COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mexico covers an area of 1,972,500 sq. km. or 761,000
sq. miles, about three times the size of Texas. The capital is located in Mexico
City. The population of the area around Mexico City is about 20 million, the
largest concentration of people in the world. The latest estimate (in 2000)
has the population of Mexico at 97.4 million with an annual growth rate of 1.9%.
Mexico has a chief executive (president); a bicameral legislature; a judicial
system with a Supreme Court, local and federal courts; and an administrative
subdivision of 31 states and one federal district. Mexico has a rapidly developing
economy and has sought economic prosperity through liberalization of its trade
regime. The climate ranges from tropical to desert, and the terrain consists
of coastal lowlands, central high plateaus, and mountains up to 18,000 feet.
Many cities throughout Mexico are popular tourist destinations for Americans.
Travelers should note that city-specific information contained below is not
confined solely to those cities, but can occur in all areas of Mexico.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: The Government of Mexico requires that all U.S.
citizens present proof of citizenship and photo identification for entry into
Mexico. A U.S. passport is recommended, but other U.S. citizenship documents
such as a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, a Naturalization Certificate,
a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Citizenship are acceptable.
U.S. citizens boarding flights to Mexico should be prepared to present one of
these documents as proof of U.S. citizenship, along with photo identification.
Driver's permits, voter registration cards, affidavits and similar documents
are not sufficient to prove citizenship for readmission into the United States.
Minors require notarized consent from both parents if traveling alone or in
someone else's custody, or from the absent parent if traveling with only one
parent. Please see also the Children's Issues paragraph below.
A visa is not required for a tourist/transit stay up to 180 days. A tourist
card, also known as a FM-T, available from Mexican consulates and most airlines
serving Mexico, is issued instead. Travelers entering Mexico for purposes other
than tourism require a visa and must carry a valid U.S. passport. The Government
of Mexico charges an entry fee of approximately $15.00 per person to U.S. citizens
traveling to Mexico's interior.
Upon arrival in Mexico, business travelers must complete a form (Form FM-N
30 days) authorizing the conduct of business, but not employment, for a 30-day
period. U.S. citizens planning to work or live in Mexico should apply for the
appropriate Mexican visa (Form FM-2 or 3) at the Mexican Embassy or nearest
Mexican consulate. U.S. citizens planning to participate in humanitarian aid
missions, human rights advocacy groups or international observer delegations
also should contact the Mexican Embassy or nearest Mexican consulate for guidance
on how to obtain the appropriate visa before traveling to Mexico. Such activities,
undertaken while on a tourist visa, may draw unfavorable attention from Mexican
authorities because Mexican immigration law prohibits foreigners from engaging
in political activity. U.S. citizens have been detained or deported for violating
their tourist visa status. Therefore, tourists should avoid demonstrations and
other activities that may be deemed political by Mexican authorities. This is
particularly relevant in light of the tension and polarization in the state
of Chiapas. U.S. citizens and other foreigners have been detained in Chiapas
and expelled from Mexico for allegedly violating their visa status or for interfering
in Mexican internal politics.
Mexican regulations limit the value of goods brought into Mexico by U.S. citizens
arriving by air or sea to $300 per person and by land to $50 per person. Amounts
exceeding the duty-free limit are subject to a 32.8 percent tax. For further
information concerning entry and visa requirements, travelers may contact the
Embassy of Mexico at 1911 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006,
telephone (202) 736-1000, or any Mexican consulate in the United States.
DUAL NATIONALITY: As of March 20, 1998, Mexican law recognizes dual
nationality for Mexicans by birth, meaning those born in Mexico or born abroad
to Mexican parents. U.S. citizens who are also Mexican nationals are considered
Mexican by local authorities. Therefore, their dual nationality status could
hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide consular protection. Dual nationals
are not subject to compulsory military service in Mexico. Travelers possessing
both U.S. and Mexican nationalities must carry with them proof of their citizenship
of both countries. Under Mexican law, dual nationals entering or departing Mexico
must identify themselves as Mexican. For additional information, please see
the Consular Affairs home page on the
Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens
traveling to the state of Chiapas exercise caution. Armed rebels and armed civilian
groups are present in some areas of the state. In the mountain highlands north
of San Cristobal de Las Casas, the municipality of Ocosingo, and the entire
southeastern jungle portion of the state east of Comitan, tension and violence
ebb and flow. Furthermore, some segments of the local population resent the
presence of foreigners and openly express their hostility. For further information,
please see the U.S. State Department's Report on Human Rights Practices at http://www.state.gov.
