- General Info
- Health Risks
- Insect Threats
- Water Quality
- Security Concerns
- Weather Notes
- Electrical Standards
- Visa Info
- Time Zone
Whether you like spending your days on sun-drenched beaches, exploring Mayan or Aztec ruins, taking a train ride through the Copper Canyon, or animal spotting in the tropical forests, Mexico truly offers something for every traveler. Home to over 50 indigenous cultures and the world's third largest city (Mexico City), Mexico is bursting with music, art, glorious scenery, and diverse peoples.Language: Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional indigenous languages.
Major International Airports Include:
|Cancun||Cancun Int'l||CUN||14 miles SW|
|Cozumel||Cozumel Airport||CZM||2 mles N|
|Guadalahara||Aeropuerto Miguel Hidalgo||GDL||11 miles SW|
|Mexico City||Benito Juarez Airport||MEX||8 miles E|
The preventive measures you need to take while traveling to Mexico and Central America depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region.
Food and Waterborne Diseases
Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers' diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout this region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage ( hepatitis). Gnathostomiasis (roundworms) has increased in Mexico, with many cases being reported from the Acapulco area, infection has been reported in travelers. Humans become infected by eating undercooked fish or poultry, or reportedly by drinking contaminated water.
Diseases found in Mexico and Central America (risk can vary by country and region within a country; quality of in-country surveillance also varies)
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness.
Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. Prevent this serious disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites (see below). Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including some cities. Travelers to malaria-risk areas, including infants, children, and former residents of Mexico and Central America, should take an antimalarial drug.
Chloroquine is the recommended drug for Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, and the Bocas Del Toro Province of Panama. Travelers to Darién Province and San Blas Province in Panama (including the San Blas Islands) should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).
Yellow fever is present only in Panama in this region. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain countries in the region if you have visited Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, or an endemic area in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.
Other Disease Risks
Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Myiasis (botfly) is endemic in Central America. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.
Other Health Risks
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Protect yourself from motor vehicle injuries: avoid drinking and driving; wear your safety belt and place children in age-appropriate restraints in the back seat; follow the local customs and laws regarding pedestrian safety and vehicle speed; obey the rules of the road; and use helmets on bikes, motorcycles, and motor bikes. Avoid boarding an overloaded bus or mini-bus. Where possible, hire a local driver.
Check with your healthcare provider: you and your family may need routine as well as recommended vaccinations.
Before travel, be sure you and your children are up to date on all routine immunizations according to schedules approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). See the schedule for adults and the schedule for infants and children. Some schedules can be accelerated for travel.
See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots or medications as well as other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.
The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to The Mexico and Central America. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.
- hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
- hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
- rabies, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
- typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region. typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
- Yellow Fever, for travelers to endemic areas in Panama
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.
All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:
- When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children's eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
- In developing countries, drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
- Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Protect yourself from mosquito and insect bites.
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
- Do not drink beverages with ice.
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
- Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
- Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
After You Return Home
If you have visited a malaria-risk area in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, continue taking your chloroquine for 4 weeks after leaving the risk area.
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the physician your travel history.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Those traveling to Mexico are at risk from dengue fever and malaria transmitted by mosquito bites, leishmaniasis from sandfly bites, onchocerciasis from blackfly bites, and Chagas disease from triatomine bugs, as well as other insect-borne diseases. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.
With the exception of some first-class hotels, the water supply in Mexico is considered high risk due to viral, bacterial and protozoan contamination. Travelers should treat water before drinking to avoid potentially serious health problems.
Travelers should avoid demonstrations and other activities that might be deemed political by the Mexican authorities. The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation.
Sporadic outbursts of politically motivated violence occur from time to time in certain parts of the country, particularly in the southern states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca.
The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid traveling in areas of the state of Chiapas where disputes are known to be ongoing, in particular the rural areas east of Ocosingo and the southeastern jungle region east of Comitan. In these areas, there have been disturbing incidents involving violence and threats of violence against foreigners and establishments catering to foreign tourists. Armed rebels and armed civilian groups are present in some areas of the state, and there is often no effective law enforcement or police protection. Some segments of the local population resent the presence of foreigners and openly express their hostility. Violent criminal gang activity along the southern border - mostly aimed at illegal migrants - has increased in the last year. U.S. citizens traveling to Chiapas are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for further security information prior to traveling to the region.
