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Cancun Airport Guide

From Arrival to Departure and Everything in Between

The Cancun Airport: a buzzing hive of activity where each arrival is the beginning of an amazing adventure, with travelers eager to explore the wonders of Mexico and every departure carries the sweet sorrow of a journey’s end, leaving behind a trail of happy memories and the promise of future returns.

Whether it’s been a while since your last visit to Mexico or this is your inaugural trip, our guide is here to ensure a smooth and stress-free arrival. Read on to navigate the new procedures like a seasoned traveler.

Cancun Airport Guide Snapshot

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Essential Quick Guide

  • Make sure your passport is valid for the entirety of your stay. No passport, no paradise!
  • VisiTax Explained – Read all about it
  • You don’t need to fill out the Immigration Visa Form (FMM) unless you’re entering from certain countries or have a student/work visa.
  • Be prepared for long immigration lines. Keep your passport open to the photo page and your boarding pass (physical or digital) ready.
  • If you qualify, use the electronic passport control Fast Tract Kiosks in Terminal 3 & 4. Details below.
  • All International Visitors are issued a Digital Tourist Card. They are available online AFTER you clear immigration.
  • Collect your luggage from baggage claim. No checked baggage? Good on you! Go straight to Customs. 
  • Go through customs – no form needed and your luggage has already been scanned, you might be selected for a more thorough check.
  • Walk through the long hall towards the exit. Use ATMs and bathrooms as needed, and a polite “no thank you” works wonders with the Time Share/Vacation Club reps.
  • If you’re taking the bus or haven’t pre-booked your transfer (seriously, why didn’t you?), buy your tickets inside the terminal.
  • Exit the airport and look for a sign with your name for your pre-booked transfer to the ferry or the ADO bus to Cancun. Adventure awaits!

Cancun Airport: Terminals at a Glance

Terminal 3 & 4: The go-to for international travelers. These terminals see the most foot traffic from around the globe.

Terminal 2: Primarily for domestic flights, with the occasional international connection when 3 and 4 are humming with travelers.

Terminal 1: Reserved for private plane and those who prefer to travel incognito.

Staying Connected: 
Free WiFi is available across all terminals. A little heads up: it might be on the slower side due to the sheer number of people sharing the digital airwaves.

Power Up:
Need to charge your devices? Charging stations are available both before and after the security checkpoints. They’re often in high demand, so you might have to wait your turn.

Easy Terminal Transit:
Complimentary airport shuttles run between terminals every 10 to 15 minutes, making your terminal transfer a breeze.

Dining and Shopping: 
A variety of dining options, from food court quick bites to sit-down meals, catering to a range of tastes and preferences.

Explore a wide array of stores for last-minute gifts, essentials, or a bit of retail therapy.

Duty-free shops where you can snag some great deals on a variety of goods, perfect for those last-minute souvenirs or luxury items.


Passport Essentials: 
Every traveler needs a valid Passport Book for their journey. Double-check that your passport remains valid for the entire duration of your stay. Keep in mind, some countries insist that passports be valid for 3 – 6 months beyond your planned departure date. Remember, Passport Cards are only accepted for land crossings, not at airports.

Tourist Cards (FMM Forms): 
Good news for typical tourists – Physical FMM forms are no longer a standard requirement at Cancun Airport. All International Visitors are issued a Digital Tourist Card. These Individual Tourist Cards are available online AFTER you clear immigration.

All About Immigration

Getting Through Immigration: 
Make sure you have your passport ready and boarding pass handy. Follow the signage to the Immigration area. While lines can sometimes be lengthy, the process is steadily getting more efficient. You might encounter agents who will pre-check your documents and guide you where to go.

Traditional Immigration Lines: 
Here, an agent will scan and stamp your passport and write in the number of days you’re permitted to stay in Mexico. If you’re planning to stay for a long time, be prepared to show proof of your departure plans. Keep your departure flight tickets printed and accessible.

Boarding Pass Reminder: 
Hold onto your physical or digital boarding pass until you’ve cleared immigration. It may be required during the process.

Tips for a Speedier Process: 
— Stick with your travel companions.
— Remove hats and sunglasses for easier identification.
— Open your passport(s) to the photo page.
— Keep your boarding pass (physical or digital) within easy reach.

Electronic Passport Control Kiosks (Terminals 3 and 4 Only): 
Available for travelers 18 and older who have a biometric symbol on their passport cover, are from select countries, and are not Mexican citizens.

Simply enter the kiosk, scan your passport, and wait for your photo to be taken. Collect your receipt with the QR code – and don’t lose it! You’ll need to scan this QR code to download the Digital Multiple Migration Form before leaving Mexico.

Keep the receipt safe, as it might also be required when you exit the country.

Baggage and Customs

After you’ve navigated through immigration at Cancun International Airport, your next stop is the baggage claim area to reunite with your luggage.

Luggage Tips
Stand Out: Consider tying a bright ribbon or using a distinctive luggage tag on your bags. It’s a simple trick that makes spotting your luggage in a sea of similar bags much easier.
Travel Light: If possible, travel with just a carry-on. Skipping checked baggage can save you a significant amount of vacation time.