U.S. citizens traveling to Chiapas are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy
for further security information prior to traveling to the region.
Two insurgent groups, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) and the Insurgent
People's Revolutionary Army (EPRI), operate in the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca.
Although these groups have been quiet in the last few years, they have attacked
police and military targets and have kidnapped civilians in the past. There
is no evidence, however, that U.S. citizens or other tourists have been targeted.
Nonetheless, U.S. citizens may encounter military roadblocks while traveling,
and tourists should be prepared to show identification and have their vehicles
searched. Army, police, and immigration roadblocks are most common in the states
of Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca.
CRIME: Crime in Mexico continues at high levels, and it is increasingly
violent, especially in Mexico City, Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Low apprehension
and conviction rates of criminals contribute to the high crime rate. Other metropolitan
areas have lower but still serious levels of crime. 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. Travelers are discouraged from bringing
very large amounts of cash into Mexico because officials may suspect money laundering
or other criminal activity. Any 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, especially when
visiting bars or nightclubs. Some establishments, especially in port cities
such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Acapulco, can be havens
for drug dealers and petty criminals. Some establishments may contaminate or
drug the drinks to gain control over the patron. Victims, who are almost always
unaccompanied, have been robbed of personal property, abducted and then held
while their credit cards were used at various businesses and Automatic Teller
U.S. citizens should be very cautious in using ATMs in general 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 a glass-enclosed, highly visible ATM on streets where criminals can observe
financial transactions). 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.
Kidnapping, including the kidnapping of non-Mexicans, is increasing. So-called
"express" kidnappings have reportedly taken place on well-traveled
highways such as the Toluca Highway leading out of Mexico City. These kidnappings
are an attempt to get quick cash in exchange for the release of any individual,
and they often 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 that they
Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico. Therefore, travelers
should exercise caution when traveling on all highways in Mexico and use "toll"
("cuota") roads, rather than the less secure "free" ("libre")
highways, whenever possible. Reported incidents include robbery, kidnapping,
and the 1998 murder of an Egyptian diplomat. For safety reasons, the U.S. Embassy
advises all U.S. citizens to exercise extreme caution when traveling on any
highways after dark. U.S. citizens should not hitchhike or accept rides from
or offer rides to strangers anywhere in Mexico.
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 have a markedly lower
rate of incidents than buses (second and third class) that travel the less secure
"free" highways. While many of the assaults have occurred in daylight,
the U.S. Embassy nevertheless encourages daytime travel to lower the chance
of vehicle accidents. The Embassy also advises caution when traveling by bus
in the area north of the border between the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero (south
of Acapulco). Armed robberies of entire busloads of passengers have recently
been reported to the Embassy.
Tourists should be wary of persons representing themselves as Mexican police
or other local officials. In some instances, Americans have become victims of
harassment, mistreatment and extortion by Mexican law enforcement and other
officials. Mexican authorities are concerned about these incidents and have
cooperated in investigating such cases. However, one must have the officer's
name, badge number, and patrol car number to pursue a complaint. Please make
a note of this information if you are ever involved with police or other officials.
Tourists should not hike alone in back-country areas, nor walk alone on lightly-frequented
beaches, ruins or trails. In 1998, three Americans were killed in separate incidents
when they ventured alone into such areas.
Local authorities have reported an increase in armed robberies in the popular
tourist destination of northern Sinaloa, especially near the fishing resorts.
Caution should be exercised when visiting this area.
CRIME IN MEXICO CITY: In Mexico City, the most frequently reported crimes
involving tourists are taxi robbery, armed robbery, pickpocketing and purse
snatching. In several cases, tourists have reported that men in uniforms perpetrated
the crime, stopping vehicles and seeking money, or assaulting and robbing tourists
walking late at night. The area behind the U.S. Embassy and the Zona Rosa, a
restaurant/shopping area near the Embassy, are frequent sites of street crime
against foreigners. Caution should be exercised when walking in these areas.
