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MEXICO - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Mexico due to high levels of criminal activity and occasional illegal roadblocks throughout the country.
Regional Advisory - Avoid non-essential travel
Avoid non-essential travel to the following areas due to high levels of violence and organized crime:
Safety and security
There was a significant increase in violent crime, including homicides, kidnappings and extortions nationwide in 2018 in Mexico. This includes the states of:
- Baja California Sur (Los Cabos)
- Jalisco (Puerto Vallarta)
- Quintana Roo (Cancun and Playa del Carmen)
Exercise particular vigilance if you’re travelling in those regions and limit your stay to tourist areas. You should also remain extremely cautious if you’re travelling to the eastern parts of greater Mexico City where the crime rate is on the rise. These municipalities include:
- La Paz
- Valle del Chalco
While most incidents appear to be gang-related, innocent bystanders may be injured or killed. You may be in the wrong place at the wrong time and become a victim of violent crime.
Arrest and detention rates are low and don’t deter criminal activity.
If you plan on travelling in Mexico:
- remain vigilant at all times
- stay in tourist areas
- be very cautious on major highways
- avoid travelling at night
- monitor local media closely
If you are the victim of a crime, you must report it immediately to local authorities. No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint. Complaints must be made in person before leaving Mexico.
Criminal groups, including drug cartels, are very active. Clashes between cartels or gangs over territory, drugs and smuggling routes are common, resulting in a high level of violence.
In some parts of the country, military, navy and federal police forces have been deployed to combat organized crime and improve security conditions. They maintain a visible presence by patrolling the streets, setting up roadblocks and conducting random vehicle checks.
Borders and surrounding areas
We strongly recommend travelling to Mexico by air to avoid international land border crossings, particularly along the border with the United States. If crossing an international land border, use only official border crossings. Confrontations between organized criminal groups and Mexican authorities continue to pose a risk in border areas. Shootouts, attacks and illegal roadblocks may occur without warning. Exercise heightened caution when crossing state borders within Mexico, as border areas often see higher criminal activity and violence; including in rural areas.
Criminal activity is high in the states of:
Illegal roadblocks and demonstrations are common. The deterioration of the security situation is particularly noticeable in the rural areas of Guerrero and Michoacán.
Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world.
Kidnappers target both the wealthy and middle class. Canadian citizens and contractors working for Canadian businesses have been kidnapped mostly in areas that are not under police and security forces control.
- If you are kidnapped, comply with the kidnappers’ requests
- Do not attempt to resist
Express kidnappings occur in large urban areas. They are a method of abduction where criminals ask for a small and immediate ransom.
Thieves most commonly work in cooperation with, or pose as, taxi drivers. They force victims to use their debit or credit card to withdraw money from ATMs in exchange for their release.
- Only use a reputable taxi company or a trusted ride-sharing app
- Book taxis through your hotel or an authorized taxi centre
Virtual kidnappings also occur in Mexico.
This is a form of extortion where criminals steal a cell phone and then contact the victim’s family claiming that their loved one has been kidnapped. They then demand an immediate ransom for the release. Unable to reach their loved one, the family members assume that the person has been kidnapped.
Criminals use various means of gathering information about potential victims, including using social media sites or eavesdropping on conversations.
- Do not discuss travel plans, your room number or any other personal information within earshot of strangers
- Do not divulge personal business details to strangers in person or over the phone, especially when using hotel phones
- If you are threatened on the phone, hang up immediately
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs in Mexico.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times, even in areas normally considered safe
- Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Avoid showing signs of affluence, such as flashy jewelry
- Carry only small amounts of money
- Be cautious when withdrawing cash from ATMs
Armed robbery occurs.
Foreigners have been targets of robberies that sometimes involve assault. Robbers will follow a victim after they exchange or withdraw money at airports, currency exchange bureaus (casas de cambio) or ATMs.
- Stay in hotels and resorts with good security
- If you are threatened by robbers, stay calm and do not resist
- Avoid withdrawing or exchanging money in public areas of the airport
Tourists staying in rental homes have been the victims of break-ins and burglaries. Whether you are staying in private or commercial accommodations, make sure you lock windows and doors securely at night and when you are away.
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs in Mexico. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
More about overseas fraud
Legitimate police officers have extorted money from tourists or arrested tourists for minor offences or traffic violations. Travellers driving rental cars have been targeted.
If this occurs:
- Don’t hand over your money or your passport
- Ask for the officer’s name, badge and patrol car number
- Ask for a copy of the written fine, which is payable at a later date
Canadians travellers have been physically and sexually assaulted. In some cases, hotel employees, taxi drivers and security personnel at popular tourist destinations were involved.
