Can Babies and Small Children Travel to Mexico Without a Passport?

A man holding his baby on shoulders; Mexican flag on a building. Text saying “Can a Baby Travel To Mexico Without a Passport?”.

Mexico, and specifically speaking of some of its frontier cities, is a popular holiday destination among U.S. citizens. Cancun is one of the most iconic Spring Break destinations for college students, but this post is not dedicated to adventure-seeking youngsters. If you are planning a vacation trip beyond the Mexican border with your children, and are uncertain whether you need to apply for a passport book for them, this article is for you. Here you will find the answer to the question of whether a baby can travel to Mexico without a passport.  

Traveling to Mexico with a baby – do children need passports?

International travel regulations might sometimes be a bit unclear, especially when concerning infants and underaged children. Whether your baby may need a passport or not, depends mostly on the means of travel. 

If you wish to cross a border with your child by air, then regardless of the age of your baby – whether they are only a couple of weeks or years old – the child will need a valid U.S. passport. This comes directly from the strict security measures introduced by the TSA, in order to ensure the highest levels of safety. Any U.S. citizen wishing to travel internationally using an airline ticket, is obliged to provide a valid U.S. passport book, with no exceptions. 

The regulations are slightly less strict when it comes to travel by land or water. In general, for U.S. citizens aged 16 or less, neither a passport card nor a passport book will be necessary to both leave and re-enter the United States. Instead, an original or certified copy of a birth certificate will be sufficient. You can, therefore, easily drive into Mexico with nothing more than your kid’s birth certificate, leaving your child’s passport behind. 

If you wish to send your child on an organized vacation trip to Mexico, for example, with a school or religious group, a birth certificate will also be enough. Moreover, in case of traveling with an adult-chaperoned organization, children are not required to have a passport until the age of 19 (this age applies only to organized group travel). 

In yet another scenario, when you let your baby off for a trip with other adults, the Customs and Border Protection agency recommends equipping your child with not only just a birth certificate but also a handwritten letter with parental consent for travel – it is a security measure, directed toward limiting the threat of child trafficking.  In case of doubts, both U.S. and Mexican authorities may deny entry for adults traveling with a child of the absent parent.

Although the baby’s birth certificate is the most common and widely used proof of citizenship, it is not the only document that will be accepted by a border officer. Other papers that are sufficient for international travel of children are:

  • birth certificate
  • citizenship certificate
  • naturalization certificate.

Although a valid U.S. passport book is not required for children to travel internationally by air or sea, it is nevertheless recommended to have one in case of emergencies. There may be situations requiring a rapid return to the country, however, under no circumstances will any U.S. citizens be allowed to board a plane without a valid U.S. passport. For this reason, it is worth having one – just in case.


Get your baby a passport picture with Passport Photo Online

If you are planning to travel internationally by air, or simply want to have a valid passport for your baby, getting a proper passport photo for your kids might cause some challenges. Regardless of age, some children simply do not feel comfortable in front of a big camera, and the environment of a professional studio might not be the most pleasant one. For this reason, you might be interested in a solution that allows you to personally take a passport photo of your child (or yourself), using only your smartphone. 

Passport Photo Online is an AI-backed passport photo generator, which transforms your pictures into legitimate passport photos. You just need to take a picture following a few simple guidelines, and then upload it to the program. The software will then adjust your image adequately in just a few seconds and deliver to you a perfect passport photo – indistinguishable from a studio-made one.

Give it a try with no risk of losing money – you can upload countless pictures with no fee and pay only once you receive a satisfying result. On top of that, you are eligible for a double money refund in case your picture gets rejected by the authorities. 

Traveling to Mexico without a passport – closing thoughts

Although it is recommended to have valid passports of all passengers, your baby can cross the border by land using nothing more than an original or certified copy of their birth certificate. However, if you wish to travel by air, a valid U.S. passport is necessary, and no other form of identification will be accepted. If you need to submit a passport application for your baby, try Passport Photo Online to quickly get a new passport photo.

Can babies and small children travel to Mexico without a passport: FAQ

Does a baby need a passport to go to Mexico?

If traveling by land or sea, passports for children aged 16 or less are not necessary. However, for international air travel, a valid U.S. passport will be required.

Can a child travel to Mexico with a U.S. birth certificate?

Yes, children aged 16 or less are allowed to travel internationally by land or sea with nothing more than a birth certificate. For air travel, however, a valid U.S. baby’s passport will be necessary.

Does an infant need a passport to travel to Mexico?

If you wish to travel with your infant by air, a valid U.S. passport book will be necessary regardless of his age. In the case of land or sea travels, an original or certified copy of a birth certificate will be sufficient.

At what age do you need a passport to travel to Mexico?

Travelers visiting Mexico by air are required to have a valid U.S. passport regardless of their age. A passport is not necessary if you are traveling to Mexico by land or sea – a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, or a naturalization certificate will suffice.

What documents does a child need to travel to Mexico by air?

To travel by air to Mexico or any other country, a child needs a valid U.S. passport.

Does my child need a passport to travel to Mexico by car?

To travel to Mexico by car, you can bring your child’s birth certificate with you. There is no need to bring a passport. However, keep in mind that if you plan to return by plane, your child will need to have their passport with them.

Does my child need a passport to go to Cancun?

If you are planning to travel to Cancun and back by land or sea, a birth certificate will suffice. If you’re traveling by plane, your child will be required to have a valid U.S. passport with them.

Can newborns travel internationally without a passport?

Newborns can travel internationally without a passport only by land or sea to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda – their birth certificate is acceptable for these border crossings. For any international travel that involves boarding a plane, newborns are required to have a valid passport.

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