The Government of Mexico requires that all U.S. citizens present proof of citizenship and photo identification for entry into Mexico. While U.S. citizenship documents such as a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, a Naturalization Certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Citizenship are acceptable, the U.S. Embassy recommends traveling with a valid U.S. passport to avoid delays or misunderstandings.
Don't bring anything that obviously looks like you're in the re-sale game... for example, 5 laptop computers! These items will get heavily taxed or confiscated. Items for personal use will be allowed, new or used, but only in quantities that are commensurate with the definition of 'personal use'. If you are carrying large quantities of one item or if the Customs Inspector believes you are trying to commercialize your goods, then you may be interviewed further.
Custom Allowances into Mexico
• New & used goods for personal use, e.g. clothes, personal hygiene products, footwear
• 20 Packs of Cigarettes
• 50 Cigars or 200 grams of tobacco
• 3 Liters of alcoholic anything (wine, spirits, et al)
• Up to 12 rolls of film
• Up to 20 music CDs
• A Laptop computer
• Any sporting equipment (e.g. golf clubs, scuba gear, bike) for personal use
The Immigration counter will be your first stop after you get off the plane/ship. Here you will have to present your passport (or birth certificate) along with the Tourist Visa also Customs Declaration Form you filled out, most of the time these forms will be given to you on the plane or ship. Your tourist visa and passport will be stamped to make your arrival official. (You will need to keep your passport and tourist visa with you at all times while in Mexico - make copies in case you lose your originals). Next proceed to the baggage claim area for your luggage.
Customs is the last step, here you will need to have your Customs Declaration Form handy (the other form you were given on the plane/ship) Do not loose this form, you will have to present this form again when you leave. If you do loose your Customs Declaration Form they will charge you a fee. Mexico has adopted a "Red Light - Green Light" system for customs. If you have put "Nothing to declare" on this form, you will be asked to push a button. . If the light is green you can exit without inspection; if the light is red you will be subject to inspection. This is a random system, and therefore there is no way to know whether you will get a green or red light. Consequently you need to be honest on your Customs Declaration and declare anything over and above what is allowed, paying all applicable duties. If you do not, and are caught by a red light, the fines may be very steep. One note, Mexican customs officials may assume you know about the "Red Light - Green Light" system and not say a word. No problem, step up & push the button.Secondary Inspection
All the above applies when you enter Mexico by car except you may not need a tourist or visa card, if you are entering Mexico by land and staying for over 72 hours and/or traveling more than 20 miles beyond the border, you will need to get a Tourist Card. You also might need to get a Vehicle Permit. When you are crossing the Mexican Border you will see a red light or a green light. If the light is GREEN; then you may proceed into Mexico. If the light turns RED and you are signaled into secondary inspection, follow the custom officials signals, you will be directed to an area to park. If you are signaled to go to secondary, the first thing to remember is Don't Panic. Secondary is often a random process, also heavier or larger vehicles often set off weight scales sending them directly into secondary inspections. They will probably ask you a few questions, look through your car and search your trunk, they are looking for items that you may not have declared, The best thing to do is be polite, answer all questions with a simple "yes" or "no".
U.S. and Canadian automobile insurance is not valid in Mexico and you must obtain a separate auto insurance at the Mexican border before crossing into Mexico, including if you are driving a rented vehicle. Full coverage is recommended, including coverage for legal assistance. You can purchase and print Mexico Insurance online from Mexbound.com, Be aware that many local drivers do not have any form of car insurance. Foreigners involved in traffic accidents may face serious legal problems, including imprisonment. They will be taken into custody until it can be determined who is responsible for the accident and until all penalties are paid. Depending on the extent of injuries or damages, drivers may face criminal charges. Motor vehicle insurance is considered invalid in Mexico if the driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if the driver has no valid driver's licence.
• Don't bring any drugs - not even small amounts of 'soft' drugs, e.g. cannabis/marijuana. Firearms and dangerous knives are totally illegal in Mexico.
• A foreign Gun Licence is not valid in Mexico; if you own a gun don't take it to Mexico with you. The only exception is a firearm used for hunting purposes; but you will need to apply for a special permit - contact your local Mexican consulate. Caught in possession of illegal firearms can land you in serious trouble - even if you have a licence for it that was issued in your home country.
• Drug offences are likely to land you in a Mexican prison (not pleasant)... don't expect your consulate to bail you out in this case because it won't be able to! 20-25 year prison sentences for drug and serious arms related offences are not uncommon.