Mexico travel guide
As spicy as salsa, intoxicating as tequila and surreal as a Frida Kahlo canvas, Mexico fills the senses, energizes the intellect and nourishes the soul. This huge country encompasses epic landscapes; from northern deserts and snowy peaks of the central sierra, to the jungle highlands of southern Chiapas and the beaches of the Yucatán Peninsula.
Pre-Colombian civilisations made their mark with the vast pyramids of Teotihuacán, stunning temples of Chichén Itzá and countless other archaeological wonders. The Spanish heritage has also been well preserved, with charming towns built around shady plazas and whitewashed churches; San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and Dolores Hidalgo are treasures of the central Colonial Heartland.
Mexico today is a booming modern economy, led by its gargantuan capital, Mexico City. Once you adjust to the relentless pace of life in this metropolis, you can indulge in world-class museums, dine in exquisite restaurants, cut shapes in clubs and barter at sprawling markets. Beyond the modern cities, lie sleepy villages where age-old customs and ancient beliefs endure. San Cristobal de las Casas is a major hub, ringed by indigenous villages, with churches combining pagan beliefs with Roman Catholicism. Across the country, lively festivals reflect this blending of faiths, most famously at the Day of the Dead ceremony.
For visitors seeking outdoor adventure, Mexico delivers. Nature lovers can go whale watching in Baja California, reef diving off the Yucatán Peninsula and trekking through the jungle to glowing blue lagoons bordering Guatemala. Adrenaline activities are in amply supply too, from canyoning in Veracruz and hang-gliding in Hidalgo to volcano climbing, caving and river rafting.
One of the great joys of a visit to Mexico is its cuisine. Emulated around the world, its crispy tacos, mole sauces and burritos are amongst the mouth-watering specialities on offer. They are best washed down with one of Mexico’s many beers or a shot of mescal if you’re in the party mood, which everyone else here seems to be.
1,964,375 sq km (758,449 sq miles).
128,632,004 (UN estimate 2016).
62 per sq km.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador since 2018.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador since 2018.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to:
The state of Chihuahua except:
- The city of Chihuahua
- The border crossing in Ciudad Juárez (accessed by federal toll road 45)
- Federal toll road 45D connecting the cities of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juárez
- The Copper Canyon rail route to/from Chihuahua and towns immediately on this route including Creel
- The road from Creel via San Juanito to San Pedro
- State highway 16 from San Pedro to Chihuahua
The state of Sinaloa except:
- The cities of Los Mochis and Mazatlán
- Road 32 that runs between El Fuerte and Los Mochis
- The 15D federal toll road that runs the length of the state
- The Copper Canyon rail route to/from Los Mochis/El Fuerte and the towns immediately on this route
The state of Zacatecas except:
- Zacatecas City accessed by air
The state of Tamaulipas except:
- The border crossing at Nuevo Laredo accessed by federal toll road 85D from Monterrey
The state of Colima except:
- The city of Manzanillo reached by sea or air via the Manzanillo-Costalegre International Airport
The state of Guerrero except:
- The city of Acapulco accessed by the 95D federal toll road
- The town of Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa accessed by air
- The town of Taxco accessed by the 95D and 200D federal toll roads
The state of Michoacán except:
- The city of Morelia accessed by federal toll roads 15D, 126 and 43
- The town of Pátzcuaro accessed by federal toll roads 14D and 15 from Morelia.
- The 15D toll road
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) also advises against all but essential travel to the following areas within these states:
In the state of Baja California:
the city of Tijuana, except
- Airside transit through Tijuana airport
- The Cross Border Xpress bridge from the airport linking terminals across the Mexican-US border.
- The federal toll road 1D and Via Rápida through Tijuana to the border
the city of Tecate in Baja California (including roads between Tijuana and Tecate)
(Note: FCDO does not advise against all travel or all but essential travel to any part of the state of Baja California Sur.)
In the state of Guanajuato:
- the areas south west of the road 45D
In the state of Jalisco:
- the areas south and southwest of Lake Chapala to the border with the state of Colima
- the northern municpalities of Hostotipaquillo, San Martin de Bolaños, Chimaltitán, Bolaños, Totatiche, Colotlán, Santa Maria de los Ángeles, Huejúcar, Villa Guerrero, Mezquitic and Huequilla el Alto
If you are considering travel to any of these areas please see our Safety and security section for more detailed information on the risks present
Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for Mexico’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.
