Passports are not required of native-born U.S. citizens to enter Mexico as tourists. Proof of U.S. citizenship is required. Carry a passport, certified birth certificate plus a photo ID, or a voter's registration card plus a photo ID with the same address. Naturalized citizens should carry their naturalization certificate to ensure entry into Mexico and re-entry into the United States.
Panther says - this is very important. There have recently been cases where Americans without proof have been held up at the border for hours before being permitted back into the U.S. You can also be fined for NOT having the proper paperwork.
Beginning July 1, 1999, a tourist fee is being charged for travel to interior Mexico. Here are the details:
Fee: US $15, once every six months. Business travelers
(non-Mexican - Panther)
once every month.
When: Starting July 1, 1999.
Where: By land, at branches of any back operating in Mexico, or at the Reynosa bus station. By air, when purchasing a ticket. By sea, when purchasing package or when disembarking, but only if stay is longer than 72 hours, maximum fee per cruise.
(Not per disembarkation - Panther.)
Who will have to pay: All foreign visitors/tourists traveling to the interior of Mexico.
Who will be exempt:
Mexican citizens living abroad.
Visitors staying less than 72 hours.
Visitors not traveling beyond the 16 miles interior checkpoints.
(The newspaper article says both 15 and 16 miles.....who knows? Guess it really doesn't matter....the checkpoint is pretty hard to miss! - Panther)
Visitors limiting their visits to the following tourist routes: Tijuana-Ensenada, San Felipe Tourism Developement zone (Baja California), Sonoita-Puerto Penasco (Sonora), Ciudad Juarez-Paquime (Chihuahua), Peidras Negras-Santa Rosa (Coahuila), Reynosa-China-Presa Cuchillo (Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon). (Source, Mexican Consulate)
Obtain a $10 (approximate) automobile permit good for six months, from the Mexican Customs Office at the border. (In Nuevo Laredo, it's about a mile or so past the border, and is called the Aduana.) Hold with auto while in Mexico, and surrender it when you leave. Carry proof of car ownership or notarized permit for its use. Permits must also be obtained for trailers and boats. Auto insurance policies, other than Mexican, are not valid in Mexico. A short-term liability policy is obtainable at the border.
Each returning U.S. resident may bring back articles for personal use valued at up to $400.00 free of duty.
(Panther says - check amount carefully before you go - requirements may have changed.)
For details on meeting the criteria for this exemption and further information on Customs exemptions and requirements, stop at any
office and ask for a copy of the booklet
Know before you go
A final note from Panther - about US Customs agents: When you come back into the US....you will meet these agents. I have personally heard many US citizens complain, and even argue, with the Customs agents about whether or not the Customs agents have the right to search people/possessions/autos. I have a news flash for you people - Customs are FEDERAL agents....they are NOT civilian police officers. Police DO have to have "probably cause" (no matter how shaky) in order to search you. Customs authorities need no such cause. They can search you simply because they want to - they need no warrant, no reason. Because they are FEDERAL agents....they sometimes have more leeway in how they operate than civilian police do. So don't argue...you are just going to make them mad - and probably make them even more inclined to search you than when they first asked!
An acquaintance of mine was strip searched once. Why? Because he had crossed over to Mexico and back twice in one day. The agent recognized him as having come through earlier - so he was detained and strip searched.