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 most likely 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 instead of 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 to get 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 and then get the FMM when you enter 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.
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).
Are There Exceptions to Those Needing an FMM?
In most cases foreigners visiting Mexico must get an FMM.
- Those flying into these International Airports, where the FMM is not required, as of September 2022.
- Benito Juarez, Mexico City
- Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
- Cancun, Quintana Roo
- Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
- La Paz, Baja California Sur
- Those persons with a temporary or permanent resident's card.
- Those persons who hold a resident's card (green 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 for less than 7 days).
Children of any age are required to get an FMM, even if they share a passport with a parent.
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).
- 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, be that by land, sea, or air. Or you can get it online prior to your trip.
**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.
Process for Getting an FMM by Land or Sea:
- 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 (INM or Instituto Nacional de Migración).
- If you are walking into Mexico (rather than driving), there will be a desk somewhere near the crossing area.
- After locating the INM 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.
- As of August 2022, Mexico is not requiring FMM's for those flying to Puerto Vallarta and Cancun International airports. This is a pilot program ONLY for air travel to these two cities.
- As of October 2015, there is no longer a "free zone" in which no FMM is required. The FMM is now required for all foreigners entering Mexico via the free zone or not, 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. 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,
- 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!