Know Before You Go
As you travel, keep abreast of local news coverage. If
you plan a stay in one place for longer than a few weeks, or, if you are
in an area where communications are poor, experiencing civil unrest or
some natural disaster, you are encouraged to register with the nearest
U.S. embassy or consulate. Registration takes only a few moments, and it
may be invaluable in case of an emergency.
Other useful precautions are:
Leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers of
your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or
relative in the United States.
Bring either a U.S. passport or a certified copy
of a birth certificate and photo identification.
Carry your photo identification and the name of
a person to contact with you in the event of serious illness or
Keep photocopies of your airline or other
tickets and your list of travelers checks with you in a separate
location from the originals and leave copies with someone at home.
Leave things like unnecessary credit cards and
expensive jewelry at home.
Bring travelers checks or a credit card, not
Use a money belt or concealed pouch for
passport, cash and other valuables.
Do not bring firearms or ammunition into Mexico
without written permission from the Mexican government.
MEXICO VISITOR FEE UPDATE: A Visitor Fee of
150 pesos per person went into effect on July 1, 1999 for all persons
traveling to Mexico as tourists, on business or traveling through Mexico
to the US and Central America with certain exceptions. Current exchange
rates peg this fee around $15 US dollars and $20 Canadian dollars.
FEES ELIMINATED FOR SHORT VISITS:
The 22-dollar entrance fees have been waived for tourists driving across
the border who intend to spend less than a week in Mexico. Previously,
tourists traveling south of the border area were required to obtain
tourist cards and pay 22 dollars, technically not for the card but for
entering Mexico (the United States charges Mexicans 45 dollars merely to
apply for a visa; that fee is non-refundable even if the visa is
denied). The fee waiver does not apply to tourists arriving by air.
Funds raised by this fee are shared by the immigration office - paying
for more inspectors and improved facilities - and by the Mexico Tourism
The exceptions include (No payment required):
Mexican citizens living abroad.
Those arriving by land or sea but staying less
than 72 hours.
Those crossing Mexico's northern and southern
borders by land, and staying more than 72 hours, but not proceeding
beyond the country's existing interior checkpoints located between
26 and 30 kilometers (16+miles) from the border.
Those crossing Mexico's borders by land,
proceeding beyond the interior checkpoints, and staying longer than
72 hours, but limiting their visits to the following tourist routes:
- Tijuana/Ensenada (Baja California) - San Felipe Tourism
Development Zone (Baja California) - Sonoita-Puerto Penasco (Sonora)
- Ciudad Juarez-Paquime (Chihuahua) - Piedras Negras-Santa Rosa
(Coahuila) - Reynosa-China-Presa Cuchillo (Tamaulipas & Nuevo Leon).
Those visiting Mexico as students,
"Distinguished Visitors" as defined by Mexico's immigration laws, or
those seeking political asylum.
The fee will be collected
by the following mechanisms:
Air - by airlines,
included in the purchase price of tickets, as is customarily done in
Sea - by inclusion in the cruise
package, or by the National Immigration Institute upon disembarking,
but only if stay is longer than 72 hours, maximum one Fee per
Land - at branches of any bank operating in
Mexico. Visitors will be required to produce verification of payment
of the Fee.
For additional information contact your nearest
Mexican Government Tourism Offices. See list in General Information
A passport or other WHTI-compliant travel document is necessary for U.S.
and Canadian citizens traveling to Mexico. You may not be asked to
present your passport if entering Mexico by land, but you will surely
need to present one upon your return to the United States.
Travel by air: In January 2007 the US Western
Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) required all travelers entering
or re-entering the United States by air to present a passport.
Travel by land or sea: As of June 2009, US
citizens entering the United States by land or sea are required to
present a passport or other WHTI compliant travel document such as a
passport card. See exception for children.
Exceptions and Special Cases
Entry for Children: Beginning June 1, 2009, U.S.
and Canadian citizen children under age 15 arriving by land or sea
from contiguous territory may also present an original or copy of
his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a
Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card.
Entry for Children-Air Travel: All US and
Canadian citizens, regardless of age, traveling by air to Mexico are
required to present a passport.
Permanent Residents of the US: Document
requirements for lawful permanent residents of the United States did
not change under the WHTI. Permanent residents must present their
I-551 Permanent Resident Card when entering the United States. A
passport is not required to enter the US, but you may need one to
enter Mexico, depending on your nationality.
