How to Request Mexico Tourism Tax Refunds for Mexican Citizens, Residents & Transiting Visitors [UPDATED September 2017]

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Originally Posted in January 2017 – Updated with new data points in September 2017!

Buenos dias!

If you or someone you know has a Mexican passport or resident card, they might be leaving money on the table when they purchase airline tickets to/from/through Mexico.

When you purchase a plane ticket to Mexico, the fare has a tourism tax built in – similar to US customs and immigration fees.  This fee goes toward the cost of immigration processing and the arrival / departure card required for foreign visitors. The fee is 500 Mexican Pesos, which is roughly $28 USD. (The fee increased from 390 pesos at some point in 2017). On your ticket receipt you may see this referred to as UK (the IATA code for this tax) or DNR (the Spanish abbreviation).

Screenshot from ITA Matrix showing the Mexico tourism tax

Screenshot from ITA Matrix showing the Mexico tourism tax – tax and exchange rate as of December 18, 2016.

However, not everyone is required to pay this fee.  If you have a Mexican passport or resident card, or are spending less than 24 hours in Mexico, you’re exempt from this tax. (Infants under 2 and diplomats are also exempt.) This is outlined (in Spanish) on this Mexican government FAQ page, question 16.

Description of tax refund eligibility requirements on the Alaska Airlines website.

Description of tax refund eligibility requirements on the Alaska Airlines website.

Mexican carriers typically know not to charge this fee to Mexican citizens based on the citizenship information you enter at the time of booking, but otherwise, there’s a good chance this fee will end up on your ticket even when it shouldn’t. (There’s actually a class action lawsuit pending against several US and Mexican airlines for this practice.) Fortunately, most airlines are pretty good about giving you a refund upon request.

Alaska Airlines
Difficulty: MEDIUM

Alaska was the first airline I found that documents the existence of this tax refund on their website. You can present your documentation to an airline representative at checkin to have a refund request submitted for you, or you can submit copies by mail or fax after travel is completed. After my trip on Alaska’s inaugural flight from San Francisco to Mexico City, I sent a fax with the ticket numbers and IDs and received an email about two days later letting me know the refund had been processed.

American Airlines
Difficulty: 
EASY

American now has a page on their website about Mexico tourism tax refunds too. In the past, I used to submit refund requests via Twitter. Now, you can contact Reservations before your trip, or submit a refund request through their website after travel has been completed. The online refund request is very easy – I just selected ‘refund of taxes’ as the reason and uploaded a copy of my resident card, and the refund was back on my credit card within a few days.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-9-03-11-am

Tax refund from American Airlines for a flight on September 21, 2016.

Delta Air Lines
Difficulty: MEDIUM

Delta has information about tourism tax refunds buried on their Legal Notices page, and also on their “Pro” website for travel agents. The Legal Notices page directs you to their online refunds tool, but when I tried to submit a request for a refund for a previous flight, I got a big fat error message.  Attempting to request a refund for an upcoming flight forces you to cancel the ticket first, which isn’t helpful either. I reached out to their Twitter team for assistance, but they told me to call the International Reservations Sales Team at 1-800-241-4141 for assistance.

Update: I sent a fax with ticket numbers and ID copies to Delta’s Passenger Refunds department at 404-715-9256 and received an email about two days later saying that the refunds had been processed to the original forms of payment.

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-9-26-22-am

No luck requesting a refund from Delta online.

Jetblue Airways
Difficulty: IMPOSSIBLE

JetBlue has an unnecessarily convoluted system for requesting tax refunds. In theory, it’s relatively simple: you show your receipt and your documents to Jetblue agents at checkin and they submit the refund request on your behalf. In practice, this is way harder than it sounds. Their Twitter team told me that you can’t just submit a copy of your e-ticket – you have to request a Comprobantes Fiscal Digital por Internet (CFDI) receipt through a third party website at least 48 hours but no more than 30 days after purchase.

This website (in Spanish) is buggy and full of inaccurate and conflicting information.  For example, on the first page you have to enter your ticket number and date of purchase, but if you enter the actual date of purchase it doesn’t work. The site shows a sample boarding pass with the ticket number and departure date highlighted, but that doesn’t work either – their system doesn’t allow you to select dates in the future.

