addition to a visa, if you are coming from a country for which Mexico requires a visa.
There are many countries where a visa is not required for travel to Mexico (see list below). But even though a visa is not required; you will still need an FMM.
Countries where a Mexican visa is NOT required: United States of America, Canada, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela.
If you are a citizen of a country for which a visa is required to travel to Mexico, you will need to first get the visa from a Mexican consulate in your home country, and then get an FMM when you enter Mexico. Having a visa from the consulate DOES NOT guarantee you entry into Mexico.
Here's what you need to know regarding crossing the border and getting your Mexican FMM...
What is an FMM?
Although the FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple) is often referred to as a "tourist visa," it is not officially a visa. An FMM is required for tourist entry into Mexico and allows foreign visitors to stay short-term, a maximum of 180 days. How long you are permitted to stay is entirely up to the immigration agent issuing you the FMM.
If you wish to stay in Mexico longer than 180 days, you will need to apply for temporary or permanent residency.
The FMM is issued by Mexican immigration, INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración).
New Electronic FMMs
In the summer of 2022, Mexico's INM began implementing changes to the FMM system, rolling out a new process of issuing electronic FMMs instead of the paper cards. As a result, when visitors arrive at the airports listed below, their passports are scanned and then stamped by the immigration agent, with an expiration date hand-written in by the agent.
The following airports are currently (as of October 2022) using this system:
- Mexico City
- Cancun, Quintana Roo
- Guadalajara, Jalisco
- La Paz, Baja California Sur
- Loreto, Baja California Sur
- Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
- Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
It is expected that this program will be eventually expanded to include all international airports. As these changes are implemented, the thing to keep in mind is to just roll with the changes, understanding that the immigration agents know what they're doing, even if it is different than when you came through the last time.
Are There Exceptions to Those Needing an FMM?
In most cases foreigners visiting Mexico must get an FMM.
- Those persons with a temporary or permanent resident's card.
- Citizens of Mexico.
If these exceptions do not apply to you, then regardless of the length of your stay or where you'll be visiting and staying in Mexico, the FMM is required.
Does Everyone in My Party Need an FMM?
EVERYONE who is not a citizen of Mexico, or a resident cardholder needs an FMM to legally be in Mexico. Even if you are coming for a just day, or staying near the border, an FMM is required (but free if you're staying for less than 7 days).
All children must have an FMM, but it is free for children under 2 years of the age. They also need their own passport for international travel.
What Documents Do I Need to Get An FMM?
To get an FMM you will need the following:
- Your passport (or a passport card only if traveling by land and staying in the border areas or the Baja Peninsula).
- A completed FMM form.
How Much Does an FMM Cost?
If you are visiting less than 7 days, the FMM is free. Otherwise, it costs $638 pesos (around $32, as of January 2022).
How to Get Your FMM
You get your FMM at your point of entry into Mexico or online, if traveling by land or sea. If you are flying, do not get an FMM online. Your airline ticket includes the fee, so you would be paying twice.
**NOTE: If you buy your FMM online, you still must stop at the border to get your FMM stamped, which validates it. And you must have your receipt with you when you get it stamped.
**WARNING: There are several websites selling FMMs that ARE NOT Mexican government websites. These websites usually charge $100 USD or more, which is nearly three times the actual price. When buying your FMM online, use this website https://www.inm.gob.mx/, ensuring you are on the Mexican government's website.
Process for Getting an FMM for Land or Sea Travel
Driving: If you are driving to Mexico, pull into the "something to declare" area. The INM desk/office will be near there. If you need to ask someone, ask for "immigration." (Migración in Spanish. The pronunciation is nearly the same.)
Walking: If you are walking into Mexico (rather than driving), there will be a desk somewhere near the crossing area.
- After locating the INM or Instituto Nacional de Migración desk, fill out the form (bring a pen).
- Give the form and your passport (or passport card) to the agent. He or she will ask you a few questions (like how long you're going to be in Mexico) and then fill out his or her portion of the form.
- If you are staying longer than seven days, take your form over to the bank window to pay.
- After paying, go back to the INM agent and show your receipt and get the FMM stamped.
Getting An FMM When Flying to Mexico
FMMs are usually handed out on the plane or available when you land in Mexico. The cost is included in your airfare.
If you are flying into any of the airports listed above, the airline will not be handing out the FMMs. Instead, INM will stamp your passport and write in an expiration date. It looks like this:
As of October 2015, there is no longer a "free zone" in which no FMM is required. All foreigners entering Mexico via the free zone or not must get am FMM, minus the exceptions above.
Consequences of Not Having an FMM
Keep your FMM with you when you are out and about as there are occasional immigration checkpoints at which you'll need to show it.
If you do not get an FMM, any of the following could happen:
- You may be detained and then told you need to go back to the border and get one.
- Depending upon your insurer, it's possible that your vehicle insurance will not cover you if you are in an accident. Check your policy.
- If you need to be evacuated by air due to a medical emergency, you will have difficulty, as an FMM must be presented for air travel (even in emergencies).
For How Long Is My FMM is Valid?
The maximum duration of an FMM is 180 days, but this is entirely up to the issuing agent. They will write on the bottom of the card how many days your FMM is valid, or write in an expiration date on the stamp in your passport. There have recently been changes to how long FMMs are issued for. You may need documentation, like hotel receipts, etc. to prove the duration of your stay.
Although the FMM used to be good for only one entry, INM changed the rules for the border area and now allows them to be used for multiple entries. You can keep it and use it until it expires. If you come-and-go often (like for the weekends), it's convenient to get it for 180 days and keep re-using it until it expires.
If you are flying out, you turn in your FMM at the check-in desk (you won't be allowed to board without doing so).
Stays Longer than 180 Days
If you plan on being in Mexico longer than 180 days, you should apply for a residency visa. There are two types, Residente Temporal and Residente Permanente. These are obtained from a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico (except in special situations). Both have minimum financial requirements that you must meet.
When you're planning your trip to Mexico, don't forget to put the FMM on your travel checklist. Be sure to stop at the immigration (INM) location at the border and get one and get your FMM stamped (don't forget to do this if you bought it online).
Your Mexico Vacation Checklist:
- A Visa if you are from a country where it is required,
- FMM tourist permit,
- If you are driving, you'll need the documents for obtaining a Temporary importation permit (if not traveling in the free zone),
- A permission letter if your vehicle is financed,
- Mexico auto insurance, if driving,
- and these 5 items you should pack!
Enjoy your trip!