U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
Consular Information Sheet
Please click on this link to read important information you should see before you travel abroad
This information is current as September 17, 2006.
August 17, 2006COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:
is a Spanish-speaking country about three times the size of Texas,
consisting of 31 states and one federal district. The capital is
Mexico City. Mexico has a rapidly developing economy, ranked by
the World Bank as the twelfth largest in the world. The climate
ranges from tropical to desert, and the terrain consists of coastal
lowlands, central high plateaus, and mountains of up to 18,000 feet.
cities throughout Mexico are popular tourist destinations for U.S.
citizens. Travelers should note that location-specific
information contained below is not confined solely to those cities, but
can reflect conditions throughout Mexico. Although the majority
of visitors to Mexico thoroughly enjoy their stay, a small number
experience difficulties and serious inconveniences. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Mexico for additional information. Travelers to Mexico should carefully read the section on Crime below.
The Government of Mexico requires that all U.S. citizens present proof
of citizenship and photo identification for entry into Mexico.
However, some U.S. citizens have encountered difficulty in boarding
flights in Mexico without a passport. The U.S. Embassy recommends
traveling with a valid U.S. passport to avoid delays or
misunderstandings. A lost or stolen passport is easier to replace
when outside of the United States than other evidence of
citizenship. However, U.S. citizenship documents such as a
certified copy (not a simple photocopy or facsimile) of a U.S. birth
certificate, a Naturalization Certificate, a Consular Report of Birth
Abroad, or a Certificate of Citizenship are acceptable. U.S.
citizens boarding flights to Mexico should be prepared to present one
of these documents as proof of U.S. citizenship, along with photo
identification, such as a state or military issued ID. Driver's
licenses and permits, voter registration cards, affidavits and similar
documents are not sufficient to prove citizenship for readmission into
the United States.
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that
by January 1, 2008, travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda,
Panama, Mexico and Canada have a passport or other secure, accepted
document to enter or re-enter the United States.
As of January 8, 2007, this requirement will apply to all air and sea travel to or from Mexico. As of December 31, 2007,
this requirement will be extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.
U.S. citizens do not require a visa or a tourist card for tourist stays
of 72 hours or less within "the border zone," defined as an area
between 20 to 30 kilometers of the border with the U.S., depending on
the location. U.S. citizens traveling as tourists beyond the
border zone or entering Mexico by air must pay a fee to obtain a
tourist card, also known as an FM-T, available from Mexican consulates,
Mexican border crossing points, Mexican tourism offices, airports
within the border zone and most airlines serving Mexico. The fee
for the tourist card is generally included in the price of a plane
ticket for travelers arriving by air.
With the exception of travel to the Baja Peninsula, tourists
wishing to travel beyond the border zone with their car must obtain a
temporary import permit or risk having their car confiscated by Mexican
customs officials. To acquire a permit, one must submit evidence
of citizenship, title for the car, a car registration certificate, a
driver's license, and a processing fee to either a Banjercito branch
located at a Mexican Customs (Aduanas) office at the port of entry, or
at one of the Mexican Consulates located in Austin, Chicago, Dallas,
Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, or San
Francisco. Mexican law also requires the posting of a bond at a
Banjercito (Mexican Army Bank) office to guarantee the departure 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 age of the car. In order to recover
this bond or avoid credit card charges, travelers must go to any
Mexican Customs office immediately prior to departing Mexico.
Disregard any advice, official or unofficial, that vehicle permits can
be obtained at checkpoints in the interior of Mexico.
should avoid individuals outside vehicle permit offices offering 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 outside of the doors of the vehicle
import permit office in Nuevo Laredo and other border areas. If
the proper permit was 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
Mexican Customs about appropriate vehicle permits.
Upon arrival in Mexico, business travelers must complete and
submit a form (Form FM-N) authorizing the conduct of business, but not
employment, for a 30-day period. Travelers entering Mexico for
purposes other than tourism or business or for stays of longer than 180
days require a visa and must carry a valid U.S. passport. U.S.
citizens planning to work or live in Mexico should apply for the
appropriate Mexican visa at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC or
nearest Mexican consulate in the United States.
law requires that any non-Mexican under the age of 18 departing Mexico
must carry notarized written permission from any parent or guardian not
traveling with the child. This permission must include the name
of the parent, the name of the child, the name of anyone traveling with
the child, and the notarized signature(s) of the absent
parent(s). The State Department recommends that the permission
should include travel dates, destinations, airlines and a brief summary
of the circumstances surrounding the travel. The child must be
carrying the original letter – not a facsimile or scanned copy – as
well as proof of the parent/child relationship (usually a birth
certificate or court document) – and an original custody decree, if
applicable. Travelers should contact the Mexican Embassy or
closest Mexican Consulate for current information.
All travelers should refer to our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Mexico and other countries. Visit the Embassy of Mexico website at http://www.embassyofmexico.org/eng/ or contact the Embassy of Mexico at 1911 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006, telephone (202) 736-1000, or any
Mexican consulate in the United States for the most current visa information.