When I reached out to their Twitter team for help, they suggested entering the date I was requesting the receipt as the date of purchase (even though I bought the ticket last month) – that didn’t work either. Their Twitter team then directed me to email dearjetblue@jetblue.com, who couldn’t help with a receipt or refund, but sent me a $50 Jetblue voucher for my trouble.

Sample ticket image from the JetBlue CFDI website

Inaccurate sample ticket image from the JetBlue CFDI website

Southwest Airlines
Difficulty: NOT SO BAD

I’ve had good luck getting Southwest to refund tourism taxes via Twitter. Since Southwest tickets are so flexible, you have to wait until travel is completed to submit a refund request. Their Twitter team told me to fax a copy of my documents to their Refunds Department (972-656-2568) with my confirmation number. The first time I requested a refund, it took nearly two months – I submitted my documents on April 5, and didn’t receive a refund until the end of May.  When I followed up with the Twitter team on May 20th, they said the Refunds department was still handling requests from March 21st. However, I submitted a request for a different ticket via Twitter on October 4th and was able to get a refund processed the next day without having to resubmit my documents.

Quick refund processing from @SouthwestAir on Twitter.

Quick refund processing from @SouthwestAir on Twitter.

Spirit Airlines
Difficulty: EASY

Bill reported in the comments that he was able to obtain a refund easily by sending an email to customer service, presumably with the relevant ticket numbers/record locator(s) and a copy of the necessary documents.

United Airlines
Difficulty: EASY

I used to use Twitter to get tax refunds from United, but now I just use the United Refunds website. Select the “Contact United Refunds” option, fill out the form with your ticket details, and upload a copy of your resident card or passport; you’ll get an email in a few days informing you that the refund has been processed. As a bonus, United automatically removes the taxes from roundtrip itineraries originating in Mexico.

Aeromexico
Difficulty: EASY

The first time I traveled to Mexico, I had separate tickets from LAX to Mexico City and an onward connection (within 24 hours) from Mexico City to Santiago, Chile – which meant that I was exempt from both the tourism tax and Mexico City’s steep international departure tax. If I had booked that as a single ticket, those taxes would have been removed automatically, but their US refunds team (amusrefunds@aeromexico.com) was able to process the refund quickly. That’s also the department for requesting tourism tax refunds based on citizenship or residency – just email them your ticket number and a copy of your passport or residency card. Note: From the comments, others have reported difficulty with Aeromexico. YMMV.

All Nippon Airways (ANA)
Difficulty: HARDER/TBD

I booked an ANA award ticket earlier this year that included a United segment from SFO to Mexico City. I reached out to ANA on Twitter and was directed to call them at 1-800-235-9262 for assistance. But I hate making phone calls, so I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Air France / KLM
Difficulty: IMPOSSIBLE

Last year, I booked two award tickets for my partner on Aeromexico using Flying Blue miles and was charged tourism tax on both tickets. I tried multiple times to reach out to Flying Blue, Air France / KLM, Delta (which handles some of their customer service in the US), and Aeromexico, both myself and through an agent at getservice.com. Air France told us to contact Aeromexico, and subsequent requests to contact either airline – even through executive channels – were met with complete silence. Ultimately, getservice recommended that I initiate a chargeback with my credit card company, and I also considered filing a complaint with the US Department of Transportation, but at that point the tickets were so old that I didn’t want to bother with it anymore.

Air Transat
Difficulty: IMPOSSIBLE

Isabelle in the comments reports that despite reaching out by both phone and Twitter, Air Transat just pointed her to the fiscal receipt request page on their website and said that she would have to request a refund from the Mexican government.

Volaris
Difficulty: IMPOSSIBLE

The Volaris website asks you if you have a Mexican passport when you book your ticket, but since I have a US passport, there is no way to avoid being charged the fee automatically. I reached out to their Twitter team for advice, who incorrectly told me that since I have a foreign passport, I have to pay the fee regardless of my residency status.

