Planning a trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya in 2023? The immigration arrival process has been simplified, making it easier for travelers to start their vacation as soon as possible! However, since it’s a new system, things aren’t as smooth as we’d like them to be. So we’re here to help! This guide provides a detailed overview of the current process for traveling to Cancun, covering the new QR code electronic passport control at immigration, to customs, and airport transfers.
The Arrival Process
Upon deplaning, you will be directed to one of two options for going through immigration at Cancun International Airport. Option 1, which is the traditional immigration line, or option 2 which uses the new electronic passport control machines and is only available in terminals 3 and 4 only.
Option 1: Traditional Immigration Lines at Cancun International Airport
The first option is the traditional immigration lines where you will speak to an agent and have your passport stamped. It’s important to keep your physical or digital boarding pass until you clear immigration as it may be needed.
Option 2: Electronic Passport Control Machines in Terminal 3 & 4 at Cancun International Airport
The second option is the electronic passport control machines, a new option for Cancun’s immigration. This option is only available for travelers ages 18 and up, who are not citizens of Mexico, and is currently only in Terminals 3 & 4. If you choose this route, you will need to enter and scan your passport. Wait for your photo to be taken and collect your receipt with the QR code.
Make sure to retain your receipt as you may be asked for this upon departure from Mexico. At this time, you do not need to go online and fill anything out regarding that QR code receipt. Simply hold on to it until departure.
Baggage Claim and Customs
After clearing immigration at Cancun International Airport, you will proceed to the baggage claim area to collect your luggage. This is also where you will be able to shop for liquor and cigarettes at a duty free store. Please note that anything you purchase here counts toward the maximum liquid & tobacco limits set by customs, which is where you will be going after this Duty Free store, and once you have your bags.
The customs process here is generally random and involves a simple press of a button. If the light turns green, you can proceed without a bag check. If it turns red, your bags will be inspected.
However if you are openly carrying Duty Free bags with liquor & cigarettes, you will get pulled for a customs inspection most of the time where you will be checked to make sure aren’t bringing in any banned products like vapes, and that you do not have past the legal limit of cigarettes, cigars or tobacco. Check out our full guide on Mexico’s new smoking laws, their vape ban, and what the current legal limit is for cigarettes & tobacco products.
Visitax: A Mandatory Tax
Visitax is a mandatory tax for tourists visiting Cancun – contrary to stories you may read online of people successfully not paying it. The official stance is that all travelers to Cancun must pay Visitax. The tax can be paid prior to arrival in Mexico, or during your stay. The only official website to pay this tax is here. Please be aware that any other website claiming to collect this tax is a scam, and usually charges much more than the actual Visitax cost is. Find out more in our complete guide on Visitax.
While you may or may not be asked to show proof of payment upon departure, it’s still recommended to keep a copy of your receipt. This can be a digital copy stored on your phone or a printed copy. Should you need to present it at any point in the future, you’ll have it.
Transportation to Your Resort
Once you’ve cleared customs, you’ll enter the arrivals hall which will be packed full of vendors trying to sell you transfer services, rental cars, resort stays, excursions, and more. If you have pre-arranged transportation – walk swiftly by all of these and exit the airport. The official transfer services by Amstar, Lomas, Sunwing, and others will all be located outside when you exit the airport building. We always recommend booking your transfer services in advance as this minimizes your wait time at the airport, and it gets you the best price. If you need any help arranging your airport/resort transfers – feel free to reach out!
Enjoying Your Stay in Cancun & the Riviera Maya
Now that you’ve arrived in Cancun and navigated the arrival process, it’s time to enjoy your vacation! Cancun and the Riviera Maya offers a wealth of activities and attractions, from its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters to its vibrant nightlife and cultural attractions. Whether you’re planning to relax on the beach, explore the local culture, or embark on an adventure, there is something for everyone. Check out our list of recommended excursions here, and get in touch if you need any help!