For additional Information:
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant documents
Vehicle Permits: Tourists wishing
to travel beyond the border zone with their vehicle must obtain a
temporary import permit or risk having their vehicle confiscated by
Mexican customs officials. At present the only exceptions to the
requirement are for vehicles traveling in the Baja Peninsula and those
vehicles covered by the "Only Sonora" program in Western
Sonora. This program generally covers the area west of Mexican Federal
Highway 15 between the Arizona border and the Gulf of California, ending
To acquire a permit, one must submit evidence of citizenship, title
for the vehicle, a vehicle registration certificate, a driver's license,
and a processing fee to either a Banjercito (Mexican Army Bank) branch
located at a Mexican Customs (Aduana) office at the port of entry, or at
one of the Mexican consulates located in the United States. Mexican law
also requires the posting of a bond at a Banjercito office to guarantee
the export of the car from Mexico within a time period determined at the
time of the application. For this purpose, American Express, Visa or
MasterCard credit card holders will be asked to provide credit card
information; others will need to make a cash deposit of between $200 and
$400, depending on the make/model/year of the vehicle. In order to
recover this bond or avoid credit card charges, travelers must go to any
Mexican Customs office immediately prior to departing Mexico. Regardless
of any official or unofficial advice to the contrary, vehicle permits
cannot be obtained at checkpoints in the interior of Mexico. If the
proper permit is not obtained before entering Mexico and cannot be
obtained at the Banjercito branch at the port of entry, do not proceed
to the interior. Travelers without the proper permit may be
incarcerated, fined and/or have their vehicle seized at
immigration/customs checkpoints. For further information, contact
Travelers should avoid individuals who wait outside vehicle permit
offices and offer to obtain the permits without waiting in line, even if
they appear to be government officials. There have been reports of
fraudulent or counterfeit permits being issued adjacent to the vehicle
import permit office in Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez and other border
Dual Nationality: Mexican law recognizes
dual nationality for Mexicans by birth, meaning
those born in Mexico or born abroad to Mexican parents.
U.S. citizens who are also Mexican nationals are
considered by local authorities to be Mexican. Dual
nationality status could result in the delay of
notification of arrests and other emergencies or hamper
U.S. Government efforts to provide consular services.
Dual nationals are subject to compulsory military
service in Mexico; in addition, dual national males must
register for the U.S. Selective Service upon turning 18.
For more information,
visit the U.S. Selective Service website. Travelers
possessing both U.S. and Mexican nationalities must
carry with them proof of citizenship of both countries.
Under Mexican law, dual nationals entering or departing
Mexico must identify themselves as Mexican. Under U.S.
law, dual nationals entering the United States must
identify themselves as U.S. citizens.
CRIME: Robbery assaults on passengers in taxis are frequent and
violent, with passengers subjected to beating, shootings and sexual
assault. U.S. citizens visiting Mexico City should absolutely avoid
taking any taxi not summoned by telephone or contacted in advance at the
airport. When in need of a taxi, telephone a radio taxi or "sitio"
(pronounced "C-T-O"). Ask the dispatcher for the driver's name and the
cab's license plate number. If you walk to a "sitio" taxi stand, use
only a driver known to you. Ask the hotel concierge or other responsible
individual calling on your behalf to write down the license plate number
of the cab that you entered. Passengers arriving at Mexico City's Benito
Juarez International Airport should take only airport taxis (yellow,
with an airport symbol on the door) after pre-paying the fare at one of
the special booths inside the airport. Radio taxis may be called at tel.
5-271-9146, 5-271-9058, and 5-272-6125 (within Mexico). U.S. citizens
should avoid taking taxis parked outside the Bellas Artes Theater, in
front of nightclubs, restaurants or cruising throughout the city.
CRIME INFORMATION: Crime in Mexico continues at high levels,
especially in Mexico City. Low apprehension and conviction rates of
criminals contribute to the high crime rate. Metropolitan areas other
than the capital have lower but still serious levels of crime. Travelers
should leave valuables and irreplaceable items in a safe place. All
visitors are encouraged to make use of hotel safes when available, avoid
wearing obviously expensive jewelry or designer clothing, and carry only
the cash or credit cards that will be needed on each outing. Travelers
are discouraged from bringing very large amounts of cash into Mexico, as
officials may suspect money laundering or other criminal activity. The
most frequently reported crimes involve taxi robberies, armed robbery,
pick-pocketing and purse snatching. Any U.S. citizen victims of crime in
Mexico are encouraged to report the incident to the nearest police
headquarters and to the nearest U.S. consular office.
U.S. citizens should be very cautious in using ATM cards
and machines in Mexico. If an ATM machine must be used, it should be
only during the business day at large protected facilities (preferably
inside commercial establishments, rather than at a glass-enclosed,
highly visible ATM machine on streets where criminals can observe
U.S. citizens should not hitchhike, accept rides from, or
offer rides to strangers anywhere in Mexico.
