Get your paperwork in place to play on Cancun beaches

If you've booked a trip to Cancun, get ready to recline on pristine beaches, explore ecological theme parks, sail to tropical islands and discover the secrets of Mayan culture. But before embarking on your trip by land, sea or air, be sure to pack your passport or passport card, along with other travel documents to ensure you’re allowed entry into Mexico and that you can return home once your vacation ends.

By land and sea

U.S. travelers are in luck – since Mexico is America's neighbor to the south, you'll enjoy two nice benefits:

  • You can use either a passport or passport card as acceptable identification for entry and exit between Mexico and the U.S. if you are driving or arriving by sea (but not by air). The smaller and less-expensive passport card is accepted at both land-border crossings and sea ports-of-entry.
  • You do not need a visa to travel into Mexico. Since the U.S. is on Mexico’s no visa required list, tourists may instead apply for a visitor’s permit known as the FMM, or Forma Migratoria Multiple. Vacationers traveling to Cancun from other countries that are not on Mexico’s no-visa list will need to bring their passports and apply for a visa. 

By air

The situation is a little different for tourists flying into Cancun. Even those visitors from the U.S. need a valid passport (not just a passport card) in order to board any flight between the states and Mexico. Why? A passport is the only document approved for international travel by air.


The Cancun Airport website states that U.S. travelers can enter Cancun with alternate forms of ID, such as a birth certificate and a driver’s license. However, to return to the U.S. from Mexico, you must have a passport.

Get immunized

Be sure to check with the Centers for Disease Control to find out about immunizations and health advisories for Cancun. In addition, check with a doctor to ensure that all routine immunizations are up to date before your departure. Your primary care physician also helps determine if you need any additional vaccinations for higher risk illnesses that might be contracted on your trip, such as typhoid and Hepatitis A.