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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 in those parts of the country experiencing a deteriorating security situation (see Advisories below). High levels of criminal activity, as well as demonstrations, protests and occasional illegal roadblocks, remain a concern throughout the country.
Northern states - Avoid non-essential travel
Global Affairs 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 high levels of violence linked to organized crime. Consult Security for more information.
Western states - Avoid non-essential travel
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the western states of Guerrero (including Acapulco but excluding the cities of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo and Taxco) and Michoacán (excluding the city of Morelia) due to the high levels of violence and organized crime. For the same reason, avoid non-essential travel to the areas of Jalisco state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas, as well as the areas of Colima state that border Michoacán. Exercise a high degree of caution in the excluded areas. Consult Security for more information.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a Travel Health Notice for the Global Update: Zika virus infection recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to countries with ongoing Zika virus outbreaks. See Health for more information.
You are advised to sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service if travelling to or residing in Mexico.
Northern states (see Advisory)
We strongly recommend travelling to Mexico by air, to avoid land border crossings in potentially dangerous regions, particularly in the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Sonora and Tamaulipas.
In northern Mexico, particularly along the border with the United States, organized crime and urban violence greatly affect security. Confrontations between organized criminal groups and Mexican authorities continue to pose a problem. Shootouts, attacks and illegal roadblocks may occur without warning. Avoid inter-city road travel in the northern states. Heavily armed gangs have attacked travellers driving through Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas, as well as on several highways in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León and Sinaloa. Criminals especially target sport utility vehicles and full-size pickup trucks for theft and carjacking along highways.
Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling in the city of Monterrey. After dark, avoid movement outside the suburb of San Pedro Garza García.
Western states (see Advisory)
Criminal activity has significantly increased in the states of Guerrero, Jalisco and Michoacán. Reports of illegal roadblocks and demonstrations are also more frequent. 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.
Crime rates in Mexico are high. Arrest and detention rates are low and contribute to high levels of criminality. However, the level of crime in resorts and major tourist cities and destinations isn’t nearly as high. More than 1.9 million Canadians travel to Mexico each year, the vast majority of them without incident.
If you are the victim of a crime, report it immediately to the local branch of the state prosecutor’s office (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.
Criminal groups, including drug cartels, are very active in Mexico’s northern states and they also carry out operations in the western states. Clashes between cartels or gangs over drug smuggling routes are common, resulting in a very high level of violence in these areas. Mexican citizens and government officials are also targets of violent crime, including kidnapping, extortion and homicide. Foreigners are not specifically targeted, although they occasionally fall victim to violent crime when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. See Advisories for areas where non-essential travel should be avoided.
The Yucatán Peninsula, which includes the tourist destinations of Cancun, Cozumel, Merida, Progreso and Riviera Maya, has not been significantly affected by violence or insecurity. Due to high levels of organized crime in rural areas, including on major highways, you should exercise caution in the states of Baja California (North), Colima, Morelos, Nayarit, State of Mexico, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz and Zacatecas. Popular tourist areas of South Nayarit (from Nuevo Vallarta to La Peñita de Jaltemba), the tourist zone of Puerto Vallarta and the cities of Tepoztlan, Guadalajara, Manzanillo, San Luis Potosí, Veracruz, Xalapa and Zacatecas remain relatively safe.
Some municipalities popular with Canadian tourists in the state of Jalisco experienced an increase in drug-related violence in early 2015, as Mexican security forces battled organized criminal groups who engaged in violent retaliatory actions. Bystanders could be affected by violence and should be aware of their surroundings at all times. Remain vigilant, stay in tourist areas and follow local media closely. Exercise caution if you do venture outside urban areas, including on major highways. Avoid travelling at night.
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. Bystanders could get caught in the crossfire.
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. Keep your luggage secure at all times. Stay in hotels and resorts with good security. 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. Dress down and avoid wearing expensive jewellery.
Foreigners have been targeted in robbery incidents, which sometimes involve assault. 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, or inside reputable financial institutions, hotels and malls rather than on the street, to lower the risk of card skimming (the illegal collection of data from the magnetic strip of a credit or debit card). 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.
Canadians have been robbed on buses, usually at night. Keep an eye on your luggage, money and personal documents at all times.
Incidents of physical and sexual assault against foreigners have been reported, in some cases implicating hotel employees, taxi drivers and security personnel at popular tourist destinations. Ensure your accommodations have adequate security features, as not all resorts offer the same level of security. Cameras and security guards with radios present the greatest deterrent to crime. 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. 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. 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 the items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world. Traditional kidnapping for ransom is a serious problem in northern border cities and in Mexico City. Kidnappers target both the wealthy and middle class. Foreigners are not specifically targeted but may be if perceived as being wealthy. The kidnapping of Canadian citizens (and contractors working for Canadian businesses) has occurred primarily in areas included in our Travel Advisory, mostly outside the areas of stronger institutional control of police and government authorities. If you become a victim of a kidnapping, comply with the kidnappers’ requests and do not attempt to resist them.