- Avoid walking after dark, especially alone
- Avoid isolated or deserted areas
- Stay in hotels and resorts with good security
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
In cases of sexual assault, police authorities will order a medical examination.
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
Some incidents of assault, rape and sexual aggression against Canadian women have occurred, including at beach resorts and on public buses.
- Exercise caution when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances
- Be wary of rides or other invitations
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Safe-travel guide for women
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Counterfeit alcohol could be served in bars, restaurants and resorts. Some travellers have reported getting sick or blacking out after drinking alcohol.
- Be cautious if you choose to drink alcohol
- Seek medical assistance if you begin to feel sick
Alcohol, drugs and travel
Height standards for balcony railings in Mexico can be considerably lower than those in Canada. Falls have resulted in deaths and injuries.
- Exercise caution when standing close to balcony railings
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Demonstrations take place regularly throughout the country. It is illegal under the Mexican constitution for foreigners to participate in political demonstrations. Offenders may be detained, deported and denied re-entry into the country.
Protests and roadblocks are common in Mexico City, including to and from the airport, and in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca. Such incidents may last a long time, leading to shortages of fresh food, medicine and gasoline. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Riptides are common.
Many beaches do not offer warnings of dangerous conditions and they don’t always have lifeguards on duty.
Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards. Several drownings occur each year.
Water safety abroad
Many operators do not conduct regular safety checks on their sporting and aquatic equipment. Also, Canadians have been involved in accidents where operators of recreational vehicles, such as watercrafts, have demanded compensation exceeding the value of the damage caused to the vehicle or equipment.
- Ensure that sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition, especially for scuba diving.
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country. Dangerous curves, poorly marked or hidden road signs, construction sites, roaming livestock, slow-moving or abandoned vehicles and other obstacles pose hazards. Toll highways are typically safer and better maintained than secondary highways. Mexican driving styles are very different from those in Canada. Many drivers do not respect traffic laws; which are not strictly enforced by police. Drivers often drive at excessive speeds and may be aggressive or reckless. Drinking and driving laws are not strictly enforced. Accidents causing fatalities are common. Police do not regularly patrol the highways.
Heavily armed gangs have attacked travellers on intercity highways. Criminals especially target sport utility vehicles and full-size pickup trucks for theft and carjacking.
The military searches for drugs and firearms at military checkpoints throughout the country.
- Avoid road travel at night between cities throughout the country
- Ensure that you only stop in major centres, at reputable hotels or at secure campsites.
- Keep your car doors locked and the windows closed, especially at traffic lights
- Avoid hitchhiking which is not a common practice in Mexico
- Do not leave valuables in the vehicle
- Rent cars that do not have stickers or other advertisements for the rental company on them
- Ensure operators provide insurance and helmets if renting scooters
- Always ask the dispatcher for the driver’s name and the taxi’s license plate number, model and colour
- Consider traveling on toll roads, which lowers the risk of targeted roadblocks and robberies
Public transportation is relatively safe. Remain vigilant in airports, at bus stations and on buses.
The Mexico City metro is often very crowded and a popular place for pickpocketing. There are metro cars located at the front of the trains dedicated to women and children during rush hours.
When travelling to other cities, use bus companies that offer first or executive class transportation. These buses only travel on toll roads, which lower the risks of targeted roadblocks and robberies.
In Mexico City, all government-authorized taxis have licence plates starting with “A” or “B.” Taxis from designated stands have both the logo of their company and the plate number stamped on the side of the car.
When arriving at an airport in Mexico, pre-pay the taxi fare inside the airport and ask to see the driver’s official identification. You can also hire a taxi from a reputable online transportation network company.
- Avoid hailing taxis on the street
- Use reputable taxi companies only or a trusted ride-sharing app
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
In an attempt to limit the spread of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which originated in China, some governments have implemented special entry restrictions for their territory. Before travelling, verify if your destination’s local authorities have implemented any specific entry and exit restrictions related to this situation.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update – Public Health Agency of Canada
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Mexican authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for the expected duration of your stay in Mexico. Permanent residents of Canada must consult Mexico’s immigration agency, for specific entry requirements.
Permanent residents of Canada must consult Mexico’s immigration agency, for specific entry requirements.Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) - Mexico's immigration agency (in Spanish)
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required
Business visa: required
Work visa: required
Student visa: required
Canadians travelling to the northern border zone (within 21 kilometers of the U.S. border) for work do not require a visa for stays of 72 hours or less.