I then reached out to the Volaris chat support team, who directed me to email Customer Relations at yourexperience@volaris.com. I’ve gone back and forth with them via email multiple times – they don’t seem to have a great grasp of how the law works, and in any case have decided that it’s my fault that the tax was charged because I selected “US Citizen” instead of “Mexican Citizen” at booking. Their policy (apparently) is that customers are completely responsible for whatever charges appear on the website at time of booking, and it sounds like they wouldn’t refund me even if I had a Mexican passport. Volaris told me that to avoid this fee in the future, I should just say that I am a Mexican citizen during the booking process. I ended up filing a chargeback on my Citi Prestige card, but since the amount was so small Citi just granted me a permanent credit without investigating.

"Thank you for writing, I inform you that [a refund] is not possible since on the return flight you would be entering Mexico as a foreigner, which is why the charge was applied."

“Thank you for writing, I inform you that [a refund] is not possible since on the return flight you would be entering Mexico as a foreigner, which is why the charge was applied.”

Final Thoughts

Frankly, this is an annoying process and requires quite a bit of record keeping and hassle. The savings definitely add up over time, due to the amount of travel that I do.  The amount of money saved on taxes will more than cover the cost of my one-year temporary resident card. There’s relatively little information about this process online, so I’m hoping this article will help people save some time and money.  I still have a few unresolved tax issues, but hopefully the refund process gets simpler, easier, and quicker in the future.

Do you have any experience requesting tax refunds from an airline?  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.  Adios amigos!

33 thoughts on “How to Request Mexico Tourism Tax Refunds for Mexican Citizens, Residents & Transiting Visitors [UPDATED September 2017]

    1. Tonei Glavinic Post author

      Hi Jorge, yes several of these were reimbursed after the flight was taken. (In fact, some airlines like Southwest require it.) Was there a specific airline you’re curious about?

      Reply
      1. Jorge

        Thanks! Yes, Aeromexico to be exact.. You just drop an email requesting the refund with the tix and passport info?

        Reply
        1. Jacob Sang

          Here is a big no from Aeromexico they don’t care … Southwest takes two months

          Dear Mr. Sang:

          Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

          Receive an apology for the delay in the response.

          It is important to state taxes are not paid to Aeromexico, those are pays to government; therefore cannot be refunded.

          Also it is important to acknowledge you that we only keep records for our flights and reservation for a yearlong.

          Best regards,

          Reply
  1. Keith A Thorp

    Sorry, but NOT easy at all with AeroMexico. We E-mailed them a copy of the ticket, passport and Residency card, and they told us you have to have joint citizenship – contrary to what it clearly states on the government web site. We have now E-mailed them a copy of the government’s remarks to see how they will respond. Very disappointing, AeroMexico!

    Reply
  2. Jesus

    Is a mexican passport required to go on a flight to mexico from the airline volaris? Because I am Mexican American and I already bought tickets for my family. Although I have a USA passport.

    Reply
  3. Rebecca

    Did you ever manage to get the refund from Delta? I’m trying to do it with them now and I’m going round in circles!

    Reply
      1. Rebecca

        I spoke to them over the phone and by email, over the phone was a bit more of a challenge as the guy genuinely had no idea what I was talking about but he went out of his way to find out. APPARENTLY we were never charged it in the first place so they couldn’t refund it. It was actually quite painless and they were very good at responding to the emails!

        Reply
      1. Rebecca

        Great news Tonei! I’ve got an upcoming flight with Jetblue next month. Not holding my breath as have never been able to get in back in the past, but it’s worth a shot right ;)

        Reply
  4. Jonathan Bjorgen

    I have residency in Mexico, and I’m legally not required to pay this tax. However, on the Volaris booking, there’s no option to select residency, just passport country. For my family, this means we pay an extra $100 that we shouldn’t have to pay. I’ve seen one other place online where people just say “Select Mexico!”. I don’t want to get stranded at the airport however. Anyone actually tried this?

    Reply
    1. Tonei Glavinic Post author

      That’s the same thing Volaris’ own reps told me to do – as far as I can tell, the only thing that option does is toggle the tourism tax. I haven’t flown Volaris in a while though, so I haven’t personally tried it.