Express kidnappings, that is, attempts to get quick cash in exchange for the release of an individual, occur 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 be made the following day. Only use the taxi services located at major hotels or call a reputable taxi company. To reduce your risk of becoming a victim, do not show signs of affluence and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
A common scam used by gangs and other criminals throughout Mexico is virtual kidnapping. Virtual kidnapping is a form of extortion where a perpetrator identifies a person who is temporarily unreachable by cell phone or email, or steals their cell phone, and then contacts that person’s family claiming that their loved one has been kidnapped and demanding an immediate ransom for their release. When the family members cannot reach their loved one in Mexico, they assume that the person has been kidnapped.
Perpetrators use various means of gathering information about potential victims. They may use social media sites or they may eavesdrop on your conversations when in the country. Do not discuss travel plans, your room number or any other personal information within earshot of strangers. Do not divulge personal information or business affairs to strangers either in person or over the phone, especially using hotel phones. Hotel guests are targeted in a scam where the hotel manager is complicit in the virtual kidnapping crime. If you are threatened or harassed on the phone, hang up immediately. Stay in hotels with good security. 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 note the number of the caller and report the call to local police in Canada.
Any kidnapping, real or virtual, should be reported to the local Mexican police as well as to the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City, the nearest Canadian consulate or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa (see Assistance).
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 tourism office or local branch of the state prosecutor’s office (Agencia del Ministerio Público) to file a complaint.
Demonstrations occur regularly throughout the country. Protests and roadblocks are common in Mexico City, including to and from the airport, and in the states of Chiapas, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca. Such incidents may last for an extended period of time, leading to shortages of fresh food, medicine and gasoline, as well as the interruption of inter-city bus transportation. Avoid large gatherings, which could erupt into violence at any time. Participation in political demonstrations by foreigners is prohibited and may result in detention, expulsion and the denial of future entry into Mexico. Monitor local media reports for up-to-date information and follow the advice of local authorities.
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.
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.
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 at secure campsites. At all times, keep your car doors locked and the windows rolled up, especially at traffic lights, where you can be a target for thieves.
Be prepared for military checkpoints throughout the country, where the military searches for drugs and firearms. Remain calm and answer their questions.
In the event of a vehicle breakdown or roadside emergency, the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes), a highway patrol service offered by Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism (Secretaría de Turismo de México or SECTUR), provides free assistance on all major toll highways from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. In case of an emergency, dial 078 or 01 800 006 8839 (toll free in Mexico).
Avoid hailing taxis on the street and use reputable taxis companies, such as 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 International Airport in Mexico City, prepay the taxi fare inside the airport, use only airport taxis and ask to see the driver’s official identification.
Although public transportation is relatively safe, be vigilant in airports, at bus stations, on buses and in the Mexico City metro, areas that are often very crowded and popular for pickpockets. Avoid travelling late at night and during rush hour, if possible, and exercise caution at all times.
Bus accidents occur frequently. You should travel during daylight hours and on first-class buses only.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Recreational activities and rentals
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 watercrafts have demanded compensation in excess of the value of the damage caused to the vehicle or equipment.
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.
Beaches and water activities
Strong currents and undertow are common on many of Mexico's beaches, and drownings of Canadians have occurred. Take posted warnings about swimming conditions seriously and familiarize yourself with the beach flagging system. Many beaches do not offer warnings of dangerous conditions or are not sufficiently supervised by lifeguards. Beach resort lifeguards may not always be prepared for emergencies. When in doubt, consult hotel staff.
Storm swells (known locally as Mar de Fondo), can result in one- to four-metre high waves and generally occur on the west coast of Mexico between the months of May and November. The period of unusually high waves can last for several hours to several days at a time. Avoid swimming in the ocean, walking on the beach, and practicing any water sports when a Mar de Fondo alert is issued by local authorities. Follow the instructions of lifeguards and civil protection authorities, and withdraw all small vessels from the sea and safeguard them.
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.
Hitchhiking is not a common practice in Mexico and is not recommended.
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.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Mexican authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. 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. 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 Mexico's immigration agency, the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) (in Spanish).
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
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.
Canadian tourists visiting for work do not require a visa for stays of 72 hours or less within the border zone (21 kilometres from the U.S. border).
Business visa: required
Work visa: required
Student visa: required
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.
Canadians must be in possession of a tourist card, called the Multiple Migratory Form for Foreigners or FMM. The tourist card is provided by airlines or by immigration authorities at Mexican points of entry. In order to obtain a tourist card, Canadians must present a valid passport. 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. Canadian tourists do not require a tourist card for stays of 72 hours or less within the border zone (21 kilometres from the U.S. border).
Ensure that you have your tourist card stamped by immigration authorities upon arrival (whether by plane, bus, private vehicle or on foot). If you enter Mexico by land, it is your responsibility to stop at the immigration facility located at the border. 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. In most cases, you will be granted the full 180 days. You will not be able to request an extension or change the condition of your stay from inside the country.
