You may have arrived at this post after falling down a black hole of Google searches, TripAdvisor forums and horror stories told by harried bloggers. Take a deep breath. Trying to figure out what the Mexico “exit tax” is, if you have to pay it, and (heaven help you) how much it costs is worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack. There are blog posts claiming it’s a scam, and others claiming it’s a totally legitimate fee to leave the country.

How the hell are you supposed to figure this out before you leave for the airport tomorrow morning?

Superman

 

While I can’t claim to have all the answers, I have exited Mexico twice this year, once by land and once by air. I hope my experience with giving money to Mexican border officials can help you make sense of this convoluted policy (sorry, Mexico, but you know it’s true).

For starters, it’s not an exit tax.

A more accurate way to describe the cost would be a visa fee. For real! You’re not paying to exit the country, you’re (belatedly) paying to enter it! To be precise, you’re paying for the FMM form the border guard stuck in your passport when you arrived. Remember? It looks like this:

Mexico FMM Form

They don’t call it a visa, but that’s pretty much what it is. A form you get from immigration that states how long you’re allowed to be in the country, that must be kept with your passport at all times, and has a fee associated with it? Sounds like a visa to me! But if they told people that you need a visa to enter Mexico, I’m pretty sure tourism would drop by 20% overnight. So on we go pretending it’s simply a form.

If you arrived by air, you (probably) don’t have to pay it.

Most US airlines and many European ones cover the FMM fee in the price of your ticket. If you fly in from the US on a commercial airline and fly back out, without ever crossing a land border, I’m 99.99999% sure you don’t have to pay the fee. This was certainly the case for everyone I met who did this. If you flew in on a charter airline, you may need to pay, but it’s best to check with your airline to know for sure.

I wish I knew this when I exited the country the first time by land. The trouble is that the airlines give you no proof that you paid, so when we went to Belize by car we had no way of showing the guard that we had already paid (or at least that United Airlines had paid on our behalf). We also didn’t fully understand the process at this time, despite reading dozens of posts on the subject. The Mexican government should really do a better job of making this information clearly available to tourists.

It’s currently 306 pesos.

As of May 2014, 306 pesos was the magic number. I know this because it says so right on the bonus form the guard stapled to my FMM when entering Mexico by land. It’s also the amount I paid TWICE (the first time being a mistake).

Mexico FMM Cost

My hunch is that if you don’t have one of these stapled to your FMM form, you already paid it. But I’m definitely NOT sure about that!

If you have to pay it, you can do it at a bank.

Before you go to the airport, head to any bank and hand your FMM form to the teller along with 306 pesos. He will give you a receipt that you’ll hand over to the border official at the airport (the airline will also probably want to see it). DO NOT lose this receipt.

Payment receipt for FMM

Otherwise, you can pay when you check-in at the airport.  I’m not sure all airlines do this, but United certainly accepted payments at the check-in desk as of May 2014.

No, it’s not a scam.

Unless the border guard tries to charge you more than 306 pesos. Then you should probably refuse to pay or simply pretend to not understand Spanish until he waives you through because your incompetence exhausts him.

We can hope that someday Mexico will either make this policy more clear, or just do away with the fee entirely. But until that magical day I hope that this post has given you a bit of clarity in these muddy waters.

Have any crazy tales dealing with the famous Mexico “Exit Tax”? Spill in the comments!

  • Andy

    Some good information you provide here. But in our case it was different. We arrived from Belize by land and left from Cancun by air. On the airline ticket receipt it clearly said that the taxes are included in the ticket price. So we didn’t think there will be problems. But at the United check-in counter the staff told us, that we have to go to the immigration counter, pay the fee and get the form stamped. When we asked her about the included fee in the ticket, she just told us “no stamped form, no boarding card”. So after a while time was running out and we decided to pay. 306 pesos or 30$ (~440 pesos). We paid in pesos, because if you pay in dollars its 9$ extra in the immigration officers pocket.

    • http://www.seeknewtravel.com/ Kit Whelan

      That’s so annoying! I think the airlines only cover your fee if you flew in with them (not arriving via land), but it’s still ridiculous that they put language in the ticket that’s so confusing to people! I wish Mexico would just get rid of this stupid fee.

