Looking for tips to get through customs quickly at Cancun International Airport? We are talking about Mexico’s second busiest airport, so it may be a little chaotic especially if more flights arrive at the same time in the same terminal. Immigration lines will be endless.
If it’s your first time visiting Cancun via international flights then you’re probably wondering the best way to get through the customs agent line fast, so you can have a “cerveza” in your hand on the beach ASAP.
Well, you have come to the right place. I have lived in Cancun for 12 years and flew in and out several times. So, in this post, I will share some useful information to make your arrival flawless.
I will talk about what travel documents you will need to provide to the customs officers, and what you can do that’ll save a little extra time.
How to get through customs quickly at Cancun International Airport: practical tips
1. Ditch the immigration form!
Let’s start from the good news! You no longer have to fill out the Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) tourist card if you are flying in or out of the Cancun International Airport.
It’s part of a pilot program by the Mexican government to test their new (tourist) immigration process and exists not only if you fly into Cancun International Airport, but also if you’re entering the country through:
- Cozumel International Airport (CZM)
- Los Cabos International Airport (SJD)
- Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR)
- Mexico City International Airport (MEX)
Instead of the paper FMM customs form entry process, your passport will be stamped and information written inside it by immigration officers. This makes the overall international travel arrivals process much smoother and quicker.
Having said that, it’s an important rule of thumb that you will still have to complete a manual FMM if you are:
- Arriving through ANY OTHER airport in Mexico that is not taking part in this program
- You are visiting from a country that requires you to have a visa to enter Mexico — in this case, you will need to fill the FMM out when you arrive
- You are not a visitor — for example, you are a permanent resident — you will then follow your normal arrival procedures.
If you are someone who has to fill out a paper FMM, try to fill it out on the plane before you arrive to save on time.
2. Have your passport ready
You will need to show your passport when you enter Mexico to clear customs. This isn’t a procedure that’s unique to Cancun or their airport, pretty much every country requires this. To make your customs journey as quick as possible, make sure that you have your passport open and you’re ready to hand it off to the officer.
However, before you leave home, make sure that you have at least 6 months left on your passport before it expires. This is VERY important, and you will not be able to enter Mexico if you don’t. Passport renewals are often considerably faster then being issued a brand new passport AFTER yours expires, so I’d recommend renewing yours as soon as you come up on that 12-to-8-months left margin. That way you’ll have plenty of security and time left for your next trip!
The latest passport procedures for entering Cancun require you to have a stamp entered into your passport, almost every foreign country requires you to have several blank pages for your passport to be usable.
Mexico needs at least one blank page for you to enter the country, but the more the merrier. If you’re an avid traveler, make sure that you have empty pages in your passport to hand over to border protection — if you’re coming close to the end, it might be time to get a new one!
3. Don’t bring prohibited items
This SHOULD go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway… don’t attempt to bring anything into Mexico that isn’t allowed. You won’t get the green light to pass through!
While some things (like weapons or ammunition) probably make sense to most travelers, other items (like vegetables and fruit) might seem more confusing. With that in mind, you’ll want to take the time to figure out what you can and can’t bring into the country beforehand.
Knowing what items are prohibited ahead of time can make your Cancun customs experience that much quicker.
With that in mind, it’s a good option for you to leave the following items at home, otherwise, you could be in for a potentially long wait (and short international trip).
This list is NOT inclusive, and items can change regularly — so make sure you check in with official sources BEFORE you get on the plane.
Here’s what is and is not allowed and in what quantities.
- Food items (particularly meat, seeds, and veggies) – not allowed
- Cigars and cigarettes (20 packs or less per person are allowed)
- Liquor or wine (3L or less per person are allowed)
- Medicine for personal use is allowed with the related medical prescription
- Weapons and/or ammunition are not allowed
- Hazardous material – not allowed
- Professional equipment (check with the airline)
- More than $10,000 USD in cash are not allowed
Going through immigration at Cancun Airport Arrivals Terminal
Do you collect your checked bags before Cancun Airport Customs and after Cancun Immigration?
After you have been through immigration, you then go to collect any checked luggage you have brought with you. Only AFTER you have grabbed your things from baggage claim, THEN it’s time for you to head through Customs.
The process is pretty simple:
- Get off the plane
- Go through immigration and have your passport stamped
- Collect any checked luggage
- Head through customs
- Get into your transfer and head to your hotel!
