Planning a trip to Mexico? Fantastic! You won’t regret visiting such an enriching and very misunderstood country! But first, understanding the Mexico Tourist Visa requirements and entry process is essential for a hassle-free travel experience. Mexico offers a relatively straightforward process for most nationals, allowing tourists to stay for up to 180 days.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the full process of how to obtain the Mexico Tourist Visa aka the FMM Tourist Card (Forma Migratoria Múltiple), which acts as a visa on arrival. And whether you choose to complete the form online or at the border, we’ve got you covered with all the information you need to ensure a smooth entry into Mexico.
Discover the entry fees, proof of payment, visa length, and more, so you can make the most of your time exploring Mexico’s captivating coasts, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage.
Table of Contents
- Mexico Tourist Visa + Entry Requirements
- Mexico Tourist Visa Entry Fees:
- Mexico Tourist Visa Length
- Apply for FMM Tourist Card Online:
- Complete FMM Tourist Card At The Border
- Overstaying Your Visa in Mexico
- Final Checklist
Mexico Tourist Visa + Entry Requirements
For the majority of nationals, visiting Mexico is relatively easy. Here is a handy website you can visit, enter your country, and confirm any country-specific requirements!
Regardless of nationality, to enter Mexico, all visitors must complete the FMM Tourist Card, which is not a visa but a document and record of your visit, hold a valid passport with a minimum validity of 6 months and have at least one blank page.
What is the FMM Tourist Card?
The FMM Tourist Card (Forma Migratoria Múltiple) is a mandatory entry requirement for all foreign nationals, despite their visa status. It allows for single entry, only, and is valid for up to 180 days.
We should mention there have been whispers that Mexican Immigration is phasing out the FMM Tourist Card, in replace of a stamp and the number of days you’re entitled to stay written within your passport. In our experience, with over three border crossings in and out of Mexico, we still find ourselves with FMM Cards (as of 2023).
The FMM Tourist Card must be kept safe, handing it back to immigration when you leave Mexico.
Arriving via Air:
If flying into Mexico, either the airline will hand out the FMM form, or you will find them before the airport’s immigration, alongside counters and pens to complete.
Arriving by Border
When crossing overland into Mexico, you can complete the form and pay at any official and operating border. You can also apply and pay online, but more on that later.
Mexico Tourist Visa Entry Fees:
There is an entry fee for Mexico, the cost is 687MXN. If you choose to fly, this fee is already included in your airline ticket.
However, should you cross into Mexico overland, you will need to pay this fee. Either in advance online or on arrival at the border (you can pay with cash or credit/debit card at the border).
Tip For Exiting Mexico By Land
For those that fly into Mexico yet plan to exit via a land crossing into Guatemala, Belize or the USA – listen up!
As you depart Mexico, you will need to hand over your FMM card and proof that you have paid your tourist entry fee. This is to avoid paying the fee again when exiting.
For proof of payment, as soon as you confirm your flight ticket to Mexico, check if you received an itemised receipt from the airline. You can easily request this but do it straight away. The longer you leave it, the more difficult it is for the airline to retrieve it! The receipt should include a line with confirmed tourist tax cost next to, or under, miscellaneous fees & taxes. Save it to your phone and keep it safe, alongside your FMM.
When exiting Mexico via land, immigration officials may ask you to provide this proof of payment. If you can’t they will make you pay the 687MXN entry fee again. Sometimes even marking the fees up a little. Whatever you do, bring the exact fee. We’ve witnessed people getting screwed because the officials claimed to not have any change!
If you find yourself in a situation where they may be trying to ask for more than the official fee, which is unlikely, simply tell them that you want a receipt and proof of payment. Pay only the official fee.
Mexico Tourist Visa Length
While tourists are entitled to a maximum stay of 180 days in Mexico, the actual duration is at the discretion of the immigration officer. Some will happily stamp you in with no questions, while others may try to determine how many days to give you. The official might ask about your travel plans. It is worth having any confirmed accommodation bookings and a rough (verbal) itinerary to provide when asked about your travel plans.
The immigration officer will write the visa length within your Mexico entry stamp in your passport. Always check your visa stamp and confirm how many days you received it before leaving the immigration counter. Being entitled to 90 days does not mean you will receive it so don’t forget to check!
Onward Proof of Travel Hack
To increase your chances of receiving the full 180 days, a little tip that has worked for us several times now is to mention you have a flight departing Mexico booked within the 6-month date, the reservation close to the end of the 180 days. To seal the deal, use our Onward Proof of Travel Hack to have actual flight reservations flash!
Apply for FMM Tourist Card Online:
You may want to complete your FMM form and pay online, ahead of arriving at the Mexican border. While it isn’t necessary to do as you can pay and apply directly at the border, in our instance we wanted to pay the fee online instead of carrying the cash.
