Travel Tips

5 min read

Do You Need A Passport To Go To Cabo?

Planning a trip to Cabo? Find out if you need a passport for flights, cruises, or driving. Essential info for US citizens & minors on travel documents.

Tobi Miles
July 3, 2022
Do You Need A Passport To Go To Cabo?

Cabo San Lucas is a popular spot located at the most southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. The city is known for its restaurants, bars, and main beach, Playa El Medano. It draws crowds for spring break, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and vacations, but do you need a passport to go to Cabo?

U.S. citizens traveling to Cabo by plane or ship must carry a valid passport to enter Mexican territory. Those traveling by land are not required to present a passport, but an ID is needed to return to the United States. Minors are not required to carry a passport, but alternative identification such as a birth certificate or naturalization papers are necessary.

Minors 16 and older can travel to Mexico alone, but those under the age of 16 will need written permission. This letter will need to be signed by both parents and notarized, so keep this in mind and plan ahead. Follow along as we explore everything you need to know to enter Cabo and enjoy your time in Mexico.

Credit: sojourner1970 / Flickr

What Documents Do I Need To Fly To Cabo San Lucas?

All visitors that enter Mexico through the San Jose del Cabo International airport must have a valid passport and permit. This permit is known as the Obligatory Migratory Form for Tourists, Business Visitors, Transmigrants, or Consultants. This permit is issued to anyone wanting to visit Mexico, but mainly for tourists.

If you are Canadian or have dual citizenship, you must have a valid passport when arriving in Mexico. There isn’t an online immigration form from Canada to Mexico. U.S. citizens can use a passport, voters card, citizenship card, certificate of naturalization, or Global Entry Card to enter Mexico.

Related Read: Best Time To Go To Cabo

Can You Go To Cabo With A Passport Card?

You can use a passport card as a form of identification for domestic flights but not for international air travel. Passport cards are only valid when entering the U.S. at land border crossings. You can also use passport cards at sea ports of entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

A passport card is also REAL ID compliant. A REAL ID is essentially a driver’s license with advanced technology. A passport is not required to visit Cabo by cruise ship, but you should still bring it in case of emergencies.

Do You Need a Passport to Drive to Cabo?

Credit: ingimage

Visitors often fly into San Diego and then drive to Cabo. When flying domestically to San Diego, you will not need a passport. You will not need a passport to get through the U.S. - Mexico border, but you need Ready Lane approved documentation.

Ready Lanes use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. For a group to be Ready Lane-eligible, all travelers must be 16 or older and have an RFID-enabled card. You can use the following types of RFID-enabled cards when driving to Cabo:

  • Trusted Traveler Program Cards include NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry, or FAST
  • Enhanced Driver’s Licenses or Enhanced Tribal Cards
  • U.S. Passport Cards
  • Enhanced Border Crossing Cards or Enhanced Permanent Resident Cards

Save Time Entering Mexico with a Ready Lane

Credit: Shutterstock

Ready Lanes are lanes dedicated to processing vehicle passengers and pedestrians that have Ready Lane-eligible cards like the ones listed above. These lanes help travelers save time when crossing the border. To navigate the Ready Lane, follow these steps:

  • Drive to the lane that displays the Ready Lane logo.
  • Keep your Ready Lane-eligible card in hand and easy to access.
  • Display your Ready Lane-eligible card to the RFID card readers.
  • Once you get confirmation, proceed to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer.

Driving To Mexico? You Need Proper Vehicle Registration And Permits

If you decide to drive to Mexico, make sure that you take the proper steps to ensure you have everything you need. Whether driving your own vehicle or renting one, you’ll need a Mexico tourist insurance policy. Your insurance agent can help you purchase one for your own car; if you’re renting, the rental company will help you.

The next step is to apply for a TVIP or FMM card if you’re traveling more than 12 miles into Mexico. These cards permit Mexican and non-Mexican citizens to drive a car across the border. These documents can take some time to process and require your driver’s license or passport, so plan accordingly.

