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MEXICO - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Mexico. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to violence, especially in those parts of the country experiencing a deteriorating security situation. High levels of criminal activity, as well as demonstrations, protests and occasional illegal roadblocks, remain a concern throughout the country.
We strongly recommend travel to Mexico by air in order to avoid land border crossings through potentially dangerous regions. You are advised to sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service if travelling to or residing in Mexico.
The Yucatan Peninsula, which includes the tourist destinations of Cancun, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Merida and Progreso, has not been significantly affected by violence or insecurity.
Some municipalities popular with Canadian tourists, including Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Chapala in the state of Jalisco, are experiencing an increase in drug-related violence. As Mexican security forces battle against organized criminal groups, criminals have engaged in retaliatory actions such as arson attacks against businesses, gas stations and banks, shootouts, and blockades using burning cars. Remain vigilant throughout the state and exercise extreme caution. Stay in tourist areas and follow local media closely. If you do venture outside urban areas, exercise extreme caution, including on major highways. Avoid travelling at night. It is not safe to travel near the border with Michoacán (see Regional Advisory below).
Due to high levels of organized crime in rural areas, including on major highways, you should exercise extreme caution in the states of Baja California (North), Morelos, Nayarit, San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, and Zacatecas. Popular tourist areas, such as South Nayarit (from Nuevo Vallarta to La Peñita de Jaltemba), and the cities of Tepoztlan, Guadalajara, San Luis Potosi, Xalapa, Veracruz, and Zacatecas remain relatively safe.
Regional Advisory for the Northern states
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León (except the city of Monterrey), Sinaloa (with the exception of Mazatlán), Sonora (except the cities of Hermosillo and Guaymas/San Carlos), and Tamaulipas due to continuously high levels of violence linked to organized crime. Consult the Security tab for more information.
Regional Advisory for the South-Western states
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada also advises against non-essential travel to the south western states of Michoacán (excluding the city of Morelia) and Guerrero (excluding the cities of Ixtapa, Taxco and Zihuatanejo, as well as the tourist zone of Acapulco) due to the high levels of violence and organized crime. Exercise a high degree of caution in the excluded areas. Consult the Security tab for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
More than 1.9 million Canadians travel to Mexico each year, the vast majority of them without incident.
Northern states (see Advisory)
Shootouts, attacks and illegal roadblocks may occur without warning. Criminals especially target sport utility vehicles and full-size pickup trucks for theft and carjacking along highways. Avoid inter-city road travel in the northern states.
Travel to and within Ciudad Juarez poses particular challenges and requires extreme caution.
Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling in the city of Monterrey, avoid movement after dark and stay within the suburb of San Pedro Garza García.
South-Western states (see Advisory)
Criminal activity has significantly increased in the states of Jalisco, Guerrero and Michoacán. Illegal roadblocks and demonstrations have been reported on a more frequent basis. The deterioration of the security situation is particularly noticeable in the rural areas of Guerrero and Michoacán. The rapid expansion of vigilante militias is troubling, and there have been instances where such groups have fired at vehicles that did not adhere to their roadblocks.
In northern Mexico, particularly along the border with the United States, organized crime and urban violence affect security. Confrontations between organized criminal groups and Mexican authorities continue to pose a problem. This has led to an increase in illegal roadblocks, robberies, kidnappings and carjackings, including in the city of Monterrey.
Heavily armed gangs have attacked travellers driving through Matamoros, Reynosa, and Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas but also on several highways in the states of Nuevo León, Coahuila, Durango, and Sinaloa. Violence related to organized crime has increased in the states of Guerrero (including Acapulco), Sinaloa (including Mazatlán), Morelos, Nayarit, Michoacán, San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, and Zacatecas, and Jalisco.
In some parts of the country, military and federal police forces have been deployed in efforts to combat organized crime and improve security conditions. They maintain a visible presence patrolling the streets, setting up roadblocks, and conducting random vehicle checks. Armed clashes between security forces and criminal groups do occur in certain areas without warning. You could get caught in the crossfire.
Crime rates in Mexico are high. Arrest and detention rates are low and contribute to high levels of criminality.
If you are the victim of a crime, report it immediately to the Agencia del Ministerio Público nearest to the crime scene. No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Mexican authorities.