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 to be Mexican by local
authorities. Dual-nationality status could hamper U.S. Government
efforts to provide consular protection. Dual nationals are not
subject to compulsory military service in Mexico. Travelers
possessing both U.S. and Mexican nationalities must carry with them
proof of their citizenship of both countries. Under Mexican law,
dual nationals entering or departing Mexico must identify themselves as
Mexican. For additional information, read our information on dual nationality and prevention of international child abduction.
SAFETY AND SECURITY:
The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners,
and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation.
Travelers should avoid political demonstrations and other activities
that might be deemed political by the Mexican authorities. Even
demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and
escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the
areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity
of any protests.
Department of State recommends caution in traveling to the southern
state of Chiapas. Armed rebels and armed civilian groups are
present in some areas of the state, and there is often no effective law
enforcement or police protection. Violent criminal gang activity
along the State’s southern border – mostly aimed at illegal migrants –
continues to be a concern. U.S. citizens traveling to Chiapas are
encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for further security information
prior to traveling to the region.
Sporadic outbursts of politically motivated violence occur from time to time in certain parts of the country, particularly
in the southern states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca.
Standards of security, safety and supervision may not reach those
expected in the United States. This has contributed to deaths of
U.S. citizens in automobile accidents, after falls from balconies,
after falls into open ditches, by drowning in the ocean as well as in
hotel pools, and in water-sports mishaps, among others.
Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for
their own personal security while traveling overseas. For the
latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should
regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling
1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside
the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at
1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to
8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal
Crime in Mexico continues at high levels, and it is often violent,
especially in Mexico City, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo,
Acapulco, and the state of Sinaloa. Other metropolitan areas have
lower, but still serious, levels of crime. Low apprehension and
conviction rates of criminals contribute to the high crime rate.
Travelers should always leave valuables and irreplaceable items in a
safe place, or not bring them. 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. There are a
significant number of pick-pocketing, purse snatching, and hotel-room
theft incidences. Public transportation is a particularly popular
place for pickpockets. 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.
should be aware of their surroundings at all times, even when in areas
generally considered safe. Women traveling alone are especially
vulnerable and should exercise caution, particularly at night.
Victims, who are almost always unaccompanied, have been raped, robbed
of personal property, or abducted and then held while their credit
cards were used at various businesses and Automatic Teller Machines
(ATMs). Armed street crime is a serious problem in all of the
major cities. Some bars and nightclubs, especially in resort
cities such as Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Acapulco, can be
havens for drug dealers and petty criminals. Some establishments
may contaminate or drug drinks to gain control over the patron.
citizens should be very cautious in general when using ATMs in
Mexico. If an ATM must be used, it should be accessed only during
the business day at large protected facilities (preferably inside
commercial establishments, rather than at glass-enclosed, highly
visible ATMs on streets). U.S. and Mexican citizens are sometimes
accosted on the street and forced to withdraw money from their accounts
using their ATM cards.
number of Americans have been arrested for passing on counterfeit
currency they had earlier received in change. If you receive what
you believe to be a counterfeit bank note, bring it to the attention of
Mexican law enforcement. Kidnapping, including the kidnapping of
non-Mexicans, continues at alarming rates. So-called "express"
kidnappings, an attempt to get quick cash in exchange for the release
of an individual, have occurred in almost all the large cities in
Mexico and appear to target not only the wealthy, but also middle class
persons. U.S. businesses with offices in Mexico or concerned U.S.
citizens may contact the U.S. Embassy or any U.S. consulate to discuss
precautions they should take.
assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico; travelers should exercise
extreme caution at all times, avoid traveling at night, and may wish to
use toll (“cuota”) roads rather than the less secure “free” (“libre”)
roads whenever possible. In addition, U.S. citizens should not
hitchhike with, or accept rides from or offer rides to, strangers
anywhere in Mexico. Tourists should not hike alone in backcountry
areas, nor walk alone on lightly-frequented beaches, ruins or trails.
bus travel should be during daylight hours and on first-class
conveyances. Although there have been several reports of bus
hijackings and robberies on toll roads, buses on toll roads have a
markedly lower rate of incidents than buses (second and third class)
that travel the less secure "free" highways. The Embassy advises
caution when traveling by bus from Acapulco toward Ixtapa or
Huatulco. Although the police have made some progress in bringing
this problem under control, armed robberies of entire busloads of
passengers still occur.
instances, Americans have become victims of harassment, mistreatment
and extortion by Mexican law enforcement and other officials.
