Mexico: Exit procedures at Mexican airports, including documentation required, and security checks performed prior to departure; whether access to a police computer network or database is available to security officials at international airports (2020–August 2022)
Information on exit procedures at Mexican airports was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
1. Exit Procedures and Security Measures
Sources report that in January 2022 the government announced that the navy would take control of security at seven (The Yucatan Times 22 Jan. 2022; Osprey Flight Solution 15 Feb. 2022) or "[a]t least seven" (Riviera Maya News 23 Jan. 2022) airports in Mexico (The Yucatan Times 22 Jan. 2022; Osprey Flight Solutions 15 Feb. 2022; Riviera Maya News 23 Jan. 2022), including the Mexico City International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez Ciudad de México, AICM), as well as airports in Yucatán (Mérida and Kaua), Quintana Roo (Cancún and Cozumel), and Chiapas (Tapachula and Tuxtla Gutiérrez) (The Yucatan Times 22 Jan. 2022). According to sources, navy personnel will replace National Guard personnel at these airports (The Yucatan Times 22 Jan. 2022; Rivera Maya News 23 Jan. 2022). An article by Osprey Flight Solutions, a UK-based company providing aviation risk assessments using open-source data, notes that the change aims to curb corruption, smuggling and trafficking (Osprey Flight Solutions 15 Feb. 2022). However, the source further notes that the National Guard, whose military officers "have faced criticism regarding their lack of training and experience in terms of aviation security," continues to control security at other airports (Osprey Flight Solutions 15 Feb. 2022).
The Migration Law (Ley de migraciòn) provides the following:
Article 47. Persons departing from the national territory shall:
- Do so through places destined for the international transit of persons;
- Identify themselves by presenting a valid passport, or identity or travel document;
- Request the necessary information from the Institute for statistical purposes;
- With respect to foreign nationals, they must prove their regular immigration status in the country, or the permit issued by the immigration authority under the terms of article 137 of this Law; and
- Be subject to the provisions of other applicable provisions on the matter.
Article 48. The exit of Mexicans and foreigners from the national territory may be carried out freely, except in the following cases:
- A judicial authority has issued a precautionary measure or protective order, whose purpose is to restrict the freedom of transit of the person;
- If he/she is under bail due to a trial;
- If the person is on parole or conditional release, except with the permission of the competent authority;
- For reasons of national security, in accordance with the applicable legal provisions;
- In the case of children and adolescents subject to international return proceedings, in accordance with the provisions of international treaties and conventions to which the Mexican State is a party; and
- Persons who, in their capacity of child support, fail to comply with the obligations imposed by civil legislation in matters of childcare for a period of more than sixty days, upon request of the competent judicial authority, without prejudice to the exceptions provided by the applicable civil law, as well as those conducts considered to be offenses under the corresponding criminal laws. For the purposes of this section and in the case of foreign nationals, the Institute shall define their immigration status and resolve based on what is established in other laws and in the regulations of this Law.
The Institute shall have the appropriate means to verify the above assumptions, in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations.
Article 49. Departure from the country by children and adolescents or persons under legal guardianship in terms of civil legislation, whether Mexican or foreign, shall also be subject to the following rules:
- They shall be accompanied by one of the persons exercising parental authority or guardianship over them, in accordance with the requirements of civil legislation.
- In the event that they are accompanied by a third person of legal age or travel alone, they must present their passport and the document stating the authorization of those who exercise parental authority or guardianship, before a notary public or by the authorities who have the authority to do so. (Mexico 2011, bold in original)
The website of Mexico's National Institute of Immigration (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) states that the following documents are required for Mexicans to leave Mexico:
- A valid, current passport (original);
- A completed Statistical Form for Mexicans (Formato Estadístico para Mexicanos, FEM) (Mexico n.d.a).
The same source states that children, adolescents and persons under legal guardianship wishing to leave the country must either be accompanied by a parent or guardian or, if travelling alone or accompanied by an individual of legal age who is not their parent or guardian, must present
- a document stating that they have the authorization of a parent or legal guardian, issued before a notary public or another competent authority, and specifying the means of transport, the destination, and the date of travel, or
- a completed Authorization Form to Leave the Territory of the United Mexican States for Children, Adolescents, or Persons Under Legal Guardianship (Formato de autorización de salida del territorio de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de niñas, niños, adolescentes o personas bajo tutela jurídica) along with the passport or identity and travel document of the minor or person under legal guardianship wishing to travel; the passport or identity document of the person exercising parental authority or guardianship; and where applicable, the passport or identity and travel document of the person of legal age who is accompanying the individual.
- the birth certificate of the child, adolescent, or person under legal guardianship proving kinship with the person who authorized them to leave the country, or when applicable, a document taken before a notary public or issued by a judicial authority attesting to parental authority or guardianship (Mexico n.d.a).
The US Department of State's travel advisory for Mexico notes that "[a] parent or legal guardian departing Mexico with minor children should carry a notarized consent letter from the other parent if traveling separately" and that the INM requires "at least one" parent to complete a Minor Departure Form (Formato de Salida de Menores, SAM) for "all Mexican and foreign minors with Temporary Resident, Temporary Student Resident, or Permanent Resident status departing Mexico alone or with a third party" (US 17 Aug. 2022).
