Do you need a passport to go to Tijuana for bariatric surgery in Mexico? This is a question that many people ask before they take the big step and make an appointment. If you are like the majority of Americans and do not have a passport, you might be a bit concerned about this aspect of travel. We promise—it isn’t difficult at all! Here is everything you need to know about your travel documents for entering and exiting Mexico.
Do You Need a Passport to Go to Tijuana for Bariatric Surgery?
In the past, the border zone between the U.S. and Mexico was a bit more flexible. U.S. citizens were allowed to cross back and forth by land with just two forms of official I.D. Usually, this was a birth certificate and a driver’s license or state I.D.
However, this is technically no longer the case. According to the Secretary of Exterior Relations—Mexico’s immigration authority—you must have a valid passport in order to enter Mexico unless you are a Mexican citizen. The U.S. State Department also cautions that you should have a valid passport before entering Mexico, as Mexico might not allow you to enter if you do not have it.
We know what you are thinking. You’ve been in the Facebook groups and online forums for getting gastric bypass in Mexico and plenty of people said they crossed with just their birth certificate and driver’s license. So what gives?
Basically, the border agents aren’t always super consistent in applying the laws. Could you potentially get gastric sleeve in Mexico without a passport? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible that you will be prevented from entering Mexico.
What Other Documents Do I Need to Enter Mexico?
In addition to your passport or passport card (if traveling by land), you will need the Multiple Migratory Form (FMM). This will be given to you either at the land border crossing or by your airline. It is essentially a tourist visa and can be issued for up to 180 days, though currently, Mexican immigration has been limiting the allowed stays to quite a bit less. Luckily, this won’t be a problem for getting bariatric surgery in Tijuana.
In some cases, border agents and customs and immigration at the airport will ask for additional documents, such as hotel reservations, proof you have booked your surgery, and other items that help establish why you are entering Mexico. So it is a good idea to have these things on hand just in case, in addition to your passport for going to Tijuana.
What Documents Do I Need to Return to the U.S.?
To enter the U.S. as a U.S. citizen, you need to present your birth certificate and another valid form of identification. However, showing a passport speeds up the process.
Additionally, at the time of writing, you need to present a negative COVID test taken a minimum of 24 hours prior to crossing the border. Your surgery provider should be able to help you with this.
How Do I Get a Passport for Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico?
Now that you know you need one, the next question is how to get a passport for going to Mexico. The process for getting a passport is actually quite simple and can be done in three easy steps:
- Complete the application form (DS-11). This can be found online here.
- Provide proof of U.S. citizenship. Your birth certificate and social security number should suffice.
- Present identification and photos. Your proof of citizenship should fulfill the identification requirement, but if presenting your application in person, have a diver’s license or state I.D. on hand as well. As for the photos, these must be taken according to the specifications laid out by the Department of State. These are as follows:
- It must be a color photo taken in the last six months.
- Use a clear image of your face. Do not use filters commonly used on social media.
- Have someone else take your photo. No selfies.
- Take off your eyeglasses for your photo.
- Use a plain white or off-white background.
If you have been issued a passport in the past, you might also be able to renew it without having to go through all of the steps again. Keep in mind that this is a paper process; at this time, you cannot apply for a passport online.
Once your application has been processed, you should receive your new passport within four to six weeks. It is possible to pay to have your expedited if your surgery date is coming up sooner than this.
And that’s it! It’s really quite simple to get a passport for lap band surgery in Mexico.
If you have any questions about crossing the border, don’t be afraid to reach out. We have helped thousands of Americans navigate this process over the years. To schedule your surgery, contact ALO Bariatrics.