Mexican authorities have cooperated in investigating such cases, but
one must have the officer's name, badge number, and patrol car number
to pursue a complaint effectively. Please note this information
if you ever have a problem with police or other officials. In
addition, tourists should be wary of persons representing themselves as
police officers or other officials. When in doubt, ask for
identification. Be aware that offering a bribe to a public
official to avoid a ticket or other penalty is a crime in Mexico.
increasingly common for extortionists to call prospective victims on
the telephone, often posing as police officers, and demand payments in
return for the release of an arrested family member, or to forestall a
kidnapping. Prison inmates using smuggled cellular phones often
place these calls. Persons receiving such calls should be
extremely skeptical since most such demands or threats are baseless,
and should contact the U.S. Embassy or closest U.S. consulate, or the
Department of State for assistance.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/, or via the Department's Internet web site.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. If you are a victim of a crime while overseas, you
should report it immediately to the nearest U.S. consular office and
make a report to Mexican authorities. Do not rely on
hotel/restaurant/tour company management to make the report for
you. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to
find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and
explain how funds could be transferred. Although the
investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility
of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the
local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Under the best of circumstances, prosecution is very difficult (a
fact some assailants appear to knowingly exploit), but no criminal
investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Mexican
of crime may also report the crime to the Mexican Embassy or nearest
consulate after arriving in the United States. However, delays in
reporting the crime may hinder or even prevent prosecution in some
See our information on Victims of Crime.
CRIME IN MEXICO CITY:
In Mexico City, the most frequently reported crimes involving tourists
are taxi robbery (see below), armed robbery, pick-pocketing and
purse-snatching. In several cases, tourists have reported that
men in uniforms perpetrated the crime, stopping vehicles and seeking
money, or assaulting and robbing tourists walking late at night.
As in any large city, individuals should exercise caution and be aware
of their surroundings, especially when walking anywhere in the city.
travelers should be aware that thefts occur even in what appear to be
secure locations. Thefts of such items as briefcases and laptops
occur frequently at the Benito Juarez International Airport and at
business-class hotels. Arriving travelers who need to obtain
pesos at the airport should use the exchange counters or ATMs in the
arrival/departure gate area, where access is restricted, rather than
changing money after passing through Customs, where they can be
observed by criminals.
(subway) robberies are frequent in Mexico City. If riding the
Metro or the city bus system, U.S. citizens should take extreme care
with valuables and belongings. Avoid using Metro during busy
commuting hours in the morning or afternoon. Tourists and
residents alike should avoid driving alone at night anywhere in Mexico
and assault on passengers in taxis are frequent and violent in Mexico
City, with passengers subjected to beating, shooting, and sexual
assault. U.S. citizens visiting Mexico City should avoid taking
any taxi not summoned by telephone or contacted in advance. When
in need of a taxi, please telephone a radio taxi or "sitio" (regulated
taxi stand – pronounced "C-T-O"), and ask the dispatcher for the
driver's name and the cab's license plate number. 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.
Sitio taxis may be distinguished from other taxis in Mexico City by the
letter “S” that precedes the identification numbers on the side of the
car and on the license plate.
arriving at Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport should
take only airport taxis (which are white with a yellow stripe and a
black airplane symbol) after pre-paying the fare at one of the special
booths inside the airport.
CRIME IN CANCUN AND OTHER RESORT AREAS:
There have been a significant number of rapes reported in Cancun.
Many of these have occurred at night or in the early morning.
Attacks have also occurred on deserted beaches and in hotel
rooms. Acquaintance rape is a serious problem. In other
cases, hotel workers, taxi drivers, and security personnel have been
implicated. Please refer to our information for Victims of Crime.
Drug-related violence has increased in Acapulco recently. Although this violence is not targeted at foreign residents or
tourists, U.S. citizens in these areas should be vigilant in their personal safety.
CRIME IN BORDER CITIES: Visitors to the U.S. – Mexico border region, including cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Nogales, Reynosa
and Matamoros, should remain alert and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
border posts have seen an increase in violence over the past year, some
of which has been directed against U.S. citizens. Local police
forces have been ineffective in maintaining security in some regions
along the border. Drug-related violence has increased
dramatically in recent months, and shows no sign of abating.
While U.S. citizens not involved in criminal activities are generally
not targeted, innocent bystanders are at risk from the increase in
violence in the streets of border cities.
Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Tijuana, shootings have taken place at
busy intersections and at popular restaurants during daylight
hours. The wave of violence has been aimed primarily at members
of drug trafficking organizations, criminal justice officials, and
journalists. However, foreign visitors and residents, including
Americans, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in
the border region. In recent months, the worst violence has been
centered in the city of Nuevo Laredo in the Mexican state of
Tamaulipas, where numerous citizens were kidnapped and/or
murdered. U.S. citizens are urged to be especially aware of
safety and security concerns when visiting the border region and
exercise common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate
business and tourist areas of border towns during daylight hours.
authorities have failed to prosecute numerous crimes committed against
American citizens, including murder and kidnapping. Local police
forces suffer from a lack of funds and training, and the judicial
system is weak, overworked, and inefficient. Criminals, armed
with an impressive array of weapons, know there is little chance they
will be caught and punished. In some cases, assailants have been
wearing full or partial police uniforms and have used vehicles that
resemble police vehicles, indicating some elements of the police might
are very vulnerable when visiting the local "red light districts,"
particularly if they are departing alone in the early hours of the
morning. In Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, there has also been a rise
in automobile accidents in which municipal police extort money from
U.S. citizen victims.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
Adequate medical care can be found in all major cities. Excellent
health facilities are available in Mexico City, but training and
availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.
