Mexico Eliminating Customs Forms & Random Screenings for Arriving Passengers

Buenos días everyone. Before I arrived at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City on Saturday evening, I was a bit irritated when the flight crew announced that they did not have customs forms on board. After I cleared immigration and proceeded to baggage claim in the customs hall, I was confused because I couldn’t find any blank forms anywhere. That confusion turned into surprise when I approached an American Airlines baggage agent and was told “We don’t use those anymore.” Sure enough, when I went up to the customs agent, she just asked me if I had anything to declare and told me to push the red button – thankfully the light turned green.

This form is going the way of the dinosaurs. Photo from

This form is going the way of the dinosaurs. Photo from

After I cleared customs and got in my Uber, I hopped on Google to investigate the situation. According to El Universal, SAT (the customs agency in Mexico), announced a few weeks ago that they are phasing out both customs forms and the red light / /green light random screening system at the country’s largest airports.

Both elements have already been eliminated in Mexico City’s Terminal 2 (home of Aeromexico and Delta), and they have removed the customs forms at Terminal 1 (where I landed on Saturday) as well as Cancun International Airport. The “traffic lights” will be removed from T1 and Cancun later this month, and at some point, these changes will also be implemented in Los Cabos, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. Together, these five airports handle 85% of inbound international flights to Mexico.

Instead of random screenings, customs officials and federal police will use mobile X-ray units to scan baggage between the plane and the baggage claim, and suspicious bags will be pulled aside for manual inspection in the presence of the traveler. This brings Mexico in line with modern customs procedures like those used in Europe. (No word yet as to whether this will eventually lead to connecting passengers no longer having to claim their bags in transit).

map of Mexico airports with customs changes

These five airports will have a more streamlined customs experience soon. Image from

I’m excited for these changes, since it will make the arrival process much faster – according to Expansion (a CNN affiliate), the average processing time for travelers will drop from 25 minutes to just 3 minutes. What do you think of these changes? What changes would you like to see to customs screening in the US or anywhere else you travel? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

7 thoughts on “Mexico Eliminating Customs Forms & Random Screenings for Arriving Passengers

  1. DaninMCI

    I’d like to see Mexico City honor US global entry but the changes are a huge improvement. Last time I was there it took a long time to get through immigration. Customs there last fall had the green light red light scheme when I was there but still had the forms I think.

    1. Rapid Travel Chai

      @DaninMCI – Global Entry would be nice, when I used to go to MEX regularly I considered enrolling in their version, Viajero Confiable. My travel there tailed off so I did not test out the enrollment process.

  2. Al

    Let me see- If your a member of isis or any other bad guy from some third world country, just hop a plane to Mexico, enter no questions asked. Then walk across the American border as hundreds of thousands of other illegals have and make yourself at home. Sounds like a great plan!

    1. Tonei Glavinic Post author

      As far as I know there’s little correlation between random customs screenings and terrorist activity. And if anything, this change means that more bags will get some kind of screening by Mexican customs officials.

      1. Stefan Krasowski (@rapidtravelchai)

        And I believe this means that they are eliminating the bush button green light/red light screenings near the exit, which were randomly assigned, not their ability to pull people over for inspection in targeted ways countries such as the US do. I imagine they will continue segregating arrivals from high drug smuggling countries and continue to give those more customs scrutiny.

  3. JJ

    I really hope Mexico will end the need to collect connecting baggage. Even the US has elminated this for international to international routes.

    As a delta diamond, I like to fly Aeromexico, but connecting in MEX is a real pain. The self-pour Maestro Diamanté Tequila that they just started serving in the AM lounge makes that a bit easier!


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