Arriving in Cancun 

American and Canadian visitors can enter Mexico with a valid passport or with a birth certificate accompanied by photo ID. Travelers from other countries may need a visa and should check with their country before departure. Minors traveling alone need a notarized consent from one parent. Single parents traveling with their children need notarized consent from the other parent. 

As a general rule, the expiration date of your passport should not fall less than six months after your arrival date. If you have a return ticket, however, your passport need only be valid for the duration of your stay. Otherwise proof of sufficient funds may be required. 

It’s a good idea to photocopy all your important papers such as your passport, birth certificate and credit cards. Keep these photocopies separate from your originals and leave copies with friends or family at home. Should your passport be lost or stolen having a photocopy will speed up the replacement process. If you do lose your documents, contact the police immediately as well as your consulate in order to be reissued replacements. You will have to fill out a new application form, provide proof of citizenship and new photographs, and pay the full fee for a replacement passport.

Flying into Mexico, flight attendants will hand you a questionnaire – this is your customs declarations form that must be completed before you are allowed into the country. When you land you will pass through Immigration where a Mexican Tourist Permit is issued free of charge. This tourist card is good for 30 days and if you stay longer will need to be renewed at the Immigration Office. When you leave you must hand in your tourist card so hang onto it. 

If you have items to declare, your luggage will be searched. If you have nothing to declare you will join a line where you will wait to press a random traffic light. A green light means you pass through; a red light means your luggage will be searched. If anything is found during the search that hasn’t been declared, it may be confiscated or you may be fined. Entering Mexico, you may bring in personal items needed for your stay along with: 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars (if you are over 18); one photographic camera and one nonprofessional film or video camera and 12 rolls of film for each; up to 20 cassettes or CDs; medicine for personal use; one personal laptop computer; and gift items not exceeding a combined value of $300.You are not allowed to bring meat, vegetables, plants, fruit, or flowers into the country. Traveling with a gun or knife will get you arrested. Be sure that any personal medication, especially psychotropic drugs, has a prescription label. 

If you should have any questions regarding customs regulations, you can call the customs office at the Cancún airport, 011-52-98-86-0073 or check with the closest Mexican consulate. 

Leaving Cancun 

When leaving Mexico there is a Departure Tax of approximately $17 (check with your travel agent or airline to see if the departure tax has been included in your ticket price.) Children under 2 years are exempt. When shopping, keep receipts for all your purchases especially if you exceed your limit. Upon reentering your country be ready to show customs officials these receipts. If you feel a duty is incorrect or object to the way your clearance was handled, note the inspector's badge number and ask to see a supervisor. If the problem isn't resolved, write to the appropriate authorities, beginning with the port director at your point of entry. 

Canadians who have been out of the country for more than 7 days may bring home up to $500 CDN worth of goods duty-free. If you have been away less than 7 days but more than 48 hours, the duty-free allowance drops to $200 CDN; if your trip lasts 24-48 hours, the allowance is $50 CDN. You may not pool allowances with family members. You may send an unlimited number of gifts worth up to $60 CDN each duty-free to Canada. Label the package “unsolicited gift – value under $60”. Alcohol and tobacco can’t be mailed but can be included in the 7-day and 48-hour exemptions but not in the 24-hour exemption. If you meet the age requirements of the province or territory through which you reenter Canada, you may bring in, duty-free, 1.14 liters (40 imperial ounces) of wine or liquor and 24 12-ounce cans or bottles of beer or ale. If you are 16 or older you may bring in, duty-free, 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars. Check ahead of time with Revenue Canada or the Department of Agriculture for policies regarding meat products, seeds, plants, and fruits. For more information contact: Revenue Canada. 2265 St. Laurent Blvd., Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 4K3. Tel. 613-993-0534 or 800- 461-9999 (Canada only). Fax: 613-957-8911. Webpage:

U.S. residents who have been out of the country for at least 48 hours may bring home $400 of foreign goods, duty free but only if they have not used the $400 allowance or any part of it in the past 30 days. Those 21 and older may bring back 1 liter of alcohol duty-free. Any resident (regardless of age) can bring back 200 cigarettes and 100 non-Cuban cigars. Antiques, which the U.S. Customs Service defines as objects more than 100 years old, enter duty-free, as do original works of art done entirely by hand, including paintings, drawings, and sculptures. It is illegal to bring tortoiseshell into the United States and there are also restrictions regarding black coral. If you do buy black coral, you must present a certificate that shows it was purchased from a recognized dealer. You may also send packages home duty-free: up to $200 worth of goods for personal use, with a limit of one parcel per addressee per day. This does not include alcohol, tobacco products or perfume worth more than $5. Be sure to label the package “personal use” and attach a list of its contents and their retail value. Do not label the package “unsolicited gift” or your duty-free exemption will drop to $100. Mailed items do not affect your duty-free allowance on your return. For more information contact: U.S. Customs Service. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20229. Tel: 202-354-1000. Webpage:  or check

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