Traveling to Cancun by air
Cancun can be found at the very end of Mexico. Although it looks close on the map the actual distance by road is quite far. The quickest and most convenient method to get to Cancun is by plane.
A passport is required to fly into and out of Mexico. You will need a proper passport book and not just a card. The card cannot be used to travel internationally. Your passport book must be valid during your stay.
A completed Multiple Migratory Form (or FMM) will be required by each traveler. Both adults and children can use this form. These forms are provided by the airlines on your flight. However, they can be downloaded online and filled out before you leave. You will need to return your FMM at the end of your stay.
Traveling to Cancun by road
A passport is required to travel by car to Cancun. However, it does not have to be a booklet. A passport card is perfectly acceptable. A passport card is a great option for those who are looking to save money. It is much cheaper than a booklet and is valid for travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Canada, and the Caribbean. Your entry form (FMM) is still required.
Drivers must bring their driver's licence (or, better yet, an International Driving License). Your valid automobile registration and car insurance are also required. A temporary import permit is required for US-registered vehicles that exceed the Border Zone (approximately twenty kilometers).
A temporary import permit requires you to pay a deposit. This deposit will be refunded when you leave the country. You can do this online. Your vehicle may be confiscated if you fail to get this paperwork.
Driving to Cancun can be very difficult for those who drive. You will drive more than 2,700 miles from San Diego. This is approximately 48 hours driving time. If you stop to get food or gas every once in a while, it can take longer. The drive from El Paso is 2,100 miles, or 40 hours. Even further, it takes about 31 hours to drive over 1,500 miles from Laredo.
Flying into Mexico City to rent a car is a shorter but still very impressive option. It takes approximately 1000 miles to get from Mexico City to Cancun via road. You will still need to have a passport to fly into Mexico City.
Some documents are required for those who intend to rent a vehicle in Mexico. A form of identification (such as your passport), must be submitted. A driver's license is also required. Documentation proving that you have car insurance. Major credit cards are required for payment. You must be at least 21 years old to rent a car.
Documents required for travel to Cancun by Sea
You can travel to Cancun most commonly by sea. Cancun is very popular for cruise ships. Your FMM is taken care of by the cruise line! You can only visit Cancun by cruise ship if you have a closed-loop cruise. Closed-loop cruises mean that the cruise ship leaves from and returns to the exact same American port. It does not stop at any other port than the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
Closed-loop cruises require only a photo ID (such a driver's licence) and proof of citizenship (birth certificate, naturalization certificate). Check with your cruise line for confirmation. Many cruise lines now require passports for all cruises, even closed loop cruises.
Passports are required for those who travel by their own boat. The FMM must also be obtained at the harbor. To enter Mexico by sea, you will need a special boating permit issued by the Mexican Embassy. The harbormaster will inspect your boating permit at the pier and will fine you if it is not. The Coast Guards are also known to stop private boats. Be prepared to present your identification documents before you enter port.
It takes only 500 miles to travel by sea from Miami to Cancun. A motor vessel can travel the distance in just two days if it has good weather. A sailboat may take up to a week.
Obtained a passport card
For a U.S. passport applicants must fill out a DS-11 (for first-time applicants), or a DS82 (for a renewal of a passport). The required documents for a DS-11 are:
- Confirmation of U.S. citizenship (citizenship Certificate, Birth Certificate)
- A passport photo in colour, 2x2 inches (size)
- A government-issued ID (for example, a driver's license)
- The total fee payment is $145
The required documents for a passport renewal are:
- An undamaged, expired/old passport
- Passport photos in color (2x2 inches)
- A passport must be issued within the past 15 years, and the applicant must not have been under 16 years of age.
- The total fee for this service is $145
The cheapest and most convenient option is a passport card. The application document requirements for passport cards are identical to passport ones. The only difference is the cost.
- Documentation proving Identity
- Passport photo in colour (2x2 inches in size)
- Government-issued ID
- The total cost of a new card costs $65
- The $30 fee to renew a passport card
You should contact the U.S Consular Agency Cancun immediately if you have lost your passport while on vacation in Cancun. You can reach them by phone at 883-0272 (or 01-998-883-0272) The Consular Agency is available Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 1 PM.
They will require proof of your citizenship and identity (military ID card or driver license, birth certificate) and will issue you a temporary passport to allow you to return home.
Because the consulate does not take photos, you will need to submit a new passport picture. It is possible to have your photo taken by someone standing in front a white wall. Then, you can get it printed at any of Cancun’s pharmacies.
Passport Photo Online
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Can You Travel to Cancun Without a Passport? FAQ
Are there other Caribbean islands I can travel to without a passport or visa?
Americans can travel to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with no passports, as they are US territories. A "closed-loop" cruise can be taken to visit most other Caribbean islands. All you need is a birth certificate, a driver's licence, and a driver’s license. To enter Cuba, Americans must have a valid passport.
Can I fly without a passport from Tijuana, Mexico to Cancun?
However, this is not recommended. Although a passport is not required for domestic flights within Mexico, proper identification is. You can fly from the US to Tijuana without a passport. Then, you can drive back to the US from Tijuana. It is legal according to the Mexican and American laws, although it is frowned on as "pulling an a fast one." You will be hassled at border but eventually they will allow you in. However, they might not renew your Global Entry Card next time.
Can I take a ferry to Cancun?
Yes, you can take a ferry from Punta Sam, Cancun Hotel Zone and Gran Puerto Cancun. These ferry services are not available from Mexico so Americans must first travel to Mexico.