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 for less than 72 hours to the northern border zone (21 kilometres from the U.S. border) and those going to Mexico on cruise ships are exempt.
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 Canadian citizenship certificate is not a travel document. See Laws and culture for additional information.
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.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
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!
- 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), West Nile virus, and Zika 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.
Locally acquired mosquito-associated Zika virus is currently being reported in this country. Zika virus infection is primarily spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can cause fever, rash, and joint pain. It can also be transmitted through blood, semen and from an infected pregnant woman to her developing baby. Most people do not develop symptoms and recover fully without severe complications. There is scientific consensus that Zika virus infection is a cause of both microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Other neurological disorders have also been associated with Zika virus infection. Protect yourself from mosquito bites in daylight and evening hours. There is no vaccine for Zika virus infection.
- 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. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and medical evacuation, if required. Contact your insurance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Private hospitals and clinics in major cities 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 and physicians in the area.
Pharmacies in main cities carry most medicines. It is advisable to consult a physician before purchasing medicine 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 Mexico’s Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risk (primarily in Spanish) or the Embassy of Mexico in Canada.
Medicine cannot be sent to Mexico from Canada via courier services.
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 & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page for more information.
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 people 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.
It is illegal to possess archaeological artefacts or to export such items from Mexico.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Mexico. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Mexican citizen. Dual citizens must identify themselves as Mexican citizens during their stay in the country. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen 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 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.
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 the Mexican Civil Registry, you should obtain a Canadian passport that will meet Mexican requirements.
A Canadian driver’s licence is valid in Mexico. The police sometimes ask foreigner drivers to show identification and proof of their legal status in Mexico. You should always carry with you valid photo identification, your Canadian passport, visa and other documents. Leave a certified copy of your vehicle registration with relatives or friends in Canada.
When renting a car, the contract must be in the traveller’s name and include a full description of the vehicle. If driving a company-owned vehicle, you must produce proof of employment and of the vehicle’s ownership by the company.
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, contact the SECTUR at 1-866-640-0597 (toll free from Canada).
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 importation permit and car/boat insurance. Without a permit, you may be fined and have your vehicle seized. Contact the Mexican embassy or a consulate in Canada to verify the latest regulations and requirements regarding vehicle and boat importation or visit the Mexican embassy's Travelling to Mexico by land website. Complete information on temporary importation is available from Mexico’s tax department, Servicio de Administración Tributaria (in English).
If you wish to travel beyond the border zone (21 kilometres from the U.S. border) with your car, you must obtain the Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (Solicitud de importación temporal de vehículos). The permit can only be obtained at the port of entry or online at Banco Nacional del Ejército, Fuerza Aérea y Armada (in English) 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, 10 to 180 days before departure. Permits can also be obtained at a Mexican consulate in the United States (located in Albuquerque, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Bernardino), 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 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 for a boat through the Banco Nacional del Ejército, Fuerza Aérea y Armada 7 to 60 days before departure. Permits can also be obtained at one of the Mexican consulates located in Albuquerque, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Bernardino. Further information and online application forms can be found at Banco Nacional del Ejército, Fuerza Aérea y Armada.
For more information on Mexican driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax or mandatory insurance, contact the SECTUR at 1 866 640 0597 (toll free from Canada).
Purchasing/selling a vehicle
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.
Auto accidents and driving infractions
In case of an accident or theft of your vehicle, you should immediately obtain a police report from the nearest local branch of the state prosecutor’s office (Agencia del 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 licence 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 and other regions of the country. Based on licence plate numbers, there is at least one day each week and two Saturdays 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 México (Estado de México) or the Federal District (Distrito Federal) are not allowed to circulate from Monday to Friday from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Saturdays from 5 a.m. to 10 p.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 tourist pass (Pase Turístico), which is granted either for two periods of seven days or one period of 14 days within 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 or being offered free tours, meals, gifts or alcoholic beverages.
Before purchasing a time-share, gather as much information as possible, including researching the properties and getting 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.
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 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. Scam artists also often impersonate Mexican Government officials. If you experience any difficulties with a time-share company, or suspect fraud in real estate procedures, you should immediately contact the Mexican Consumer Protection Agency (Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor or PROFECO),
If you are considering purchasing or selling property in Mexico, or suspect you may have fallen victim of a scam, consult a lawyer in Mexico specializing in real-estate.
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 ABMs 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 do not make the distinction.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
In the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, landslide, flood or volcanic eruption, official information is available from the Mexican government’s national civil protection agency, Sistema Nacional de Protección Civil (in Spanish).
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
The rainy season extends from June to November, and flooding and mudslides occur during this time throughout the country.
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, Servicio Sismológico Nacional (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, Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Volcanologia (in Spanish) and of the Popocatépetl volcano in central Mexico from Mexico’s national centre for disaster prevention (Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres or CENAPRED) (in Spanish).
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 066
- medical assistance: 065 / 066
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
Oaxaca - Consular Agency 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 assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa collect at +1 613-996-8885.
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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