U.S. Passport Policy for Cancun Travel
Prior to spring 2010, U.S. citizens wishing to visit Cancun did not need a visa or passport. As they entered Mexico, they were asked for a photo ID and given a tourist card known as an FMM, which was valid for up to 180 days. Now things are a bit more complicated. Visitors are currently required to show immigration officers a valid form of international identification, such as an enhanced driver’s license, a passport or a passport card to enter Cancun as a tourist. The most-appropriate form of ID depends on whether you’re arriving by land, air or sea.
Enhanced Driver’s License
In certain states, a standard-issue driver's license can be upgraded to an enhanced driver’s license, or EDL. EDL holders may travel to Cancun without additional travel documents provided they arrive by land or sea. The EDL has been approved by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative as a valid form of international identification. As of November 2012, the EDL is available in New York, Michigan, Washington State and Vermont.
If you’re traveling to Cancun by car, bus or boat, and you reside in a state that does not offer EDLs, a U.S. passport card will suffice. Cheaper and smaller than traditional passports, the wallet-sized passport card is an international travel document that allows U.S. citizens to cross land and seaport borders throughout Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.
Those flying into Cancun must present an official U.S. passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of travel. Those who do not possess a valid U.S. passport may be allowed to enter Mexico, but they will not be allowed to board an international flight bound for the U.S. In other words, tourists may be able to visit Cancun but will not be allowed to return home.
In addition to a valid form of international ID, visitors should request a forma migratoria multiple, or FMM, prior to crossing the border. The FMM is the official Mexico tourist card. U.S. citizens can visit Cancun for up to 72 hours without a tourist card, but it does not hurt to pick one up at the immigration check point, just in case. Should you become unavoidably detained, or should an immigration or police officer ask to see your travel documents, a valid FMM can help establish your legal status as a tourist.