Care in more remote areas is limited. Standards of medical
training, patient care and business practices vary greatly among
medical facilities in beach resorts throughout Mexico. In recent
years, some U.S. citizens have complained that certain health-care
facilities in beach resorts have taken advantage of them by
overcharging or providing unnecessary medical care. In addition
to other publicly available information, Americans may consult the U.S.
Embassy's website or the U.S. Embassy, a consulate or consular agency
prior to seeking medical attention. The Embassy, consulates and
consular agencies maintain lists of reputable doctors and medical
facilities that are available to assist U.S. citizens in need of
areas in Mexico, tap water is unsafe and should be avoided.
Bottled water and beverages are safe; although visitors should be aware
that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water
is specifically requested. Ice may also come from tap water and
should be considered unsafe. Visitors should exercise caution
when buying food or beverages from street vendors.
altitude areas such as Mexico City (elevation 7,600 feet or about 1/2
mile higher than Denver, Colorado), most people need a short adjustment
period. Reaction signs to high altitude include a lack of energy,
shortness of breath, occasional dizziness, headache, and
insomnia. Those with heart problems should consult their doctor
before traveling. Air pollution in Mexico City and Guadalajara is
severe, especially from December to May, and combined with high
altitude could affect travelers with underlying respiratory problems.
on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and
water precautions and insect bite protection, 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) or via the CDC’s Internet
site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at
http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their
medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether
their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency
expenses such as a medical evacuation. To ensure proper
reimbursement of medical expenses by insurance carriers, the U.S.
Embassy recommends that patients ensure they have sufficient
documentation of their care and treatment before leaving the health
Social Security Medicare Program does not provide coverage for
hospital or medical costs outside the United States. Please see
our information on medical insurance abroad.
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. Public transportation vehicles, specifically taxis
and city buses, often do not comply with traffic regulations, including
observing speed limits and stopping at red lights.
Driving and Vehicle Regulations:
U.S. driver's licenses are valid in Mexico. The Government of
Mexico strictly regulates the entry of vehicles into Mexico.
Mexican law requires that only owners drive their vehicles, or that the
owner be inside the vehicle. If not, the vehicle may be seized by
Mexican customs and will not be returned under any circumstances.
For detailed information on how to bring a car into Mexico, please
refer to the publication Tips for Travelers to Mexico.
insurance is required for all vehicles, including rental
vehicles. Mexican auto insurance is sold in most cities and towns
on both sides of the border. U.S. automobile liability insurance
is not valid in Mexico, nor is most collision and comprehensive
coverage issued by U.S. companies. Motor vehicle insurance is
considered invalid in Mexico if the driver is found to be under the
influence of alcohol or drugs.
Emergencies and Automobile Accidents: If you have an emergency
while driving, the equivalent of “911” in Mexico is “060”, but this
number is not always answered. If you are driving on a toll
highway (or “cuota”) or any other major highway, you may contact the
“Green Angels,” a fleet of trucks with bilingual crews. The
“Green Angels” may be reached directly by (01)(55) 5250-8221. If
you are unable to call them, pull off the road and lift the hood of
your car, chances are they will find you.
you are involved in an automobile accident, you will be taken into
police custody until it can be determined who is liable and whether you
have the ability to pay any penalty. If you do not have Mexican
liability insurance, you may be prevented from departing the country
even if you require life-saving medical care, and you are almost
certain to spend some time in jail until all parties are satisfied that
responsibility has been assigned and adequate financial satisfaction
received. Drivers may face criminal charges if injuries or
damages are serious.
Avoid driving on Mexican highways at night. Many U.S. citizens
have died in recent years as a result of driving at excessive speeds,
at night, on roads that are in poor condition or are poorly
marked. Vehicular traffic in Mexico City is restricted in order
to reduce air pollution. The restriction is based on the last
digit of the vehicle license plate. This applies equally to
permanent, temporary, and foreign (U.S.) plates. For additional
information refer to http://www.hoynocircula.com.mx/ (Spanish only). Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
additional information concerning Mexican driver’s permits, vehicle
inspection, road tax, mandatory insurance, etc., please contact the
Mexican Secretariat of Tourism (SECTUR) at telephone 1-800-44-MEXICO
(639-426), or its web site at http://mexico-travel.com.
