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You can't even get on a cruise ship which leaves US waters without having a passport anymore. I pretty much think that anywhere outside of US territory requires a passport, if not to leave the US, then certainly to get back in.
 

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You can't even get on a cruise ship which leaves US waters without having a passport anymore. I pretty much think that anywhere outside of US territory requires a passport, if not to leave the US, then certainly to get back in.
You can definitely leave the US going into Mexico without a passport. The problem is getting back to the US. One time standing in line to cross the border from Tijuana to San Ysidro, I talked to a woman from Seattle who hadn't realized that the procedures had changed. She had just moved to San Diego and came to Tijuana to go to the dentist. She didn't have a passport. She had to do a lot of talking to get back into the US. I don't know how long it took. I assume she made it eventually.
 

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You can definitely leave the US going into Mexico without a passport. The problem is getting back to the US. One time standing in line to cross the border from Tijuana to San Ysidro, I talked to a woman from Seattle who hadn't realized that the procedures had changed. She had just moved to San Diego and came to Tijuana to go to the dentist. She didn't have a passport. She had to do a lot of talking to get back into the US. I don't know how long it took. I assume she made it eventually.
Don't you need to show some sort of ID to go from the US into Mexico, even in the border area? How can you prove your nationality without a passport?
 

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Don't you need to show some sort of ID to go from the US into Mexico, even in the border area? How can you prove your nationality without a passport?
I have crossed on foot from San Ysidro to Tijuana, from Calexico to Mexicali, and from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez. I was never asked to show a passport. Only once in about 7 or 8 crossings did anyone ever say anything to me. Once they looked at my Mexican visa. You are supposed to stop at Mexican Migracion and there they would want to see some ID if you didn't have a visa. I haven't been in the habit of doing that, but comments on this board have convinced me I should so in the future I plan to. But by the time you stop at Mexican Migración you are already outside the US and will have difficulty going back without a passport.
 

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I have crossed on foot from San Ysidro to Tijuana, from Calexico to Mexicali, and from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez. I was never asked to show a passport. Only once in about 7 or 8 crossings did anyone ever say anything to me. Once they looked at my Mexican visa. You are supposed to stop at Mexican Migracion and there they would want to see some ID if you didn't have a visa. I haven't been in the habit of doing that, but comments on this board have convinced me I should so in the future I plan to. But by the time you stop at Mexican Migración you are already outside the US and will have difficulty going back without a passport.
It sounds like crossing the border on foot no one seems to care who comes or goes. Odd.
 

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You do not need a USA passport to visit any of the border towns in Mexico, but you really need it to get back into the USA. I've living in Mexico for 25 years and have never been ask for a ID or passport crossing into a border town of Mexico, Mexico does not require a passport for border towns because they need and want the tourist business.
 

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You do not need a USA passport to visit any of the border towns in Mexico, but you really need it to get back into the USA. I've living in Mexico for 25 years and have never been ask for a ID or passport crossing into a border town of Mexico, Mexico does not require a passport for border towns because they need and want the tourist business.
Do the Mexican authorities assume all foreign visitors along the border are from the US? Or is it that they just don't care, as long as the visitors spend money while they're in Mexico?
 

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Mexico doesn't care who comes or goes. The US doesn't care who goes. The US definitely cares who comes.
Not quite correct. I have been hassled by US Homeland Security agents leaving Texas and Arizona to cross the border into Mexico. And hassled is a deliberately chosen word. Compared to getting a car permit and IMM visa in Mexico, which is always a pleasant task, the US agents treated me like I was a criminal and crazy for going to Mexico.
 

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Here's the missing ingredient: Some 20 miles into Mexico, you are very likely to run into a checkpoint, where your vehicle documents, contents and your 'papers' are all subject to review. The border zone, 'La Frontera' and some parts of Sonora and the Baja states are 'free zones', where you may visit for 72 hours without 'formalities'.
That said, you will need a passport to get back into the USA, board an international flight, or get a visa to stay in Mexico.
 

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There's another consideration that I witnessed first hand just two days ago, in the early morning hours on Wednesday. At the 20 K checkpoint, entering Mexico, our bus, Omnibus, was flagged over for a document check. The bus was full, holy week travelers, and everyone whose papers were not in order was taken of the bus for "further inspection". We were OK, and will certainly be in order every time we travel subsequent to this, but every single person, ~ half dozen, who was taken off the bus came back on with the same story. They were taken to the rear of the bus and charged varying amounts for being allowed to continue. They all told the same story, so there is no doubt it was happening. The amount of the fine seemed to be dependent on how the individual was dressed, with the range from 50 pesos up to 450 pesos for one nicely dressed young man. True, they placed themselves in this situation by not having all the necessary paper, but once they get this far, the options dwindle rapidly. You can either pay or get off the bus and eat the rest of your ticket. The drivers, two at this point, were obviously unhappy with what was happening, but did not get involved.
 

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Is there any way to travel to and/stay in Mexico without a passport?
The legal answer is no, There is no way to legally enter the interior of Mexico w/o a US passport for a US citizen. As Ken Wood shared, there are practical ways to enter w/o a passport. Once in the interior, there are methods and means to obtain various forms of "official" identification. For a US citizen in Mexico without an immigration permit, virtually all forms of living are restricted, no bank accounts, national airline flights etc. But I repeat, the legal answer is no.
 

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Permenant Resident Aliens

You can definitely leave the US going into Mexico without a passport. The problem is getting back to the US. One time standing in line to cross the border from Tijuana to San Ysidro, I talked to a woman from Seattle who hadn't realized that the procedures had changed. She had just moved to San Diego and came to Tijuana to go to the dentist. She didn't have a passport. She had to do a lot of talking to get back into the US. I don't know how long it took. I assume she made it eventually.
As far as I know anyone traveling inside Mexico with a Permanent Resident Alien card could get an FMM or cross back into the US with no problems from the "free zone" or probably take an international flight into Mexico and return to the US. I might be wrong, but don't see why not. If they immigrated from other than Mexico they might need a passport from their country of birth, but I doubt they have one. If not are they grounded in the US? I doubt it.
 

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You do not need a passport to return to the USA. A birth certificate will so. They can
not keep a US a citizen out. They will give you a hard time and make you wait for a
while but will let you in.
 
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