All you need for the best Mexico vacation
Sunscreen and summer clothes aren't all you need for a vacation in Mexico. Whether you're flying in or arriving by land or sea, you need an ID to enter the country and to return to the U.S. when your vacation's over. That is, if you can bear to leave behind the golden beaches, nightlife, history, culture, music and cuisine of this incredible country.
Do you need a passport book or passport card to go to Mexico?
All U.S. citizens, even minors, need a valid passport to enter Mexico. To enter by land or sea, you can use a passport card, which is a small card that fits in your wallet. A passport card is cheaper than a passport book, and you can also use it to return to the U.S. by land or sea. Passport cards are also called passcards. Airline passengers must have a valid passport book to board a flight to Mexico and to return to the U.S. by air.
Do you need a visa to go to Mexico?
As well as a passport, you need a tourist card called an "FM-T" to enter Mexico. You can buy the card at border crossings and Mexican tourist offices if you're traveling by land or sea. Visitors who arrive by plane can buy the FM-T at border airports, but major airlines usually include the card in the price of your ticket. Staying for longer than 180 days? You need a tourist visa.
Do you need a passport to go on a Mexico cruise?
While you're dreaming of margaritas by starlight and a visit to Cabo San Lucas on your Mexico cruise, you should almost certainly include a passport in your travel plans. Passengers on cruises to Mexico that begin and end in the same U.S. port don't need a passport to return to the U.S. They only need valid ID like a driver's license and a certified copy of a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship. But Mexico's requirements are clear: All visitors from the U.S. must have a passport to enter Mexican territory by any means of transportation. So if you want to get off the boat, you'll need a passport. Even if you intend to stay on the boat, it's a case of better safe than sorry. Take a passport if you can. Something could go wrong, and it would be a lot of fuss and bother to apply for a temporary passport.