The Government of Mexico requires that all U.S. citizens present proof of citizenship and photo identification for entry into Mexico. The U.S. Embassy recommends traveling with a valid U.S. passport to avoid delays or misunderstandings. A lost or stolen passport is easier to replace when outside of the United States than other evidence of citizenship. However, United States citizenship documents such as a certified copy (not a simple photocopy or facsimile) of a U.S. birth certificate, a Naturalization Certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Citizenship are acceptable. Driver's licenses and permits, voter registration cards, affidavits and similar documents are not sufficient to prove citizenship for readmission into the United States.
As of December 31st, 2007 you must have a passport to travel to Mexico. Your U.S. Drivers license will no longer be accepted for re-entry into the United States. For more information see The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
When you come back, you will need to declare everything you brought back that you did not take with you when you left the United States. You must state on the CBP declaration, in U.S. currency, what you actually paid for each item. The price must include all taxes. If you did not buy the item yourself for example, if it is a gift get an estimate of its fair retail value in the country where you received it. If you bought something on your trip and wore or used it on the trip, it’s still dutiable. You must declare the item at the price you paid or, if it was a gift, at its fair market value. You must declair items such as:
• Items you purchased and are carrying with you upon return to the United States.
• Items you received as gifts, such as wedding or birthday presents.
• Items you inherited.
• Items you bought in duty-free shops, on the ship, or on the plane.
• Repairs or alterations to any items you took abroad and then brought back, even if the repairs/alterations were performed free of charge.
• Items you brought home for someone else.
• Items you intend to sell or use in your business.
The duty-free exemption, also called the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise you may bring back to the United States without having to pay duty. You may bring back more than your exemption, but you will have to pay duty on it. A flat rate of duty of 10 percent will be applied to the first $1,000 worth (fair retail value) of merchandise in excess of your customs exemption of $400. The sales receipt functions as proof of value. Family members residing in one household and traveling together may group articles for application of the flat-duty rate. Articles must accompany you to the U.S. border. The flat-duty rate may be taken only once every 30 days.In most cases, the personal exemption is $800, but there are some exceptions to this rule, which are explained below.
• 200 Cigarettes
• 50 Cigars or 250g of Tobacco
• 2 Litres of wine
• 1 Litre of Spirits (less than 22% alcohol by volume)
• 60cl of perfume
Both federal and state laws govern the importation of alcoholic beverages. When regulations conflict, state laws supersede. For this reason it is important to know the import limits of your state of residence as well as the state of entry. The federal government permits each resident who is 21 years of age or older to bring into the United States one liter of alcohol duty free once every 30 days. However, most states restrict the quantity of alcoholic beverages that may be imported, and state law prevails if you arrive in a state that permits a lesser amount than what you have legally brought into the United States.
Gifts in packages with a total retail value not exceeding $100 may be sent to friends or relatives in the United States free of U.S. customs duty or tax provided that no recipient receives more than one gift shipment per day. Gifts may be sent to more than one person in the same package if they are individually wrapped and labeled with the name of the recipient. Perfumes valued at more than $5 retail, tobacco products or alcoholic beverages may not be included in gift packages. The designation "Unsolicited Gift," the name of the donor and the retail value of the contents must be clearly marked on the outside.
Prescription drugs can only be imported from Tijuana if you have a prescription from a US doctor (90 day supply only). Prescriptions written by doctors in Tijuana or other cities in Mexico are no longer considered valid. Medications are available over the counter in Mexico at considerable savings. Most tourist areas have several high-volume pharmacies per block. Amounts purchased must be for personal use, not for resale.
Endangered wildlife species or products made of any part of these species are prohibited. This includes products made from sea turtles, as well as all ivory and ivory products made from elephant or marine mammal ivory. Such live birds as parrots, parakeets or birds of prey, widely available on the market in Mexico, can be brought into the United States subject to inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Birds must be quarantined upon arrival for at least 30 days in a USDA-operated facility at the owner’s expense. Quarantine space must be reserved in advance; for information contact a USDA office.
Lottery tickets, narcotics and dangerous drugs, obscene articles and publications, seditious and treasonable materials, hazardous articles (e.g., fireworks, dangerous toys, toxic and poisonous substances), switch blade knives, drug paraphernalia, and many meats & fruits (see customs for a complete list). Cuban cigars are legal in Mexico and readily available everywhere in the border area, but cannot be brought into the United States.
For a complete list of restricted or prohibited items click here
For more information on re-entry into the United States visit the U.S. Customs and Border protection website
U.S. Border Patrol