Getting a Refund on Mexico’s Tourist Tax

Although it’s often hidden down in the fine print, and almost never publicized, tickets to fly into Mexico City’s International Airport, or el Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México (AICM, or “MEX”), include a tourist tax of around $22. The tourist tax is intended for all foreign nationals who enter Mexico on a tourist visa. However, Mexican citizens and anyone holding a Mexican residence visa, such as the FM-3, are exempt, which includes the currently-looking-for-employment author of this blog.

For example, here’s the fine print of the fare details from my flight back in October:

MEX179.00TA14ND US X/ORD Q80.00US
BOS179.00TA14ND USD518.00END

The first line is the method of payment; the next three show the allocated price of each flight segment; and the last two lines show a breakdown of the various taxes, some of which many passengers are already familiar with, such as the September 11th Security fee (“XA” I believe) and others not. The part highlighted in bold (XD23.20) shows that this ticket included a $23.20 charge for the Mexican tourist tax

Exempt or not, the charge is included in the quoted ticket price for every flight I’ve had to and from AICM. It’s possible that carriers know to exempt certain people, but I tend to doubt it as I’ve seen the charge included for itineraries originating in Mexico City as well as those paid for using credit cards from Mexican banks. The problem is that ticketing systems and agents don’t ask for the passenger’s status when the ticket is purchased… and I’m sure that Mexico is not the only country for which this occurs.

In October, I first requested a tax refund, which involves negotiating with the refund departments of the carrier from which the ticket was purchased. This isn’t the same as the carrier operating the flight; I had several different trips on United, but one was purchased on U.S. Airway’s website, so I needed to go through both airlines’ refund departments. The process involved more than a dozen emails, three faxes, and almost four months… but yesterday, I finally received the following email from United Airlines’ refund department:

Dear Valued Customer:

We have received your refund request.

We are issuing a refund for the following tickets to your credit card today.

Tickets Amount

Swaleha Sayed
Refund Correspondent

Swaleha, you made my day.

In order to get a refund, you need to have the 13-digit numbers from the tickets, a photocopy of the necessary documentation (such as a U.S. passport and FM-3 visa), email addresses for the refund departments of your airline (check their websites), and a ton of patience.

If anyone else has had an experience with the tourist tax, I’d love to hear about it.


México, D.F.


17 Responses

  1. What about the “Mexico Departure Tax”? Are Mexican Citizens or Residents exempt from it as far as you know?

  2. Carlos,

    AICM, the airport in Mexico City, does not charge a separate departure tax, which some airports levy on passengers just before they board their flight. It’s possible that there is already a departure tax included in the price of the ticket.

    That said, Mexican citizens might be exempt – but only if this charge was applied to international flights only (for obvious reasons). Since there is already an international tourist tax in one portion of the ticket, I doubt they would levy it twice, so my guess is no.

  3. I’ve known about this “tourist” tax for years, but never tried to get a refund for my Mexican wife.

    Alaska Airlines publishes a refund procedure for this tax on their web site: .

    For an upcoming flight, a Continental reservation agent researched it for me last week and refunded the fee for my wife without any documentation, just my word over the phone. She called it the “UK” tax.

    The Delta res agent I called for another trip said she could not do anything, but referred my to their refunds office. I’m still working it.

    My wife flies USAir tomorrow, haven’t tried this yet. And we all fly AeroMexico in July, yet to try.

  4. For Alaska Airlines Mexico Tourism Tax Refund web page, google: Alaska Airlines Mexico Tourism Tax Refunds

  5. All airlines are ripping off FM3 holders and Mexican Citizen Holders. They refuse to take off Depature tax when it does not apply. This is class action law suit waiting to happen. I am in the process of finding a firm to take on this case. This is illegal for them to charge us when it not required. If intrested email me at This is guarantee win. If you are law firm intrested in getting involved please also email me.

  6. I have travelled at least 50 times in and out of Mexico and have never ceived a refund and it is always charged. I applied for a refund with Alaska Airlines, since we travelled (a family of 4) twice to/from Mexico in the next year. I folowed the procedure on their website and nothing.

    Last week I found that if you buy it over the phone from Continental, they do not charge it but they do charge a $25 USD fee for phone reservation. Goog thing, is that on top of my Mexican Passport I used a Canadian Credit Card and guess what? No reservation fee if paying with a Canadian CC… so weird.

    I just got off the phone with United trying to pull the same move and even though they said they wouldn´t charge me, I know they charged someting extra, because the rate was only $2 USD cheaper than the online rate wich was THE SAME (base fare).

  7. Sorry, I meant “received” and that travelled twice on the same year with Alaska.

  8. has anyone successfully received the departure tax/airport user tax refund on flts out of mexico? Not the 22 usd. tourist tax, the larger one that comes to around 38 usd? I am resident and family are Mexican. it adds up on a couple of tickets. Just curious.

  9. I always tell them upfront that I am a Mexican Citizen so they don’t charge me the tourism tax, most of the employees don’t know how to substracted so I always have them call their supervisor. It’s actually quite simple. There is a field in their reservation program and it asks if the pax is a mexican national if they check yes, it doesn’t charge you. just them them to show you their screen and have them click on that field. Note, they’ll get pissed because your schooling them.

  10. The Mexican Tourism Tax code is actually following the amount – so “UK” rather than the “XD” designation.

  11. sent a detailed fax and copy of our Mex passports to Alaskan Air refunds dept and they processed a refund against my card quickly and without any fuss. Well done Alaskan for leading the way (and they give you free bag allowance on GDL flights). This almost $50 ($22 + $25) per ticket makes a big difference when selecting a carrier and airfare

  12. Alaska Air can do it right at the check in counter. you simply ask for the refund form, show them your visa or Mexican passport, you fill it out, give it back to them and the refund shows up on your credit card. AirTran not only does not do this, they have argued with me my last 2 flights that there is no such refund available and I don’t know what i’m talking about. they could not have been more rude.

  13. I have gotten no where with Continental and now they sold out to United, I am basically screwed hundreds of dollars over the years flying them with two kids. Last week United charge the three of us the tax giving me wrong information about refunds. Guy at the counter said it has to be done through the corporate section, hahaha, give me a break, they keep passing me around and do not answer questions. I think we need to sue the airlines for charging us

  14. ready to file a lawsuit regarding this issue. if interesting contact me.

  15. How do i book a ticket to Mexico for a Mexican citizen without paying the tourist tax. I would rather not pay it than ask for a refund.

  16. Had this problem with tickets purchased thru CheapoAir.. Charged me the tourist tax, even tho I told them I am a resident of Mexico. After so much arguing, they got tired of me, and credited the refund. I was told that if I had used rather than, there would not be a problem.

  17. Anyone has any updates? Looks like they’re disclosing the tax but still charge it and make you do a lot before giving you the money back…

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