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US Citizens Returning to the USA from Mexico

There are specific identifications and permits required when traveling across the US/Mexico border. Following the guidelines below should help make your trip simple and enjoyable.


On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government implemented the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States from Mexico at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

CHILDREN: U.S. citizen children under the age of 15 may present the original or copy of their birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state where he or she was born), or other proof of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card. If the child is a newborn and the actual birth certificate has not arrived from the Vital Records Department, we will accept a Hospital issued birth certificate.

Groups of U.S. citizen children ages 16 through 18, when traveling with a school or religious group, social organization, or sports team, will be able to enter under adult supervision with originals or copies of their birth certificates or other proof of citizenship.

See the Department of Homeland Security’s GetYouHome.gov for more information on the changing travel requirements.


U.S. Passport

U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air, land or sea between the U.S. and throughout the world.

The Passport Card: This is a new limited-use travel document that is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. It is only valid for travel by land and sea. The card cannot be used for international travel by air. The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

How to Acquire a U.S. Passport or Passport Card.

Applications for passports and passport cards can be made at many post offices, some libraries, and local government offices. Complete information for obtaining a passport or passport card can be found at U.S. Passport Home.

Other WHTI-Compliant Travel Documents for U.S. Citizen Travel via Land or Sea:

  • Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
  • State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available)
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)
  • U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business
  • Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
  • Form I-872 American Indian Card

For further information see U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website Ready, Set…Go!