Do I Need a Visa or FMM to go to Mexico?
Planning a trip to Mexico? You may be asking "Do I need a visa to go to Mexico?" The answer is maybe.
A visa is an official document allowing you to enter a given country and is usually stamped or glued into your passport. In Mexico, an FMM tourist permit is required, 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, including the U.S. and Canada. See list below.
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. Having a visa from the consulate DOES NOT guarantee you entry into Mexico.
Even if you are not required to get a visa to visit Mexico, you will still need documentation to show you are in the country as a tourist.
Do I Need an FMM for Mexico?
You must have an FMM Tourist Permit for entry into Mexico, even if you are coming from a country where a visa is required. An FMM or Forma Migratoria Múltiple is often referred to as a "tourist visa," though it is not officially a visa. Therein lies the confusion!
An FMM is required for tourist entry into Mexico and allows foreign visitors to stay short-term for a maximum of 180 days. If you wish to stay in Mexico longer than 180 days, you will need to apply for temporary or permanent residency.
FMM's are forms or cards issued by Mexican immigration, INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración).
How Much Does an FMM Cost?
If you are visiting less than 7 days, the FMM is free. Otherwise, it costs $687 pesos (about $38 USD) per person as of May 2023.
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.
Are There Exceptions to Those Needing an FMM?
No. 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.
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.
Where to Get Your FMM
Get your FMM at your point of entry into Mexico or online, if traveling by land. FMMs are only available at ports of entry with the exceptions of the Nogales, Arizona and Eagle Pass, Texas locations. You CANNOT get your FMM elsewhere in Mexico.
Immigration Locations South of the Border
- Nogales (Arizona/Sonora)
For Nogales, immigration is at KM 21 (kilometer 21) on Mexico Federal highway 15D. Follow signs to Hermosillo Cuota, Mexican Highway 15D to KM 21.
- Eagle Pass (Eagle Pass, Texas/Piedras Negras, Coahuila)
From the Eagle Pass border crossing, drive south to Allende on Mexican Federal Highway 57. You'll find immigration at KM 53.4. Expect Allende to be busy.
If you are flying, do not get an FMM online. Your airline ticket includes the fee, so you would be paying twice.
If you are entering Mexico by sea, you will need to purchase your FMM online. You must include a spreadsheet with your watercraft and passenger information. You will need to register your vessel, provide a trip itinerary, and pay the fee. The Sportfishing Association of California's website provides easy directions and links.
**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. Beware of 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 ($687 pesos or about $38 USD per person as of May 2023). When buying your FMM online, use only this website https://www.inm.gob.mx/, ensuring you are on the Mexican government's website.
How to Get an FMM for Land Travel
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) or you can say "necesito FMM" (I need an FMM).
If you are walking into Mexico (rather than driving), there will be a desk somewhere near the crossing area.
If you did not purchase online, complete the following steps in order. If you bought your FMM online, proceed to step four below.
- 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.
How to Get 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.
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.
INM will stamp your passport and write in an expiration date at customs. It should look like this:
How to Get an FMM for Sea Travel
The Sportfishing Association of California offers an easy and comprehensive guide on how to obtain your FMM for sea travel. You must provide your watercraft information, a trip itinerary, passenger information, and pay the fee online. Keep all paperwork and receipts with you in the event your vessel is stopped by the Mexican Navy.
Do I Need an FMM if Traveling in the Free Zone?
As of October 2015, there is NOT a "free zone" where an FMM is not required. ALL foreigners entering Mexico, whether in the free zone or not, MUST GET AN FMM, minus the few exceptions mentioned above.
Consequences of Not Having an FMM
Keep your FMM with you at all times as there are occasional immigration checkpoints where 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.
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.
How Many Times Can I Enter Mexico with My FMM?
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).
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 your FMM, AND get it stamped (don't forget to do this if you bought it online). It may seem like the border agents are waving you on. Those agents are customs (Aduanas) agents, not immigration. YOU STILL MUST STOP at immigration to get your FMM.
Mexpro wants to make your travel to Mexico as easy as possible, so be sure you get your FMM so you don't have to deal with unwanted delays.
Use Our Mexico Vacation Checklist Before You Go to Mexico:
- 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 traveling outside the free zone),
- A permission letter if your vehicle is financed,
- Mexico auto insurance, if driving,
- and these 5 highly recommended items!