https://www.afar.com/magazine/can-americans-visit-mexico-right-now (mirror) (2020-09-15) seems to say that anyone can enter Mexico:

According to Mexico: Per Travesías, “Mexico’s federal government has never closed its borders despite COVID-19. In fact, it’s one of the few countries that currently welcomes travelers from all over the world, without any kind of restriction or mandatory quarantine upon arrival.” Some states in Mexico have called on their federal government to tighten border restrictions as the U.S. case count has risen, reports the Washington Post.

However, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/09/18/fact-sheet-dhs-measures-border-limit-further-spread-coronavirus (mirror), which pertains to land borders only, seems to imply that the US->Mexico land border is only open for non-essential travels ("non-essential" being defined here (mirror)):

In order to limit the further spread of coronavirus, the U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders. Working closely and collaboratively, the Department of Homeland Security is part of a North American approach to stop the spread of the virus.

Given these two seemingly contradictory statements, I am confused: Is the US->Mexico (i.e., from the US to Mexico) land border open for non-essential travels?

If the citizenship matters, the traveler is a French citizen and a US lawful permanent resident.

  • If the Mexican border is open, you can go from the US to Mexico. If the US border is closed, you can't come back. No contradiction.
    – Aganju
    Sep 27, 2020 at 14:31
  • Which direction are you asking about? Each country's entry restrictions are separate and each direction of travel is considered separately. US permanent residents returning to the US is considered "essential travel" for the purposes of the US land border entry restrictions, regardless of the purpose of the travel, so, since the traveler is a permanent resident, the answer is that the border is open to them in the direction of Mexico -> US. Are you asking about the direction of US -> Mexico?
    – user102008
    Sep 27, 2020 at 16:20
  • @user102008 thanks yes I'm asking asking about the direction of US -> Mexico Sep 27, 2020 at 18:26
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    is there a mixup between essential *and *non-essential in the second part of the question? I do not think that the border "is open only for non-essential travel" (i.e. it is closed for essential travel). The quote below also state the opposite.
    – Chieron
    Sep 28, 2020 at 12:13
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    @Chieron Do you mean the line in bold? "Limit all non-essential travel" indicates it's closed (or curtailed) for non-essential travel, and presumably open for essential travel. ("limit to non-essential travel" would mean closed for essential travel)
    – Mohirl
    Sep 28, 2020 at 14:23

2 Answers 2


(My answer is specific to the San Diego/Tijuana land ports of entry, but may apply to others)

The US/Mexico border has not been closed due to Covid-19. The US and Mexico currently have an agreement that the border is restricted for non-essential travel, in BOTH directions.

That said, if you are DRIVING into Mexico you are unlikely to be stopped and can probably enter Mexico without issue. This doesn't mean that it's legal (you still legally require an FMM visitor permit), just that you can probably enter without issue. I have heard of INM enforcing restrictions on cars on occasional weekends, but haven't heard of anyone I know yet not being allowed into Mexico.

For entering the USA the restrictions are enforced - everyone is stopped entering the US, and only essential travel is permitted. I am aware of people who have been turned back / denied entry as their travel was not deemed essential. There are exceptions to the essential-travel requirement, which includes if you are US-citizen or permanent resident. These exceptions would allow you as a US resident to enter the US from Mexico. For me as a Mexico resident but with only a B1/B2 visa for the US, the exceptions do not apply and I am not allowed to cross the border into the US.

See Travel Restrictions – Fact Sheet

Who is considered an “essential” traveler?

  • Citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States.
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States).
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions.
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada or Mexico in furtherance of such work).
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies).
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada and Mexico).
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel.
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.

On a personal note, I would recommend only traveling into Tijuana/Baja California if it's essential you do so. Covid-19 cases are ongoing here, I personally know people in the area who have it now, and I believe officially Baja California (or at least Tijuana region) still is in high restriction (many businesses are still closed, many are still not working etc.) I don't believe it's worth the risk traveling here right now unless you absolutely need to. Keep yourself safe, and keep the people of Mexico safe.

  • 1
    Thanks very much! Do the border agents strictly control the essential travel requirements for people walking from San Diego into tijuana via pedeast or otay? (My car's windows are tinted so I don't want to bring my car to mexico as I've read border agents may remove the tints due to some Mexican anti-tint, pro-skin-cancer law). Sep 27, 2020 at 18:22
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    @FranckDernoncourt I've only heard of a few people being turned back trying to enter Mexico (not people I know personally), and I've only heard of it happening on US holiday weekends as this is when there is an influx of tourist visits. I don't know if the border guards are strict for people entering Mexico on foot. Personally I would be surprised if it happened, but I have no experience with this
    – Midavalo
    Sep 27, 2020 at 18:29
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    @FranckDernoncourt We always lower ALL our openable windows every time we cross the border (both directions) and never had issues. The windows on our vehicle are dark (factory tinted) and we're often asked to open doors/windows so they can see in the car and never had any mention about the tint.(at border and at police/military checkpoints).
    – Midavalo
    Sep 27, 2020 at 18:33
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    @FranckDernoncourt we've never had any issue with the tint, at the border or at checkpoints - it's never been a concern for us to think twice about. We go through the border with windows open so that we're less likely to be stopped for inspection. We have a large SUV, and large vehicles are more likely to be stopped to see if you're bringing anything across the border. If we open all the windows they can easily see into the vehicle and I guess they assume we have nothing to hide.
    – Midavalo
    Sep 27, 2020 at 18:44
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    ... Since we started doing this 2-3 years ago we may have been stopped for inspection once (if that?); Before that we were stopped many many times.
    – Midavalo
    Sep 27, 2020 at 18:44

In practice the border is definitely not closed for tourism. The Mexican embassy in the US has the following infographic on their pages:

enter image description here

The full version of these statistics show that 11 million tourists have traveled to Mexico in the first 6 months of 2021 (the infographic above shows data for the first 3 months).

  • Thanks. Land border restricted for non-essential travel but 3.1 M land tourists bragged by the Mexican embassy. I don't get it. Sep 12, 2021 at 2:39
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    @FranckDernoncourt please see a follow up question.
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 12, 2021 at 2:50

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