If you’re planning a family vacation to Rocky Point, Mexico, you are probably planning on driving. Even though it’s in a different country, do you need your passport, or is another form of I.D. okay?
This guide will take you through the legalities of taking your passport to Mexico, whether it’s required, and which documents you shouldn’t bring. Mexico and the United States have different requirements, so it’s best to bring your passport just in case!
Do You Need a Passport To Get Into Mexico?
While the United States doesn’t require a passport for land crossings to and from Mexico, it’s crucial to always look at the laws of other countries. Mexico does require a United States passport for visitors.
In fact, if you’re planning a trip longer than 72 hours in Mexico, you’ll need to stop off at the border and fill out a Multiple Migratory Form (a short-term tourist permit). Your passport will be necessary to complete this and get it approved for your stay in Mexico.
You might have heard that no one checks these forms, and no one looks at your passport on the Mexican border. This is why many people leave their passports behind or don’t bother to renew them–if no one is checking, what’s the point of having the passport?
Mexico doesn’t always enforce its laws, but there are crackdowns and inconsistencies in the policing system. So, although you’ll likely never need to pull out your passport at the border (and could skip filling out an MMF without consequences), you don’t want to get stuck in Mexico without a passport.
Even if you don’t get stopped, it’s best to bring an updated passport with you on your trip. Also, make sure all your family members have passports that are up to date before your trip, as it takes several weeks to months to process a new passport.
Do You Need a Passport To Come Back Into the United States?
The United States doesn’t require a passport to come back into the United States through a land border. As long as you have a legal form of government I.D. and proof of citizenship, the customs officers will let you back in. However, it will take much longer without a passport.
Many people who don’t bring their passports choose to bring a social security card and birth certificate in addition to their driver’s license (a photo I.D. is required). However, original identity documents like this are targets for theft in Mexico and are dangerous to bring along.
Even though a passport isn’t required to get back into the United States, bringing your updated passport is still a good idea. Getting caught in Mexico without a passport is breaking Mexican law, and you don’t want to be held responsible for that.
Do You Need a Passport To Get to Rocky Point?
The same rules apply to Rocky Point, Mexico. Generally, people drive to Rocky Point through California or Arizona. It’s a quick drive from the border and worth it for a lovely resort and beach town. However, do you need a passport to get there? Here are the rules.
Do You Need a Passport To Get to Rocky Point by Air?
Anytime you fly in or out of the country, you need valid documentation. The most common type of federal identification is a passport. To enter or re-enter the United States through an airport, you’ll need to show your passport or other approved form of identification.
To date, the approved forms of identification other than a passport are:
- A Trusted Traveler Program card
- A valid Permanent Resident Card (if you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States)
- A Military I.D. if traveling under military orders
- A U.S. Merchant Mariner I.D. if traveling for official maritime business
Each of these is more difficult to attain than a passport and will cause delays at customs (except for the military and merchant mariner I.D.s), as they are unusual. However, they will eventually get accepted, and you’ll be able to get to Mexico or back into the United States.
Do You Need a Passport To Get to Rocky Point by Land?
If you are driving to Rocky Point, you’ll drive across the U.S./Mexico border. This is where the risk comes in. According to Mexican law, you need a passport to be able to get into Mexico. However, the United States doesn’t require a passport to get back to America.
You are not likely to get stopped at the Mexican border going to Mexico. The road is small enough that stopping every car isn’t logistically possible. Instead, there is a Mexican Embassy office for tourists that vacationers are supposed to visit.
However, you will need to present some form of official government identification to get back into America. The re-entrance is much more strict for the United States as an effort to slow down illegal immigration. While the U.S. doesn’t require a passport by land, Mexico does.
What Paperwork To Bring With You to Rocky Point
When you go to Rocky Point, you’ll need a passport. In addition, if you’re staying at the resort for more than a few days, you should stop at the border and fill out a Multiple Migratory Form. It is a relatively simple form, and as long as your whole family has passports, you only need to fill out one form.
As long as you have your passport and a filled-out MMF, you will be able to travel to Mexico. Travel between Mexican states can vary, so do research if you plan to travel to other parts of Mexico. You can’t leave the country by air with an MMF or travel to other countries.
So, Should You Bring a Passport to Rocky Point?
The bottom line is that you should bring a passport to Rocky Point. You may never have to pull it out, but it’s always best practice to obey the law. So play it safe and bring an unexpired passport, whether you’re getting into Mexico by car or airplane.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
Featured in Travel articles such as Travel + Leisure, TripSavvy and SFGate, you know you're reading some of the best vacation tips online.