AN AIRPLAIN TAKING OFF AND A PILE OF SUITCASES

What happens when you arrive at Cancun Airport

In CANCUN, MEXICOby Isabella Biava6 Comments

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You are all excited about your vacation in the “oh so famous!” Cancun, or the Riviera Maya, the entire region is a jewel, all ready for you to discover.

But first, you need to pass through the Cancun airport, which, if you don’t know what to expect can be quite a trip in itself!

It looks like the authorities decided that you have to earn your vacation in some way and have thought about creating this kind of a riddle for you to resolve before getting out of the airport!

Worry not! because in this post I will guide you through every step that you will encounter when you arrive at Cancun airport so that your experience will be smooth and easy.

I have also created a great guide on what to pack for Mexico if you wish. 🙂

arriving at cancun airport

#1 Pre-departure checklist

First thing first, let’s go quickly through a checklist of the things you have to do before getting to Cancun

  • Check if your passport is expired or will be expiring soon. It needs to have the validity of a minimum of 6 months from the day you depart. In case your realize last minute that your passport has expired, check out this site to see if you qualify for an emergency passport.
  • In planes or at the airport can be cold, so bring something warm to cover up, like a sweater or a pareo.
  • Make sure you know your airline baggage policy so that you don’ t risk to be charged for extra weight at the airport.
  • Bring your prescription medicine and the prescription itself, just in case you are asked at immigration in Mexico.
  • Take some small cash
  • Get a photocopy of your passport to carry around
  • Bring a tablet or ebook to keep you entertained on the flight
  • Remember headphones. Your neighbor is probably not interested.
  • Double check on the TSA web site what’s approved or not in order to avoid tedious lines or worse

On this thorough guide on What to pack for Mexico I am explaining all about the above it in details and much more. I promise you will love my outfit suggestions.

OK, now that we know everything we should take to Mexico we jump on our flight and we can’t wait to get to Cancun. The beach the archeological sites, the Mexican food, and what not are waiting for you…but there is one more step Cancun Airport!

Here is what happens when you arrive at Cancun Airport.

#2 While on the plane you have to fill out 2 forms

On the plane they will give you two forms, one is this one in the below picture. Mind that in this picture you see 2 forms, but it’s actually a long one.

You will need to fill out the parts that I have highlighted in red. They have the same information but it’s important to fill them both out for a reason.

Once you pass through immigration, they will keep the first part and leave you the second. VERY IMPORTANT: you must keep the remaining form in your passport, or wherever it’s safe, for when you leave. Otherwise, you will have to pay a fine to get a new one, not to mention the tedious lines at immigration and all those annoying procedures.

forma migratoria mexico

Immigration form Please note the forms are just samples, you cannot download and use them. They will give you the original to fill out.

Immigration photo source

Here is the other form for customs

custom form

custom form

Please note the forms are just samples, you cannot download and use them. They will give you the original to fill out.

#3 There are 2 important things to remember

  1. Fill all the forms on the plane before landing otherwise you will need to let those with the completed form pass and you will have a long wait on the line at immigration, and trust me, sometimes is never-ending.
  2. Keep passport and forms handy so when it’s your turn you show them to the immigration officer and they’ll do the rest.

#4 How to go through customs at the Cancun Airport

You have gone through immigration and saved somewhere safe the second part of the immigration form.

Now it’s time to collect your checked bags.

You can grab one of those carts to carry your bags, but you cannot take them out of the airport.

Once you have collected your checked bags it’s time to play “red or green”.. just kidding. I need to prepare you with this one because it can seem the weirdest thing on earth. And yet it’s real.

There are 1 to 3 lines at customs, where a smiling agent will be waiting for you at a sort of stand with a big red bottom. You are invited to press the bottom which is connected to a green and a red light on top of it.

If after you press the bottom, the green light turns on you are free! you can now exit the airport.

If the red light will turn on, you will be inspected, meaning that you are asked to open all your bags on a table so that the agents will check all your belongings.

I really hate it. Not that I have anything to hide, but I just feel somebody just broke into my home or something like that.

Even worse when I travel with my backpack and they ask me to pull everything out.

It takes forever to put everything back.

#5 Outside custom

You haven’t left the airport yet. You will need to go through another test!

You thought it was that easy, uh!

In this area, it’s like purgatory, the last step before paradise.

Don’t get tempted to change your US in the money exchange office that you find there. They have ridiculous exchange rates, and anywhere else will give you a better deal.

Then you will see some guys dressed in beige, don’t even bother chatting with them. They approach you with the intention to help you and will try to sell you a timeshare apartment. Waste of time.

