Americans have been traveling to Mexico throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite global bans on travel and border closures. (The loophole? The U.S.–Mexico border was only ever closed to land travel, not air travel.) Mexico remains one of the least restrictive countries when it comes to travel requirements, so we don’t imagine Americans will stop planning their Cancun vacations anytime soon.
Despite the country’s relatively lax guidelines, there are still factors to consider. Do you need a COVID test to fly to Mexico? Do you need the COVID vaccine to travel to Mexico? What are the requirements when flying back to the United States?
You can find most relevant information on the U.S. Embassy to Mexico’s website, but we’ll help you out by breaking down the basics. Here’s what you need to know about traveling to—and returning from—Mexico right now.
Mexico travel basics
Mexico is currently open to travelers, and the land border between the U.S. and Mexico reopened to non-essential travel on November 8, 2021. That means you can visit the country via train, car, flight, cruise ship, ferry, and pretty much any other mode of transportation that comes to mind.
The Mexican government does ask that tourists still wear face masks in public spaces and continue to social distance. Some states also enforce a curfew, so be sure to check the specific guidelines of your destination before you plan too many late-night excursions.
It’s worth noting that the U.S. State Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both advise against traveling to Mexico right now. Last updated on December 8, the U.S. Department of State set its advisory rating at level 3, which means people should “reconsider travel” to Mexico. The CDC also has Mexico’s travel advisory rating set at level 3 (high) and recommends everyone gets fully vaccinated before traveling internationally.
Mexico travel and COVID tests
Do you need to provide a negative COVID test to enter Mexico? In short: no. But you still need to complete a declaration of health, which asks general questions about your health and recent potential exposures to COVID.
There are also health screening procedures at airports and other ports of entry, and people showing symptoms may be subject to further restrictions. According to the U.S. Embassy’s website: “Passengers and aircrew members arriving at Mexican airports may be subject to health screenings including temperature checks. Those exhibiting symptoms may be subject to additional health screening and/or quarantine.”
However, you do need to be tested to return to the United States. As of December 6, the State Department requires a negative viral COVID test (PCR or antigen; it can be an at-home test if it’s one supervised by a telehealth service) taken no more than one day before travel. This applies to anyone traveling by air into the country, including U.S. citizens and people who are fully vaccinated.
You can easily find PCR and/or antigen tests in Mexico. Most local hospitals and clinics offer private testing for travel purposes, or you can check out the list of approved laboratories from Mexico’s Secretariat of Health. PCR tests in Mexico typically cost $45–$220 (depending on location and speed of results), while antigen tests cost $10–$50.
Mexico travel and vaccines
Mexico does not require travelers to be vaccinated to enter the country, although the CDC still highly recommends you get the jab(s) before crossing the border.
You also do not need to be fully vaccinated to fly back to the United States if you are a U.S. citizen. Non-citizen air travelers are required to provide proof of being fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Although there are no hard-and-fast vaccine requirements upon re-entry, the CDC still recommends that all travelers (regardless of vaccination status) get a viral test three to five days after returning and to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. If you are not fully vaccinated, the CDC further suggests you self-quarantine for seven days after travel.