The hurricane season normally runs from June to November and affects both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Be aware that effects of tropical storms and hurricanes can span hundreds of miles from the centre of the storm, causing flooding, landslides and disruption to local services, including transport. You should follow the advice of the local authorities. See Natural disasters
It is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides sufficient cover. See the FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.
If you enter Mexico through the visa on arrival scheme, your passport will be stamped to show how many days you have been granted entry for. Check the ‘Temporalidad’ section of the visa stamp for this information. You do not have an automatic right to the 180-day maximum stay length. If you stay longer that you have been granted, you may be taken to the Immigration facilities while they investigate, with the risk of being deported.
Make sure you carry ID and relevant immigration documents with you at all times. See Local laws and customs.
The security situation can pose a risk for foreigners. Be alert to the existence of street crime as well as serious violent crime like robbery, assault and vehicle hijacking. Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Drug related crime and violence is prevalent and is on the increase. You should take particular care to avoid being caught up in violence between criminal groups. See Crime and Violence.
The Mexican government makes efforts to protect major tourist destinations. However, since the beginning of 2021, there have been several clashes between rival criminal gangs in popular tourist destinations in Cancun and surrounding areas. While tourists have not been the target, anyone in the vicinity of an incident could be affected. See Main tourist destinations.
Protests regularly affect Mexico City and other parts of the country. You should avoid demonstrations and follow the advice of the local authorities if you’re in an area where a protest is taking place. See Political situation.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Mexico, attacks can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Mexico on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can contact local authorities for information on testing facilities (only available in Spanish).
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Mexico.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Mexico
Follow the advice of the local authorities. Individual states in Mexico are imposing additional measures and restrictions. Review local government websites for detailed information for where you are.
Local government sites
Healthcare in Mexico
If you present symptoms after having entered the country, you can call 800 0044 800 for information.
The app called “COVID-19MX”, created by the Mexican government, allows you to get a health test and locate your nearest medical facilities (including COVID-19 hospitals).
For further information (in Spanish), see the Mexican Ministry of Health website.
If you are in Mexico City, you can get information about testing, hospitals and risks by sending a free of charge text message saying “covid19” to 51515 (service only available in Spanish).
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health
View Health for further details on healthcare in Mexico.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Drug-related violence in Mexico has increased over recent years. The violence is more heavily concentrated in some areas. Areas of particular concern are highlighted below, although few areas are totally immune. Make sure you research your destination thoroughly. Penalties for drug offences are severe. Convictions carry sentences of up to 25 years.
Some areas of Mexico have a high crime rate due to the fighting between rival organised crime gangs. In these areas there is a risk of being caught in the crossfire or of being mistaken for a member of a rival gang. Whilst risks are lower in tourist areas, you should take local advice and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Use reputable tourism or transport companies, and travel during the daytime where possible.
Outbursts of politically-motivated violence can occur across the country, with a recent increase in the states of Guerrero and Mexico City. Onlookers can be quickly drawn in. You should monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations. If you come across protests, move away from the area.
Since December 2022, licensed taxi drivers have been blocking roads and targeting Uber taxis in Cancun’s Hotel zone, in a series of protests against Uber. Tourists have been affected, including being pulled from Uber taxis and experiencing lengthy delays as a result of roadblocks, sometimes leading to missed flights. Protests can occur without notice. Please listen to local announcements and follow the advice of your hotel on how best to avoid any protests.
Main tourist destinations
The Mexican government makes efforts to protect major tourist destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta. However, since the beginning of 2021, there have been several clashes between rival criminal gangs in popular tourist destinations in Cancun and surrounding areas. Two foreign tourists were killed in Tulum, more tourists were injured during a shoot out in Puerto Morelos, and most recently there was a shooting in a hotel in Playa del Carmen in locations popular with tourists. There is currently an increased police presence in the Cancun area, including in the hotel zone. While tourists have not been the target, anyone in the vicinity of an incident could be affected. British travellers have been physically and sexually assaulted. In some cases, hotel employees, taxi drivers and security personnel at popular tourist destinations were involved. In some cases, hotel staff are not helpful and try to dissuade victims from pursuing the incident with police. You should exercise increased caution after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones. If you are visiting any of these areas, you should monitor local advice, remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator.
There have been several instances of armed crime both within and outside tourist areas in Acapulco. If possible, travel by air if you are visiting a major tourist destination in Guerrero. Due to an increase in violent crime, you should be extra vigilant in Acapulco and surrounding areas.