Metro (subway) robberies are becoming more frequent in Mexico City. If riding
the Metro, U.S. citizens should hold valuables and belongings tightly. Avoid
using Metro during busy commuting hours in the morning or afternoon. Tourists
and residents alike should avoid driving alone at night anywhere in Mexico City.
TAXICAB CRIME: Robbery and assaults on passengers in taxis are frequent
and violent, with passengers subjected to beatings, shootings and sexual assault.
U.S. citizens visiting Mexico City should avoid taking any taxi not summoned
by telephone or contacted in advance at the airport. In December 1997, a U.S.
citizen was murdered in a taxi robbery. When in need of a taxi, please telephone
a radio taxi or "sitio" (pronounced "C-T-O"), and ask the
dispatcher for the driver's name and the cab's license plate number. If you
walk to a "sitio" taxi stand, use only a driver known to you. Please
ask the hotel concierge or other responsible individual calling on your behalf
to write down the license plate number of the cab that you entered. Passengers
arriving at Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport should take only
airport taxis (which are yellow, with an airport symbol on the door) after pre-paying
the fare at one of the special booths inside the airport. Radio taxis may be
called at tel. 5-271-9146, 5-271-9058, and 5-272-6125 (within Mexico City).
U.S. citizens should avoid taking taxis parked outside the Bellas Artes Theater,
waiting in front of nightclubs or restaurants, or cruising throughout the city.
TRAVELING TO/THROUGH NUEVO LAREDO: Tourists are very vulnerable when
visiting the local "red light district," particularly if they are
departing alone in the early hours of the morning. Municipal and traffic police
are aware of the danger and regularly check the area for persons carrying weapons
or drugs and for drunk drivers.
U.S. citizens visiting relatives who reside in the outskirts of the city and
who walk or drive in deserted areas or particularly dark streets with which
they are unfamiliar may also be victims of random violence.
All U.S. citizens bringing gifts to friends and relatives in Nuevo Laredo or
the interior of Mexico should come prepared to demonstrate to Mexican Customs
the origin and the value of the gifts. Televisions, video cassette players,
computers, bicycles or any electronic item valued at $50.00 U.S. currency or
more must be declared to Mexican Customs. Any tourist carrying such items should
enter the "Merchandise to Declare" lane at the first Customs checkpoint.
The tourist/purchaser should have the receipt for the gift's purchase and should
be prepared to pay any assessed duty. Failure to do so may result in the seizure
of the goods as contraband, plus the seizure of the vehicle in which the goods
are traveling for attempted smuggling. The recovery of the seized vehicle involves
the payment of substantial fines and attorney's fees.
TRAVELING TO CIUDAD JUAREZ: Several U.S. citizens, including innocent
bystanders, have been killed in drug-related shootings in Ciudad Juarez over
the past three years. In recent months, some of these shootings have taken place
on principal thoroughfares and outside popular restaurants and other public
places, including convenience stores, a currency exchange, and a gas station.
In other instances, U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and scores imprisoned
after getting involved in the sale or purchase of illegal drugs. U.S. citizens
are advised to avoid any involvement with controlled substances or those who
deal in them. U.S. citizens should be particularly alert to their surroundings
when visiting Ciudad Juarez.
TRAVELING TO CANCUN: Cancun is now a fairly large city, approaching
500,000 inhabitants. Approximately 3 million Americans travel there each year,
including as many as 100,000 American teenagers and young adults during "Spring
Break," which normally begins in mid-February and runs about two months.
In the holiday atmosphere of Cancun, visitors are sometimes caught off-guard
by unfamiliar surroundings and differences in local practices. Americans have
died in automobile accidents, after falls from balconies, after falls into open
ditches, by drowning, and in water-sports mishaps, among others.