If you require a business or work visa, you should take care of the process yourself. If a prospective employer is processing your visa for you:
- Obtain copies of all correspondence between the employer and Mexican immigration authorities
- Verify that these copies are stamped by the immigration authorities as proof that your papers are being processed
- Request a receipt from your employer for any document that you provide for purposes of obtaining the visa
- Avoid surrendering your passport to your employer
You must obtain a tourist card to enter Mexico. If you do not obtain a tourist card upon arrival, your entry will be considered illegal and you may be fined, detained or expelled from the country.
To obtain a tourist card, you must present a valid passport. Your airline will provide it if travelling by air. If entering Mexico by land, you are responsible to stop at the immigration facility located at the border. Ensure that immigration authorities stamp your tourist card upon arrival, regardless of your mode of transportation.
You must surrender your tourist card when leaving Mexico. If you lose your tourist card before your departure, you will face a fine to have it replaced.
You don’t require a tourist card for stays of 72 hours or less within the northern border zone.
Length of stay
An immigration official will determine the number of days during which you can remain in Mexico. In most cases, you will be granted the maximum 180 days. You won’t be able to request an extension or change the condition of your stay from inside the country.
All visitors to Mexico must pay a tourism tax.
This fee is normally included in airline ticket prices. Visitors arriving by road or sea will have 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.
You are exempt from paying this tax if:
- you are entering by land for tourism purposes, and your stay will not exceed seven days
- you are travelling to the northern border zone for less than 72 hours
- you are travelling to Mexico on a cruise ship.
If entering and leaving Mexico as a dual citizen, you must identify yourself as a Mexican citizen. You must carry valid passports for both countries.
Canadians with a criminal record or a warrant for arrest may be refused entry and returned to Canada or to a third country on the next available flight.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
February 14, 2019
Medical procedures in Mexico
Canadian travellers may have been exposed to difficult to treat, antibiotic-resistant bacteria after having undergone surgical procedures in Tijuana, Mexico. In addition, Canadian travellers who had procedures at Grand View Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico may also be at-risk for blood-borne infections.
For more information, see the Public Health Agency of Canada's Public Health Notice – Information for Canadians who have received or are considering medical procedures in Mexico.
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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!
- 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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional 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), West Nile virus, and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue fever is a risk to travellers year-round. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, global numbers have been steeply rising again.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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 professional 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.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Medical services and facilities
The quality of care varies greatly throughout the country.
Private hospitals usually offer good-quality care but are generally expensive. Most won’t agree to deal directly with medical insurance companies and will require payment in advance.
Mental health care
Mental health services are extremely limited in Mexico, particularly outside of Mexico City.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Medical tourism is common, particularly in Tijuana and towns bordering the United States. Canadian travellers have had serious health complications following cosmetic or other elective surgeries abroad.
Before leaving for a medical travel, make sure you have done your research and use competent health-care providers only.
Receiving Medical Care in Other Countries
There are no clear procedures or regulations about surrogacy in Mexico. If you are considering surrogacy, seek advice from legal professionals knowledgeable in Canadian and Mexican laws and citizenship procedures.
If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining their legality in Mexico. Bring along an adequate supply and a copy of the prescription. Ensure that both the generic and trade names of the drug are stated.
Medicine cannot be sent to Mexico from Canada via courier services.
Federal Commission for protection against sanitary risk (in Spanish)
Air quality in Mexico City
When travelling to Mexico City, you may experience health problems caused by high altitude or 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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for breaking the law in Mexico can be more severe than in Canada, even for similar offences.
Foreign nationals are often held in pre-trial detention and there can be lengthy delays before a trial.
Many petty crimes (such as public urination, failure to pay a bill, disorderly behaviour) can result in a 72-hour detention by police. Paying a fine can secure an early release from detention. Detention conditions are substandard to Canadian facilities.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences.
The Mexican government strictly enforces its laws concerning possession, importation and trafficking of firearms.
Anyone 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.
Goods you cannot bring into Mexico – Mexican Government (in Spanish)
It is illegal to possess archaeological artefacts or to export such items from Mexico.
Mexican law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not widely accepted in Mexican society, particularly in the rural areas.
Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are disproportionately targeted for violence and can face discrimination.
General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Mexico.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Mexico, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
The names on your identity documents must be identical to those on your birth certificate to obtain official Mexican documents, such as marriage certificates, immigration documents or passports.
Many Canadians have encountered significant difficulties, as middle names are often left off Canadian identity documents. If you plan on residing in Mexico or dealing with the Mexican Civil Registry, obtain a Canadian passport that will meet Mexican requirements.
You should carry photo identification.
Authorities can ask you to show identification and a proof of your legal status in Mexico. They can demand to see your tourist card at any time. You must carry the original at all times.
If you plan on buying property, or making other investments in Mexico, seek legal advice in Canada and in Mexico. Do so before making commitments. Related disputes could take time and be costly to resolve.