Many fatalities are suspected gang members killed in turf wars between the different organisations that compete for control of trafficking routes into the US. Drug-related violence is a particular problem in the northern states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Sinaloa and Durango. Armed clashes between security forces and drug groups can occur at any time without warning. You should take extreme care outside tourist areas in all of these states.
Baja California (including Tijuana):
We advise against all but essential travel to the city of Tijuana in Baja California (except airside transit through Tijuana airport, the cross border express taken from the airport zone and passage through Tijuana to cross the border via the federal toll road 1D and Via Rápida). We also advise against all but essential travel to the city of Tecate including the roads 2D and 2 that connects Tijuana and Tecate.
If you are crossing the border by toll road 1D you should try to do so during daylight, or exercise increased caution after dark. Tijuana is an extremely violent city and there is a risk that you may be targeted and / or caught up in conflicts between rival groups. Many businesses including shops operate with an unofficial curfew, only opening during day light hours due to the security threat. There are numerous organised crime groups fighting for control over the city’s drugs trade and trafficking routes. There are high rates of kidnapping in the state, a very high murder rate and high levels of organised crime activity particularly drugs, human and arms trafficking.
Armed attacks and targeted killings continue across the state and violent robberies are a particular issue in the urban centres of Tijuana, Mexicali and Ensenada. You should take precautions including in Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada and Rosarito. There have been several incidents of violent armed crime in these towns, which has targeted stores and bystanders in response to disputes with the government. There has been a rise in drug-related crime in Baja California Sur, including Los Cabos.
Stick to established tourist routes and destinations across the state and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
You should take care when travelling to Ciudad Juárez or other cities in Northern States. Travel during daylight hours when possible, inform relatives or friends of your travel plans and use reputable hotels only.
You should take precautions in the state of Baja California, including Tijuana. There has been a rise in drug-related crime in Baja California Sur, including Los Cabos. You should take extra care when travelling to these areas.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Chihuahua except the city of Chihuahua the border crossing in Ciudad Juárez access by federal toll road 45 and the federal toll road 45D connecting the two cities of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juárez. Also exempt is the Copper Canyon rail route to and from Chihuahua and towns immediately on this route including Creel, the road from Creel via San Juanito to San Pedro, and state highway 16 from San Pedro to Chihuahua.
There are high levels of organised crime activity, particularly human and drugs trafficking. There is illegal drug cultivation in rural areas of the state, with associated criminal activity.
If visiting the Copper Canyon rail route, you should avoid walking alone in the canyon, or straying from the tourist trail. Make sure you have time to complete all your activities within daylight hours. There are numerous organised crime groups operating in the area and there is a risk you could be caught up in conflicts between rival groups. It is advisable to conduct all activities with a reputable tour company or trusted local guide.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Sinaloa except the cities of Los Mochis and Mazatlán, the 15D federal toll road that traverses the length of the state, road 32 running between El Fuerte and Los Mochis (including the town of El Fuerte itself), and the Copper Canyon tourist train. There have been reports of armed robbery and vehicle theft in El Fuerte and you should avoid driving at night on the route between El Fuerte and Los Mochis.
There are high levels of drug cultivation in rural areas, leading to conflict between organised crime groups fighting for control.
Due to the strong presence of organised crime, there are high levels of drug-related violence. Gun battles between government security forces and organised crime groups are frequent, including in the city of Culiacán, leading to numerous deaths and the destruction of security infrastructure.
Whilst tourists are not usually specifically targeted, you could be a victim of violence due to mistaken identity or on suspicion of spying for other organised criminal gangs – particularly if you are off the beaten tourist track.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Zacatecas with the exception of Zacatecas City reached by air. You should not travel by road to the city of Zacatecas.
The Institute for economy and peace reports that Zacatecas state has the highest murder rate in Mexico, of 97.3 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. The state is extremely dangerous due to ongoing battles between organised crime groups for control of drug trafficking routes and rural areas of the state. Entire municipalities have been displaced due to the activities of criminal organisations. On 6th January 2022, Mexican authorities discovered the bodies of ten people in a vehicle left in front of the main square in the city of Zacatecas, north-west of Mexico City.
Due to the strong presence of organised crime, there are high levels of drug-related violence. Gun battles between state security forces and organised crime groups are frequent, leading to numerous deaths and the destruction of security infrastructure.
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas except the border crossing at Nuevo Laredo accessed from Monterrey by federal toll road 85D. You should travel during daylight hours.