Travelers are advised to consult with the Mexican Embassy or the
nearest Mexican consulate in the United States for additional, detailed
information prior to entering Mexico. For travel in the Baja
California peninsula, travelers can also consult http://www.traveltobaja.net/.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government
of Mexico as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation
safety standards for oversight of Mexico’s air carrier
operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s
Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
Weather conditions may vary as they do in various parts of the United
States. From June to November, the country may experience strong
winds and rains as a result of hurricanes in the Gulf or along the
Pacific Coast. Some areas may experience earth tremors. It
is prudent to leave a detailed itinerary, including local contact
information and expected time-date of return with a friend or family
Sports: Visitors to Mexico, including to local resort areas,
should carefully assess the potential risk of recreational
activities. Recreational facilities such as pools may not meet
U.S. safety or sanitation standards. Do not swim in pools or at
beaches without lifeguards. Several U.S. citizens have died in
hotel pools in recent years. Parents should watch minor children
closely when they are in or around water. U.S. citizens have
drowned or disappeared at both remote and popular beaches along the
southwest coast of Mexico.
flags on beaches should be taken seriously. If black flags are
up, do not enter the water. In Cancun, there is often a very
strong undertow along the beach from the Hyatt Regency all the way
south to the Sol y Mar. Several drowning and near-drowning
incidences have been reported on the east coast of Cozumel,
particularly in the Playa San Martin-Chen Rio area. In Acapulco,
avoid swimming outside the bay area. Several American citizens
have died while swimming in rough surf at the Revolcadero Beach near
Acapulco. Despite U.S. trained lifeguards, there have been
several occurrences of drowning of persons in the area of Zipolite
beach in Puerto Angel Oaxaca because of sudden waves and strong
currents. Beaches on the Pacific side of the Baja California
Peninsula at Cabo San Lucas are dangerous due to rip tides and rogue
waves; hazardous beaches in this area are clearly marked in English and
Spanish. Do not swim alone in isolated beach areas. Beaches
may not be well marked, and strong currents could lead to dangerous
conditions for even the most experienced swimmers. Do not dive
into unknown bodies of water, because hidden rocks or shallow depths
can cause serious injury or death.
and aquatic equipment that you rent may not meet U.S. safety standards
nor be covered by any accident insurance. Scuba diving equipment
may be substandard or defective due to frequent use.
Inexperienced scuba divers in particular should beware of dive shops
that promise to “certify” you after a few hours' instruction.
Parasailing has killed American tourists who were dragged through palm
trees or were slammed into hotel walls. Jet-ski accidents have
killed American tourists, especially in group-outings when
inexperienced guides allowed their clients to follow each other too
and Other Resort Areas: Over 3 million Americans travel to Cancun
and other Mexican beach resorts each year, including as many as 120,000
during "spring break" season, which normally begins in mid-February and
runs about two months. Excessive alcohol consumption, especially
by Americans under the legal U.S. drinking age, is a significant
problem. The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but it is not
uniformly enforced. Alcohol is implicated in the majority of
arrests, violent crimes, accidents and deaths suffered by American
recent years, moped rentals have become very widespread in Cancun and
Cozumel, and the number of serious moped accidents has risen
accordingly. Most operators carry no insurance and do not conduct
safety checks. The Embassy recommends avoiding operators who do
not provide a helmet with the rental. Some operators have been
known to demand fees many times in excess of damages caused to the
vehicles, even if renters have purchased insurance in advance.
Vacationers at other beach resorts have encountered similar problems
after accidents involving rented jet-skis. There have been cases
of mobs gathering to prevent tourists from departing the scene and to
help intimidate them into paying exorbitant damage claims.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of U.S. citizens
in Mexico. Motorists should exercise special caution on the
heavily traveled expressway south of Cancun, particularly between Playa
del Carmen and Tulum, where the road narrows from 4 divided lanes to
two-way traffic on a narrower and poorly maintained road. For
more information, please refer to our Road Safety page.
MOUNTAIN CLIMBING AND HIKING:
Travelers who wish to climb Pico de Orizaba in Veracruz should be aware
that summer droughts in recent years have removed much of the snow
coating and turned the Jamapa Glacier into a high-speed ice chute,
increasing the risk of death or serious injury. At least 17
climbers have died on the mountain and 39 have been injured in recent
years, including U.S. citizens. Rescue teams operate without the
benefit of sophisticated equipment, and any medical treatment provided
in local hospitals or clinics must be paid in cash. While
regulation of the ascent is minimal and guides are not required, the
U.S. Embassy recommends hiring an experienced guide.
Colima Volcano, located approximately 20 miles north-northeast of
Colima city, is active and erupted several times in 2005.
Travelers should not enter the prohibited area within a 4.5-mile radius
of the volcano.
departing on an outing to backcountry areas to hike or climb, it is
prudent to leave a detailed itinerary, including route information and
expected time-date of return with your hotel clerk or a friend or
family member. Similarly, mariners preparing to depart from a
Mexican harbor should visit the harbormaster and leave a detailed trip
plan, including intended destination and crew and passenger information.
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,
some kinds of knives or even a single round of ammunition is illegal,
even if the weapon 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. Violations have resulted in
arrests, convictions, and long prison sentences for U.S. citizens.
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 by declaring their
weapons at the port of entry. Before traveling, mariners who have
obtained a Mexican firearm permit should contact Mexican port officials
to receive guidance on the specific procedures used to report and
secure weapons and ammunition.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Please refer to our information on customs regulations.
