A passport or other WHTI-compliant travel document is necessary for U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling to Mexico. You may not be asked to present your passport if entering Mexico by land, but you will surely need to present one upon your return to the United States.
In the past, U.S. and Canadian citizens could travel to Mexico without a passport. In 2004, the US government initiated the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) with the goal of strengthening border security. With this initiative, passport requirements were phased in gradually depending on the mode of transportation used to enter and exit the country.
Timeline of passport requirement implementation:
- Travel by air: In January 2007 the US Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) required all travelers entering or re-entering the United States by air to present a passport.
- Travel by land or sea: As of June 2009, US citizens entering the United States by land or sea are required to present a passport or other WHTI compliant travel document such as a passport card.
Exceptions and Special Cases
There are a few exceptions to the passport requirement for travel to Mexico.
Passports for Children:: The passport requirement is waived in some cases for minors. Read about travel documents for kids.
Permanent Residents of the US: Document requirements for lawful permanent residents of the United States did not change under the WHTI. Permanent residents must present their I-551 Permanent Resident Card when entering the United States. A passport is not required to enter the US, but you may need one to enter Mexico, depending on your nationality.
A passport is the best form of international identification and having one may help you avoid hassles when crossing borders. Find out how to get a passport.
More frequently asked questions about Mexico travel documents and entry requirements:
- What other travel documents are accepted for land and sea travel to Mexico?
- What is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative?
- What is a tourist card, and do I need one to travel to Mexico?
- Does my child need a passport?
- I'm Canadian - do I need a passport to travel to Mexico?
- What is a passport card and how do I get one?