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Transiting Through Mexico's Major Airports

International travelers on long trips may need to make stops at different airports to change their flights before reaching their final destination. Travelers transiting through various airports in Mexico will have to go through different processes depending on their nationality and nature of the trip.  

The transit can be a short wait before the next flight or at times, the passengers will have to wait through longer stopovers. Travelers who want to spend a night or more in the country before their outbound journey will have to clear the immigration and customs.   

To ensure that the journey is incident-free and seamless, we have put together a guide to help passengers through various processes during their transit in Mexican airports. 

Is a Visa Needed for Mexico Transit?  

In most cases, passengers transiting through Mexican airports will not need a Mexican visa. This depends on factors like the passengers’ nationality, the destination of the onward flight, the time span between the flights and whether or not they need to leave the airport. 

For example, Russian citizens do not need a visa but the Mexican ETA instead.   

Citizens of countries that do not have visa exemption in Mexico should get a visa if they want to leave the airport. For this purpose, they would also require to go through the customs and immigration processes. A transit visa is also necessary for travelers from such countries if they need to stay in the airport longer than 24 hours regardless of whether they leave the airport or not.  

Also, passengers coming from countries that enjoy visa exemption in Mexico will require a transit visa, if they need to stop and change a flight before reaching their final destination.  

How to Commute Inside Mexican Airports?  

In most international airports in Mexico including Mexico City International Airport, Cancun International Airport, Guadalajara International Airport, Monterrey International Airport, Puerto Vallarta International Airport, Los Cabos International Airport and Monterrey International Airport, there are more than one terminal. Tijuana Int has one main terminal.

Commuting between them in case of switching airlines is a daunting task. Security lines for transit passengers to different countries are different and are often unmanned.  In most Mexican airports, separate terminals are not connected via walkways and also, walking may not be an option as the distance between them is extensive. However, there are multiple options like airport trains and shuttles.   

You need to be an active passenger with some proof of travel such as a boarding pass, ticket, or reservation code in order to board the train. 

However, you can board the bus either as an active passenger or as a general traveler. These services also accommodate people with disabilities or special needs such as pregnancy or old age. You can ask for this accommodation at the time of making your booking. 

At Mexico City International Airport, there are two terminals. Passengers can make use of Aerotren or bus services.  This airport train is functional every single day of the year between 5 am to 11 pm. At terminal 1, this train can be accessed through the upper level (PA), through gate 6. At terminal 2, this facility can be utilized through the ground level (PB), through gate 4. 

The bus service is available at both terminal 1 and terminal 2. However, as this is a public bus service, it may not be the safest mode and there have been a few incidents of reported theft aboard the bus. 

See expanded guide on Mexico City Int Airport.

At Cancun International Airport, you can use the Cancun airport shuttle. The transportation shuttle services between terminals run punctually every 10 minutes and are completely free. 

See expanded guide on Cancun Int Airport.

At Guadalajara International Airport, transfers from terminal 1 to terminal 2 are pretty easy as the two are a short walk away from each other. The arrival is just next to departures, separated by unlocked gates that you can use to pass through without issues. 

See expanded guide on Guadalajara Int Airport.

Likewise, in other international airports too, the passengers can use the shuttle system.  

What is FMM? Is it required for transit through Mexico?   

All foreign travelers landing in Mexican airports must fill out Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM) or the official entry immigration form prior to their arrival. The online registration process is fast and convenient. 

The passengers need to give the details of their passport, address and flight details. The card is issued per person including children. The information that the travelers provide in the card is kept by the immigration authority as an official record of their visit to the country.  

This tourist card (FMM) is mandatory for passengers if they are planning to leave the airport between flights, if their outbound flight departs after 24 hours of arrival or if their flight lands in another Mexican airport before reaching the destination country.  

If the travelers are leaving the airport within 24 hours of arrival, it is not mandatory to submit the migratory document.  

Do Transit Passengers Need to Clear Customs? 

It is not mandatory when in transit in most airports. Upon arrival in a Mexican airport, passengers have to handover their travel documents to the immigration staff who will direct them to the transit area. 

Travelers can wait there until their connecting flight arrives. However, those passengers who will spend more than 24 hours in the airport will have to apply either for a Mexican visa or FMM in advance.  

Are Currency Exchange Facilities and ATMs Available in Airports? 

Currency exchange services are available across various terminals in most international airports in Mexico. Passengers can make use of the facility and can get real-time exchange rates from the service kiosks.  

Also, ATMs, a convenient way to obtain local currency, are also there in most airports.  

How to Make Transiting in a Airport Better?  

A little preparation can go a long way when you are at a foreign airport. Do some research and find out when and where your onward flight is arriving. Get your passport ready, fill out your tourist card and try to greet the officials in proper Spanish. 

Once you land at the airport, wherever you are travelling from or to, your luggage will be screened. Be careful to avoid restricted items to prevent unwanted delays. Your handbags and electronic gadgets will be screened too.  

When arriving at the airport, all you have to do is to go to the terminal for your next flight and wait for the announcement for the departure. 

Be sure to follow the instructions given by the airline and abide by the rules. If at all any queries are raised by officials answer them correctly.  

If they have some time spare, travelers can visit duty-free shops and purchase items without paying any tax. They can also eat at the restaurants inside the airports while waiting for the connecting flight. 

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