TVIP or FMM permits are not necessary for the Baja Peninsula. Therefore, if you rent a car once you’re in Cabo, you should be set. As always, check the U.S. Department of State Website for any updates to new or existing rules.

Credit: ingimage

Mexico Border Crossing Requirements 2022

According to the Department of State, you will need several documents in order to drive across the border into Mexico.

Here is a checklist of necessary documents for crossing the Mexican border in 2022.

  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • Current driver’s license
  • Mexico entry permit from a National Migration Institute
  • Current proof of vehicle registration
  • Correct car insurance for driving in Mexico
  • If you finance your car, a letter of permission from your lender
  • A temporary vehicle import permit

Remember, you will not need a TVIP or FMM permit if you are staying on the Baja Peninsula.

Current Travel Restrictions for Cabo

Currently, there are no travel restrictions for Cabo, and the San José del Cabo International Airport is open to all flights. There are arrival and departure protocols. Before arriving in Cabo, you will need to complete a three-step arrival protocol.

Complete the Questionnaire of Identification of Risk Factors in Travelers form required by the FAA and save the QR code. Next, fill out the official entry form, the Multiple Immigration Form; it will most likely be given to you on the plane. Finally, fill out the customs declaration form before departing from your country and save the QR code for Customs.

To depart from Mexico and return to the U.S., complete the risk factors questionnaire you submitted before entering. You then need to show your airline a negative COVID-19 test and fill out the attestation form. Lastly, fill out the Multiple Immigration form presented to you on arrival in Mexico.

Related Read: Do You Tip at All-Inclusive Resorts?

Do You Need To Get A Vaccine To Go To Cabo?

Credit: ingimage

No, you do not need a vaccine or negative COVID-19 test to travel to Cabo. However, all travelers, vaccinated or not, may be subject to health screenings, such as a temperature check, upon arrival. If you exhibit symptoms, you may have to undergo additional health screening or quarantine.

You must present a negative COVID-19 test to board the plane back to the U.S. when departing Cabo. Always contact your airline before arrival and departure for any additional requirements. You also must wear a mask in the Los Cabos Airpot.

Additionally, it’s worth remembering that individual cruise lines might have different regulations regarding Covid testing. Some cruise lines require all passengers to present a negative test taken within one to two days of boarding.

Does A Child Need A Passport To Go To Cabo?

Credit: ingimage

Children do not need a passport to go to Cabo, but they do need alternative identification. Approved identification could be a birth certificate or naturalization papers. Many parents choose to purchase a passport instead.

Children under 16 must have written permission signed by both parents to enter Cabo alone. This document must be notarized. Even if a child under 16 travels with another adult, the same requirements apply as if they were to travel alone.

Related Read: 20 Best Beaches in Mexico for Families

Do You Need A Visa To Go To Cabo?

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit Cabo if they are visiting for less than six months. If staying longer than six months, you will need to apply for a visa. Those who are working in Cabo, even if it’s less than six months, should apply for a work visa.

Do You Need A Passport To Cruise To Cabo?

Credit: ingimage

U.S. citizens who are on closed-loop cruises do not need a passport. A closed-loop cruise means it begins and ends at the same U.S. port. These travelers can show alternative documents such as a state-issued birth certificate or certificate of naturalization and a government-issued photo ID.

Some cruises still require U.S. passengers to carry a valid passport in case of an emergency. Non-US citizens must have a passport for a cruise to Mexico. The passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the arrival date.

Related Read: 20 Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Cabo San Lucas

Wrapping Up When You Need A Passport For Cabo

Unlike other tropical vacations, a trip to Cabo does not require much preparation. If you’re traveling to Cabo by plane, you must have a valid passport to enter. If you’re traveling by land, you do not need a passport, but you do need an ID to return to the U.S.

Minors don't have to carry a passport, but they are required to have a birth certificate or naturalization papers. If you are traveling to Cabo on a closed-loop cruise, you do not need a passport, but it is highly recommended.

There are no vaccine or COVID-19 testing requirements to enter Cabo, but you will need a negative test to return. As always, double check with the relevant authorities before traveling so they don't leave you at the airport gate.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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