Can I get back to the US without a passport?


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If you come into Mexico you should have a passport to return to the US.  Without a passport, you can be delayed until Border Patrol clears you for return entry.

You can either use a regular passport for return entry, or a passport card.. The passport card is a wallet-sized identification card that proves US citizenship.  It is an alternative to carrying a conventional passport book and is valid for land and sea travel to and from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. The passport card is not valid for air travel.

The main advantages of the passport card are its cost and practicality. The passport card costs considerably less than a conventional passport, $45 for the first card, which is valid for ten years, as opposed to $100 for a passport.  The application process for a passport card is similar to applying for a passport.           

However, we have heard from some patients that it is possible to cross back into the US with a driver’s license/birth certificate.  It is your legal right as a US citizen to re-enter the country; Border Patrol’s job is simply to establish your identity as a US citizen.

Here is an interesting post with an interview with a Border Patrol spokesman:

“Federal officers will not deny entry to any valid US citizen. Travelers may experience delays while CBP officers possibly refer them to secondary inspection so that their identity and admissibility can be positively determined.”

We recommend getting a passport to re-enter the country to avoid any delays, but of course, you must make that determination.

If you have any questions, would like to arrange your visit, or need any information as you consider your options, please contact Dental Departures.

Rossarin Phinyowan

My passion is travel and researching my next destination. I am a medical/travel writer and currently write content for Dental and Medical Departures.
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This article is meant for information purposes only and is not intended to be dental advice or instructions for dental diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with your dentist or a qualified dental professional before starting or changing dental treatment