Standards of security, safety and supervision may not reach those expected in the United States. This has contributed to deaths of U.S. citizens in automobile accidents, after falls from balconies, after falls into open ditches, by drowning in the ocean as well as in hotel pools, and in water-sports mishaps, among others.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
CRIME: Crime in Mexico continues at high levels, and it is often violent, especially in Mexico City, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and the state of Sinaloa. Other metropolitan areas have lower, but still serious, levels of crime. Low apprehension and conviction rates of criminals contribute to the high crime rate. Travelers should leave valuables and irreplaceable items in a safe place, or not bring them. All visitors are encouraged to make use of hotel safes when available, avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry or designer clothing, and carry only the cash or credit cards that will be needed on each outing. There are a significant number of pick-pocketing incidents, purse snatchings and hotel-room thefts. Public transportation is a particularly popular place for pickpockets. All U.S. citizen victims of crime in Mexico are encouraged to report the incident to the nearest police headquarters and to the nearest U.S. consular office.
Visitors should be aware of their surroundings at all times, even when in areas generally considered safe. Women traveling alone are especially vulnerable and should exercise caution, particularly at night. Armed street crime is a serious problem in all of the major cities. Some bars and nightclubs, especially in resort cities such as Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Acapulco, can be havens for drug dealers and petty criminals. Some establishments may contaminate or drug drinks to gain control over the patron. Victims, who are almost always unaccompanied, have been raped, robbed of personal property, or abducted and then held while their credit cards were used at various businesses and Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).
U.S. citizens should be very cautious in general when using ATMs in Mexico. If an ATM must be used, it should be accessed only during the business day at large protected facilities (preferably inside commercial establishments, rather than at glass-enclosed, highly visible ATMs on streets). Recently, there have been cases in which U.S. and Mexican citizens have been accosted on the street and forced to withdraw money from their accounts using their ATM cards.
A number of Americans have been arrested for passing on counterfeit currency they had earlier received in change. If you receive what you believe to be a counterfeit bank note, bring it to the attention of Mexican law enforcement.
Kidnapping, including the kidnapping of non-Mexicans, continues at alarming rates. So-called "express" kidnappings, an attempt to get quick cash in exchange for the release of an individual, have occurred in almost all the large cities in Mexico and appear to target not only the wealthy, but also middle class persons. U.S. businesses with offices in Mexico or concerned U.S. citizens may contact the U.S. Embassy or any U.S. consulate to discuss precautions they should take.
Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico; travelers should exercise extreme caution at all times, avoid traveling at night, and may wish to use toll ("cuota") roads rather than the less secure "free" ("libre") roads whenever possible. In addition, U.S. citizens should not hitchhike, accept rides from or offer rides to, strangers anywhere in Mexico. Tourists should not hike alone in backcountry areas, nor walk alone on lightly frequented beaches, ruins or trails.
All bus travel should be during daylight hours and on first-class conveyances. Although there have been several reports of bus hijackings and robberies on toll roads, buses on toll roads still have a markedly lower rate of incidents than buses (second and third class) that travel the less secure "free" highways. The Embassy advises caution when traveling by bus from Acapulco toward Ixtapa or Huatulco. Although the police have made some progress in bringing this problem under control, armed robberies of entire busloads of passengers still occur.
In some instances, Americans have become victims of harassment, mistreatment and extortion by Mexican law enforcement and other officials. Mexican authorities have cooperated in investigating such cases, but one must have the officer's name, badge number, and patrol car number to pursue a complaint effectively. Please note this information if you ever have a problem with police or other officials. In addition, tourists should be wary of persons representing themselves as police officers or other officials. When in doubt, ask for identification. Be aware that offering a bribe to a public official to avoid a ticket or other penalty is a crime in Mexico.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the U.S. Embassy or closest U.S. consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.