Just proceed to the exit to find your transfer to your hotel. (see #6)

#6 How to do get to your hotel from Cancun Airport?

You have 3 options here:

1. Transfer from Cancun Airport By ADO bus

It’s quite convenient, as the busses are comfortable and with A/C.

Prices: Cancun airport to Cancun town 5 USD –  Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen 10 USD – Cancun airport to Tulum 13 USD approx.

You can check the schedule on their site.

Now, if you are staying in one of the hotels in the Hotel Zone, this is not recommendable to get the bus, because the bus will take you to Down Town and from there you will need a taxi. You will waste a lot of time and save a little money. I would rather go for option 2.

2. Pre-book a transfer from Cancun Airport to your hotel

You can book your transfer with an authorized company or with the same hotel where you are staying. Some of them offer the service.

There are two options, shared transfer and private.

With the share transfer, you might need to wait longer if your hotel happens to be the last in the bus itinerary, depending on where other passengers go.

But you will be in any case on a comfortable seat that will take you straight to your hotel without having to change transport

This company that I am partnering with charge only 10 USD for a shared shuttle, while this private transfer in SUV cost 79 USD at the time I checked. This is just to give you a couple of examples. But there are many companies that offer the service.

If you purchase a transfer, you need to pay attention to the signs when you exit the airport, right after the automatic doors you will need to have your voucher in your hand and look for the service provider name and/ or your name on one of those signs.

In case you don’t find it just ask one of the other companies’ representative. They all know each other and will help you.

3. TAXI

Another option is just to get a taxi. There is a taxi company right after you come out of customs. I believe they charge around 50 USD to any of the hotel in Cancun, probably  double to Playa and around 150 to Tulum, but this is an approx rate. Remember to ask before boarding.

WELCOME TO CANCUN! 

Now it’s time to have fun! Click on this link on the Cancun page to know more information about the city and surroundings. I have written tons of posts to help you have a blast!!

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Comments

  1. I had my luggage searched. I had 1 pack of cigarettes over the 10 pack limit. My passport was taken and I was ordered by 1 guy to follow him. He said you must pay 600% tax on every pack. I said no problem keep the cigarettes. He said you don’t have a choice you have to pay. He had my passport and I’m in a foreign country travelling alone so I had no choice! I tried to use my phone but he said “Do not use your phone in this area! There will be a penalty!” (Not gonna lie I was scared and intimidated) He said $600 USD then it went up to $900 USD then he showed me a script on his phone that said “Let me help you. If you pay cash it will be $400 USD” I refused to pay cash as I wanted proof…plus I had maybe $110.00 USD on me for travelling. $1200 CAD later I was free to go. Never going back!

    1. Author

      Hello Sue, thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry this happened to you. Even though I have never experienced anything like that, I am not surprised to hear that. Some people are really corrupted and, especially if they find a little excuse to hold on to, such as the extra packet of cigaret, they would use it at their personal advantage.I wonder what would have happened if you refused to pay or asked to speak to his superiors. I can only say that this is not a good example on how Mexicans are and I am sorry that this episode will stop you from visiting again such a beautiful country with amazing human beings.Just keep in mind that evil people are everywhere, unfortunately. I wish you safe and happy travels.

  2. Same thing happened to me. I was travelling with interjet Who did not provide any type of custom forms at all. the information that I saw online must’ve been outdated because it said you could up two cartons of cigarettes. Got pulled over by customs had to pay 2600 pesos. They took my passport and told me that I was smuggling even though when the girl asked me if I had cigarettes I said yes I have two cartons. She called the guy over they took me into a payment area and would not let me leave until they were on the credit card. When I told them why can’t you just keep the cigarettes they threatened to charge me an additional 18% if I didn’t pay up.. She kept pointing to a sign that you definitely could not see when you were going in to get checked. I mean seriously who charges over 600% duty on anything. Cancon

    1. Author

      Hello Donna, I am so sorry to hear that. But thank you for sharing your experience as well. I am sure this is useful for other readers to understand that it’s very important to know the rules and respect them in order to avoid creating an opportunity to take advantage of you. What I would like to make clear, though, is that these episodes, are not representative of how Mexico is and how Mexicans are, in the least.Cancun itself is a very peculiar place. I talk a lot about it because it’s a spectacular destination, but we don’t have to forget that it has been create for tourisms and everything rotates around money and it’s easier to find corruption and evil in such places versus more laid back and less touristic areas. I always say that Cancun is not Mexico and in order to get to know the Mexican culture you need to leave Cancun and explore farther. I hope your bad experience is not the only thing you took with you when you left.

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