Mexican real estate agents are not licensed or regulated.
- Choose your own lawyer
- Avoid hiring a lawyer recommended by a seller
Problems with timeshare arrangements occur.
Timeshare representatives may be very persistent. They use pressure tactics and offer free tours, meals, gifts or alcoholic beverages.
It is illegal for timeshare companies to ask you to sign a waiver that prevents you from cancelling a contract. You are legally entitled to cancel a timeshare contract without penalty within five working days. Contracts must be cancelled in writing directly with the timeshare company.
Before purchasing a timeshare:
- gather as much information as possible
- review carefully the contract; anything not included in the contract will not be honored
- provide your credit card only if you are sure you want to make the purchase
- keep copies of all correspondence
If you suspect a fraud in the real estate procedures, contact the Federal Attorney’s Office of Consumer immediately.
Federal Attorney’s Office of Consumer (PROFECO) – Mexican Government (in Spanish)
Rental agreements between two individuals in Mexico are considered a private matter and are not regulated by the government.
If you encounter difficulties with a rental agreement, you must obtain the services of a Mexican lawyer.
You should carry an international driving permit
You may drive in Mexico with a valid Canadian driver’s licence.
More about the International Driving Permit
Canadian automobile insurance is not valid in Mexico. Mexican liability insurance is mandatory.
You can obtain insurance at the Mexican border. You should obtain full coverage, 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.
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. If a driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of an accident, or if the driver has no valid driver’s licence, their insurance is considered invalid.
Driving restrictions in Mexico City
There are driving restrictions in Mexico City.
Only vehicles bearing plates from the State of México (Estado de México) or the Federal District (Distrito Federal) are allowed to circulate:
- from Monday to Friday from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- on Saturdays from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
These regulations are strictly enforced. Offenders face heavy fines and temporary confiscation of their vehicle.
An exemption may be obtained for cars with foreign plates by requesting a tourist pass. It is granted either for two periods of seven days or one period of 14 days within a six-month period.
- Do not circulate calendar – Mexican Government (in Spanish)
- Tourist pass - Mexican Government (in Spanish)
- Secretaría del Medio Ambiente – Mexico City’s environment ministry (in Spanish)
Importing vehicles and boats
Mexico has very strict rules regarding the importation of foreign vehicles and boats.
Do not enter Mexico without having obtained the proper import permit and insurance. Without a permit, you may be fined and have your vehicle seized.
- Vehicle importation – Mexican Government (in Spanish)
- Temporary vehicle import application system – Banjército
- Travelling to Mexico by land – Mexican Embassy in Canada
Buying/selling a vehicle
You must be either a temporary or a permanent resident if you wish to buy a car in Mexico.
It’s 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.
The currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso.
In some parts of Mexico, particularly tourist destinations; hotels and other service providers may advertise prices in USD.
There is a limit to the amount of U.S. dollars that residents and foreigners can exchange in Mexico, depending on your immigration status in Mexico. The rule doesn’t apply to Canadian dollars but some financial institutions, hotels and currency exchange bureaus do not make the distinction.
When carrying more than US$10,000 or the 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.
Natural disasters and climate
Mexico is subject to various natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, torrential rains, floods and mudslides.
In the event of a natural disaster, official information is available from the Mexican government.
Sistema Nacional de Protección Civil (in Spanish)
Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
The rainy season extends from June to November. Seasonal flooding and landslides can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
Mexico is located in an active seismic zone.
- National Seismological Institute – Mexican Government (in Spanish)
- Centre for Studies and Research of Volcanology - University of Colima (in Spanish)
- National center for disaster prevention – Mexican Government (in Spanish)
In case of an emergency:
- Dial 911
You can also reach 24/7 from anywhere in Mexico:
- The Embassy of Canada in Mexico City: 800-706-2900
The Green Angels (Angeles Verdes), a highway patrol service, provides free assistance on all major toll highways from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In case of an emergency, dial 078 or 800 006 8839 (toll free in Mexico).
Mexico City - Embassy of Canada
Acapulco - Consular Agency of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
Cabo San Lucas - Consular Agency of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
Cancún - Consular Agency of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
Guadalajara - Consulate of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
Mazatlán - Consular Agency of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
Monterrey - Consulate General of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
Playa Del Carmen - Consular Agency of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
Puerto Vallarta - Consular Agency of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
Tijuana - Consulate of Canada
Embajada de Canadá en México
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
Toll-free emergency numbers
The following toll-free numbers can be dialed from anywhere within the country of Mexico, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
To reach the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City: 01-800-706-2900
Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa: 001-800-514-0129.
When making long-distance calls within Mexico, callers must 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.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are 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 to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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