Travelers should exercise caution when traveling on all
highways in Mexico and use toll ("cuota") roads whenever possible. The
U.S. Embassy advises its personnel to exercise extreme caution when
traveling on any Mexican highways and not to travel on highways after
dark for safety reasons. U.S. citizens planning to travel on any Mexican
highways should follow this advice:
All bus travel should be during daylight and on
Tourists should not hike alone in backcountry areas
or walk alone on lightly frequented beaches, ruins or trails.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should
be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Adequate medical care can be found in all
major cities. Health facilities in Mexico City are excellent. Care in
more remote areas is limited. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can be
very costly. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid
outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not
provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties. Check with your own insurance
company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including
provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made
to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed
later for expenses you incur.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other
health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP
(1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via their
Internet site at
Air pollution in Mexico City and Guadalajara is severe,
especially from December to May.
Drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for
20 minutes. Beware of ice cubes that may not have been made with
purified water. Vegetables and fruits should be peeled or washed in a
purifying solution. A good rule to follow is if you can't peel it
or cook it, do not eat it. Diarrhea may benefit from anti-microbial
treatment which may be prescribed or purchased over the counter.
Travelers should consult a physician, rather than attempt
self-medication, if the diarrhea is severe or persists several days.
PENALTIES: Penalties for drug offenses are strict, and convicted
offenders can expect jail sentences up to 25 years and fines. As in the
U.S., purchase of controlled medication requires a doctor's
prescription. The Mexican list of controlled medication differs from the
U.S., and Mexican public health laws concerning controlled medication
are unclear and often enforced selectively. The U.S. Embassy recommends
against U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico for the sole purpose of buying
prescription drugs. U.S. citizens have been arrested and their medicine
confiscated by Mexican authorities, even though a physician provides a
prescription and a licensed Mexican pharmacist fills it. Possession of
any amounts of prescription medicine (especially psychotropic drugs such
as Valium) brought from the U.S. can result in arrest if Mexican
authorities suspect abuse or if the quantity of the prescription
medicine exceeds the amount required for several days' use. Travelers
should check with the nearest Mexican consulate before traveling to
Mexico to purchase medication or with medication prescribed in the U.S.
FIREARMS PENALTIES: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens
against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Mexico without
prior written authorization from the Mexican authorities. Entering
Mexico with a firearm or a single round of ammunition carries a penalty
of up to five years in jail, even if the firearm or ammunition is taken
into Mexico unintentionally. The Mexican government strictly enforces
its laws restricting the entry of firearms and ammunition along all land
borders and at air and seaports. This has resulted in arrests,
convictions, and long prison sentences for U.S. citizens, even those who
unintentionally crossed the border with firearms or ammunition in their
possession. U.S. citizens approaching Mexico along the land border who
realize they are in possession of unauthorized firearms or ammunition
should not seek to enter Mexico. The only way to legally import firearms
and/or ammunition into Mexico is to secure a permit in advance from the
Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C. or from a Mexican Consulate,
regardless of whether the firearm is legally registered in the U.S.
Vessels entering Mexican waters with firearms or ammunition
on board must have a permit previously issued by the Mexican Embassy or
a Mexican Consulate. Mariners do not avoid prosecution for arms
smuggling by declaring their weapons at the port of entry. Mariners who
have obtained a Mexican firearms permit should contact port officials
before traveling to receive guidance on the specific procedures used to
report and secure weapons and ammunition.
SMUGGLING: Anyone arrested for transporting aliens out of Mexico
may be prosecuted by Mexican authorities for alien smuggling. Alien
smuggling and harboring aliens is a serious felony offense in Mexico.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country,
U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly
from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mexico
is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate
in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
BUS TRAVEL AND
Primera Plus Bus Services -
DESTINATIONS: Mexico City Airport, Mexico City (Norte), Aguascalientes,
Celaya, Colima, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Irapuato, Leon, Morelia, Puerto
Vallarta, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, San Miguel de Allende.
COMMENTS: Great site, with timetables, prices, distances and online
reservations available. In English and Spanish.
ETN Bus Line
- DESTINATIONS: Mexico City (Norte), Mexico City (Observatorio),
Aguascalientes, Celaya, Colima, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Irapuato, Leon,
Manzanillo, Morelia, Puerto Vallarta, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, San
Miguel de Allende, Uruapan, Zamora. COMMENTS: New site is still
under construction, with some schedules not yet available. In Spanish
only, but the timetables section is easy to follow. Luxury service, with
only 24 seats per bus.
ADO Bus Line
- DESTINATIONS: Mexico City (TAPO), Cancun, Chetumal, Merida, Playa del
Carmen, Oaxaca, Puebla, Jalapa, Veracruz, Villahermosa, Tampico, Poza
Rica. COMMENTS: Timetables, prices and journey times available in
English and Spanish. Some maintenance underway at the moment. Excellent
and regular service from Cancun to Merida.