The customs officers might want to check your bags and go through your things. But other times they might simply wave you through.
So long as you haven’t brought anything prohibited, you’ve been through immigration, and you’ve grabbed any checked luggage the process should be smooth. Be prepared to show your passport and visa stamp again.
How long does it take to get through customs in Cancun?
It’s challenging to predict the time you’ll end up spending in customs at Cancun. Whether or not there are long lines depends on how many passengers and planes are landing at the same time.
During hurricane season when there tend to be fewer passengers, you’ll probably get through faster than at the beginning of spring break.
It could be as little as a minute if you’re essentially waved right through — they don’t necessarily check EVERY SINGLE BAG (though they certainly can if they want). But it could take a few hours if there are a lot of passengers moving through at the same time.
It’s important to be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best. And help alleviate the time that it takes YOU to get through by ensuring that you’re prepared and organized.
Red or Green light?
Once you get your bags and approach customs, you are asked to hand over the custom paper that you should have filled out on the flight and press a button that would turn on either a green or red light.
It’s random (or suppose to be) however I noticed that if you arrive on a flight from South America the red lights are more likely to appear.
If it´s red they will inspect your bag after being scanned through a metal detector, which is for everyone.
They will ask you to open the bag and watch them while they go through your items. It´s very annoying but there’s nothing you can do about it.
Scams to avoid after Cancun Airport Customs
Mexico has a bit of a reputation for being a little scammy, especially in the more tourist-focused destinations, like Cancun, precisely. And while I don’t believe this is true at all, there are a couple of scams you’ll want to avoid after you’ve been through customs there. In particular: timeshare sales and taxis.
Very few vacationers want to end up at a timeshare breakfast, lunch or dinner, but many of them end up there without realizing it. While timeshares themselves aren’t scams they’re really not the deal they’re made out to be.
Cancun is a bustling hub of tourist activity, welcoming millions of visitors each year. That means it’s also prime hunting ground for timeshare salespeople.
So, when you first arrive in Cancun, you want to walk past ALL those people at the entrance pitching you free things (they’re never really free) and straight through to wherever you meet your transport!
But taxis aren’t a scam, right? A “scam” — technically, no. Overpriced, absolutely! And, sometimes, even rude.
I highly recommend you book your transportation from Cancun International Airport to your hotel BEFORE you head on your trip. However, if you haven’t done so, avoid taking a taxi.
These are often considerably more expensive than other transportation options (often even more pricey than private transfers!).
So do yourself a favor and avoid them outright!
Here below I will share more on how to get from Cancun Airport to your hotel, wherever it is.
How to get to your hotel from Cancun airport
I highly recommend that you pre-plan your transportation from the Cancun airport to your hotel. Booking in advance typically means you get cheaper rates, which makes your whole trip go smoother. Here are the four transportation methods you want to look at.
1. Private transfer from the Cancun Airport to your hotel
My favorite way to get from the Cancun Airport to anywhere is via private transport. It’s fast, comfortable, and private. Best of all, while it’s more expensive than other options, it’s not that expensive! Enjoy your vacation fast and in style.
I recommend Cancun Airport Transportation Service for the following reasons
☑️ They provide spacious and sparkling clean vehicles all for you and your party
☑️ Door-to-door service
☑️ They wait for you if your flight is delayed
☑️ They have a bilingual driver
☑️ Zero waiting time – They will be waiting for you with your name on a sign as soon as you get out of the airport –
☑️ Competitive rates (discounts if you pre-purchase a round trip)
☑️ They have the best reviews
Get your free quote here ⤵️
2. Transfer from Cancun Airport By ADO bus
For the cheapest transportation method, you’re looking at heading from the Cancun Airport to your hotel via the ADO bus and public transit. while this will take longer than a private shuttle, it will be considerably more cost-friendly.
You’ll need to take the ADO bus from the airport to the downtown bus depot, then likely take a second bus to your hotel.
3. Rent a car
If you plan to do a lot of exploring on your own, renting a car at the Cancun airport might be the best transportation method for you.
It’s convenient and affordable, and you can drive straight to your destination.
If you are concerned about driving in Cancun and its surroundings, I have got you covered as well.