U.S. citizens bringing gifts to friends and relatives in Mexico should
be prepared to demonstrate to Mexican customs officials the origin and
the value of the gifts. U.S. citizens entering Mexico by the land
border can bring in gifts with a value of up to $50.00 duty-free,
except for alcohol and tobacco products. Those entering Mexico by
air or sea can bring in gifts with a value of up to $300.00 duty-free.
are allowed to bring in their personal effects duty-free.
According to customs regulations, in addition to clothing, personal
effects may include one camera, one video cassette player, one personal
computer, one CD player, 5 DVDs, 20 music CDs or audiocassettes, 12
rolls of unused film, and one cellular phone. Any tourist
carrying such items, even if duty-free, should enter the "Merchandise
to Declare" lane at the first customs checkpoint. The tourist
should be prepared to pay any assessed duty. Failure to declare
personal effects routinely results in the seizure of the goods as
contraband, plus the seizure of the vehicle in which the goods are
traveling for attempted smuggling. The recovery of the seized
vehicle involves the payment of substantial fines and attorney's fees.
customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary
importation into or export from Mexico of items such as trucks, and
autos, trailers, antiquities, medications, medical equipment, business
equipment, etc. It is advisable to contact the Mexican Embassy or
one of the Mexican consulates in the United States for specific
information regarding customs requirements.
traveling to Mexico with goods intended for donation within Mexico, or
traveling through Mexico with goods intended for donation in another
country, should be aware of Mexican Customs regulations prohibiting
importation of used clothing, textiles, and other used goods into
Mexico. These regulations apply even to charitable
donations. Individuals or groups wishing to make such donations
should check with Mexican Customs for the list of prohibited items, and
should hire an experienced customs broker in the U.S. to ensure
compliance with Mexican law. The charitable individual or group,
not the customs broker, will be held responsible for large fines or
confiscation of goods if the documentation is incorrect. The
website for Mexican Customs, or “Aduanas,” is in Spanish only at http://www.aduanas.sat.gob.mx/webadunet/body.htm.
Mexican authorities require that all international transit through
Mexico of persons and merchandise destined for Central or South America
be handled only at the Los Indios Bridge located south of Harlingen,
Texas on Route 509. The American Consulate in Matamoros is the
closest consulate to Los Indios Bridge and may be contacted for
up-to-date information by calling 011-52-868-812-4402, ext. 273 or 280,
or by checking their website, http://matamoros.usconsulate.gov/matamoros-esp/,
which lists in English the most common items prohibited from entry into
Mexico. Additional customs information can be found on the U.S.
Customs and Border Protection website at http://www.cbp.gov.
BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION FACILITIES:
A number of facilities have opened in Mexico that offer behavior
modification therapy for teenagers and others suffering from drug
addiction and other behavioral or psychological problems.
Standards applied by the Government of Mexico and local governments,
where they exist, may not meet standards for similar facilities in the
United States. Parents planning to enroll their children in these
facilities should investigate the facility first. Since 2004,
Mexican officials closed six adolescent behavior modification
facilities in Baja California and another in Jalisco due to health code
and other violations. This was done on very short notice and
caused serious inconvenience for the American students and their
families. Another behavior modification facility in Sonora
suddenly declared bankruptcy and closed its doors in March 2005, with a
similarly disruptive impact on students. For further information,
please refer to the State Department's Fact Sheet on Behavior Modification Facilities .
CRIMINAL PENALTIES AND TREATMENT OF PRISONERS: While
in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws
and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the
United States and may not afford the protections available to the
individual under U.S. law. The trial process in Mexico is
different than in the United States, and procedures may vary from state
to state. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than
in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Mexican laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in
illegal drugs in Mexico are severe, and convicted offenders can expect
long jail sentences and heavy fines.
in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child
pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United
States. For more information, please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
the services of a minor for sexual purposes is illegal in Mexico, and
is punishable by imprisonment. The Mexican government has
announced an aggressive program to discourage sexual tourism.
Police authorities in the state of Baja California recently began
enforcement of anti-pedophile legislation.
Mexican government is required by international law to notify the U.S.
Embassy or the nearest U.S. consulate promptly when an American citizen
is arrested, if the arrestee so requests. In practice, however,
this notification can be delayed by months or may never occur at all,
limiting the assistance the U.S. Government can provide.
Americans should promptly identify themselves as such to the arresting
officers, and should request that the Embassy or nearest consulate be
conditions in Mexico can be extremely poor. In many facilities
food is insufficient in both quantity and quality, and prisoners must
pay for adequate nutrition from their own funds. Most Mexican
prisons provide poor medical care, and even prisoners with urgent
medical conditions receive only a minimum of attention. U.S.
citizens who are incarcerated in Mexico are sometimes forced to pay
hundreds and even thousands of dollars in “protection money” to fellow
police regularly obtain information through torture and prosecutors use
this evidence in courts. The Constitution and the law prohibit
torture, and Mexico is party to several international ant-torture
conventions, but courts continue to admit as evidence confessions
extracted under torture. Authorities rarely punish officials for
torture, which continues to occur in large part because confessions are
the primary evidence in many criminal convictions. U.S. citizens
have been brutalized, beaten, and even raped while in police
custody. Since the beginning of 2002, 21 American citizens have
died in Mexican prisons, including five apparent homicides.
