Traveling to Mexico with your child can be a wonderful and memorable experience, and can open their eyes up to a new culture, language and ways of doing things and seeing the world, besides being a fun vacation experience. The first thing to consider when planning your trip is to make sure you're aware of the entry requirements. This will help avoid any unnecessary hassles along the way. If you or the child accompanying you does not have the proper documentation, you may be turned away at the airport or at the border, so be sure you have everything you need on hand.
It is important to keep in mind that the requirements of different countries may vary and you need to meet the requirements of the country you're traveling to, as well as those for the return to your home country, and any other countries that you may visit in transit.
Every traveler arriving in Mexico by air, regardless of age, is required to present a valid passport for entry into the country. Unlike some other countries, Mexico does not require passports to be valid for longer than the anticipated length of the visit. Children who are not Mexican citizens are only required to present a passport. They are not required by the Mexican authorities to present any other documentation.
Mexican and Dual Nationality Children
Mexican citizens (including dual citizens of other countries) who are under 18 years of age and traveling and are not in the company of at least one of their parents, will need to present proof of the parents' authorization to travel. The authorization from the parents, which as stated above is required by Mexican law for Mexican nationals only, must be translated into Spanish and legalized by the Mexican embassy in the country where the document was issued. You can read more about the letter and see an example of a letter of authorization to travel.
Upon exiting Mexico, children who are Mexican citizens need to present a SAM form (Formato de Salida de Menores in Spanish) which is on the Mexican immigration website. The child's parent or guardian can fill out the form on the website, save and print it out and have it on hand to present when exiting Mexico. This is a requirement for children with Mexican citizenship even if they do not reside in Mexico.
Canadian Children Traveling to Mexico
The Canadian government recommends that all Canadian children who are traveling abroad who are not traveling in the company of both of their parents carry a consent letter from the parents (or in the case of traveling with one parent only, from the absent parent) showing the parents' or guardians' permission for travel. Although it is not required by law, this letter may be requested by Canadian immigration officials when exiting or re-entering Canada.
Leaving and Returning to the U.S.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) establishes document requirements for travel into the United States from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The travel documents required for children vary according to the form of travel, the age of the child and whether or not the child is traveling as part of an organized group.
Travel by Land and Sea
US and Canadian citizens aged 16 and over who are entering the United States from Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean by land or sea are required to show a passport or alternative WHTI-compliant document such as a passport card. Children up to the age of 15 may present proof of citizenship alone, such as a birth certificate, a consular report of birth abroad, a naturalization certificate, or a Canadian citizenship card.
Special provisions have been made under the WHTI to allow US and Canadian school groups, or other organized groups of children aged 19 and under, to enter the US by land with proof of citizenship (birth certificate). The group should be prepared to present a letter on organizational letterhead with information about the group trip including the name of the group, the names of the adults responsible for the children and a list of the names of the children in the group as well as signed permission from the parents of the children.