Tamaulipas is dangerous due to the presence of many organised crime groups who fight for control of drug trafficking routes. There is a risk of armed robbery and kidnap. In March 2023, two foreign tourists were killed after a group of tourists were kidnapped at gunpoint in Matamoros.
The West and Central
The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the whole state, except the city of Manzanillo reached by sea or by air via Manzanillo-Costalegre International Airport, and direct travel via road 200 from the airport to Manzanillo. You should not travel by other routes to the city of Manzanillo.
Colima has high levels of organised crime activity. The criminal organisations fight each other for control over the state: this is leading to armed gun battles on the streets of Colima City as well as throughout rural areas.
In the state of Guanajuato the FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the areas south west of the road 45D. This includes the cities of Celaya and Irapuato as well as the municipalities of Silao de la Victoria, Romita, San Francisco del Rincón, Purisima del Rincón, Manuel Doblado, Cuerámaro, Pénjamo, Irapuato, Abasolo, Huanímaro, Salamanca,Valle de Santiago, Yuriria, Uriangato, Moroleón, Acámbaro, Salvatierra, Jaral del Progreso, Pueblo Nuevo, and Santiago Maravatío.
Guanajuato’s central position means it is a drugs trafficking route. There have been reports of increased security incidents and drug-related violence in the state of Guanajuato. Fuel thefts from plants and pipelines also occur. Organised crime activity is rampant, particularly in the south of the state, Shootouts are of particular concern in the state of Guanajuato as they can occur in heavily transited places with bystanders frequently being caught in the crossfire. On 1st July 2020, 26 people were killed in the city of Irapuato. The majority of attacks have been attributed to organised crime.
Guerrero (including Acapulco)
The FCDO advises against all travel to the State of Guerrero except the coastal strip of the touristic zone in Acapulco reached by the 95D federal toll road from Mexico City and runs west from Acapulco Airport, from Blvd. de las Naciones to the beach, from Acapulco – Aeropuerto Acapulco to the beach, from Av Costera Miguel Alemán to the beach until Playa Caletilla, the town of Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa accessed by air and the town of Taxco accessed by the 95D federal toll road.
Guerrero is an extremely violent state plagued with a history of insecurity. There is a strong organised crime presence throughout the state, including in central Acapulco and Chilpancingo. There have been several instances of armed crime, including shootings and executions, both within and outside the tourist areas in Acapulco. The local authorities work to reduce the risks to tourists in the touristic zone in Acapulco, but you should take extreme care and avoid walking outside of your hotel at night and avoid leaving the touristic zone.
Whilst local authorities make significant efforts on the security of the 95D toll road, there are frequent reports of illegal roadblocks where local crime groups take control of toll booths. If you encounter these, you will need to have cash to pay the fee to pass through the booth. If you’re driving in Guerrero, avoid travel after dark and use toll roads where possible, although you may still encounter disruptions.
The interior of the state is dangerous. State security forces have scant presence. Control is often in the hands of organised crime groups and local ‘self-defence’ organisations. Foreigners’ presence in rural Guerrero is likely to be regarded with high levels of suspicion by omnipresent organised crime and local self-defence groups, and the possibility of misunderstanding and ensuing violence is high.
The areas in Jalisco, which the FCDO advises against all but essential travel to include:
The areas south and southwest of Lake Chapala to the border with the state of Colima. Specifically the municipalities of San Marcos; Ameca; Guachinango; Mixtlán; Atenguillo; Atengo, Cuautla, Ayutla, Villa Purificación, Casimiro Castillo, Unión de Tula, Tenamaxtlán, Tecolotlán, El Grullo, El Limón, Ejutla, Autlán de Navarro, Cuautitlán de García Barragán, San Martín Hidalgo, Cocula, Villa Corona, Acatlán de Juárez, Zacoalco de Torres, Atemajac de Brizuela, Chiquilistlán, Juchitlán, Tonaya, Tapalpa, Amacueca, Techaluta de Montenegro, Teocuitatlán de Corona, Tuxcueca, Atoyac, Sayula, Gómez Farias, Zapotlán el Grande, San Gabriel, Tuxcacuesco, Tolimán, Zapotitlán de Vadillo. The northern municpalities of Hostotipaquillo, San Martin de Bolaños, Chimaltitán, Bolaños, Totatiche, Colotlán, Santa Maria de los Ángeles, Huejúcar, Villa Guerrero, Mezquitic, Huequilla el Alto.
This is due to inaccessibility for security forces and lack of state control, drugs cultivation and the fact this area is territory disputed between different criminal groups leading to high levels of violent crime.
