The Guide to Mexico Passport Expiration Rules

Many countries require at least six months of passport validity remaining to enter, but that's not the case for Mexico.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Edited by Meg Lee

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International travel is generally fun, and Mexico may be one of the best destinations for travelers from the United States. This is due to its stunning beaches, favorable exchange rate and, of course, its easy access from the U.S.

But the passport expiration rules in Mexico might keep you from having fun south of the border.

Let’s take a look at Mexico’s six-month passport rule this year, as well as ways to travel to Mexico without a passport and tips for getting your passport renewed.

Passport expiration rules for Mexico

Mexico’s passport validity rules are fairly lenient, especially when compared to other countries.

Unlike in Europe, where U.S. travelers must have at least six months of validity remaining on their passport when they visit, there has been no Mexico six-month passport rule in recent years.

Air travelers

According to the U.S. Department of State’s website, travelers entering by air need only have a passport that is currently valid.

🤓Nerdy Tip

There is no Mexico passport rule of six months. However, those arriving in the country do need to have at least one blank passport page in their book for stamps.

Overland travelers

If you’re entering by land, you'll need a valid passport. If you plan to travel beyond the immediate border area (approximately 12 miles), you will need to stop at the National Migration Institute office to obtain an entry permit.

Note that there are some exceptions to this entry permit rule, such as travel into Baja California, so be sure to confirm what’s required of you before you depart.

By water

The process differs for those entering by water, especially if they're on a cruise or a private boat.

Although all travelers entering Mexico by water need to have a valid passport, there are some exceptions for closed-loop cruises that depart and return to the same U.S. port. In these cases, U.S. citizens need only bring their birth certificates and a valid government-issued ID to board their cruise.

Those on private boats are able to use a passport card rather than a passport book if they’re entering territorial waters but do not go ashore. Otherwise, they’ll need to meet all of Mexico’s standard entry requirements.

Can I travel to Mexico with an expired passport?

Even though there aren’t any passport requirements of six months validity for Mexico, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to travel passport-free. This is especially important to note if you have an expired passport.

Although it may be possible to enter Mexico by a land crossing without needing to present documentation, it’s still something that you need to have with you on your person.

Renewing your passport

Don’t meet Mexico’s passport expiration rules? You’ll need to renew your passport if you want to enter the country.

If your passport is not damaged and was issued less than 15 years ago, among other criteria, you’ll be able to renew your passport by mail using the DS-82 form.

Here are all the requirements for renewing by mail:

  • You must submit your passport with your application.

  • The passport was issued when you were age 16 or older.

  • The passport was issued within the last 15 years.

  • The passport was never reported as lost or stolen.

  • The passport is not damaged other than normal wear and tear.

  • The passport has your current name or you’re able to provide legal documentation of your name change.

If your passport doesn’t meet all of these requirements, you’ll have to complete an application for a new passport instead. This is done in person through the DS-11 form.

Traveling to Mexico without a passport

It’s possible to travel to Mexico without a passport, though the circumstances in which you can do so are limited.

First, there are those closed-loop cruises that we talked about. For example: You board your cruise from a U.S. port, such as San Diego, cruise south down to Mexico and debark in Cabo San Lucas. There is no passport control at the cruise terminal; you’re simply able to get off the ship. At departure, you’ll board, sail north and return to San Diego.

When debarking in San Diego you’ll go through U.S. immigration. If you don’t have a passport, you can instead present your birth certificate and ID.

Second, it’s possible to enter Mexico by land using a passport card.

These allow citizens to reenter the U.S. from Mexico, Bermuda, Canada and Caribbean countries by land or sea. They cost less than a passport book, but they're not valid for other international travel or any travel by air.

Passport expiration rules for Mexico, recapped

If you're interested in traveling to Mexico in the near future, you'll want to be certain that you meet the eligibility requirements.

Although Mexico is more lenient than some other countries, you'll still need to have an unexpired passport or passport card, depending on your method of entry.

Otherwise, some limited travel options exist for those without a passport — though you'll always want to research entry requirements before traveling internationally.

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