Complaints must be made in person before leaving Mexico. You must present photo identification. It is especially important to report the loss or theft of your identification documents, both to Mexican authorities and to the nearest Canadian consular point of service in Mexico, in order to protect yourself should the documents later be misused.
Law enforcement and police presence is often lacking near the border with Guatemala, particularly in the state of Chiapas.
Theft—including armed robbery, purse snatching, and pickpocketing—is common in Mexico. If you are threatened by robbers, stay calm and do not resist. Canadians have been injured while trying to resist armed robberies. You should be aware of your surroundings at all times, even in areas normally considered safe, and take precautions to secure your belongings and minimize your risk of becoming a target for thieves. Blend in, avoid wearing or carrying expensive jewellery, and carry only small amounts of cash. Keep your luggage secure at all times. In resort areas, leave your passport and valuables in your hotel safe, not in your hotel room or on the beach, while you are swimming.
Foreigners have been targeted in assault and robbery incidents, which are often violent. Victims have been followed after exchanging or withdrawing money at airports, currency exchange bureaus (casas de cambio), and automated banking machines (ABMs). Avoid withdrawing or exchanging money in public areas of the airport. If a financial transaction is absolutely necessary, ensure only small amounts are involved and execute the transaction before exiting the customs area.
Withdraw or exchange money at ABMs or exchange bureaus during daylight hours only, and inside reputable hotels and malls rather than on the street. Always conceal the keypad when entering your personal identification number, even if nobody else is around. Keep your credit card in sight when paying for goods and services.
Incidents of physical and sexual assault against foreigners have been reported, in some cases implicating hotel employees, taxi drivers, and security personnel. Avoid walking after dark, especially alone, and avoid deserted or under-populated areas. You should only frequent bars and nightclubs as part of a group and avoid separating from the group. In cases of sexual assault, police authorities will require a medical examination.
Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and do not accept invitations or rides from strangers or recent acquaintances, as this can make you a more vulnerable target for criminals.
Demonstrations and elections
Demonstrations and protests occur regularly. Avoid large gatherings, as they could erupt into violent incidents at any time. Demonstrations and roadblocks are common in Mexico City (including to and from the airport) and in the states of Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca. Participation in political demonstrations by foreigners is prohibited and may result in detention, expulsion, and the denial of future entry into Mexico.
Local elections are planned for June 7, 2015 in some states of Mexico and general elections will take place across the country on the same day. Consult the national electoral institute’s (Instituto Nacional Electoral) website (in Spanish only) for more information. Avoid all demonstrations, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Kidnappings, including the kidnapping of Canadian citizens (and contractors working for Canadian businesses), do occur in Mexico, affecting primarily persons working in rural areas, located outside the areas of stronger institutional control of police and government authorities.
Kidnappers target both the wealthy and middle class. Foreigners are not specifically targeted but may be perceived as being wealthy.
Express kidnappings, i.e. attempts to get quick cash in exchange for the release of an individual, occur frequently in large urban areas. The most common practice involves thieves working in cooperation with, or posing as, taxi drivers. The thieves force victims to withdraw money from ABMs with their debit or credit cards in exchange for their release. Victims are sometimes held overnight so that a second withdrawal up to the victim's daily bank withdrawal limit can also be made the following day. Avoid hailing taxis on the street and instead call a reputable taxi company or use the taxi services located at a major hotel.
A common scam throughout Mexico is 'virtual' kidnapping, where a perpetrator identifies a person who is temporarily unreachable by cell phone or email, and then contacts that person’s family claiming that they have kidnapped their loved one, and demanding an immediate ransom for their release. When the family members cannot reach their loved one in Mexico, they may assume that the person has been kidnapped, when in fact they are simply unreachable. Perpetrators may use social media sites to gather information about potential victims.
Any kidnapping, real or virtual, should be reported to the police as well as to the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City or the nearest Canadian consulate.
Criminals posing as police officers approach tourists and ask for their passports or for foreign currency.
Legitimate police officers have extorted money from tourists or arrested tourists for minor offences or traffic violations. If this occurs, do not hand over your money or your passport. Instead, ask for the officer’s name, badge and patrol car number, the location of the arrest, and the written fine payable at a later date. Should you feel the fine cannot be justified, proceed to the nearest Agencia del Ministerio Público or Tourism Office to file a complaint.