  • Don Juane

    Entering by bus from US direct to San Miguel, arriving and wishing to pay my tax, no local bank understood what I was talking about when presenting the FMM. As of today’s date, the Banjercito office told me when I entered MX to request a special form from IMM (sorry, forgot the name) that would be needed to be processed by any bank in MX along with the FMM; in other words, the FMM form taken to “any bank” alone would not suffice. I finally was able to pay the FMM fee and get it stamped at a Banjercito (for my future exit on bus) at a nearby airport. Note that the last 2 times I exited MX via bus, both to Belize and through Laredo, the fact I had not paid caused me to be removed from the bus and pay on the spot before I and the rest of the passengers could proceed. Also note that in both instances I didn’t get a receipt, not that it really matters other than an official received a great propina.

    • http://www.seeknewtravel.com/ Kit Whelan

      That’s extra weird! As if this convoluted system needed another special form! I really wish they would clarify this for travelers (especially those traveling overland) and give receipts!

  • http://rayjeanne.com Jeanne Burnham

    We left Mexico on Jan 3 2015 on Cubana airline from Cancun to Havana. Requested was $25 US or $375 MX pesos each exit tax. We paid in pesos since we are Canadian and do not carry much US cash. We will leave Mexico again April 1 2015 from Mexico City. It remains to be seen how much we will be charged.

  • Dan

    For a post named EVERYTHING you need to know about mexicos exit tax it actually leaves a lot of the information out that I was looking for and found in other reviews. If you are claiming it’s EVERYTHING I would like to see a bit more information regarding currencies that you can pay with and a little less guess work

  • sail1934

    This is really a fee for an immigration card (FMM) or visa , whatever one wishes to call it. The airline do not cover it. The airlines add the fee onto your ticket price . The fee is not normally identified by itself. If you are a resident of Mexico, either temporary or permanent you can have the fee refunded by requesting same. Alaska Air is very clear on this and have a simple form that will return your money. Other airlines seem to play a bit of a game or pretend they don’t know about the fee. If you fly in and depart by land keep your airline receipt of purchase. As USA and Canadian airlines always include the fee this should be proof that you have already paid your visa (FMM) feel

  • Chris Road

    Your information is not correct. You do NOT pay an belated entry fee, but you actually pay 355 pesos (currently in 2015) when you receive the FFM card and when you leave the country they want 355 pesos AGAIN. I never paid my exit fee, I refused. Once is enough.

    • http://www.seeknewtravel.com/ Kit Whelan

      Chris – so you’re saying that in 2015 they’ve updated the procedure so you pay in cash both when entering and exiting? How did you enter & exit – by air/land/sea? Can you provide any links to this updated information?

      • Chris Road

        I have no links, just my own experience. On the 27th of February I did enter Mexico by land (south from Tucson, Arizona / Nogales border) and 20km after the border there is an immigration office where you get your FFM card. The cost is 355 pesos. I left Mexico in Tapachula/Talisman border going to Guatemala. When handing in the FFM card they expected me to pay 355 pesos AGAIN. I did refuse to pay this again and the lady at the counter refused to put an exit stamp in my passport., I took my FFM card back from the table, left the building and just walked into Guatemala.

        • http://www.seeknewtravel.com/ Kit Whelan

          Ah, yes, by land it’s so tricky! As I said in my post, I also paid twice because when I left by land I had no way to prove that I had “paid” when I arrived by plane (meaning the airline had paid for me). It is interesting they made you pay when entering by land, though, I hadn’t heard of that happening before! Just another reason to insist on getting a receipt for any payment you make (and why the Mexican government should really just standardize the practice across all entry/exit points).

        • http://blogs.ocweekly.com/stickaforkinit Dave Lieberman

          This is because 99 percent of the foreigners leaving Mexico at Chetumal/El Corozal are people who landed at Cancún airport and never paid for their FMM on the way in. You just show the receipt (the DETAILED receipt) showing you paid your DNI (derecho de no inmigrante) and they let you through. However, when you come back, you pay your 355 pesos again, because an FMM, despite being called “forma migratoria múltiple”, is not a multiple-entry document; it’s used for multiple purposes (tourism, business, people who are applying for residente permanente status, etc.).

