Mexico is a beautiful country; it has everything a person could want for a foreign vacation. The culture, history, food and landscape are overflowing with pure decadence. The legalities of traveling abroad aren't part of the painted portrait of the perfect vacation, but researching early and having a good understanding of the local laws will make the trip flow seamlessly and without any hiccups.
Even though a passport is required to enter the country, the government also requires each person to not only obtain a Permit Customs form, but also keep the document on them to be shown on request to officials. The form is valid for 180 days and can be picked up at any port of entry, airline office that services Mexico, or travel agency. Tourists can be detained by police for not having the form on their person.
In addition to these two documents, if there is a minor that will also be traveling with one parent and not the other, proof needs to be shown that the minor in question in entering the country with the consent of the parent that is absent. Court papers awarding full custody, a notarized letter from the other parent or a death certificate is sufficient in most circumstances. The papers need to be originals and placed together with the birth certificate of the minor and carried in a place that would make it easy to show officials if requested to do so.
Personal items aside, only $300 worth of items can accompany someone into the country without having to pay a fee. Upon leaving Mexico there is a Non- Immigrant tax that costs approximately 294 pesos. This fee is to help with tourist programs as well as immigration programs.
Driving a car across the border can be just as tricky if the right paperwork is not obtained as well. All vehicles must have a temporary import permit unless the vehicle will be used to travel through the Baja Peninsula. To get a vehicle permit, a registration, driver’s license, car title, proof of citizenship (i.e. passport) and a processing fee need to be submitted to the Mexican Army Bank at customs, or the Mexican consulate.
A deposit is also required as a guarantee that the vehicle will be out of the country by the time the permit expires. To get the deposit of about $200 to $400 back, tourists must go to customs right before leaving the country. In Mexico the law requires vehicles to have Mexican insurance since insurance purchased in the U.S. is not covered by most companies. Mexican law also states that the owner has to either be driving the vehicle or riding in the vehicle at all times, or the car could be confiscated and not returned.
Sometimes the worst possible scenario will come to pass. In the event that a tourist from the United States is arrested, there are procedures that should be followed. After the initial arrest the authorities upon learning that the person they have arrested is a foreign national, are supposed to notify that country of the arrest. The tourist being arrested should make it clear that they are from another country and request that their country of origin be notified, because there are times where notification either takes months, or never takes place at all.
When outside of the United States, compliance with local laws is not optional. Claiming to not know or understand the laws is an excuse that officials won’t always accept. When traveling it’s important to dot every 'I' and cross every 'T' in order to keep safe, save time, and especially to keep sane.