According to, starting March 1, 2010, Mexican border officials will begin asking to see US citizens’ passports before they leave the US.

You may be asking yourself, “What else is new?” After all, technically passports have been  required for US citizens traveling to Mexico since June 1st, 2009, when the final phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) went into effect. However, the WHTI requirements only require US citizens to show their passports when they re-enter the United States. The Mexican government didn’t care if you had your passport or not, so you could get across the Mexican border without it-you would just run into trouble trying to get back into the US.

The US government also can’t keep you from re-entering the US as long as you are a US citizen. They can just detain you until they have verified your citizenship. So, as long as you were willing to risk being held up for hours on the way back in, you could hop over the Mexican border without a passport.

In some cases, US citizens have been unaware of the new requirements, and assumed when they were allowed across the Mexican border that they must have had all of the documents they need to get back.  Read an Oklahoma newspaper columnist’s account of just such an incident here.

As of March 1st, this will no longer be an issue since the requirements to get into Mexico will be the same as the requirements to get out of Mexico.

So, remember-starting March 1st, if you want to go to Mexico, you will need a passport to get across the border.  According to, it is not yet clear whether or not closed-loop cruise ship passengers and children under the age of 16 will be exempt from Mexico’s new passport requirements as they are under the WHTI. We’ll keep you posted once that information is available.

Remember, applying for a passport takes at least 6 weeks if you apply for regular processing, and at least 3 weeks if you apply for the government’s expedited service.  If you have a trip to Mexico coming up sooner than that, a private passport expediting service like offers the easiest solution, with processing times as low as 24 hours.

Apply for your new passport today!