The website of the consular section of the Embassy of Mexico in the UK indicates that foreign nationals who do not have another valid migratory form in Mexico, such as temporary or permanent residency, must obtain a Multiple Immigration Form (Forma Migratoria Múltiple, FMM) [tourist card] at the first port of entry, Mexican border, or Mexican consulate or embassy (Mexico n.d.b). The same source indicates that upon entry to and departure from Mexico a foreign traveller should ensure that the FMM is stamped and authorized by the migration authority (Mexico n.d.b). The Government of Canada's travel advice website for Mexico states that a valid passport and an FMM are required to enter Mexico and that upon arrival the FMM must be stamped by authorities, and it must be surrendered upon departure from Mexico (Canada 7 Sept. 2022). The same source indicates that if the FMM is lost before departure, it must be replaced and that this can be done for a fee at the immigration office of any international airport in Mexico (Canada 7 Sept. 2022). The same source further states that an FMM is not required for stays of 72 hours or less within the northern border zone (Canada 7 Sept. 2022). The website of the consular section of the Embassy of Mexico in the UK notes that if a foreigner decides to extend their stay for a period longer than the one granted by their FMM, before it expires, they must request an extension from migration authorities (Mexico n.d.b). The same source notes that including extensions, the maximum period of validity of an FMM is 6 months as a tourist or business visitor and 30 days as a visitor in transit (Mexico n.d.b).
The Guidelines for Immigration Procedures (Lineamientos para trámites y procedimientos migratorios) provide the following:
II. The Institute may authorize departure from the national territory for foreign nationals who have an expired passport or identity or travel document, provided that they are going to the country that issued such document and are fully identified as nationals of that country.
... (Mexico 2012, bold in original)
The website of AICM states that the following documents are required for Mexicans travelling on a domestic flight: boarding pass and an official form of identification (voter ID, passport, or driver's license) (AICM n.d.). According to the same source, foreigners travelling on a domestic flight require a boarding pass and a valid passport (AICM n.d.).
The AICM website indicates that carry-on bags will be subject to X-ray screening at the airport, which travellers must pass before proceeding to their gate (AICM n.d.). The website of Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte (OMA), a company which operates 13 international airports in northern and central Mexico (OMA n.d.a), states that as of 1 January 2006, in accordance with regulations by Mexico's Federal Civil Aviation Authority (Agencia Federal de Aviación Civil, AFAC) and international laws, all checked luggage is inspected before it is loaded onto the plane and all carry-on luggage undergoes X-ray screening (OMA n.d.b). The same source indicates that all passengers proceeding to "restricted areas (boarding gates)" and onto planes pass through metal detectors and may be subject to a manual search "at the discretion of security personnel" and "if any forbidden items are found, a more exhaustive search will be conducted at an appropriate place" (OMA n.d.b).
2. Availability of a Computer Police Network or Database at International Airports
Information on the availability of a computer police network or database at international airports could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez Ciudad de México (AICM). N.d. "Frequently Asked Questions." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
Canada. 7 September 2022. Travel.gc.ca. "Mexico Travel Advice." [Accessed 8 Sept. 2022]
Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte (OMA). N.d.a. "About Us/Philosophy." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte (OMA). N.d.b. "Security." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
Mexico. 2012 (amended 2019). Lineamientos para trámites y procedimientos migratorios. Excerpt translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada. [Accessed 8 Sept. 2022]
Mexico. 2011 (amended 2022). Ley de migración. Excerpt translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada. [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
Mexico. N.d.a. Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM). "Solicitud de salida del territorio nacional para mexicanos." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
Mexico. N.d.b. Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Sección Consular en el Reino Unido. "Customs and Migration Information." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
Osprey Flight Solutions. 15 February 2022. Mathilde Tisserand. "Corruption and Security Issues at Mexican Airports." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
Riviera Maya News. 23 January 2022. "Cancun International One of 7 Mexico Airports Under New Guard." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
United States (US). 17 August 2022. Department of State. "Mexico International Travel Information." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
The Yucatan Times. 22 January 2022. "Mexican Navy Will Take Control of the Security at Mérida Airport." [Accessed 7 Sept. 2022]
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Aeromar; Aeromexico; Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez Ciudad de México; Cancun International Airport; Grupo Aeroportuario Centro Norte – airports in Acapulco, Chihuahua, Ciudad Juárez, Culiacán, Durango, Mazatlán, Monterrey, Reynosa, San Luis Potosí, Tampico, Torreón, Zacatecas, Zihuatanejo; Mexico – Agencia Federal de Aviación Civil, Consulate General of Mexico in Montreal, Consulate General of Mexico in Toronto, Embassy of Mexico in Ottawa, Guardia Nacional, Secretaría de Infraestructura, Comunicaciones y Transportes, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana; San Jose del Cabo International Airport.
Internet sites, including: Aeromar; Aeromexico; Air Canada; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; All Nippon Airways; Amnesty International; Animal Político; Australia – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Austrian Red Cross – ecoi.net; Baja California – Fideicomiso Público para la promoción turística de Baja California; BBC; Bertelsmann Stiftung; Cancun International Airport; Centre for Aviation; CNN; Deutsche Welle; El Financiero; El Informador; El País; El Sol de México; El Universal; Excélsior; Human Rights Watch; International Air Transport Association; INTERPOL; La Jornada; Mexico – Agencia Federal de Aviación Civil, Embassy in Washington, DC, Guardia Nacional, Secretaría de Infraestructura, Comunicaciones y Transportes, Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana; México Évalua; The New York Times; PlayadelCarmen.com; San Jose del Cabo International Airport; UK – Home Office; UN – Refworld; University of San Diego – Justice in Mexico; VisasMexico.com; VisitPuertoVallarta.com; Volaris; Washington Office on Latin America; The Washington Post.