Duty-Free Tips:
Be mindful of how much alcohol and tobacco you purchase. Mexico has specific limits (about 3 liters of alcohol and 200 cigarettes). Exceeding these limits could result in a hefty fine. Remember, vapes are illegal in Mexico and may be confiscated.

Customs Process in Terminal 3 & 4:
The traditional Green Light/Red Light system is no longer in use here. Instead, your bags are scanned by customs officials before they even reach the carousels.

There’s a chance your luggage might be selected for a secondary scan and a more thorough check. It’s all part of ensuring a safe and secure travel experience.

Navigating the Final Stretch

You’re just a few steps away from starting your paradise adventure, but there’s one more hurdle: the hallway from Customs to the exit.

Hallway Highlights: 
This corridor is lined with various booths offering shuttle services, taxis, and car rentals.
You’ll also find banks equipped with ATMs – stick to major banks to avoid extra fees.
Don’t forget to make a pit stop at the restrooms if needed.

Brace for the ‘Shark Tank’: 
At the end of this hallway, you’ll enter an area playfully known as the “Shark Tank.” Here, Time Share and Vacation Club reps eagerly await, particularly adept at identifying first-time visitors. They’re like ducks spotting a June bug!

The best strategy? Keep walking and stay focused. If you’re with others, engage in conversation. If you’re solo, pretend to be busy with your phone.

In case you’re approached, a polite “no gracias” with a smile is usually enough. Remember, they’re just doing their job, trying to make a living.

Where's My Ride!

Now that you’ve stepped outside the airport into the warm tropical air, here’s how to find your way:

For Pre-Booked Transfers: 
Look for your airport transfer company representative. They’ll be holding a sign with your name on it, ready to whisk you away to the ferry bound for Isla Mujeres

Taking the Bus: 
If your choice is the bus to Cancun, head to the ADO booth inside the terminal to purchase your tickets. Once you’ve got your ticket, the ADO buses are located just outside the terminal.

Other Transport Options: 
Didn’t pre-book your transfer (I bet you will next time) and not keen on the bus? Your remaining options are to either purchase a private airport taxi (which can be pricey) or secure seats on the airport’s shared van service. Bear in mind, if the van has other passengers heading to the Cancun hotel zone, they’ll be dropped off first, which can take take awhile but at least you’ll see the hotel zone!

Remember, Uber services are not available at Cancun Airport.

Need More Info? Fly over to our ‘How to Get to Isla Mujeres‘ page.

VisiTax: The "New" Tax in Quintana Roo

The VisiTax applies to every international visitor flying out of the Cancun or the new Tulum airport, regardless of age.

It’s important to note that VisiTax is distinct from the Mexican Federal Government’s Tourism Tax included in airline tickets. VisiTax is a separate charge and is not included in your flight, hotel, vacation packages, or any other tourism services.

Current Enforcement: 
There are plenty of stories on the Socials that the tax isn’t being enforced or that airport kiosks are unmanned. That said, there are signs of change. Enforcement signs are posted the airport and airlines are beginning to inform clients about VisiTax in their communications, hinting at stricter enforcement on the horizon.

Paying the VisiTax: 
As of February 1, 2024, the tax is $20.80 USD per person.

Where and How to Pay:
The ONLY official channels to pay VisiTax and receive a valid QR code are through the Government’s website at https://www.visitax.gob.mx/sitio/ or on Travelkore, who are authorized to collect the tax. https://travelkore.app 

Beware of unofficial websites. Avoid them to prevent extra “processing fees” and never provide a scan of your passport.

When to Pay:
You can pay the VisiTax at any time before you return home, but it’s most convenient to do so before starting your vacation.

Once you make the payment, it will be synchronized with your passport(s) so you have easy access and do not have to worry about printing it. But save the QR code on your phone after payment just in case.

You can pay for up to 10 people at once and will need:
— The number of people in your group.
— Full names of each person.
— Passport numbers.
— Departure date from Mexico.

Consequences of Non-Payment:
Failure to pay VisiTax may result in being denied boarding, with the potential for penalty fees. This could lead to missed flights, added expenses, and unnecessary stress.

Purpose of VisiTax:
Introduced by the State of Quintana Roo in 2021 and made mandatory for all international tourists in 2022.

The revenue from VisiTax helps mitigate environmental impacts of 20 million international visitors a year on the state’s beaches and natural reserves, including managing sargassum (seaweed). It also funds infrastructure improvements for Mayan archaeological sites and enhances public services benefiting tourists and locals alike.

A Cautionary Scenario:

Imagine this:
You decided to not pay the VisiTax before or during your vacation. Now, as you’re preparing to leave Cancun, filled with memories of sun and fun, your passport is scanned at the airport. To your dismay, an alert pops up indicating you haven’t paid the VisiTax – a small but crucial part of your departure process. Without it, you find yourself in a bind, rushing to fill out the forms and make the payment on your phone, possibly facing penalty fees, and under the stress of potentially missing your flight. It’s a situation best avoided by taking care of the tax before your vacation… A smooth departure is just as important as a joyful arrival, right?

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The Cancun airport a long time ago.

The 15 meter tall wooden control tower was in use until 1973!

Did they have a generator? A super long extension cord?

Anyone out there know?