Firstly, to start the online application please visit the official website – here. The application itself is easy enough but a little time-consuming, and the website is woeful with glitches. Enough to make you want to give up! So let us be a helping hand:
Step #1: Visit the Official Website
Visit the website and find several languages you can translate the site into. Click the + icon next to ‘Land’ and scroll down to find the ‘I have read and accept the terms and conditions box (no joke, it took us ages to cop this!).
The page will jump to the application form so scroll down. Complete the form, including your port of entry, date of entry, departure, and personal details. We came up against some errors in the date fields, via the dodgy date selector box, so we manually typed them in the correct format instead.
Step #2: Save Application Reference Number
Once the form is complete, it can get a little complicated. You will see a notice like the one below to include reference numbers (For the sake of this post, we used fake info!) Keep all this info and these numbers safe for now!
Copy the link, similar to the one highlighted below, and paste it into your browser. This will take you to the services portal page.
Step #3 Create Account
On the Services Portal Page, select the ‘Portal de Servicos’ option and create an account. We had to enter all our details again and verify via email. But with access to the portal, you can pay to retrieve your information at any time and pay online quite easily.
On the main Servicios Disponibles page, start by registering your documents. You can take a picture or upload a copy of your passport, crop, adjust and save. The system will grab your details. Make sure all fields are complete, correct and save.
Now you will have access to your FMM form. Save a copy online and also download it to print it for immigration.
Step #4 Pay Online
To pay online, go back to the Servicios Disponibles homepage, and select the ‘Pagos en Línea’ option. On the fresh ‘Pay Online’ window, select FMME from the dropdown before starting the processing.
To verify your application, enter the ‘Migratory form’ (immigration form) number you saved from your initial application earlier, and complete the Captcha. You will see your earlier application appear along with the price and option to pay online. We used our credit card to pay.
Step #5 Save, Download, Print and Present
Finally, check your emails (emails sent from firstname.lastname@example.org) that confirm your payment. We recommend saving a copy and downloading it to print. Bring physical copies of both proof of payment and your completed FMM card with you to immigration.
The main advantage of applying online is that you don’t need to carry much cash or worry about your card not working at the border. The disadvantages are the application itself and the fact you have to print physical copies.
Complete FMM Tourist Card At The Border
Of course, you can skip the above slight headache and simply apply and pay for your FMM Tourist Card at any of the official borders.
Forms are available, as is a bank so you can pay with cash – in Mexican Pesos or USD. It is easy to exchange any leftover currencies at these border crossings, thanks to the many exchange touts hanging around. But obviously, check the rate beforehand! In our experience, we’ve rarely been screwed.
You can also pay your tourist fee at the border bank with your credit or debit card but make sure you have internet access should you have to approve the payment via your online banking app!
Whatever way you pay, you will receive a receipt. Again, keep this safe for when you eventually leave Mexico!
Overstaying Your Visa in Mexico
Avoid overstaying your Mexican visa by triple-checking your visa stamp and confirming the days the immigration officer gave you on arrival. It will be written in pen within your visa stamp in your passport.
While many foreign nationals are entitled to 90 -180 days, it does not mean you will receive it. We cannot stress enough how important it is to check your stamp!
If you find you have overstayed your visa, you will need to pay a penalty fee when you leave Mexico. The penalty fee is 687MXN i.e. the full tourist visa fee. Thankfully you are still allowed to re-enter and return to Mexico. You won’t be blacklisted for overstaying! And while the above penalty fee may not seem like much and therefore may tempt you to overstay your visa anyway, please understand the risks of travelling around the country on an expired visa.
For example, as you travel overland when crossing state lines, you may be expected to present your passport and visa to officials at checkpoints, or to those who board public transport (this is very common on overnight buses so have your passport to hand!). If they discover you are travelling on an expired visa you will be removed and detained. So trust us. It is not worth overstaying even if the penalty fee seems worth it.
The only solution to an expired visa is to visit the nearest immigration office to pay the penalty fee. For a full list of INM offices in Mexico, see here. Or, since you will need to leave the country anyway, make your way to the nearest border crossing or airport and pay the penalty fee before departing the country.
If you plan to return to Mexico on a fresh new visa, you will need to stay out of the country for 24 hours minimum before crossing back in. As you return, try to avoid the immigration officer who stamped you out and instead visit a fresh face. This is to avoid any questioning or have minimal days applied to your new visa.
Now you’re equipped with all the essential information about Mexico’s Tourist Visa, and the FMM Tourist Card. Whether you choose to apply online or complete the process at the border, remember to keep your documents safe throughout your stay. As a final checklist make sure you have:
- FMM Tourist Card (if applicable)
- Passport with a minimum validity of 6 months
- At least two blank pages in your passport
- Entry fee (if crossing by overland border)
- Proof of payment of tourist tax/entry fee via itemised receipt (applies only if you fly into Mexico)
- Always check your stamp and confirm the number of days before leaving immigration
And there you have it, everything you need to know about the Mexican Tourist Visa aka the FMM Tourist Card. Feel free to ask any questions or share updated information in the comments below to help fellow travellers.
Enjoy exploring the incredible coasts, cities, and cultures of Mexico!