A tourist card, also called an FMM ("Forma Migratoria Múltiple," previously referred to as an FMT), is a tourist permit that is required for all foreign citizen travelers to Mexico who will not be engaged in any type of remunerated work. Tourist cards may be valid for up to 180 days and allow the holder to remain in Mexico as a tourist for the allotted time. Be sure to hold on to your tourist card and keep it in a safe place, as you will need to hand it in when you are departing the country. Foreign nationals who will be working in Mexico are required to obtain a work visa from the National Immigration Institute (INM).
In the past, travelers who were remaining within the United States border zone for up to 72 hours did not need a tourist card. (The border zone, comprised of an area roughly 20 km into Mexico from the U.S. border and also included most of Baja California and the Sonora "free zone.") However, now the tourist card is required for all non-Mexican visitors to the country who will remain for fewer than six months.
There is a fee of about $23 USD for a tourist card. If you are traveling by air or on a cruise, the fee for your tourist card is included in the cost of your trip, and you will be given the card to fill out. If you are traveling over land you can pick up a tourist card at your point of entry or from a Mexican consulate before your departure. In this case, you will need to make the payment for your tourist card at a bank after your arrival in Mexico.
Mexico's National Immigration Institute (INM) now allows travelers to apply for a tourist card online up to 7 days before entering Mexico. You can fill in the form and, if traveling by land, pay for the tourist card online. If you'll be traveling by air, the fee is included in your airplane ticket, so no need to pay again. Just remember that the tourist card must be stamped by an immigration official when you enter Mexico, otherwise, it is not valid. Apply for a tourist card online on the website of Mexico's National Immigration Institute: online FMM application.
Upon arrival in Mexico, you will present the filled-in tourist card to the immigration official who will stamp it and write in the number of days that you are allowed to stay in the country. The maximum is 180 days or 6 months, but the time actually given is at the discretion of the immigration official (often only 30 to 60 days are granted initially), for longer stays, the tourist card would need to be extended.
You should keep your tourist card in a safe place, for example, tucked into the pages of your passport. Upon leaving the country you must surrender your tourist card to immigration officials. If you do not have your tourist card, or if your tourist card is expired, you may be fined.
If You Lose Your Card
If your tourist card is lost or stolen, you will need to pay a fee to get a replacement tourist card at an immigration office, or you may be fined when you're leaving the country.
Find out what to do if you've lost your tourist card.
Extending Your Tourist Card
If you wish to stay in Mexico for longer than the time allotted on your tourist card, you will need to extend it. Under no circumstances is a tourist allowed to stay longer than 180 days; if you want to stay longer you will have to leave and re-enter the country, or apply for a different type of visa.
Find out how to extend your tourist card.