Do You Need a Passport to Go to Cancun?

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • A valid passport is required for air travel to Cancun, Mexico, from the United States.
  • For air travel, you also need a completed Multiple Migratory Form (FMM).
  • US citizens visiting Cancun for less than 6 months do not need a visa.

Of all the places in North America, Mexico is one of the most popular—and arguably the most beautiful. Cancun, in particular, is a gorgeous island with crystal-clear waters and fine white beaches. Many Americans enjoy visiting this island all year round, especially during the summer.

However, if it’s your first time, you may be wondering about the requirements for travel. Don’t worry! in this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about traveling to Cancun!

Do You Need a Passport to Go to Cancun?

If you want to know whether you need a passport to go to Cancun, well, the answer is yes.

That said, that’s not the only thing that you’re going to need. If you want to go to Cancun from the United States, there are also a couple of other things that you’re going to need.

Travel Documents Required to Travel to Mexico

As mentioned above, there are some travel documents required to travel to Mexico, particularly Cancun.

The documents you need may also differ depending on whether you’re traveling by air, sea, or land.

When Traveling by Air

Although Cancun is in Mexico, it’s not as close as it may seem to the US.

It’s a long distance away since it’s at the very end of the country. For most people, the most attractive way to travel to Cancun is by air. Not only is it the fastest way of getting there, but it’s also the most convenient.

If you want to travel by air, the first thing that you have to make sure you have is your passport.

Your passport must be valid and not expired. It should be in proper condition. It should also be a passport booklet and not the card type, which can’t be used for international flights. Lastly, it shouldn’t expire while you’re in Mexico. You can easily check this by looking at the expiration date on your passport.

Other than that, you also have to accomplish a Multiple Migratory Form, also known as FMM. Both adults and kids have to fill this form up, which is usually given by the airlines on the flight itself. Occasionally, airlines require that this form be printed out before the flight even leaves.

Whatever it is, just make sure that you don’t lose your FMM while on your trip because you’ll be asked to return it when you depart the country.

When Traveling by Sea

Although traveling by air is the most convenient, many people still opt to travel by sea. That’s because Cancun is a popular destination for various cruises.

If you don’t have a passport, this is the best and practically only way to visit Cancun, provided that you’re on a “closed-loop” cruise.

Closed-loop cruises mean that you’ll be departing and returning to the exact same port. In short, you won’t exactly be stepping foot on Mexican soil other than Cancun with this type of cruise.

With cruises, you may not have to answer the FMM because the cruise line itself will answer it for you and your companion.

The only things you need are a valid ID with your photo, such as your driver’s license, as well as proof of your US citizenship, like a birth certificate or a certification of naturalization.

That said, it’s important that you check your specific cruise’s requirements, since some cruise lines still require a passport even for closed-loop trips.

If you want to go using your own boat, ship, or yacht, you’re going to need your passport and a filled-out FMM, which you’ll be accomplishing at the harbor.

You also have to get a special boating permit from the Embassy of Mexico. This will be checked at the pier—if you don’t have one, you’ll get fined.

Additionally, be sure to bring proof of your identification with you onboard since the coast guard will also stop and check private vessels.

Do You Need a Visa to Visit Cancun?

So, do you need a visa to visit Cancun?

If you’re a US citizen and you’re visiting for less than 6 months, you don’t need to apply for a visa to visit Cancun, Mexico. This is thanks to agreements between the two countries.

However, if you’re planning to stay longer than 6 months, then you need to apply for a visa.

Also, if you’re planning to work in Cancun, regardless of how long you’re planning to stay, you need to apply for the appropriate visa type.

Additional Requirements for Traveling to Mexico

There aren’t a lot of additional requirements when traveling to Mexico – unless you’re traveling by land.

If you’re traveling by land, there are a couple of requirements that aren’t necessary when traveling by air or by sea.

For instance, you need to have a valid auto registration, as well as an active auto insurance policy.

You also need to get a temporary import permit if the car you’re using is registered in the US. You’ll be required to leave a deposit that will only get refunded after you leave Mexico. If you don’t get this document, your vehicle can be confiscated past the border.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning to rent a car once you’re in Mexico, you’ll need your driver’s license, another valid ID, your active auto insurance policy, and a major credit card. You also need to be above 21 since that’s the minimum age for renting a car in Mexico.

That said, when traveling by land, you can use your passport card and not your passport booklet. You still need to have the FMM, though.

Passport for Mexico FAQ

Still have some questions about your passport for your upcoming Mexico trip? Here are some frequently asked questions!

What to Do if You Lose Your Passport in Mexico?

If you lose your passport in Mexico, the first thing you should do is not panic. You won’t be arrested or anything just for losing your passport. What you should do is go to the nearest US embassy and report to the consulate. They’ll help you process a new passport as soon as possible.

Do Children Need Passports to Travel to Mexico?

Just like adults, children also generally need passports to travel to Mexico, even Cancun. However, there are other important guidelines when it comes to kids. For one, children below the age of 16 need to have a document authorizing them to cross the border if they’re alone. If not, they should be accompanied by an adult above the age of 18.

Who Doesn’t Need a Passport to Visit Mexico?

Most US citizens need a passport to visit Mexico. There are very few exceptions, one of which was mentioned above (a closed-loop cruise.) That said, if you’re a military service member who’s on active duty or a serving marine officer, you’re exempted from showing your passport.

Do U.S. citizens need a passport to go to Cancun, Mexico?

Yes, U.S. citizens need a valid passport to travel to Cancun, Mexico. This applies to both air and sea travel.

Can U.S. citizens use a passport card to travel to Cancun?

U.S. citizens can use a passport card for sea travel (like cruises) to Cancun, but not for air travel. For flying, a traditional passport book is required.

What travel documents do children need to travel to Cancun?

Children who are U.S. citizens must also have a valid passport to travel to Cancun. For those under 16 traveling by land or sea, a passport card or birth certificate may be acceptable.

Do non-U.S. citizens need a passport to travel to Cancun?

Non-U.S. citizens generally need a valid passport from their country of citizenship to travel to Cancun. Depending on their nationality, a visa or tourist card (FMM – Forma Migratoria Múltiple) may also be required.

How long does my passport need to be valid for travel to Cancun?

Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay in Mexico. However, it’s recommended to have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of entry.

Are there any additional entry requirements for Cancun?

Besides a passport, travelers to Cancun may need to complete an immigration form (FMM) upon arrival. This form is usually provided by airlines or at the point of entry.

Do I need a visa to travel to Cancun as a U.S. citizen?

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for tourist travel to Cancun for stays of 180 days or less. They must, however, have a valid passport and complete an FMM form.

What if my passport expires while I am in Cancun?

If your passport expires while you are in Cancun, you will need to contact your country’s consulate or embassy in Mexico to obtain a new passport before you can return home.

Can I use a driver’s license or state ID to travel to Cancun?

No, a driver’s license or state ID alone is not sufficient for international travel to Cancun. A valid passport is required.

Traveling to Cancun: Wrap-Up

As you can see, traveling to Cancun, Mexico, isn’t difficult. The requirements are fairly standard and shouldn’t be hard to accomplish. Instead of worrying, you should spend the time being excited about the trip!

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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