DRUG PENALTIES AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS:
Penalties for drug offenses are strict, and convicted offenders can
expect large fines and jail sentences up to 25 years. The
purchase of controlled medication requires a prescription from a
licensed Mexican physician; some Mexican doctors have been arrested for
writing prescriptions without due cause. In those instances,
American citizens who bought the medications have been held in jail for
months waiting for the Mexican judicial system to decide their
fate. The Mexican list of controlled medication differs from that
of the United States, and Mexican public health laws concerning
controlled medication are unclear and often enforced selectively.
To determine whether a particular medication is controlled in Mexico,
and requires a prescription from a Mexican doctor for purchase, please
consult the website of the Mexican Federal Commission for Protection
Against Health Risks at http://www.cofepris.gob.mx/pyp/estpsic/es.htm.
U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to Mexico for the
sole purpose of buying prescription drugs. U.S. citizens have
been arrested and their medicines confiscated by the Mexican
authorities, even though their prescriptions were written by a licensed
American physician and filled by a licensed Mexican pharmacist.
There have been cases of Americans buying prescription drugs in border
cities only to be arrested soon after or have money extorted by
criminals impersonating police officers. Those arrested are often
held for the full 48 hours allowed by Mexican law without charges being
filed, then released. During this interval, the detainees are
often asked for bribes or are solicited by attorneys who demand large
fees to secure their release, which will normally occur without any
intercession, as there are insufficient grounds to bring criminal
charges against the individuals. In addition, U.S. law
enforcement officials believe that as much as 25 percent of medications
available in Mexico are counterfeit and substandard. Such
counterfeit medications may be difficult to distinguish from the real
medication and could pose serious health risks to consumers. The
importation of prescription drugs into the United States can be illegal
in certain circumstances. U.S. law generally permits persons to
enter the United States with only an immediate (about one-month's)
supply of a prescription medication. Further information on
bringing prescription drugs into the United States is available from
U.S. Customs and Border Protection at “Know Before You Go."
U.S. Embassy cautions that possession of any amount of prescription
medicine brought from the United States, including medications to treat
HIV and psychotropic drugs such as Valium, 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. Individuals should consider carrying a copy of the
prescription and a Mexican doctor's letter explaining that the quantity
of medication is appropriate for their personal medical use.
To import medicines into Mexico for personal use, a foreigner must obtain a permit from the Mexican Health Department prior
to importing the medicine into Mexico. Additional information is available at www.cofepris.gob.mx.
For a fee, a customs broker can process the permit before the Mexican
authorities on behalf of an individual. If using the services of
a customs broker, it is advisable to agree upon the fees before telling
the broker to proceed. Current information on local customs
brokers (agencias aduanales) is available at the Mexico City yellow
pages at www.seccionamarilla.com.mx.
MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS IN MEXICO:
In general, to marry a Mexican national in Mexico, a U.S. citizen must
be physically present in Mexico, and present documents required by the
jurisdiction where the marriage will take place. U.S. citizens
who marry U.S. citizens or other non-Mexicans are not subject to a
residence requirement, but are required to present their tourist
cards. For additional information on marriages in Mexico, contact
the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. consulate.
DIVORCE REQUIREMENTS IN MEXICO:
Divorce requirements may vary according to jurisdiction. The U.S.
Embassy recommends U.S. citizens consult a local attorney and /or the
Mexican Embassy or nearest Consulate for information on divorces in
REAL ESTATE AND TIME-SHARES: U.S.
citizens should be aware of the risks inherent in purchasing real
estate in Mexico, and should exercise extreme caution before entering
into any form of commitment to invest in property there.
Investors should hire competent Mexican legal counsel when
contemplating any real estate investment. Mexican laws and
practices regarding real estate differ substantially from those in the
United States. Foreigners who purchase property in Mexico may
find that property disputes with Mexican citizens may not be treated
evenhandedly by Mexican criminal justice authorities and in the
courts. Time-share companies cannot be sued in U.S. courts unless
they have an office or other business presence in the U.S.
Consumers should contact a Mexican attorney or a consumer protection
agency such as PROFECO for information on companies that operate outside of the U.S.
Mexican Constitution prohibits direct ownership by foreigners of real
estate within 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) of any border, and within
50 kilometers (about 31 miles) of any coastline. In order to
permit foreign investment in these areas, the Mexican government has
created a trust mechanism, in which a bank has title to the property,
but a trust beneficiary enjoys the benefits of ownership.
