Mexico Travel Restrictions

…know before you go…

When the Spanish first arrived in Mexico they certainly didn’t have any travel restrictions.

They just landed, started firing their guns, and began slowly wiping out the Mayans with smallpox.

I’m not sure they even said “hola” as they went about causing chaos.

They were like, “Hi Mr. Mayan…check out how cool gunpowder is.”

Fast forward 500 years, and if you’ve got a gun out at a Mexican border, you’re going to be in serious trouble.

There are some Mexico travel restrictions in place and it’s always good to know them before you travel.

You don’t want to arrive thinking you’re Christopher Columbus and can do as you please.

Basic Mexico Travel Restrictions

For citizens of the US, Canada, most of Europe, Brazil, and Japan, you don’t need a visa to enter Mexico.

If you’re coming from most other countries, then you must organize a visa in advance of arrival.

The most obvious travel restriction is that you need a passport.

Unless you’re an American entering via land in the frontier zone, then everyone coming to Mexico will need a passport that is valid for 6 months from the date of entry.

And you can’t just come to Mexico forever.

Most people will get 180 days of visa-free travel in Mexico for the purposes of tourism.

Restrictions On Travel To Certain Mexican States

Each government produces travel advice for Mexico, which details what’s going on in the country and any areas that are full of murdering drug cartels.

For example, the US government warns people of visiting Acapulco and many central Mexican states.

These are not travel restrictions as such, as you don’t have to listen to their advice.

They will say something like “we advise against all but essential travel” or “you should defer all none essential travel.”

You always have the option of saying ‘screw you’ and going anyway.

But the reason this can be a serious travel restriction is that when they advise against travel, they also only offer limited consular assistance.

That means if you get into trouble, they’re not going to be bail you out.

Furthermore, almost all travel insurance policies are void if you travel to an area that the government advises against visiting.

Obtaining A Tourism Permit

The Mexican government dictates that all visitors must get a tourism permit.

You’ll be given a card to complete on the plane, or you get them at any border crossing.

This travel restriction is very serious, and if you try leaving without your permit, you’ll get a massive fine.

Can you imagine the Spanish sailors filling in a Mayan tourism permit?!?

Travel Restrictions For Taking Your Vehicle To Mexico

When you enter Mexico in your own vehicle, there are some additional regulations you must be aware of.

Of course, you will need to have a valid driver’s license, your passport, and valid tourism permit.

But you will also need to show a copy of the vehicle registration receipt.

Always carry a copy, as you really don’t want to lose the original.

To restrict the sales of foreign cars in Mexico, you must also complete a promise to return the vehicle form.

It basically says that you give the Mexican officials full license to chop off your balls if you fail to take the car back out of the country.

At the border, you will have to complete a form to receive a temporary vehicle importation permit.

As you can see, when it comes to Mexico travel restrictions the automobile gets a pretty rough ride.

Travel Restrictions On What You Can Take Into Mexico

Obviously the border officials have got a job to do.

If they didn’t, then you wouldn’t have a load of cable TV shows titled something like “guess what stupid thing I found in the back of this truck.”

Don’t smuggle drugs across the border.

They’re cheaper and better on the Mexican side anyway.

In general, you can’t import anything that would be detrimental to Mexico (they should have had this travel restriction 500 years ago…).

So if you’ve got posters demanding death to the president, or you’re smuggling children, then you’re going to get in trouble.

There are Mexico travel restrictions on how much alcohol and tobacco you can import.

I’m not going to give you the numbers because alcohol and tobacco are cheaper in Mexico anyway.

So why would you import any?

Any Advice For The Mexican Border?

Customs and border officials are dickheads.

Sorry for the generalization.

You’re all happy and excited about your vacation, and they just looked pissed off that they’re at work.

However, there have power.

Real power.

They can waste hours of your time searching your bags – and even refuse your entry.

So always be polite, smile, and save your terrorist impersonation for another day.

I hope this has cleared up some Mexico travel restrictions.

Remember, most things are cheaper over here, so bring an empty suitcase and enjoy!

Lots of love,


Rufus signature

It’s your turn. Do you have some advice about travel restrictions to Mexico? Please leave them in the comments section below!

6 comments on “Mexico Travel Restrictions

    • Mischievous Melissa,

      Thank you so much for the question and your inquiry about coming to Playa Del Carmen on a passport with 6 or less months left on it.

      I did some research on this, and what I found out was that there is not a 6-month rule enforced by Mexico. However, there are rules enforced by many airlines. Unfortunately, the airlines all seem to have different rules.

      I would recommend checking with your specific airline to find out if they enforce this rule or not. In fact, I would call them twice on different days to check for consistency in the answer you receive! In several places I read that some enforce rules and others don’t. You may get lucky. Nonetheless, I would not want to spend a whole bunch of money on a vacation and have your passport rejected when you go to board the plane to Mexico.

      In this case, I think it is better to be safe than sorry and check with a travel agent AND your airline to see if it is acceptable to board a plane with less than six months left on your passport.

      As a final note (and I know this is going to sound strange and esoteric), but the political situation going on between the United States and Mexico is not great at the time of this writing. Although Mexican tourism is VERY dependent on American travelers, everything government related in Mexico is sadistically bureaucratic. Mexican immigration bureaucrats think that they need to mistreat Americans in order to take revenge on them for the things that some of our politicians have said about illegal immigrants. Therefore, I would be EXTRA CAUTIONS here because, even if they don’t have a specific rule for admitting people with 6 months or less left on their passport, the immigration workers here are unpredictable. Thus, an immigration official may relentlessly hassle you for no reason.

      So the carpenter’s proverb of “measure twice and cut once” is appropriate. The only way to be 100% sure is by consulting with both a good travel agent and the airline you’ll be flying with.

      I hope this helps.

      Take care,


  1. Rufus,

    Any chance you know the current tourism policy for Playa Del Carmen, FLYING in (pretty sure i have to go to Cancun and then take a bus in, or rent a car, whichever works)?

    I want to arrive 15 August 2020 staying a week at an air BNB most likely unless I can get a killer hotel deal, leaving on the 22nd. My passport is good until Nov 2022, so no problems there. Going down to see an old artistic friend that i haven’t seen since she was a little kid. She’s originally from Argentina (met her dad while I was in the USAF while participating in the rather futile “war on drugs”. Now she’s marooned due to covid and asked me to fly down and cheer her up (she’s like family). Since I retired at 45, I’m free to go. I’m driving down to Dallas to pick up a mercedes CL600 biturbo, and I’m going to fly out of DFW down to Cancun (since there’s no direct flights to Playa Del Carmen that I can find from anywhere in the US anymore) and hopefully rent a car in Cancun and drive down to Playa (which simplifies my return to cancun to fly back to dallas)
    Let me know if cancun and play are open and what restrictions apply. I saw the “stoplight” system on the consulate site, but of course there’s no MAP of mexico showing what state has what color.

    Let me know what you can find out. My passport is good thru nov 2022, so no problems there.

    Dave Beem
    Beemer’s Racing
    Tabor IA, 51653

    • Dave,

      Everything is open again. No problem there. Still very slow, however. How long before things return to normal (pre-coronavirus state)? Couldn’t tell you.


    • Shouldn’t be any restrictions. All the restrictions from several months ago have been removed. Beaches, bars, restaurants ALL OPEN.

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