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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 25, 2021

Yes, passports are generally required to enter the US with some exceptions

If Your Time is short

  • A valid passport is generally required to enter any of these countries, but eligible travelers can apply for other documents that prove their citizenship that they can use in some circumstances instead. 
 

Indignant messages have appeared on social media lately questioning border crossing requirements in Mexico, the United States and Canada. 

"Would someone explain to me why I need a passport to go to Mexico but they can come here without any documents at all," one March 23 post said.

"You need a passport to enter Mexico and Canada, why don’t you need one to enter the United States?" another from March 20 said.

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

According to the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico, a passport is required to legally cross the border "in most cases."

Mexican nationals must show a valid passport when traveling to the United States by air.

Featured Fact-check

But a Border Crossing Card can also be used in lieu of a passport to travel from Mexico to the United States by land, personal boat, or ferry. The cards are issued only to citizens and residents of Mexico. Applicants must meet eligibility standards to qualify and show that they have ties to Mexico that would compel them to return. 

U.S. citizens, meanwhile, must have a valid U.S. passport book or card to fly or drive across the border into Mexico, according to the State Department.

All U.S. citizens traveling internationally must have a valid U.S. passport to board a flight to the United States, but there are more options for U.S. citizens traveling within the Western Hemisphere: Canada, Mexico, the Carribean, and Central and South America. 

U.S. citizens entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere by air must have a valid U.S. passport or NEXUS card, which is issued to eligible pre-screened travelers to expedite travel when entering the United States and Canada..

Citizens traveling by land or sea into the United States must show one of several documents approved under the so-called Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, including passports, enhanced driver’s licenses, military identification cards, or "trusted traveler cards." These include the NEXUS card, which U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents and Mexican nationals can apply for.

Americans and Mexican nationals can enter Canada without a passport if they have a NEXUS card. And the card can be used to enter the United States under some circumstances, too.

Ultimately, travelers to the United States need something to prove their citizenship, Rhonda Lawson, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection, told USA Today. That’s also true of travelers to Mexico and Canada. In most cases that’s a passport, but some people are able to cross borders without one if they qualify for another travel document proving their citizenship. 

We rate this post Mostly False.

 

Our Sources

Facebook post, March 23, 2021

Facebook post, March 20, 2021

U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico, Passport FAQs, visited March 25, 2021

U.S. Department of State, Crossing the U.S.-Mexico border by land, visited March 25, 2021

U.S. Department of State, Border Crossing Card, visited March 25, 2021

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, The Border Crossing Card (BCC) - What documents do I need as a Mexican national to visit the United States? Dec. 12, 2020

U.S. State Department, International travel: Mexico, visited March 25, 2021

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Citizens - Documents needed to enter the United States and/or to travel internationally, Oct. 1, 2020

USA Today, Fact check: A valid passport is required to cross U.S.-Mexico border in most cases, March 23, 2021

Department of Homeland Security, Trusted Traveler Programs, visited March 25, 2021

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, NEXUS eligibility, visited March 25, 2021

Canada Border Services Agency, FAQs about the NEXUS Program, visited March 25, 2021

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, NEXUS, visited March 25, 2021

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Yes, passports are generally required to enter the US with some exceptions

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