DRIVING INFORMATION: U.S. driver's licenses are valid in Mexico.
Mexican insurance is required for all vehicles, including rental
vehicles in Mexico. Travelers should obtain full coverage insurance when
renting vehicles in Mexico. Travelers arriving in their own vehicle can
easily obtain Mexican insurance on the U.S. side of the land border and
should do so. If a traveler is involved in a vehicle accident resulting
in damages or injuries to another party, the driver can be arrested and
detained by Mexican authorities until a settlement is arranged with the
injured party and/or, depending upon the extent of damages or injuries
to the other party, the traveler may face charges filed by the Mexican
For additional information concerning Mexico driver's
permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, mandatory insurance, etc. you can
contact the Mexico Government Tourist Organization (MGTO) at
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Mexico customs authorities may enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from
Mexico of items such as antiquities, medications, medical equipment,
business equipment, etc. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of
Mexico in Washington or one of the Mexican's consulates in the United
States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES: You must present the pink copy of your
tourist card at your point of departure from Mexico. If you are
returning by motor vehicle, you will need to show your vehicle import
permit when you cross the border. At the time of publication, the
airport departure tax is $10 or the equivalent in Mexican currency for
those returning by commercial airline.
The U.S. Customs Service currently permits U.S. citizens returning
from international travel to bring back $400 worth of merchandise,
including 1 liter of alcohol, duty free. The next $1,000 worth of items
brought back is subject to a duty of 10%.
In addition to U.S. Customs regulations, be aware that some U.S. border
states (most notably, Texas) have imposed state restrictions on liquor,
wine and beer imports from Mexico. If you are planning to bring back
alcoholic beverages, inquire about these restrictions from the liquor
control office of the state through which you plan to return.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Mexico's Civil
Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international
aviation safety standards for oversight of Mexico's air carrier
operations. For further information, travelers may contact the
Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
FAA Internet home page at
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For
information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may
contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.
RED TAPE TRIMMED FOR PRIVATE PILOTS:
The Tourism Ministry is
spearheading a movement to encourage more private pilots to fly to Mexico.
Regulations have been relaxed and paperwork all but eliminated. Temporary
import permits, valid for one year, allow multiple re-entries and insurance
policies issued at the home base of an aircraft now are valid in Mexico. A
U.S. pilot's license now is valid for flying aircraft registered in
Mexico has long been a favorite destination for private pilots, but
officials recognize that red tape is too bothersome for some to cope with.
The Tourism Ministry now has published a manual outlining the new,
simplified rules. It can be accessed from the Internet at
REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the
U.S. Embassy or a consulate and to obtain updated information on travel
and security within Mexico.
EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: The U.S. Embassy is located in
Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone
from the United States: 011-525-209-9100; within Mexico City:
5-209-9100; within Mexico 01-5-209-9100.
-There are also U.S. Consulates General in:
Ciudad Juarez at Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N,
telephone (52-16) 113000
Guadalajara at Progreso 175, telephone (52-38)
Monterrey at Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente
64000, telephone (52-83) 45-2120
Tijuana at Tapachula 96, telephone (52-66) 817400.
Hermosillo at Ave. Monterrey 141, telephone
Matamoros at Ave. Primera 2002, telephone (52-88)
Merida at Paseo Montejo 453, telephone (52-99)
Nogales at Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora,
telephone (52-63) 134-820
Nuevo Laredo at Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin,
There are Consular Agencies in:
Acapulco at Hotel Acapulco Continental, Costera M.
Aleman 121-Local 14, telephone 52-74-840-300/52-74-690-556.
Cabo San Lucas at Blvd. Marina Y Perdregal #1,
Local No. 3 Zona Centro, telephone (52-114) 3-35-66
Cancun at Plaza Caracol Two, third level, no.
320-323, Boulevard Kukulcan, km. 8.5, Zona Hotelera, telephone
Cozumel at Avenida #35, Norte #650 Cozumel,
telephone (52-987) 261-52
Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo at Local 9, Plaza Ambiente,
telephone (52-755) 3-11-08.
Mazatlan at Hotel Playa Mazatlan, Rodolfo T.
Loaiza #202, Zona Dorada, 82110, telephone (52-69) 134-444 ext. 285
Puerto Vallarta at Edif. Vallarta, Plaza Zaragoza
160-Piso 2 Int-18, telephone (52-322)2-0069
San Luis Potosi at Francisco de P. Mariel 103-10,
Oaxaca at Alcala 201, Deps. 206 telephone
San Miguel de Allende at Dr. Hernandez Macias #72,
Great Trips Start By Being Prepared!