Mexico is a vibrant country full of incredible culture and wonderful people – no wonder it's so continuously popular with visitors.

But navigating tourist permits, visas and officialdom can be daunting when you’re headed to a foreign country, especially one that revels in red tape. Have no fear! Here’s exactly what you need to know about entry requirements for Mexico.

Who doesn't need a visa for Mexico?

Citizens of the US, Canada, EU, Israel, Japan and dozens of other countries are among those who do not require a visa to enter Mexico as tourists.

The same goes for any visitor, regardless of nationality, who is a permanent resident of or has a valid visa from the US (including an H1-B visa), Canada, the United Kingdom and any country in the Schengen Area or Pacific Alliance.

Notwithstanding visas, all foreign visitors must have a passport with at least six months validity and a completed Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM), Mexico’s tourist card or stamp.

Where do I get an FMM?

The paper version of the FMM is gradually being phased out across Mexico and replaced with a passport stamp. However, when needed, FMM forms are available at border crossings, international airports and ports; if you’re flying to Mexico, the form will be provided to you on-board your aircraft. The FMM form can also be completed online, printed and presented to immigration officials.

Processing an FMM costs US$28, which is paid on the spot at borders and ports or is integrated into the cost of airline tickets under “fees and surcharges.”

Upon entering Mexico, immigration officials stamp the FMM or your passport, adding the number of days you’re permitted to stay. Officials can approve up to 180 days but often grant less. Be sure to ask for the number of days you’ll need to cover your visit!

When you leave Mexico, you must surrender your FMM, if it’s a paper version. Keep it safe. If you lose it, you’ll face a US$40 fine.

The requirements are a little different if you're entering Mexico by land:

  • FMMs are free for visitors staying less than seven days
  • FMMs are not required for visitors who stay less than 72 hours in the "Zona Libre" or "Free Zone" – the areas 20 to 26 km (12 to 16 miles) south of the US border
  • If you're entering through the Zona Libre but are planning to travel beyond its limits, request an FMM form when crossing the border. If you forget, you’ll be stopped upon return to the Zona Libre and made to pay for the FMM. If departing Mexico from beyond the Zona Libre, you may be fined if you don’t have an FMM.
A woman and man walking hand in hand through a resort village in Mexico
Get all your visa paperwork in order before the vacation of a lifetime in Mexico © Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Visitors requiring a visa

Chinese, Indian, Russian and South African citizens are among those who are required to have a tourist visa to enter Mexico. In addition to having a valid passport, the following must be submitted in person at the nearest Mexican embassy or consulate:

  • Visa application form
  • A color passport photograph
  • Proof of ties to an origin country (eg, a letter certifying employment or full-time study)
  • Proof of economic solvency (eg, three months of bank statements or investments)
  • Approximately US$51 fee (cash or bank transfers only)

Appointments for tourist visas at Mexican embassies and consulates must be made online with the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores. At the pre-scheduled time, the submitted documents will be reviewed, biometric data taken (photo and fingerprints) and an interview conducted by a consular agent.

Once approved, a tourist visa is valid for up to 180 days. Upon entry to Mexico, travelers with tourist visas must also have an FMM.

Can I extend my stay in Mexico?

It's no surprise that many visitors wish to extend their visa and see more of Mexico. How you do that will depend on the details of your particular visit.

If your FMM was issued for less than 180 days, you can request an extension at an immigration office. Be sure to apply well before your FMM expires! Documents needed include a valid passport, valid FMM, valid tourist visa (if necessary) and proof of sufficient funds to remain in Mexico for the intended length of stay.

If your FMM was issued for 180 days, you'll need to leave Mexico and re-enter – this triggers the issuance of a new FMM. Most travelers opt to visit a neighboring country for just a couple of days before returning.

Travelers with tourist visas should seek an extension or apply for a new visa at an immigration office. Be sure to start the process well before the visa expires, as it may take some time to process the paperwork.

Smiling female friends relaxing on a blanket on a tropical beach at sunset while on vacation in Mexico
Travel along Mexico's Pacific coast and explore its incredible beaches © Getty Images

Can I take a working holiday in Mexico?

Mexico offers a working holiday visa called a "Visa Temporal – Vacaciones y Trabajo," wherein certain foreign nationals are permitted to accept paid work in Mexico for up to 180 days. Those include citizens, aged 18 to 30, from Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Peru and South Korea.

Extensions are not permitted and the visa cannot be converted into a work visa. To obtain this visa, schedule an appointment at your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate via the website of the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores.

This article was first published June 2021 and updated October 2023

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