Guide to Mexico’s Tourist Card and Visas for Travelers

Are you planning to visit Mexico? If so, you may know that it’s a vast country with an incredible amount to see and do. This includes visiting Teotihuacan’s 1,800-year old Aztec Pyramid of the Sun, exploring the bustling, metropolitan capital Mexico City, and enjoying sunbathing and siestas on the beaches and resorts of the Mayan Riviera, south of Cancun.

You’ll also want to taste the local cuisine, such as quesadillas (a sort of hot, filled sandwich), empanadas (hot pastries with a variety of fillings), as well as spruce up your Spanish. Say it with me – “¡Estoy pasándolo muy bien aquí!” (“I’m having a great time here!”)

Of course, before you can begin your Mexican adventure, first you need to get your travel documentation in order to be allowed to enter the country. The Mexico visa policy differs depending on your nationality:

  1. If you’re from one of 67 countries or territories including the US, UK, EU, Australia, Canada, Japan or New Zealand, you just need what’s known as a Tourist Card (which is officially called the Forma Migratoria Multiple or ‘FMM’).
  2. If you’re from Russia, Ukraine or Turkey, you require an Electronic Visa or e-Visa (officially called the Sistema de Autorización Electrónica or ‘SAE’) as well as the Tourist Card.
  3. If you’re from any other country, including China, India, Indonesia or Brazil, you need both an FMM and to obtain a traditional paper visa from your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate.

In this post, we’ll look at each of these documents in turn, courtesy of online visa service Byevisa.com.

1. About Mexico’s Tourist Card (Forma Migratoria Multiple)

All international tourists entering Mexico must acquire a Tourist Card prior to entry. To apply, you need a passport that’s valid for at least 6 months from your intended exit date from Mexico.

If you’re flying into the country, the Mexican government charges no fee for the FMM and you typically apply at the airport once your plane has landed. Alternatively, if you’re entering Mexico by land, either at the border with the USA or Canada, then there’s a cost of 29 USD. 

On the application form, you fill in information including:

  • Your full name
  • Your gender
  • Your date of birth
  • Your country of birth
  • Your country of residence
  • Your home address
  • Your country of citizenship
  • Your passport’s country of issue
  • Your passport number
  • Your passport’s issue and expiry dates
  • Your purpose of travel
  • Whether you’re arriving by land or air
  • Your point of entry in Mexico
  • Your airline’s name (if applicable)
  • Your flight number (if applicable)
  • Your intended entry and exit dates
  • Your accommodation address in Mexico
  • Your email address
  • Your telephone contact number

To save yourself the time and effort of filling in the forms by hand and potentially queuing up at the border checkpoint, you can apply online in advance using a third-party service.

Once you obtain this document, you have 30 days to enter Mexico, after which you can visit for up to 180 days. The Tourist Card is a Single Entry travel pass – this means that if you enter Mexico, exit, and then want to enter again, you’ll need to apply for a new FMM. 

¡Y ya está! (And that’s it!) With your approved FMM, you’re free to enter and enjoy your trip.

beaches are the best things to do in the riviera maya mexico

2. About Mexico’s e-Visa (Sistema de Autorización Electrónica)

As we state above, if you’re from Russia, Ukraine or Turkey, you require both a Tourist Card and an e-Visa or SAE to enter Mexico. 

This is a fully online system to obtain your travel permit using any internet-connected device. The Mexican government has set this up to allow citizens of these countries to acquire your visa without having to visit your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate, which is handy!

Please note that, if you’re a citizen of any of these three countries and you already have a valid visa from the UK, USA, Canada, Japan or Europe’s Schengen Zone, you don’t need a SAE to enter Mexico. You just need the Tourist Card and proof of your aforementioned visa.

on a boat in the riviera maya mexico

Here are the requirements and conditions for the Mexican eVisa:

  • You require a valid passport to apply.
  • You’re permitted to visit for non-renumerated activities (so you can’t work for pay).
  • The SAE is only valid if you’re arriving by air. If you’re arriving by land or sea, you’ll need a traditional paper visa.
  • You must confirm that the airline you’re flying into Mexico with participates in the e-Visa system (consult with your airline about this).

The Mexican government charges no fee for the SAE. On the application form, you fill in similar details to obtain the Tourist Card (see above).

Once your application is approved, you must print your SAE to show to Mexico’s border officials when you arrive. 

The eVisa is valid for 30 days from the date of issue to enter Mexico and, once you’ve crossed the border, you can stay for 180 days from your date of entry. It’s a Single Entry document, so you can enter and exit only once. ¡Buen Viaje! (Have a good trip!)

3. About Mexico’s Traditional Paper Visa

If you’re a citizen of any other country, such as India, China, or Brazil, then you require both a Tourist Card and a traditional visa to enter Mexico. To obtain this, you must visit your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate in your country.

the best public transportation in mexico city is walking!

You’ll need the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application form for yourself and your travel companions.
  • A passport with at least six months’ validity remaining and three blank pages for stamping.
  • Two recent color passport-sized photographs.
  • A recent bank statement to prove your ability to financially support yourself in Mexico.
  • Your return or onward travel tickets out of Mexico.
  • Proof of your hotel reservation and other attraction bookings.
  • If you’re visiting friends or family, a sponsorship invitation letter.

The visa costs around 36 USD, although you should confirm this at the embassy. You need to apply in person because, as part of the application process, your biometric details will be taken and you’ll also be interviewed.

Similarly to the travel documents described above, your Mexican visa is valid for a Single Entry only for 180 days from the date you cross the border. Once you submit your application, if everything is in order, you can receive your valid visa in just two working days.

By now, we’ve given you a clear overview of how to acquire your Mexican travel permit, whether that’s just the Tourist Card, or also the SAE or paper visa. 

So this gives you extra time to decide what you want to do more – visit the world-famous Tulum Archeological Site, enjoy the spectacular Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities in early November, or go snorkeling in Akumal. ¡Hasta siempre, amigos!

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