Can a Felon Travel to Cancun?

Vacations are a great way to relieve stress and see more of the world. For Americans, merely crossing the border can mean immersing themselves in a vastly different culture. Mexico offers not just great weather, but also delectable food and welcoming people.

Cancun is amongst the most popular destinations in the south. It is home to stunning beaches and waters. It is also relatively safe when compared to other destinations in Mexico.

For felons, the idea of traveling here is welcome. But can a felon travel to Cancun with their convictions?

can felon travel to cancun

This issue is important to address as gives a clearer idea as to where felons can safely travel. Without worrying about being stopped by immigration due to past mistakes.

Felony offenses are considered the most serious. They can include such serious crimes as murder, rape, kidnapping, and arson. It is not hard to see why certain countries may be resistant to the idea of welcoming such visitors.

Let’s begin by reviewing why anyone would want to visit Cancun

Why Visit Cancun?

can a felon travel to cancun

While famous for its beautiful beaches and clear waters, Cancun is also rich in history. Be sure to visit the ruins of Tulum and the rambling Chichen Itza. These are excellent examples of amazing Mayan architecture.

It is also a great destination for animal lovers. Cancun is home to several unique marine habitats. They feature various species of fish and endangered sea turtles.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities here. The rugged reefs and elemental beaches also make for some challenging surfing.

As a popular tourist destination, Cancun has tailored its cuisine to offer more than just traditional Mexican fare. You can also easily find American standbys like hotdogs and pizza, or try something more exotic like oriental.

There are also plenty of great deals on airfare that make traveling to Mexico highly affordable. Not to mention the wide variety of hotels and resorts. From the luxurious to the budget-friendly, you can find whatever suits your pocket.

Requirements to Enter Mexico

Americans traveling to Mexico are required to have a valid U.S. passport. They must also have an entry permit from the National Institute of Immigration (INM). Also referred to as the Multiple Migratory Form (FMM), it is available at border crossings.

The U.S. is amongst the visa-free countries for Mexico. This means travelers on short stay visits do not require visas. They should however not go beyond the 180-day limit.

Also, in keeping with this limit, visitors should have at least 6 months’ validity on their passports. Some airlines do allow passengers to get on flights if the validity is less than 6 months.

If intending to stay in Mexico for a longer duration than this, you will need a visa. The type of visa will depend on such factors as the purpose of your visit.

Visiting As A Felon

can the felon travel to the cancun

Felons looking to travel out of the country will need to acquire their passports. This may however not be possible if still under probation or parole. They may also be barred based on certain offenses like international drug trafficking and passport fraud.

For those that travel by car from the U.S., a temporary import permit will be required. This is mandatory for any vehicle that exceeds the 20 kilometer limit into Mexico. Valid proof of automobile registration is also required.

If you have served your time and qualified for a passport, chances are you can visit Cancun.

Mexico does have access to some criminal databases from the U.S. So do not assume they do not know about your criminal history. They however seem to take a more relaxed approach than our neighbors to the north.

It also matters what kind of offense you committed. As mentioned, international drug trafficking can raise red flags.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that border officials are most interested in those involved in drug trafficking and weapons. They are also more on the lookout for fugitives.

For felons applying for visas for longer stays, background checks are standard. This may reduce your chances of securing a visa. This is because Mexican authorities often do not grant visas to the more serious of felons.

Offenses like murder, rape, and child abuse can easily result in a denial of a visa.

Visiting While On A Cruise

can the felon travel to cancun

Mexico is a popular stopover for many cruises in the Caribbean. Cancun is part of this Caribbean coastline. The closest port that allows cruise ships would be at Playa del Carmen.

Cruises can be another way by which felons may visit Cancun. Closed-loop cruises are those that begin and end at the same U.S. port. An open-loop can see the passengers end their trip in another country.

Either way, it is advisable to have a valid passport with you. If disembarking, there is a good chance that port officials will ask to see your passport.


The reality on the ground is that Mexican border officials have a lot of people to process. They do not always bother with checking names through databases. Especially if the person is on a short stay visit.

However, some felons do get caught in the net from time to time. It is a bit of a risk to travel to Mexico.

But it is noteworthy that even if turned away, you will just be at the border. And can immediately return to the U.S.

Do not however be discouraged. The less severe the felony and the longer it has been since release, the better.

Mexico heavily relies on its visitors to prop up its tourism industry. And Cancun is one of the pillars of this industry.

You will likely find that border officials simply want to move the line along.

If you do manage to get to Cancun, try to stay out of trouble. The last thing you want is to get into legal difficulties over the border. Especially if you already have a felony record.

Cancun’s wonderful climate, food, attractions, and people make it an ideal vacation spot. Get your passport and finances in order and make that trip.

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