Do not divulge personal information to strangers either in person or over the phone. Virtual kidnapping by telephone is a common practice in Mexico. Should you receive a call from someone demanding payment for the release of an arrested or kidnapped family member, remain calm, note the phone number of the person calling, hang up, and report the call to local police. Scam artists have also gathered information on luggage tags in hotel lobbies and later convinced guests to give them their contact information in Canada. Afterwards, they have called parents of travelling Canadians to report that their child has been detained or hospitalized and have requested that money be wired to Mexico. If this occurs, parents or friends should request the name and number of the caller and contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa (see Help Abroad).
Avoid road travel at night between cities throughout the country. Toll (cuota) highways are safer than secondary highways. Overnight, ensure that you only stop in major centres, at reputable hotels or secure campsites.
Road conditions vary and can be poor in some areas. Dangerous curves, poorly marked signs and construction sites, roaming livestock, slow-moving or abandoned vehicles, and other obstacles pose hazards.
Mexican driving styles and road safety standards are very different from those in Canada. Police do not regularly patrol the highways. Be prepared for drivers that fail to observe speed limits, indicate lane changes, or stop at red lights. Pedestrians should be extremely cautious at all times. Fatal hit-and-run accidents occur. Keep your car doors locked and the windows rolled up, especially at traffic lights, where you can be a target for criminals.
In the event of a vehicle breakdown or roadside emergency, a highway patrol service offered by the Mexican Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR), called the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes), provides free assistance on all major toll highways from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. In case of an emergency, dial 078 or the toll-free number in Mexico, 01-800-006-8839.
The number of moped and scooter accidents involving tourists is increasing. Avoid renting from operators who do not provide insurance and who do not provide a helmet with the rental. Be vigilant while driving. Avoid driving on roads in disrepair and refrain from driving at night.
Although public transportation is relatively safe, take precautions in airports, bus stations, and the Mexico City metro, which are often very crowded and popular areas for pickpockets. Avoid travelling late at night and during rush hour, if possible, and exercise caution at all times.
Canadians have been robbed on buses, usually at night. Keep an eye on your luggage, money, and personal documents at all times. Bus accidents occur frequently due to speeding, poor road conditions, and mountainous terrain. You should travel during daylight hours and on first-class buses only.
Hitchhiking is not a common practice in Mexico and is not recommended.
You should only use hotel taxis or taxis based at designated stands (sitios). In Mexico City, all government-authorized taxis have licence plates starting with an A or a B. Taxis from designated stands have both the logo of their company and the plate number stamped on the side of the car. Always ask the dispatcher for the driver's name and the taxi's licence plate number, model, and colour. When arriving at Benito Juárez Airport in Mexico City, you should only use airport taxis, after prepaying the fare inside the airport. Ask to see the driver's official identification.
Scooter rentalsThe number of moped and scooter accidents involving tourists is increasing. Avoid renting from operators who do not provide insurance and who do not provide a helmet with the rental. Be vigilant while driving. Avoid driving on roads in disrepair and refrain from driving at night.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General security information
Monitor local news sources on a regular basis to learn about events that could affect your personal safety. Leave your itinerary and contact information with friends or family in Canada.
On beaches, take posted warnings about swimming conditions seriously. Many beaches are not supervised or do not offer warnings. When in doubt, consult hotel staff.
Ensure that the recreational activities you choose are covered by your travel insurance or by a local insurance policy, and that sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition, especially for scuba diving. Many operators do not conduct regular safety checks. Canadians have been involved in accidents in the past where operators of recreational vehicles such as scooters and watercrafts demanded compensation in excess of the value of the damage caused to the vehicle or equipment.
Exercise caution when standing close to balcony railings, as falls have resulted in deaths and injuries.
Height standards for balcony railings in Mexico can be considerably lower than those in Canada.
For emergency services, dial 060 or 066.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Mexican authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the United Mexican States or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadian citizens, including those with dual citizenship, must present a valid passport in order to enter and exit Mexico. Canadians without a valid passport will be refused entry and returned to Canada. The passport must be valid until the date of expected departure from Mexico. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Permanent residents and landed immigrants of Canada should check for specific entry requirements with the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM).
