Mexico Entry Regulations

Entrance and Exit Regulations-

The enchantment of Mexico is but a bridge away from much of Texas. Visitors find Mexican shops and markets colorful and fascinating, filled with a variety of gift, handicraft and art items at attractive prices. The people of Mexico are gracious and friendly.

Border crossing is easy and simple; there are no fees other than for auto insurance or special permits such as hunting and fishing licenses, bridge tolls, and U.S. Customs duties as necessary.

General Travel Information-

U.S, citizens must carry proof of citizenship when crossing into Mexico. Officials of the National Immigration Institute, posted at border entry points, require a passport, birth certificate, voter registration card, or any other document that proves citizenship. This is a change from the past. The law applies to all border cities, and is an attempt to implement uniform immigration laws on both northern and southern borders.

On returning to Texas from Mexico, a stop at U.S. customs is required, stating nationality and declaring Mexican purchases.

A Mexican tourist card is required for visiting Mexico beyond the border cities, or for stays longer than 72 hours. The free tourist cards are available from Mexican immigration authorities at the border and also at Mexican consulates and Mexican government tourist offices in the US. A birth certificate or other proof of US citizenship, such as voter registration, military ID showing place of birth, or passport is required to obtain the tourist card.

Canadian citizens who visit Mexico from Texas should have a passport or birth certificate. Other foreign nationals should have a passport and appropriate visas both for entering Mexico and returning to the U.S.

Driving Into Mexico

An automobile permit is required when driving into the interior of Mexico beyond the border cities. The permits, good for up to 180 days, may be obtained at the border after the tourist card has been stamped by Mexican immigration officials. A $10 fee must be paid by the vehicle’s owner using a major credit card on whose face the word "bank" appears. Vehicle Title of Ownership is required. If the vehicle owner is not in the party, written permission from the owner for a specific time period must be presented. The individual to whom the car permit is issued will have his tourist card stamped to that effect, and it is mandatory that he accompany the auto and surrender the permit upon leaving Mexico.

Auto tourists must stop at Mexico’s Federal Inspection Points located on all principal highways to the interior, usually about 12 miles from the border. There the auto permit must be presented for inspection, and baggage inspection may also be required.

Mexican Auto Insurance

According to Mexican civil statutes, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in Mexico without auto mobile insurance issued by a Mexican insurance company. In the past, most U.S. insurance companies offered provisions to adjust claims arising from auto accidents in the immediate border cities of Mexico (Endorsement 74). Although that endorsement may still be carried on U.S. policies, Mexican authorities no longer recognize it, and their law is explicit: Drivers must be covered by Mexican insurance. Auto accidents are considered criminal offenses in Mexico, and regardless of fault, involved vehicles are usually impounded.

Short-term Mexican auto insurance is available from numerous agencies and travel services on the Texas side of the border.

Returning to the U.S.

Each U.S. citizen may bring back Mexican purchases valued to $400 retail, duty free every 30 days. Federal duty fees will be assessed on the value of articles above the $400 exemption. NOTE: many items of Mexican manufacture, such as handicrafts and jewelry, may qualify for exemption above the $400 limit; ask for GSP brochure on special exemptions from U.S. Customs and shop till you drop!

Federal Law permits only one liter of duty-free alcoholic beverages to be brought back by each adult U.S. citizen each 30 days. Alcoholic beverages in excess of the limit are subject to duty and internal revenue tax. In addition, Texas law requires a state tax on all alcoholic beverages brought in from Mexico.

Foreign-Made Articles Taken Into Mexico

Foreign-made articles such as cameras, watches and jewelry previously acquired in the U.S. or elsewhere, should be registered with U.S. Customs before entering Mexico. Without proof of prior possession, such articles may be dutiable when brought back into the U.S.

Mexican Currency

Visitors to Mexico border cities will seldom need Mexican currency. U.S. dollars are readily accepted at the current exchange rate. Mexican banks, large hotels / motels and tourist service facilities provide currency exchange if needed.


Both Mexico and the U.S. enforce rather stringent regulations about animal pets, and many visitors to Mexico find it more convenient to leave pets at veterinary boarding facilities in Texas border cities. For pets taken into Mexico and returned to the U.S., owners must present a rabies vaccination certificate dated not less than one month nor more than 12 months previously, and International health Certificate (form 77-043) signed by a veterinarian stamped (fee $20) at the border or at the Mexican consulate where tourist cards are obtained.

Prohibited Imports

Upon entering the U.S. from Mexico, certain articles are either prohibited or subject to various quarantines, limitations or special permit requirements. Those articles include all narcotics or drugs, weapons, certain trademarked articles, most fruits, vegetables, plants, animals, birds and meats, and products made from the hides, shells, feathers, or teeth of endangered species. If you are unsure of regulations governing the import of a wildlife product, check with local authorities of U.S. Embassy before making a purchase. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Law Enforcement, P.O. box 28006, 23rd St., NW, Washington, DC 20037, can provide information.

Hunting and Fishing In Mexico

Mexican authorities must be contacted for current regulations, hunting and fishing licenses, and procedures for taking in firearms and ammunition. Any game legally killed in Mexico may be brought back into Texas, but it must be accompanied by a statement, issued by U.S. Customs at the border, that the dead animal originated in Mexico. There are no restrictions on bringing fish caught in Mexico into Texas, but they must be declared at the Texas port of entry.


The above information is only a general summary of primary travel regulations between the U.S, and Mexico. For further details or significant changes that may have been effected since this printing, contact the immigration and customs authorities of the appropriate country.


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