*Updated 5/1/18* Since June 1st, 2009, most U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico are required to carry passports to get across the border. Here are the travel requirements for each of the circumstances below to answer your question, “Do You Need A Passport To Go To Mexico?”
Flying Into/Out of Mexico
US citizens of any age flying to or from Mexico must have a US passport book, no exceptions. You should be aware that the US passport CARD is no good for air travel. The Passport Card is designed for frequent travelers by land and sea to Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Savvy travelers should always carry their passport book too.
Traveling to Mexico by Land
If you are traveling to Mexico by land, under the new rules you must have one of the following documents to re-enter the United States: US Passport Book, US Passport Card, Nexus, SENTRI or FAST card, Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL). Currently, only a small number of states offer Enhanced Driver’s Licenses
It’s best practice to carry a valid passport anytime you cross an international border.
Traveling to Mexico by Sea
Traveling to Mexico by sea is about the same as traveling to Mexico by land, unless you are on a closed-loop cruise. A closed-loop cruise is a cruise that begins and ends at the same US port. American citizens on a closed-loop cruise can use a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID AND an original or copy of their birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship to re-enter the country. Many cruise lines still recommend travelers carry a valid passport, even for closed-loop cruises. If there is an emergency or situation that requires you to change your travel plans, you will need a passport. It’s better to be safe in these situations.
Traveling with Children to Mexico
Children under the age of 16 traveling to and from Mexico by land or by sea can use their birth certificates, certificates of citizenship or naturalization certificates to re-enter the country.
Children under the age 19 traveling with an adult-chaperoned organization such as a school group, religious group, social or cultural organization, or sports team can also use their birth certificates, certificates of citizenship or certificates of naturalization.
However, children of any age traveling by air to and from Mexico must have a passport book. Again, it’s best to carry a passport to just be safe.
Passport Processing Times
Standard passport processing times are 4-6 weeks or longer. If you need a passport to go to Mexico and you’re traveling soon, RushMyPassport.com can help. We make getting a passport quick and easy by providing you with a helpful checklist and personal assistance with the application. Then, we hand-deliver your paperwork to the Department of State for super-fast processing, often as a quick as 24 hours.