One Thing Tourists Need To Make Sure To Keep On Them While Vacationing In Mexico

You already know you'll need to keep your passport on hand when traveling abroad. However, a trip to Mexico involves one more important document: a Mexican tourist card, or FMM. The card is required for all travelers who arrive as temporary tourists rather than residents or workers with a permit. It essentially acts as a tourist visa for visitors coming from countries where a visa isn't required.

Each tourist card comes with an expiration date — never exceeding 180 days following your arrival date — written on a form given to you when you enter the country or presented on your digital version (more on that below). Among the mistakes to avoid when visiting Mexico, overstaying your visitor permit is one of the most serious. To avoid fines and other repercussions, be prepared to return home within the period allowed on your tourist card.

When exiting Mexico, present your FMM to the immigration official. They'll use the information on the card to confirm you didn't overstay your visit. If you do overstay, you will be forced to pay a fine when you leave the country, based on the number of days you've gone past your expiration date. With this in mind, it's essential that you keep your tourist card safe throughout the duration of your trip.

How to get a tourist card when visiting Mexico

Before visiting Mexico's glamorous vacation spots or the country's best beaches, you'll need to secure a tourist card. One of the easiest ways to get a tourist card is by applying online via the official Mexico Tourist Card website. The process is free and can be completed up to 30 days before your vacation. After completing the online form, you'll receive an email with a digital tourist card that you can access any time using your phone or a computer.

Alternatively, you can wait to be handed a tourist card en route to your destination. Fliers may be given an application form during their flights to Mexico, though these paper documents are becoming less common. If you weren't given a card from the airline, check near the immigration desks at the airport instead. Fees for cards given on the plane or at the airport are generally covered by your airfare.

If you reach Mexico by car or on foot, you'll be given a tourist card at the port of entry. If you leave within seven days, the fee will be waived. Otherwise, expect to pay for each visitor (Baja Bound listed the cost at 717 pesos, about 40 U.S. dollars, for each card in 2024, though this is subject to change).

What if you lose your tourist card?

Your Mexican tourist card is one item you don't want to misplace while traveling. If you have a paper copy, keep it in your hotel safe or a secure pocket in your luggage, along with your passport. Just be sure to remember where you placed it when packing up and heading home!

If you do lose your tourist card, or if you have a digital copy and can't access the original email, you must replace it before leaving the country. Make an appointment with an immigration office (located in cities around Mexico, as well as the airports) to receive a replacement card, and make sure to bring a form of payment with you. Currently, fines for losing your tourist card will run you back 60 U.S. dollars.

In some cases, you may find that you were never given a paper form at all, even if you didn't apply for a tourist card online. Instead, you might find a stamp in your passport that serves the same purpose as a standard FMM. This is becoming more common as the government gradually phases out paper tourist cards. In these instances, you won't get in trouble for leaving Mexico without a physical slip or digital card, but you will need to show your passport with the appropriate stamp.