Persons seeking to enter Mexico for purposes other than tourism must have a proper visa. Foreigners involved in unauthorized activities will be expelled. Special and diplomatic passport holders require a visa to visit Mexico. Consult the Embassy of Mexico in Canada for more information.
Tourist card (Multiple Migratory Form for Foreigners, or FMM, provided by airlines or at points of entry): required
Business visa (FMM): required
Work visa: required
Student visa: required
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
Canadian tourists do not require a visa or a tourist card for stays of 72 hours or less within the border zone (20 to 30 kilometres from the U.S. border). For travel to Mexico beyond the border zone, Canadians must be in possession of a tourist card, also called the Multiple Migratory Form for Foreigners (FMM). This document is provided by airlines or by immigration authorities at the country’s points of entry. If you enter Mexico by land, it is your responsibility to stop at the immigration facility located at the border.
In order to obtain a tourist card, Canadians must present a valid passport.
Ensure that you obtain a tourist card and have it stamped by immigration authorities upon arrival (whether by plane, bus, private vehicle or on foot). As per the Mexican immigration legislation that came into force in November, 2012, you will no longer be able to obtain a tourist card once you reach your final destination within Mexico. If you fail to obtain a tourist card upon arrival, your entry will be considered illegal and you might be fined, detained or expelled from the country. Consult the Embassy of Mexico in Canada for more information on land border entry.
An immigration official will determine the number of days you can remain in Mexico. Do not assume that you will be granted the full 180 days. You may request an extension of your stay from the INM or at one of its local offices.
Authorities can demand to see your tourist card at any time. You must carry the original at all times and surrender it when leaving Mexico or face a fine and/or expulsion.
Mexican authorities impose a tourism tax (approximately US$20) on all visitors to Mexico. This fee is normally included in airline ticket prices. Visitors arriving by road (car or bus) or sea will be asked to pay this fee at any bank in Mexico (there is a bank representative at every port of entry). The bank receipt must be attached to the tourist card for submission at departure. Visitors entering by land for tourism purposes only are exempt if their stay does not exceed seven days. Visitors to the northern border zone (20 to 30 kilometres from the U.S. border) and those going to Mexico on cruise ships are exempt.
It is recommended that you apply for your visa yourself. However, if a prospective employer is processing your business (or work) visa for you, ensure that you receive copies of all correspondence between the employer and Mexican immigration authorities, and that these copies are stamped by the immigration authorities as proof that your papers are indeed being processed. You should also request a receipt from your employer for any documents (for example, your Canadian passport) that you provide for purposes of obtaining the visa. It is not recommended that your employer keep your passport for you.
Mexico recognizes dual citizenship for persons born in Mexico or abroad to Mexican parents. Under Mexican law, dual citizens entering and departing from Mexico must identify themselves as Mexican citizens. Travellers who possess both Mexican and Canadian citizenship must carry valid travel documents of both countries. A Certificate of Canadian Citizenship is not a travel document. A Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel and identification document available to Canadians for the purpose of international travel.
Canadians with a criminal record may be refused entry and returned to Canada on the next available flight. If you find yourself in this situation, contact the Embassy of Mexico prior to making travel arrangements.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Hepatitis A in Mexico - May 6, 2015 08:47 EDT
- Chikungunya: Global Update - April 17, 2015 11:49 EDT
- Cholera in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico - March 20, 2015 14:56 EDT
- Measles: Global Update - March 13, 2015 13:54 EDT
- Dengue Fever: Global Update - March 9, 2015 10:36 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Central America and Mexico, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central America and Mexico. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Central America and Mexico, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Central America and Mexico, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Medical services are easily available in large cities but limited in remote areas. Standards of patient care differ from those in Canada and vary greatly among medical facilities, especially in beach resort areas.
Private hospitals and clinics offer good-quality care but are generally expensive and expect payment in advance. Many will not agree to deal directly with medical insurance companies. Be prepared to pay for treatment yourself and then request a refund from your insurer If medical services are required, contact your tour representative or the closest Canadian government office to obtain a list of reputable facilities or physicians in the area.
