I have heard that, when entering Mexico by land from the US, the road does not "automatically" lead to Mexican passport control as in most other places; instead you're supposed to go to an immigration office yourself, in the same way you voluntarily declare things to customs at airports.

Is this really the case? Not that I haven't heard of similar setups (such as between French Guiana and Brazil), but I still consider it odd for obvious reasons.

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    It is certainly the case when walking from San Diego to Tijuana, you just pass through revolving doors and walk your way into Mexico without further checks. I guess 99% of people are Mexican citizens who work in the US and live in Mexico. I had to find the immigration office to get my entry stamp in the passport. I can't say anything about driving. Oct 30, 2016 at 23:01
  • @PeterHahndorf I see, how was it when walking back into the US (regarding US immigration)
    – Crazydre
    Oct 30, 2016 at 23:02
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    I never came back to the US, I went to Argentina. But as a German I had to handed back my US immigration card to US authorities and went back to the other side of the freeway where the entrance into the US is located. Again no checks on the Mexican side, but certainly checks on the US side. This was a few years ago, so I don't have any current experience. Oct 30, 2016 at 23:09
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    @PeterHahndorf Nice that you can actually see the US immigration when exiting. While an immigration card is no longer needed in many cases, the exit has to be electronically recorded
    – Crazydre
    Oct 30, 2016 at 23:15
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    It's at the border. If you walk across, there will be a manned booth or office that you will walk by. If you are driving, it can be hard to find; look for the usually one out of numerous lanes which is "something to declare" and you can take care of it there, or get directed to the right place. Oct 31, 2016 at 4:30

1 Answer 1


I'm sure it is easy to not get caught, but yes, you are supposed to find the INM and get your FMME.

(Link deleted because the page has been replaced by something completely different.). INM is immigration, and the FMME is (see comments) sort of like a visa-on-entry.

In Nuevo Laredo, I don’t remember any signs telling us how to find the place, but our driver knew. Several turns and some distance, so really easy to evade. (Then again, they might be comparing license plate photos from the border with ones from the check-in place.)

  • Decoded that means obtaining a Forma Migratoria Múltiple, which can be accomplished online before arrival. Entering Mexico via a land crossing, visitors locate the Migración office to present the FMM and have their passport stamped.
    – Giorgio
    Oct 30, 2016 at 23:47
  • I should have known there would be an online option, although I've always just stopped and stood inline. The hefty fee must be new. Three times this year and last, I've got an FMM for seven days without paying anything. Last time, though, on the way out, they demanded a huge fee for a 180-day stay. I pointed out that I had been in less than seven days as I had declared on entry. "No se importa—it says 180 on the form, you pay for 180 at the cashier, then come back here." So we instead got in the van and returned to USA.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 31, 2016 at 0:48
  • I think the exceptions mentioned by @pnuts are worth having in the answer. In particular, it's not required if you are staying less than 72 hours or only in the border zone. I think that's the whole reason why they don't funnel everyone through immigration: so that people on short trips (by time or distance) don't have to bother at all. Oct 31, 2016 at 1:10
  • I think that AAA document is either very new or very old, because March of this year, there was no fee for spending seven days in Monterrey, which is 160 KM from the nearest point on the border. Though 170 pesos is not "hefty." :-)
    – WGroleau
    Oct 31, 2016 at 2:16
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    @Crazydre: Pretty much honor system, as I understand. Though they might be more likely to pull over cars with foreign plates in inland areas and check their documents. I suppose they've decided as a matter of policy that illegal entry is not a serious problem, relative to the importance of promoting tourism. Oct 31, 2016 at 3:27

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