        • Almot57

          So they asked, but you didn’t pay. Then, who cares? And, David is right – Mex customs at Guatemala border are mostly dealing with people who didn’t pay for FMM when flew into Cancun – because they were either within 7-days exemption or the airline paid for them.
          Btw, did you have to pay to Guatemala customs crooks when entering? They are asking about $5US, – clearly extortion, there is no entrance fee to Guatemala, some people refuse to pay and some pay.

  • Jim Martino

    Thanks for the insights on this messy situation. I flew into Mexico City on SouthWest Airlines (SWA) from the States, Oneway. Leaving by land through Belize. The “FMM” tax was paid for on our plane ticket from SWA. However, the initial receipt does not spell out the details. I had to call SWA and have them email a detailed receipt which has a $45.04 USD “tourism tax” (for two people-see below) to show the border folks tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes…fingers crossed! Cost and Payment SummaryAIR – Base Fare$138.00Excise Taxes$35.00Segment Fee$0.00Passenger Facility Charge$9.00September 11th Security Fee$11.20***Tourism Tax $45.04***
    Total Air Cost$238.24

    • http://www.seeknewtravel.com/ Kit Whelan

      Definitely let everyone know how it goes! I wish we had thought to do it before leaving for Belize.

      • Jim M

        SUCCESS! The travel gods showed mercy on us today in Chetumal, MX. Just before getting on the water taxi to Belize, we showed the MX Immigration guys that we paid $45 USD from our flight “Tourist Tax” on our iphone and it worked like a champ! HOWEVER, we were also told that some officials accept a smart phone version and others want hard paper. But, that it does work. Spread the word y’all…and go buy yourselves a bucket of Pacificos with that extra $20! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/beccamex Becca T

    I can’t speak for all Mexican airports however when leaving Cancun airport there is exit tax which has absolutely nothing to do with the immigration form. Almost all airlines include this fee within the price however there are certain charter flights, Thomas Cook for example, that do require all passengers to pay this tax when they check in for departure. It does vary slightly but it is approx $800 pesos per person and can be paid in Mexican pesos, US dollars or, in the case of Thomas Cook, UK pounds.

  • Nathalie Clermont

    I flew from Canada to Cancun via LA. Took the bus from Cancun to Chetumal to cross border to Belize, our final destination. I was charged $100 us ($50 each) to exit Mexico. A far cry from 306 pesos each as mentioned on this website. My young daughter and I were basically hustled at a not so busy border. Never going back there again. That was the most ridiculous fee I’ve ever paid for 8 hours in transit through Mexico. If you’re going to travel to or through Mexico be ready to be hustled….

    • Joe akaJojo Conwell

      You were not hustled. The Mexican government’s fee flying into and out of Cancun was 40$ USD, in May 2016.

      Maybe you paid $10 a piece too much, but not like you thought.

      Cancun charges more than the rest of Mexico since it is a tourist destination.

      I know the fee because I worked for an airline so I got to fly free (standby). Free except the foreign governments charges.

      • Kathy Torrence

        Joe we’re flying stand-by non-rev to Cancun. Do you know how much the exit tax is for airline emp?

        • Joe Jojo Conwell

          Still $39 USD.

  • Marek Slivanský

    Experience from February/March 2016 (returned today after 14 days travelling).

    We have entered Mexico with flight from Canada, we paid nothing when entering. Then we exited from Mexico to Caye Caulker, Belize from Chetumal, there we had to pay 390 pesos p.p. exit fee when exitting via sea (we came just minutes before the boat left, so there was no time to argue). Belize has small entry fee ($1.25 BZD p.p. and quite high exit fee of $37.25 BZD p.p.). We continued to Guatemala by land (no entry nor exit fee). After returning back to Mexico there was no entry fee again. But when leaving Mexico, they told us at the Air Canada checkin desk that we have entered Mexico by land and that in this case we have only 7 days to leave the country without paying the exit fee. As we were leaving the 8th day, we had to pay the exit fee again (390 pesos p.p.). Hope this helps somebody ;)

  • Michael

    Can I leave mexico by airline and return the next and get 180 more days?