Pharmacies in main cities carry most medicines. It is advisable to consult a physician before purchasing medicine manufactured in Mexico. If you take prescription medication, bring along an adequate supply and a copy of the prescription. Ensure that both the generic and trade names of the drug are stated.
To determine whether a particular medication is controlled in Mexico and requires a prescription from a doctor, consult the Mexican Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (in Spanish) and the Embassy of Mexico in Canada.
Medicine cannot be mailed by courier services from Canada.
When travelling to Mexico City, you may experience health problems caused by high altitude, in addition to problems caused by air pollution, which is at its peak during the winter months. Individuals with heart, lung, or respiratory problems should consult their doctor before booking their trip.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
Penalties for breaking the law in Mexico can be more severe than in Canada, even for similar offences.
Penalties for drug offences are very strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences.
You should avoid any involvement with illegal substances or those who deal with them. You should also avoid borrowing a vehicle or picking up hitchhikers; drivers are legally responsible for their vehicle's contents, as well as for the legal status of passengers and the items carried by passengers.
The Mexican government strictly enforces its laws concerning possession, entry, and trafficking of firearms. Anyone (including foreign armed forces personnel) entering Mexico with a firearm or ammunition without prior written authorization from Mexican authorities is subject to imprisonment. It is also illegal to enter the country with certain types of knives. You can obtain a complete list of forbidden items and import permit requirements from the Embassy of Mexico in Canada.
It is illegal to drink alcoholic beverages in non-designated public areas. The minimum age at which people are legally allowed to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages is 18 years old.
Participation in political activities (such as demonstrations) by foreigners is prohibited and should be avoided, as it may result in detention, deportation, or the denial of future entry into Mexico.
It is illegal to possess archaeological artefacts or to export such items from Mexico.
Dual citizenship status may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. See Dual citizenship for more information.
Tourists are allowed to bring in their personal effects duty-free. Failure to declare personal effects will result in their confiscation and a fine. Mexican customs provides information regarding entry into Mexico by air or land. When carrying more than US$10,000 or its equivalent in other currencies, cash, cheques, money orders, or any other monetary instrument, you must declare the amount exceeding US$10,000. Failure to make this declaration is against Mexican law and often results in detention.
If you wish to donate goods, contact the Embassy of Mexico in Canada before sending or importing goods to Mexico in order to fulfill the importation permit requirements.
Mexican authorities require that the names indicated on your identity documents (generally your passport) be identical to those appearing on your birth certificate before issuing official documents, such as marriage certificates, immigration documents or Mexican passports. Many Canadians have encountered significant difficulties due to this requirement, as middle names are often left off Canadian identity documents. If you plan on residing in Mexico or dealing with Mexican Civil Registry, you should obtain a Canadian passport that will meet Mexican requirements.
Vehicles and Boats
Canadian driver's licences are valid in Mexico. The police sometimes ask foreigners to show identification and proof of their legal status in Mexico. You should always carry valid photo identification, your passport, visa, and other documents. Leave a certified copy of your vehicle registration with relatives or friends in Canada.
The contract for a rental vehicle must be in the traveller's name and include a full description of the vehicle.
b) Company-owned vehicles
You must produce proof of employment and of the vehicle’s ownership by the company.
Mexico has very strict rules regarding the entry of foreign vehicles and boats. Do not enter Mexico without having obtained the proper importation permit and car/boat insurance. Without a permit, you may be fined and have your vehicle seized. Contact the Embassy or a consulate of Mexico in Canada to verify the latest regulations and requirements regarding vehicle and boat importation. Complete information is available from Aduana México.
If you wish to travel beyond the border zone (20 to 30 kilometres from the U.S. border) with your car, you must obtain a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (Solicitud de importación temporal de vehículos). The permit can only be obtained at the port of entry or online at Aduana México before crossing the border into Mexico.