Mexico's climate varies from tropical to desert, primarily influenced by topography and its location between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. The coastal and lowland areas are hot and humid year round, while the higher central plateau experiences more spring-like conditions for most of the year. The weather of the inland highlands is usually mild, although day and night temperatures can vary dramatically, and occasional nighttime freezes occur in the winter. Mexico has wet and dry seasons, and the amount of precipitation in each region varies greatly. For the most part, the rainy season is in the summer from June through September, and the winters are dry. Even during the rainy season, the desert areas of the Baja Peninsula and northern regions typically receive little precipitation. Hurricanes are a concern on both coasts between June and November, and are more frequent and powerful along the Gulf of Mexico.
Mexico's electrical current is 120/60 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items.
To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.
For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.
The Government of Mexico requires that all U.S. citizens present proof of citizenship and photo identification for entry into Mexico. U.S. citizenship documents such as a certified copy (not a simple photocopy) of a U.S. birth certificate, a Naturalization Certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Citizenship are acceptable. However, the U.S. Embassy recommends traveling with a valid U.S. passport to avoid delays or misunderstandings. U.S. citizens have encountered difficulty in boarding flights in Mexico without a passport. U.S. citizens boarding flights to Mexico should be prepared to present one of these documents as proof of U.S. citizenship, along with photo identification. Driver's permits, voter registration cards, affidavits and similar documents are not sufficient to prove citizenship for readmission into the United States.
U.S. citizens do not require a visa or a tourist card for tourist stays of 72 hours or less within "the border zone," defined as an area between 20 to 30 kilometers of the border with the U.S., depending on the location. U.S. citizens traveling as tourists beyond the border zone or entering Mexico by air must pay a fee to obtain a tourist card, also known as an FM-T, available from Mexican consulates, Mexican border crossing points, Mexican tourism offices, airports within the border zone and most airlines serving Mexico. The fee for the tourist card is generally included in the price of a plane ticket for travelers arriving by air.
Tourists wishing to travel beyond the border zone with their car must obtain a temporary import permit or risk having their car confiscated by Mexican customs officials. To acquire a permit, one must submit evidence of citizenship, title for the car, a car registration certificate, a driver's license, and a processing fee to either a Banjercito branch located at a Mexican Customs office at the port of entry, or at one of the Mexican Consulates located in Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, or San Francisco. Mexican law also requires the posting of a bond at a Banjercito office to guarantee the departure of the car from Mexico within a time period determined at the time of the application. For this purpose, American Express, Visa or MasterCard credit card holders will be asked to provide credit card information; others will need to make a cash deposit of between $200 and $400, depending on the age of the car. In order to recover this bond or avoid credit card charges, travelers must go to any Mexican Customs office immediately prior to departing Mexico. Disregard any advice, official or unofficial, that vehicle permits can be obtained at checkpoints in the interior of Mexico. Avoid individuals outside vehicle permit offices offering to obtain the permits without waiting in line. If the proper permit cannot be obtained at the Banjercito branch at the port of entry, do not proceed to the interior where travelers may be incarcerated, fined and/or have their vehicle seized at immigration/customs checkpoints. For further information, contact Mexican Customs about appropriate vehicle permits.
Upon arrival in Mexico, business travelers must complete and submit a form (Form FM-N 30 days) authorizing the conduct of business, but not employment, for a 30-day period. Travelers entering Mexico for purposes other than tourism or business, or for stays of longer than 180 days require a visa and must carry a valid U.S. passport. U.S. citizens planning to work or live in Mexico should apply for the appropriate Mexican visa at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC or nearest Mexican consulate in the United States.
Mexican law requires that any child under the age of 18, of any nationality, traveling into or out of Mexico must carry notarized written permission from any parent not traveling with the child. There have been cases where children, even American children, not carrying this document have been denied entry into Mexico, or have not been allowed to board a plane in the U.S. bound for Mexico. This permission must include the name of the parent, the name of the child, the name of anyone traveling with the child, and the notarized signature(s) of the absent parent(s). The child must be carrying the original letter - not a faxed or scanned copy - as well as proof of the parent/child relationship (usually a birth certificate) - and an original custody decree, if applicable.
Source: U.S. Department of State
The time zone for Mexico is -6 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Mexico would be 11:00 am
The unit of currency in Mexico is the Mexican peso (MXN).
Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter
Traveled to Mexico?
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