However, U.S. citizens are vulnerable to title challenges that may
result in years of litigation and possible eviction. Although
title insurance is available in the Baja Peninsula and in other parts
of Mexico, it is virtually unknown and remains untested in most of the
country. In addition, Mexican law recognizes squatters' rights,
and homeowners can spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and years
of frustration in trying to remove squatters who occupy their property.
property owners should consult legal counsel or local authorities
before hiring employees to serve in their homes or on their vessels
moored in Mexico. Several American property owners have faced
lengthy lawsuits for failure to comply with Mexican labor laws
regarding severance pay and social security benefits.
citizens should exercise caution when considering time-share
investments and be aware of the aggressive tactics used by some
time-share sales representatives. Buyers should be fully informed
and take sufficient time to consider their decisions before signing
time-share contracts, ideally after consulting an independent
attorney. Mexican law allows time-share purchasers five days to
cancel the contract for unconditional and full reimbursement.
U.S. citizens should never sign a contract that includes clauses
penalizing the buyer who cancels within five days. The Department
of State and the U.S. Mission in Mexico frequently receive
complaints from U.S. citizens about extremely aggressive
sales tactics, exaggerated claims of return on investment, lack
of customer service and questionable business
practices by time-share companies, resulting in substantial
financial losses for time-share investors.
A formal complaint against any merchant should be filed with PROFECO,
Mexico's federal consumer protection agency. PROFECO has the
power to mediate disputes, investigate consumer complaints, order
hearings, levy fines and sanctions for not appearing at hearings, and
do price-check inspections of merchants. All complaints by U.S.
citizens are handled by PROFECO's English-speaking office in Mexico
City at 011-52-55-5211-1723 (phone), 011-52-55-5211-2052 (fax), or via
email at email@example.com.
For more information, please see the PROFECO "Attention to Foreigners”
web page at Profeco (Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor).
ALIEN SMUGGLING: Mexican
authorities may prosecute anyone arrested for transporting aliens into
or out of Mexico for alien smuggling in addition to any charges they
may face in the other country involved, including the United States.
For information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues
website. Mexico is the destination country of the greatest number
of children abducted from the United States by a parent. A party
to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child
Abduction since 1991, Mexico is not in full compliance with the
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY, CONSULATE AND CONSULAR AGENCY LOCATIONS: Americans living or traveling in Mexico for more than one day are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website,
and to obtain updated information on travel and security within
Mexico. Americans without Internet access may register directly
with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering,
American Citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to
contact them in case of emergency.
U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305,
Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States:
011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone
long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. You may also contact
the Embassy by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Embassy's Internet address is http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov/.
In addition to the Embassy, there are several United States Consulates and Consular Agencies located throughout Mexico:
Ciudad Juarez: Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N, telephone (52)(656) 611-3000.
Guadalajara: Progreso 175, telephone (52)(333) 268-2100.
Monterrey: Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente, telephone (52)(818) 345-2120.
Tijuana: Tapachula 96, telephone (52)(664) 622-7400.
Hermosillo: Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (52)(662) 289-3500.
Matamoros: Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (52)(868) 812-4402.
Merida: Paseo Montejo 453, telephone (52)(999) 925-5011.
Nogales: Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (52)(631) 313-4820.
Nuevo Laredo: Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin, telephone (52)(867) 714-0512.
Acapulco: Hotel Continental Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 - Local 14, telephone (52)(744) 484-0300 or (52)(744) 469-0556.
Cabo San Lucas: Blvd. Marina Local C-4, Plaza Nautica, Col. Centro, telephone (52)(624) 143-3566.
Cancún: Plaza Caracol Two, Second Level, No. 320-323, Boulevard Kukulcan, Km. 8.5, Zona Hotelera, telephone (52)(998) 883-0272.
Ciudad Acuna , Ocampo # 305, Col. Centro, telephone (52)(877) 772-8661
Plaza Villa Mar en El Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque Juárez between
Melgar and 5th Ave.) 2nd floor, Locales #8 and 9, telephone (52)(987)
Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo: Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, telephone (52)(755) 553-2100.
Mazatlán: Hotel Playa Mazatlán, Playa Gaviotas #202, Zona Dorada, telephone (52)(669) 916-5889.
Oaxaca: Macedonio Alcalá No. 407, Interior 20, telephone (52)(951) 514-3054 (52)(951) 516-2853.
Piedras Negras: Prol. General Cepeda No. 1900, Fraccionamiento Privada Blanca, telephone (52) (878) 785-1986
Puerto Vallarta: Paradise Plaza, Paseo de los Cocoteros #1, Local #4, Interior #17, Nuevo Vallarta, Narayit, telephone (52)(322) 222-0069.
Reynosa: Calle Monterrey #390, Esq. Sinaloa, Colonia Rodríguez, telephone: (52)(899) 923 - 9331
San Luis Potosi: Edificio "Las Terrazas", Avenida Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco, telephone (52)(444) 811-7802/7803.
San Miguel de Allende: Dr. Hernandez Macias #72, telephone (52)(415) 152-2357 or (52)(415) 152-0068.
* * *
replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated February 2, 2006, to
update sections on, Entry Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime
(including Information on Victims of Crime, Crime in Mexico City, and
Crime in Border Cities), Criminal Penalties and Treatment of Prisoners,
Consular Agency Locations.