Visitors often purchase inexpensive, all-inclusive vacation packages and travel
on charter flights. These flights sometimes experience delays, from a few hours
to several days. In some cases, tour operators go out of business, leaving travelers
to find their own flights home. Travelers considering purchasing such packages
are encouraged to deal with reputable travel agents, and to inquire as to their
options in the event of flight delays or cancellations. It is also important
to have both U.S. and Mexican emergency numbers to call if they experience any
problems with flights or ground operators. Travelers should also consider bringing
extra cash or a credit card for emergencies.
As the population of Cancun has increased, so have reports of crime. Therefore,
it is important for travelers to be aware of their surroundings and to take
general precautions. There has been a significant increase in the number of
pickpocketing incidents, purse snatchings and hotel room thefts. Public transportation
is a particularly popular place for pickpockets. Valuables should be left in
a safe place, or not brought at all. Please keep track of your luggage when
getting in and out of ground transportation from the airport to the hotel, and
Excessive alcohol consumption, especially by Americans under the legal drinking
age in the United States, is a significant problem in Cancun. The legal drinking
age in Mexico is 18 years of age, but even that is not uniformly enforced. Alcohol
is implicated in the majority of arrests, violent crimes, accidents and deaths
suffered by American tourists in Cancun.
Several rapes have been reported to the U.S. Consular Agency in Cancun. Most
of these occurred at night or in the early morning hours, and they involved
alcohol and the discotheque environment. The victim commonly finds him/herself
in a vulnerable situation and is taken advantage of after being separated from
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of reports of police harassment,
abuse, and extortion in Cancun. Local authorities are concerned about these
incidents and have cooperated in investigating such cases when they have been
Visitors should be careful when crossing streets in Cancun. Public transportation
vehicles, specifically taxis and city buses, often do not obey the posted speed
limits and do not stop at traffic lights.
Warning flags on the beach should be taken seriously. If black flags are up,
please do not go in the water. There is often a very strong undertow along the
beach from the Hyatt Regency all the way south to the Sol y Mar. There is minimal
lifeguard supervision in most areas.
VISITING BEACH RESORTS: Visitors to Mexican resorts should carefully
assess the risk potential of recreational activities. Sports and aquatic equipment
that you rent may not meet U.S. safety standards nor be covered by any accident
insurance. For example, unless you are certain that scuba diving equipment is
up to standard, you should not use it. Inexperienced scuba divers should beware
of dive shops that promise to "certify" you after a few hours instruction.
Safe diving requires lengthy training.
Parasailing is offered at many Mexican beach resorts. Please be aware that
by putting your name on the passenger list, you may be relieving the boat operator
and owner of responsibility for your safety. There have been cases in which
tourists have been dragged through palm trees or slammed into hotel walls while
participating in this activity.
Please be extremely careful when renting jet-skis. Several tourists have been
killed or injured in jet-ski accidents, particularly when participating in group
tours. Often, inexperienced tour guides allow their clients to follow too closely
or operate the jet-skis in other unsafe manners. In one case, the jet-ski rental
company carried liability insurance limited to $2,500 U.S. dollars. Please make
sure that the rental company has adequate medical/accident insurance, is staffed
with personnel on-site with water rescue training, and properly demonstrates
safe operation of the vehicle to you before you rent or operate such equipment.
Please do not leave your belongings on the beach while you are swimming. Please
keep your passport and other valuables in the hotel safe.
Please do not use pools or beaches without lifeguards. If you do, please exercise
extreme caution. Do not dive into unknown bodies of water because hidden rocks
or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death. Newer resorts may lack
comprehensive medical facilities. Some Mexican beaches, such as those in Cancun,
have warning signs about undertow; please take them seriously. In Acapulco,
please avoid swimming outside the bay area. Several American citizens have died
recently while swimming in rough surf at the Revolcadero Beach near Acapulco.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Adequate medical care can be found in all major
cities. Health facilities in Mexico City are excellent. Care in more remote
areas is limited. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or
medical evacuation to the United States can be very costly.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash
payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid
outside the United States. Charges may vary from doctor to doctor, and Americans
may be charged more than the prevailing rate for services rendered to locals.