You are only allowed to bring one vehicle into the country at a time. Those travelling with a recreational vehicle are not entitled to tow a second vehicle unless it is registered in the name of an accompanying traveller. The second vehicle should not exceed the weight limit of 3.5 tons. It is the owner’s responsibility to obtain the permit through the Banco Nacional del Ejército, Fuerza Aérea y Armada or Aduana México 10 to 180 days before departure. Permits can also be obtained at one of the Mexican consulates located in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Albuquerque, Denver, and Phoenix, or at a customs office located along the U.S.-Mexico border or, in some cases, within an authorized border zone. Watch for signs indicating customs checkpoints and Banjercito Bank locations (where permits can be issued and cancelled).
If you stay beyond the date indicated on the Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit, your vehicle may be seized.
When leaving Mexico, you must return your Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit in person, along with the vehicle with which you entered the country, to any customs office at the border so that the permit can be cancelled. Keep a copy of the cancellation documents. Neither the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City nor the Embassy of Mexico in Ottawa can return these permits on behalf of Canadian citizens. It is not permissible to mail your permit to the border point. As long as the permit remains in effect, you will be unable to import another vehicle into Mexico. You may be able to cancel the permit on a future visit to Mexico if you enter at the same border point with the same vehicle; however, a fine may be imposed.
In cases where the permit holder cannot exit the country with the vehicle (for example, in case of death or sickness), the person driving the car out of Mexico must be a foreigner with a valid tourist card and have documentation to prove the relationship with the car owner, such as a marriage or birth certificate.
It is the owner’s responsibility to obtain the importation permit through the Banco Nacional del Ejército, Fuerza Aérea y Armada or Aduana México 7 to 60 days before departure. Permits can also be obtained at one of the Mexican consulates located in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Albuquerque, Denver, and Phoenix.
Further information and online application forms can be found at Banco Nacional del Ejército, Fuerza Aérea y Armada (available in English and French).
Foreigners who wish to purchase a car in Mexico must hold either temporary or permanent residency in Mexico, be able to pay vehicle taxes, and obtain Mexican licence plates. If you are interested in buying a car, consult local authorities.
It is illegal to sell your imported vehicle in Mexico. If you do, your vehicle may be seized and you may be subject to a fine and deportation.
Canadian automobile insurance is not recognized in Mexico. You must obtain additional insurance at the Mexican border. Full coverage is recommended, including coverage for legal assistance. Automobile insurance is much more expensive in Mexico than in Canada. Many local drivers do not have any form of car insurance.
For more information on Mexican driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, or mandatory insurance, please contact the SECTUR at 1-866-640-0597 (toll free from Canada).
Accidents and fines
In case of an accident or theft of your vehicle, you should immediately obtain a police report from the nearest police station (Ministerio Público) and present it to the Mexico City customs office (Aduanas) in order to cancel the Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit no later than five days after the incident. If you are involved in a traffic accident, you may face serious legal problems, including imprisonment. You could be taken into custody until responsibility for the accident is determined and all penalties are paid. If you do not have Mexican liability insurance, you could be prevented from leaving the country until all parties agree that adequate financial satisfaction has been received. Depending on the extent of injuries or damages, drivers may face criminal charges. Motor vehicle insurance is considered invalid in Mexico if the driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident, or if the driver has no valid driver's licence.
If you receive a fine for a driving infraction in certain parts of the country, the issuing police officer is obligated by law to retain your driver's license or registration until the fine is paid. Expect delays in recovering the document.
In order to reduce air pollution, time and day restrictions are imposed on driving in Mexico City as well as other regions of the country. Based on licence plate numbers, there is at least one day each week and one Saturday per month when driving is forbidden. This applies equally to permanent, temporary, and foreign plates. These regulations are strictly enforced. Offenders face heavy fines and temporary confiscation of their vehicle.
A supplementary driving restriction has been implemented in Mexico City. Vehicles without plates from the State of Mexico (Estado de México) or the Federal District (DF) are not allowed to circulate from Monday to Friday from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more information, consult the Mexico City Ministry of the Environment (in Spanish). An exemption to this driving restriction may be obtained for cars with foreign plates by requesting a permit, the Pase Turístico (tourist pass), which is granted either for two periods of seven days or one period of 14 days in a six-month period. In order to obtain the tourist pass, you must register at Pase Turístico (in Spanish).
You may acquire real estate in Mexico. However, you should consult a lawyer, as real estate transactions, laws, and practices can be complex and differ considerably from those in Canada. Choose your own lawyer or notary and avoid hiring the one recommended by the seller. Mexican real estate agents are not licensed or regulated.
