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I am a French citizen and a US lawful permanent resident. Is it possible to enter Mexico with a US green card and without a passport via the US <-> Mexico land border on foot?


I am reading some contradictory statements. E.g.

Yes: comment left on https://www.rushmypassport.com/blog/do-you-need-a-passport-to-go-to-mexico-2/:

you won't have to show a passport to get into Mexico

Maybe: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/us-mexicoborder.html:

The Mexican government may not let U.S. citizens who are driving or walking to Mexico enter the country at land border crossings if they do not have a U.S. passport book or U.S. passport card.

I'm looking for both the practice and the theory.

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    That "yes" in your last block doesn't seem like a yes to me. It probably means "Resident aliens must also possess a green card", not that a green card alone would get you across the border. – Kate Gregory Feb 24 at 11:08
  • Are you asking about entering Mexico, entering the US, or both? The title and text only refer to Mexico, but your last citations also refer to entering the US. – Michael Seifert Feb 24 at 12:59
  • @MichaelSeifert US it is quite clear from US statutes and regulations that a permanent resident need only show the green card to enter the US. A passport is not necessary. I expect that Franck Dernoncourt knows this, and that that explains why he's only asking about entry into Mexico. – phoog Feb 24 at 15:32
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    Thanks I'll remove the last quote as indeed I misread it and "or other acceptable identification handy." Is too vague to be of any use. Only asking about entering Mexico (the last time I entered the US I only used my green card) – Franck Dernoncourt Feb 24 at 17:38
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    A related question might be whether you can enter Mexico without a passport but with a US Re-entry Permit and a green card. – user102008 Feb 24 at 18:10
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Officially foreigners (ie not Mexican citizens, nationals, or legal residents) are required to present a passport with them when entering and carry it while in Mexico. The Mexico embassy website states that a valid travel document (ie Passport or refugee document etc - something that gives you the ability to travel to foreign countries) is required to enter Mexico.

See https://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/sanfrancisco/index.php/servicios-para-extranjeros which says

  • All foreigners, regardless their nationality, are required to present a valid and not expired passport or travel document when entering Mexico (traveling by air, land or sea).
  • The Mexican government only requires that your passport must be valid during the entirety of your trip. Please contact the airline(s) you will be flying on to ensure that they let you board the plane as the United States does have a six months validity rule for passports that may apply.

In practice you can drive over the border and will never be asked to show a passport. Walking over it's probably 50/50 whether you get asked or not. And I believe in the current covid time they are asking everyone walking over to show a passport.

When entering you are supposed to get an FMM travel permit, which requires you to present your passport in order to obtain the permit, but a lot of the time it is up to the traveler to do this, you aren't always stopped.

I do know several American citizens who live in Mexico and do not have (have never had) a passport and have no other legal residency standing in Mexico. They have and do cross the border frequently without issue in either direction.

My examples are for the San Diego/Tijuana border crossings - ports of entry in other areas may be easier or more difficult.

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  • great, thanks! When driving to Mexico there is no border stop, right? – Franck Dernoncourt Feb 24 at 21:31
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    @FranckDernoncourt If you are going to get the FMM you stop at the border, but while it's required it's not actually enforced. You actually pull out of the traffic lane and park to enter an office to obtain it. If you don't stop here, you may or may not be stopped as you drive through the checkpoint, but this is usually to search your car, and never to ask for a passport – Midavalo Feb 24 at 21:36
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    @FranckDernoncourt Another thing to note, is if you don't carry your passport, and/or don't obtain the FMM, and you are stopped while in Mexico by police, military, INM (immigration) and you can't present them they can (and sometimes will) treat you as being illegal in Mexico and make you leave the country. I do know people this has happened to, but I believe it is infrequent (usually they just tell you off...) This is more likely to happen over a US holiday weekend when there's a lot more tourists – Midavalo Feb 24 at 21:41
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    It depends where you walk across into Mexico. We have never been stopped or asked for identification when entering Mexico on foot at the Progreso international bridge. I have been walking across that bridge for 40 years now. Never once did Mexican officials ask for identification. And when returning to the USA on foot, I use my Texas drivers license, even recently during Covid. The US officials do not even ask for my ID most of the time, because they know I am American just by glancing at me. Even my Russian wife was passed through with very little identification checking going on. – AussieJoe Feb 26 at 17:19
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    @AussieJoe Good point - my examples are for the San Diego/Tijuana border crossings, and the situation at other crossings may be different – Midavalo Feb 26 at 21:09
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The answer depends if you're planning to return to the USA or not. It also depends on where you intend to cross. Different bridges have different rules and processes in place.

In my 40 years of experience of crossing into Mexico on foot at the Progreso International Bridge in Texas, I have never once been asked for identification going into Mexico. In fact, last September I walked across (with a large group of hunters) during Covid and re-entered the USA with my Texas drivers license. I usually try to bring my passport but sometimes forget it. A drivers license will work, or you can even use no identification to re-enter, but you will wait for a short interview and some questions. I have done this before after many margaritas.

A green card would not work for entering Mexico, because Mexico does not issue green cards or even use them. A green card is a US form of identification, which holds no bearing in Mexico.

If you intend to travel into Mexico, beyond the border crossing towns and bridges, you will need a passport. A green card will not work with Mexican authorities in the interior parts of Mexico.

If you intend to travel into Mexico, for the day (for shopping, food, medicine, etc) and walk back to the USA, you can use your green card to re-enter the USA. USCIS can easily identify you with it. I hope that helps.

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    "because Mexico does not issue green cards or even use them": this is in contrast to Canada, which does allow US permanent residents to enter with just a green card. – phoog Feb 26 at 23:32

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