You may wish to have the attending doctor explain procedures and costs before
undertaking treatment. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment
for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require
medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your
own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including
provision for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether payment will be made
to the overseas hospital or doctor, or whether you will be reimbursed later
for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for
psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance
programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs
brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling
Abroad, via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page, http://travel.state.gov/medical.html,
or by autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: In many areas in Mexico, tap water is unsafe
and should be avoided. Bottled water and beverages are safe, although visitors
should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water. Ice made from
tap water is also unsafe. Visitors should exercise caution when buying food
or beverages from street vendors. Air pollution in Mexico City and Guadalajara
is severe, especially from December to May.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax
1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION FACILITIES: A number of facilities have opened
in Mexico that offer behavior modification therapy for teenagers and others
suffering from drug addiction or other psychological disorders. Standards held
by the Government of Mexico and local government, where they exist, may not
meet standards for similar facilities in the United States. Parents planning
to enroll their children in these facilities should take appropriate action
to investigate the facility first. Please
refer to the Behavior Modification Fact Sheet at http://travel.state.gov/behavior_modification.html.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S.
citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those
in the United States. The information below concerning Mexico is provided for
general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
Please avoid excessive speed and, if possible, do not drive at night. Loose
livestock can appear on roads at any time. Construction sites, abandoned vehicles
or other obstacles are often unmarked or poorly marked. Be prepared for sudden
stops. For detailed information on traffic safety and driving conditions in
Mexico, please refer to the publication, Tips
for Travelers to Mexico, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.
DRIVING INFORMATION: U.S. driver's licenses are valid in Mexico. Mexican
insurance is required for all vehicles, including rental vehicles. (Please see
"Automobile Insurance" below.)
The Government of Mexico strictly regulates the entry of vehicles into Mexico.
For detailed information on how to bring a car into Mexico, please refer to
Tips for Travelers to Mexico at http://travel.state.gov.
For additional information concerning Mexican driver's permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax, mandatory insurance, etc., please contact the Mexico Government Tourist
Organization (MGTO) at telephone 1-800-44-MEXICO (639-426). Travelers are advised
to consult with the Mexican Embassy or the nearest Mexican consulate in the
United States for additional, detailed information prior to entering Mexico.
AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE: Mexican auto insurance is sold in most cities
and towns on both sides of the border. U.S. automobile liability insurance is
not valid in Mexico nor is most collision and comprehensive coverage issued
by U.S. companies. Therefore, when you cross the border, please purchase auto
insurance adequate for your needs in Mexico. A good rule of thumb is to buy
coverage equivalent to that which you carry in the United States. If you are
involved in an accident, you will be taken into police custody until it can
be determined who is liable and whether you have the ability to pay any penalty.
If you do not have Mexican liability insurance, you may be prevented from departing
the country even if you require life-saving medical care, and are almost certain
to spend some time in jail until all parties are satisfied that responsibility
has been assigned and adequate financial satisfaction received. Motor vehicle
insurance is considered invalid in Mexico if the driver is found to be under
the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drivers may also face criminal charges if
the injuries or damages are serious.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Mexico's Civil Aviation Authority as Category
1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight
of Mexico's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact
the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873,
or visit the FAA Internet home
page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers
for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding
the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Mexican customs authorities may enforce strict
regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Mexico of items
such as antiquities, medications, medical equipment, business equipment, etc.
It is advisable to contact the Mexican Embassy or one of the Mexican consulates
in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in Mexico, U.S. citizens are subject
to Mexico's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from
those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the
individual under U.S. law. Americans who commit illegal acts have no special
privileges and are subject to full prosecution under the Mexican judicial system.
Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States
for similar offenses. Persons violating Mexico's laws, even unknowingly, may
be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
DRUG PENALTIES AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS: Penalties for drug offenses
are strict, and convicted offenders can expect large fines and jail sentences
up to 25 years. As in the United States, the purchase of controlled medication
requires a doctor's prescription. The Mexican list of controlled medication
differs from that of the United States, and Mexican public health laws concerning
controlled medication are unclear and often enforced selectively.
The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to Mexico for the
sole purpose of buying prescription drugs. U.S. citizens have been arrested,
and their medicines have been confiscated by the Mexican authorities, even though
their prescriptions were written by a physician and filled by a licensed Mexican
pharmacist. Moreover, the importation of prescription drugs into the United
States can be illegal in certain circumstances. Further information
on bringing prescription drugs into the United States is available from the
U.S. Customs Service at http://www.customs.ustreas.gov.