I recommend checking out Car rental prices on Discover Cars where you can compare different rental car companies and pick the best offer. Just make sure you check the conditions also.
Discover Cars is a great Car rental search platform to compare different car rental companies and choose the one that fits your needs. With more than 70000 Reviews and an average of 4.5/5 Score, Discover Cars help you find the best Car Rental company in Cancun.
4. Shared shuttle
Booking a shared shuttle will be quicker than taking the ADO bus but less expensive than booking private transport. This method will probably be more comfortable than the bus, but you could be waiting a while to arrive at your hotel, depending on how many stops it has to make before your hotel.
Is there an ATM at Cancun Airport?
Yes, there are a few ATMs where you can withdraw pesos which is actually cheaper than exchanging your USD into MXN Pesos.
PRO TIP – Sometimes Credit Card issuers block your cards from withdrawing in a foreign country. So make sure you contact your card issuer and let them know about your travel plans to avoid the possibility that your card could be blocked.
Where to find an ATM at Cancun Airport
✈️ Terminal 2 – Domestic Arrivals Area
- Banco Santander
- Santander (Mexican currency)
- Citi Banamex (Mexican currency)
- Multiva (USD)
✈️ Terminal 3 – International Departures
☑️ Money Exchange Bureau
- CI Banco
- Multiva (USD)
- Bansi (USD)
- Banco Santander (Mexican currency)
✈️ Terminal 4 – International Departures
☑️ Money Exchange Bureau
- CI Banco
- Multiva (USD)
- Intercam (USD)
- Citi Banamex (Mexican currency)
Can you take an Uber at the Cancun Airport?
Uber is a popular transportation choice at a lot of destinations, but not Cancun. While the Uber app technically works in Cancun, you will not be able to actually book a car from the airport. Avoid dealing with any transportation headaches by booking yourself transportation in advance.
Hotels near Cancun Airport
In case you have an early outbound flight or arrive late at night, a wise option could be to spend the first or last night in one of the comfortable hotels near Cancun airport. Here below I have selected my top three favorites, but you can check out all the options in my dedicated post.
➡️ Hilton Garden Inn (inside the airport)
The Hilton Garden Inn is the first hotel located directly at the Cancun airport, making it an easy option if you need to stay close.
It’s worth pointing out that you’re not going to get a lot of beach action here. But if you find your plan unexpectedly delayed, and you need a comfy place to sleep — this is your destination. It’s as close to the hotel as you can get!
To get to the Hilton Garden Inn take the free terminal shuttle from Terminal 4 to Terminal 2. Then walk across the street to the hotel.
Address: Cancun – Chetumal Km. 22
➡️ Courtyard by Marriott at Cancun Airport
The Courtyard by Marriott is very close to the Cancun Airport, making it the perfect place if you want to stay close to hopping on your plane. It’s not an all-inclusive resort like many of the places you’ll find around the city, but it’s nice, clean, and has a few amenities of its own!
Courtyard by Marriott at the Cancun Airport is a quick 5-minute drive away. Plus, they offer a free 24-hour airport shuttle service so you can get to and from as needed.
Address: Blvd. Luis Donald’s Colosio, Km. 12.5, Lot 1
➡️ Nizuc Resort & Spa (Hotel Zone)
It has gorgeous ocean-view suites, a full-service spa, and a beachfront you won’t mind hanging out on all day long. If you’re looking for a relaxing place to stay in Cancun, this is it. However, it’s not the closest destination to the airport.
Nizuc Cancun does not have a free shuttle to and from the airport. However, you can book private transportation to make sure you get there when you need to.
It’s also one of the resorts in Cancun featuring rooms with private pools and it boasts some of the best restaurants in Cancun.
Address: Blvd. Kukulcan Mz 59 Lote 1-01 Km 21.26
Getting Through Customs Quickly at Cancun International Airport: Final Thoughts
I hope you found this post useful. Now that you know what to expect when landing at Cancun international airport and avoid unpleasant situations, you are ready to plan the rest of your trip and this site is going to help you do that. Whether you need help with your Cancun Itinerary or you are on a solo trip and want to make sure to find the best activities for you, I got you covered!
On this site, you will find anything you need for the best Cancun vacation, from safety-related questions to the best tours to the Mayan ruins or the Cenotes, I have the answers for you. 🙂 And if you don’t find the answer in this site, I am just an email away!