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Breaking Down Entry Ports to Mexico | Land, Air and Sea

A Latin American country famous for its heritage sites, Mayan temples and pristine beaches, Mexico attracts tourists from across the world.

Mexico ranks sixth in the most-visited countries’ list (2022). 

International travelers can enter the country via air, road and water.

However, certain travel authorizations (for example an electronic travel authorization) issued by the government of Mexico do not permit foreigners to enter the country by water or land. 

Foreign nationals arriving in the country with a Mexico ETA can enter only through an international airport in the country.  

Read on to know more about the entry points to Mexico. 

Traveling by Air

Like most countries, airports are the main entry points to Mexico.

There are around 100 airports in the country.

Foreigners must choose a port of entry that is best suited for them and closer to the tourist destinations that they intend to explore.

The experiences in the immigration counter at the very beginning of the trip may impact the entire holiday. 

Here’s what travelers can expect in some of the prominent airports in the country.   

Update: Travelers no longer need the Tourist Card for air arrivals.

Airports in and Around the Mexico City

The capital of the country, Mexico City receives the maximum number of international tourists.

A thriving metropolitan city in Mexico, it has many heritage sites that attract travelers.

Mexico City is also one of the major transit points in the continent. The city is also home to top international airports in the country. 

Following are the major airports in and in the vicinity of the capital city of Mexico. Apart from tourists, business travelers also prefer these airports. 

The Cancun International Airport (IAIA Code CUN)

The international airport of Cancun ranks third in the list of busiest airports in Latin America. It is also the second busiest airport in the country and handles over 20,000,000 passengers in a year. The airport has two runways that are parallel to each other and four terminals. 

Direct flights of airlines including Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways operate from this airport to over 20 foreign destinations.  

The Mexico City International Airport (IAIA Code MEX)

An international airport that majorly serves the greater Mexico City areas, the Mexico City International Airport is the 16th busiest airport in the world.

It is also Latin America’s busiest international airport and caters to over 35,000,000 passengers in a year. 

The airport has three terminals that handle both passenger and cargo flights. The airport is now mostly used for government and military aircrafts.

Some of the major airlines that operate flights from these airports include British Airways, United Airline, Air France and Aeromexico. 

The New International Airport (IAIA Code MEX)

Located in Mexico City, this international airport was developed to ease traffic in Benito Juárez International Airport that had reached its maximum capacity.

Once completed the airport will have the capacity to handle over 125 million passengers. 

The Guadalajara Airport (IAIA Code GDL)

This international airport is located in Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico. The third busiest airport in the Latin American country is named after Miguel Hidalgo, a Mexican hero who played a pivotal role in the country’s fight for independence from Spanish rule. 

The airport has two terminals to handle both international and domestic passengers. Almost all major international airlines operate flights from the airport that handle over 9,000,000 passengers in a year.  

Monterrey International Airport (IAIA CODE MTY)

This International airport caters to Monterrey. Over 300 flights operate from the airport. Most of them are domestic flights and a few of them fly to various destinations in the US.

It is ranked the fourth busiest airport in the country and is considered as one of the fastest growing airports in the region.

At present, the international airport has three passenger terminals and a cargo terminal. 

Traveling by Water 

Mexico has a vast coastline that is over 9000 kilometer long. Travelers from visa-free countries can enter the country without a visa by boats and cruise ships. 

Foreign travelers visiting Mexico on a cruise ship do not need a visa, a consular stamp or an entry stamp to disembark at a Mexican seaport and to visit surrounding zones.

They are required to continue their journey on the same ship. They have to, however, carry their passports with a minimum validity of six months. 

Travelers on a cruise ship will be granted a collective entry permission as a visitor without a permission to conduct gainful activities. 

Citizens of the US can travel to Mexico’s permitted ports on a boat or ship without a visa. If they want to stay in the country for a few days, they are required to visit the office of National Migration Institute and get an official entry card or FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). 

Mexican police can ask them to show their passports and FMMs. 

Major Seaports in Mexico are as follows: 

Port of Manzanillo

Located in the state of Colima, this seaport is the main gateway for trade between Mexico and other foreign nations including the US, Germany, India, Canada, Russia and Japan. The seaport has direct shipping connections with 125 foreign ports. 

Port of Ensenada

Located in Northern Mexico, this port is the main trading port between the country and the United States of America. 

Port of Veracruz

Veracruz is one of the most important trading ports on the Gulf coast of the country. The port caters to both central and southern Mexico. 

Other major seaports in Mexico include Port of Guaymas, Port of Mazatlan and Port of Lazaro Cardenas. 

Major cruise trips in the Mexican coast are provided by Carnival Radiance, Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, Disney Wonder and Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.

Traveling by Land 

US citizens or permanent residents do not need a visa to cross Mexican land borders. They need to carry their passports which are valid for at least six months.

If they plan to travel beyond the border zone, they can get the FMM form from Natvisa.  

With a FMM, a US citizen can stay in the country for up to six months. However, he/she cannot work or engage in gainful business activities.   

If they are bringing a vehicle registered in the US, they are required to provide a deposit and process a temporary Mexican permit. The deposit will be refunded once they return to the US.  

The major land crossings are Baja California Sur, Baja California and Sonora.  

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