Also, the U.S. Embassy cautions that possession of any amount of prescription
medicine brought from the United States, including medications to treat HIV
and psychotropic drugs, such as valium, can result in arrest if Mexican authorities
suspect abuse or if the quantity of the prescription medicine exceeds the amount
required for several days' use. Individuals should consider carrying a copy
of the prescription and a doctor's letter explaining that the quantity of medication
is appropriate for their personal medical use. U.S. citizens who plan to go
to Mexico to purchase medication or who may be in possession of medication prescribed
in the United States should check with the nearest Mexican consulate before
traveling to Mexico.
FIREARMS PENALTIES: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against
taking any type of firearm or ammunition into Mexico without prior written authorization
from the Mexican authorities. Entering Mexico with a firearm or even a single
round of ammunition is illegal, even if the firearm or ammunition is taken into
Mexico unintentionally. The Mexican Government strictly enforces its laws restricting
the entry of firearms and ammunition along all land borders and at air and seaports.
Violations have resulted in arrests, convictions, and long prison sentences
for U.S. citizens, including several who unintentionally crossed the border
with firearms or ammunition in their possession. U.S. citizens approaching Mexico
along the land border who realize they are in possession of unauthorized firearms
or ammunition should not try to enter Mexico. The only way to import firearms
and/or ammunition into Mexico legally is to secure a permit in advance from
the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C. or from a Mexican consulate, even if
the firearm is legally registered in the United States.
Vessels entering Mexican waters with firearms or ammunition on board must have
a permit previously issued by the Mexican Embassy or a Mexican consulate. Mariners
do not avoid prosecution for arms smuggling by declaring their weapons at the
port of entry. Before traveling, mariners who have obtained a Mexican firearms
permit should contact Mexican port officials to receive guidance on the specific
procedures used to report and secure weapons and ammunition.
ALIEN SMUGGLING: Anyone arrested for transporting aliens into or out
of Mexico may be prosecuted by Mexican authorities for alien smuggling in addition
to any charges they may face in the other country involved, including the United
States. Alien smuggling and harboring aliens is a serious felony offense in
REAL ESTATE AND TIME-SHARES: U.S. citizens should be aware of the risks
inherent in purchasing real estate in Mexico, and should exercise extreme caution
before entering into any form of commitment to invest in property there. Investors
must recognize the absolute need to obtain authoritative information and to
hire competent Mexican legal counsel when contemplating any real estate investment.
Mexican laws and practices regarding real estate differ substantially from those
in the United States. Foreigners may be granted the right to own real property
only under very specific conditions. Whether investing through a trust mechanism
in border and coastal areas or by outright purchase in Mexico's interior, U.S.
citizens are vulnerable to title challenges that may result in years of litigation
and possible eviction. Title insurance is virtually unknown and untested in
Mexico. In addition, Mexican law recognizes squatters' rights, so homeowners
can spend thousands of dollars in legal fees and years of frustration in trying
to remove squatters who occupy their property.
American citizens also should exercise caution when considering time-share
investments and be aware of the aggressive tactics used by some time-share sales
representatives. Buyers should be fully informed and take sufficient time to
consider their decisions before signing time-share contracts, ideally after
consulting an independent attorney. They should resist pressure to sign a contract
the very day that they see the model unit. Mexican law allows time-share purchasers
five days to cancel the contract for unconditional and full reimbursement. U.S.
citizens should never sign a contract that includes clauses penalizing the buyer
who cancels within five days.
OTHER PURCHASES: The U.S. Government cannot act as your legal representative
in a consumer complaint, but the U.S. Embassy keeps a file of complaints to
note if a pattern of abuse emerges. Your formal complaint against any merchant
should be filed with the Federal consumer protection agency in Mexico, PROFECO.
