Mexico tourist visas, known as FMM cards, are mandatory for foreign visitors to Mexico. Some travelers may be confused on this point as the laws have recently changed. Before, travelers who planned to remain in the border zone could visit for up to 72 hours without the need for an FMM card. Immigration is a federal institute in Mexico, so even though local municipalities encourage short-term tourists by not enforcing federal laws – it’s still the law. According to federal law visitors in Mexico must have a Mexico tourist permit or visa.
What Is a Mexico Tourist Visa (FMM)?
A Mexico tourist permit is referred to in Mexico as a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM). It is a tourist permit that is usually valid for up to 180 days. It is not a work permit; foreign guests who plan to work will need a work visa. The tourist card is a permit that allows the visitor to remain legally in the country for a period of time. And as of 2020, you can cross back and forth without having to turn it in.
Who needs the FMM – Tourist Visa?
Anyone who is not a citizen of Mexico, who visits the country. This includes children, the military, the disabled, bikers, surfers, expatriates. Only your pets are exempt from this requirement. (See “Bringing your Dog to Mexico” article for more information on pets in Mexico).
When do you purchase the card?
You can purchase in advance, or as soon as you enter Mexico.
Where do I purchase the FMM – Tourist Visa?
If you want to save some time and print your immigration permit (FMM Online) ahead of time, the Mexican Immigration office has a fillable online FMM form here:
Be sure to apply at least seven days before you plan to enter Mexico. You can fill out the application online and pay online as well. Remember, for the tourist visa to be valid, it must be stamped by an immigration office when you enter the country. So even if you come prepared by completing it online, you still need to stop at the border and have it stamped.
As an alternative, you can purchase a paper FMM at immigration when you cross the border, and pay for it at the Banorte/Banamex next door. At every border crossing, you will find a parking area at the immigration offices identified by the INM logo. There should be plenty of parking. Simply park, present your national identification and pay the fee.
How Much Does an FMM Cost?
The cost of a Mexico tourist visa is $30 USD. In many instances, the visa may be included in travelers’ airfare or cruise packages. If you’re planning to drive to Mexico, you can purchase your Mexico tourist visa from a Mexican consulate before you leave for your visit or upon entry to Mexico.
How Long Is the Tourist Visa Good for?
Tourists can typically stay in Mexico on a tourist permit for up to six months or 180 days. However, the immigration official who stamps the permit may issue a shorter period of time like 30 or 60 days with the understanding that the traveler can request to extend their permit. No travelers may stay on a tourist permit for longer than 180 days. If you do stay longer than allowed, you may be required to pay a fine. Permits for less than 7 days are free.
Keep Your Mexico Tourist Permit Safe
You no longer need to present your Mexico tourist card when leaving the country, but be sure you keep it safe. Many travelers keep the permit along with their passports. If you lose the permit, you can get a replacement from a nearby immigration office but you’ll be required to pay a fee.
What about Vehicle Permits
Fortunately, the federal government established Tourist Free Zones so that you can drive freely within the specified area without importing your car. See this article for more information on Vehicle Permit for Mexico.
What Else Do I Need When I Cross Into Mexico?
For a complete checklist please see our Border Crossing page.
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