Research potential property purchases carefully, as irregularities occur, most frequently title challenges, which may result in litigation and possible eviction. Trusts do not guarantee that the purchase is legitimate. Visit the local Property Registry (Registro de Propiedad) and ask to see the property registry to confirm the name of the last owner and the fact that the property is free of any mortgage.
Reports of problems with time-share arrangements (including cancellation of contracts and fraudulent sales) have increased. Be prepared for the possibility of being approached by persistent time-share representatives on the street, as well as at the airport or on the way to your hotel. Be prepared for common pressure tactics, such as being told that promotions are only valid for that day and being offered free tours, meals, gifts, or alcoholic beverages.
Before purchasing a time-share, gather as much information as possible, research the properties, and even get a legal opinion. If you do decide to buy, be sure to carefully review the contract. Anything not included in the contract will not be honoured. Only provide your credit card if you are certain you wish to make the purchase.
Cancellation of contracts: Time-share companies have requested that their clients sign a waiver that prevents them from cancelling the contract. Such practices are illegal. Mexican law stipulates that consumers are legally entitled to cancel a time-share contract without penalty; however, the cancellation must be done within five working days starting from the day following the original date of purchase. Cancellations of contracts must be done in writing and must be presented directly to the time-share company. Keep copies of all correspondence.
Fraudulent sale of time-shares: Companies and individuals may approach you claiming to have a buyer for your time-share and asking you to pay taxes beforehand. After payment of the so-called "taxes", Canadians have discovered that their time-share was never sold. If you experience any difficulties with a time-share company, you should immediately contact the Mexican Consumer Protection Agency, the Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor (PROFECO).
Rental agreements between two individuals in Mexico are considered a private matter and are not regulated by the government. Should you encounter difficulties with a rental agreement and wish to take legal action, you will be required to obtain the services of a Mexican lawyer.
The currency is the Mexican peso (MXN/MXV). Automated banking machine services are available throughout the country. Canadian debit and credit cards are widely accepted; however, Canadian currency and traveller's cheques are not. Some Canadians have recently reported that they were unable to withdraw cash from automated banking machines using Canadian debit cards. Consult with your bank before you travel.
There is a limit to the amount of U.S. dollars that both residents and foreigners can exchange in Mexico, depending on your immigration status in Mexico. Although the rule does not apply to Canadian dollars, some financial institutions, hotels, and currency exchange bureaus are not making the distinction.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The hurricane season extends from mid-May to the end of November, and may affect both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Follow regional weather forecasts, and the advice and instructions of local authorities.
The rainy season extends from June to November, and flooding and mudslides occur during this time.
Transportation routes may be affected. If you are planning to travel to possible affected areas, contact your airline or tour operator to determine whether the situation could disrupt your travel arrangements. Exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.
Mexico is located in an active seismic zone. For further information, consult Mexico’s National Seismological Institute (in Spanish).
Some volcanoes in Mexico are active. You may obtain updated information on the status of the Colima volcano from the University of Colima’s Centre for Studies and Research of Volcanology (in Spanish) and of the Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico from CENAPRED (in Spanish).
Mexico City - Embassy of Canada
Acapulco - Consular Agency of Canada
Cabo San Lucas - Consular Agency of Canada
Cancún - Consular Agency of Canada
Guadalajara - Consulate of Canada
Mazatlán - Consular Agency of Canada
Monterrey - Consulate General of Canada
Oaxaca - Consular Agency of Canada
Playa Del Carmen - Consular Agency of Canada
Puerto Vallarta - Consular Agency of Canada
Tijuana - Consulate of Canada
If you are outside Mexico City, you can reach the Embassy by dialling 01-800-706-2900. This toll-free number is available throughout the entire country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is reserved for emergency calls concerning Canadians.When making long-distance calls within Mexico, callers have to dial 01, the area code, and the number; when calling internationally from Mexico to Canada or the United States, you must dial 001, the area code, and the number. All other international calls from Mexico must be dialled with 00. When calling internationally to Mexico, the country code is 52.For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City and follow the instructions provided on the recording. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 001-800-514-0129 or collect at 613-996-8885.
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