PROFECO has the power to mediate disputes, investigate consumer complaints,
order hearings, levy fines and sanctions for not showing at hearings, and do
price-check inspections of merchants. All
complaints by Americans are handled by PROFECO's English-speaking office in
Mexico City, telephone 5-211-1723. For more information and a complaint
form, please see their web site http://www.profeco.gob.mx, "Attention to
VOLCANIC ACTIVITY: Since December 1994, the Popocatepetl Volcano, situated
38 miles southeast of Mexico City, has registered varying levels of seismic
activity including the release of vapor, gas, ash, and incendiary material.
Depending on the levels of activity, the Mexican National Center for Disaster
Prevention restricts access or closes parks and hiking trails on the mountain's
slopes. U.S. citizens planning to hike in the area should be alert to any warnings
or signs posted, and should contact the U.S. Embassy for the latest information
about seismic activity.
Civil defense officials in the states of Jalisco and Colima are closely monitoring
activity at the Volcan de Colima, (also known as Volcan de Fuego), located in
south-central Jalisco. The volcano produced a number of gas exhalations, explosions
and ash falls in February 1999. There is also active lava flow on the south
side of the mountain. A major eruption is possible. U.S. citizens should exercise
caution if planning to travel to the area surrounding the volcano. They should
contact the U.S. Consulate General in Guadalajara, Mexico at telephone 011-523-825-3429
for the latest information. Updated information may also be obtained in
Spanish and in English
at web site http://www.ucol.mx/volcan.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: American citizens intending to adopt abroad must
comply with local adoption and U.S. immigration laws. Any American citizen attempting
to circumvent local adoption procedures may face arrest and prosecution by local
Many governments have initiated procedures at entry and exit points to prevent
international child abduction, including requiring documentary evidence of relationship
and permission of the parent(s) or legal guardian not present for the child's
travel. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate
entry and departure.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport
should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy
or consulate. U.S. citizens should carry with them a photocopy of their passport,
and leave a photocopy with a relative or friend in the United States. Travelers
may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A
Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. This
pamphlet, as well as others, such as Tips for
Travelers to Mexico, is also available by mail from the Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402, via
the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
at Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N, telephone (52-16) 11-3000.
at Progreso 175, telephone (52-38) 25-2998.
Monterrey at Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente 64000, telephone (52-83) 45-2120.
Tijuana at Tapachula
96, telephone (52-66) 81-7400.
There are U.S. Consulates in:
Hermosillo at Avenida
Monterrey 141, telephone (52-62) 17-2375.
Matamoros at Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (52-88) 12-4402.
Merida at Paseo Montejo 453, telephone (52-99) 25-5011.
Nogales at Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (52-63) 13-4820.
Nuevo Laredo at Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin, telephone (52-87) 14-0512.
There are U.S. Consular Agencies in:
Acapulco at Hotel Acapulco Continental, Costera M. Aleman 121 -Local 14,
telephone (52-74) 84-03-00/ or (52-74) 69-05-56.
Cabo San Lucas at Blvd. Marina y Pedregal #1, Local No. 3, Zona Centro, telephone
Cancun at Plaza Caracol Two, Third Level, No. 320-323, Boulevard Kukulcan,
km. 8.5, Zona Hotelera, telephone (52-98) 83-02-72.
Cozumel at Plaza Villa Mar in the Main Square - El Centro, 2nd floor right
rear, Locale #8, Av. Juarez and 5th Av. Nte., telephone (52-98) 72-4574.
Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo at Local 9, Plaza Ambiente, telephone (52-755) 3-11-08 or
Mazatlan at Hotel Playa Mazatlan, Rodolfo T. Loaiza #202, Zona Dorada, telephone
Oaxaca at Macedonio Alcala No. 407, Interior 20, telephone (52-951) 4-30-54
Puerto Vallarta at Edif. Vallarta, Plaza Zaragoza 160-Piso 2 Int-18, telephone
San Luis Potosi at Edificio "Las Terrazas", Av. Venustiano Carranza
2076-41, (52-481) 1-7802.
San Miguel de Allende at Dr. Hernandez Macias #72, telephone (52-415) 2-2357
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated February 17, 2000, to add
and update information concerning Entry Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime,
Travel to the cities of Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Cancun, Visiting Beach
Resorts, Automobile Insurance, Other Purchases and contact information for Consular