      Reply
  5. Bill Medlin

    Hi All,

    Has anyone had any experience getting the Mexico Tourist Tax Refund from Spirit Airlines? I appreciate any advice or assistance. Thanks! Bill

    Reply
    1. Tonei Glavinic Post author

      I haven’t flown Spirit internationally – good luck, and let me know how it goes!

      Reply
      1. Bill Medlin

        FOLLOW-UP—SPIRIT AIRLINES

        My wife and I have Residente Permanente from when we lived in Mexico. I applied for the Mexican Tourist Tax Refund from Spirit. We got an almost immediate response from Spirit. Jorge in their customer service department was extremely helpful in crediting the refund to us. A lot of people like to pick on Spirit but I find them transparent in their advertising.

        Reply
  6. Isabelle

    With Air Transat, seem impossible. I contact them by phone & twitter. Both send me to this link. They said they cannot refound it, it need to be done by the mexican governement. https://webportal.edicomgroup.com/customers/airtransat/pasaje/consulta-ticket-cfdi-airtransat.html

    https://webportal.edicomgroup.com/EdiwinViewer00/ayuda/FormAyuda.jsp?tipocliente=anonimo&idioma=ES&dominio=ATA870429CZ5

    I am trying now to get a refound from Interjet. First thing their billing doesnt explain if we got charge for it or not.

    I contact them by twitter, no helpfull. By email they send me this: “Agradecemos los minutos que nos otorga de su día para el envió de este mensaje, es importante considerar que a pesar de ser residente el impuesto de salida es mandatorio por cuestiones migratorias razón por la cual este no es rembolsable, sin embargo, requerimos que pueda señalarnos que impuesto expone ya que hay diversos impuestos que ya esta precargados en su compra. ”
    Basicaly they don’t event know if we got charge & say it’s mandatory to pay the DNR. Wil see what happen whit that & uptade.

    Reply
    1. Isabelle

      Update, what a complicated thing with Interjet. By email they said to contact by phone. After spending an hour on the phone with them, they come to the conclusion that we have not been charge. On the confirmation of purchase there is no description of impuestos. At first they did not understand what I was talking about but at the end apparently we don’t have that charge & they cannot send me a detail or proof of that. Will see the day of the flight!

      I did reach out to INM too about that & the official name of that taxe is DNR.
      This was the response I got from them:
      28/08/2017 5:14 pm    Instituto Nacional de Migración
      Buen Día En atención a su consulta Le comento, el DNR es el derecho que deben de pagar los extranjeros cuando ingresan a México bajo la condición de estancia de visitante sin permiso para realizar actividades remuneradas (turista), por vía aérea, terrestre o marítima. Actualmente es de $500 por persona. Si la estancia de los extranjeros es menor a 7 días en territorio mexicano, no se paga el DNR. Saludos Cordiales

      It’s the number 16:
      https://www.gob.mx/inm/articulos/preguntas-frecuentes-del-programa-paisano

      Reply
  7. Jim Trethewey

    I sent by USPS mail to Alaska Airlines at their address in Seattle a written letter with three past flights, including flight numbers, dates, and e-ticket numbers. Received a credit on my (Alaska Airlines/BofA) credit card about 3 weeks later.

    Reply
  8. Rebecca

    Hey Tonei, Any ideas for Virgin Atlantic, I just asked them on their instant chat and the poor girl had no idea what I was talking about! I only just got the ticket today so I’ve got plenty of time to figure it out!

    Reply
    1. Tonei Glavinic Post author

      I would try their social media team first, and if they can’t help email or fax their refunds department. Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        I just had a look at the fare breakdown on the ticket and it doesn’t even list the Tourism Tax (UK) as one of the taxes included in the total.. It’s got the TUA but not the UK which is interesting… This is the price breakdown that they provide!
        Base Fare
        Carrier-imposed Surcharge (YQ)
        Mexico – Transportation Tax – IVA (XO)
        United Kingdom – Air Passenger Duty (APD) (GB)
        Mexico – Airport Departure Tax – TUA (XD)
        United Kingdom – Passenger Service Charge (UB)

        Reply
          1. Rebecca

            Cancun-London-Cancun
            Direct Flights both ways..
            and I booked using the details from my UK passport, not the Mexican one!

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