The FCDO advises against all travel to the State of Michoacán except the city of Morelia accessed by federal toll roads 126 and 15D (between Mexico City and Morelia) and federal toll roads 15D and 43 (between Guadalajara and Morelia); the town of Pátzcuaro accessed by federal toll roads 14D and 15 from Morelia and the federal toll road 15D that traverses the state.
Michoacán is one of Mexico’s most violent states with high levels of organised crime activity, some areas are totally lacking state control and do not have a security presence. The rural terrain of much of the interior of the state makes it difficult for state security forces to respond to incidents.
There are numerous illegal roadblocks and checkpoints on the (poor quality) roads in this region. These tend to be run by local crime groups seeking to control who is entering and leaving the areas they control. The Michoacán state government itself recommends foreign nationals to avoid this region. Outsiders travelling in these regions are likely to attract the attention of organised crime groups, who will treat them with suspicion and as possible informants for either other criminal groups or state security.
In early 2020, two butterfly activists were found dead in the Monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacán.
There have been reports of increased security incidents in the states of Tabasco and Veracruz. There has been a recent increase in violence in the State of Veracruz, including the city of Veracruz. Illegal roadblocks have also been reported more frequently. You should take extreme care.
Criminal activity is a problem in the State of Mexico (Estado de México). You should take care when travelling through the state, as well as outside of tourist areas. There have been reports of armed robbery on public transport and vehicle theft on the highway. Petty crime is also common throughout the state.
Criminal activity is a problem in the state of Chiapas. You should take care when travelling through the state as well as outside of tourist areas. There are illegal roadblocks and checkpoints on the (poor quality) roads in this region. Some incidents of kidnapping have been reported. It is advisable to conduct all activities with a reputable tour company or trusted local guide.
Crime and violence are serious problems in Mexico and the security situation can pose a risk for foreigners. Many Mexican and foreign businesses choose to hire private security. You should research your destination thoroughly and only travel during daylight hours when possible. Monitor local media and inform trusted contacts of your travel plans.
If you’re the victim of a crime and wish to report the incident, you should do so immediately to the nearest branch of the state prosecutor’s office (Agencia del Ministerio Público). No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Mexican authorities. Complaints must be made in person before leaving Mexico.
The emergency number in Mexico is 911. You can also download the 911 CDMX app (for Mexico City) or the Guest Assist App for Quintana Roo (which includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum).
To contact Mexico City’s Tourist Police, you can either call them on (0052) 55 5207 4155 or you can whatsapp them on (0052) 55 4891 1166.
The Mexico City Command and Control Centre (Centro de Atención a Emergencias y Proteción Ciudadana de la Ciudad de México) has information and advice in Spanish on safety in Mexico City.
Public transport and driving
When driving, avoid isolated roads and use toll roads (‘cuotas’) whenever possible. Keep car doors locked and windows closed, especially at traffic lights. There have been a number of violent car-jackings and robberies along the Pacific Highway and you should be careful when travelling on this route. Those travelling in large camper vans or sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have been targeted in the past. If you suspect you’re being followed or watched, drive to a police station or other safe place.
Be particularly alert on public transport, at airports and in bus stations. Theft on buses is common so keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Buses have also been hijacked. Where possible, travel on first-class buses using toll roads, which have a lower rate of incidents than second and third class buses travelling on the less secure free (‘libre’) roads. Most first-class bus companies perform security checks when passengers board the bus.
Passengers have been robbed and assaulted by unlicensed taxi drivers including in Mexico City. In Mexico City, use the better regulated ‘sitio’ taxis from authorised cab ranks or ask your hotel concierge to order you a taxi. At airports, use only authorised pre-paid airport taxi services.
Women travelling alone on public transport have been targeted with harassment, robbery and sexual assault.
Street crime is a serious problem in major cities and tourist resort areas. Pick-pocketing is common on the Mexico City Metro. Dress down and avoid wearing expensive jewellery or watches. Limit the amount of cash or credit/debit cards you carry with you. Keep a close watch on briefcases and luggage, even in apparently secure places like the lobby of your hotel.
Take care when withdrawing money from ATMs or exchanging money at bureau de change. It’s generally safer to use ATMs during daylight hours and inside shops or malls.
Be wary of people presenting themselves as police officers trying to fine or arrest you for no apparent reason. If in doubt, ask for identification and if possible note the officer’s name, badge number, and patrol car number.
Don’t leave food and drinks unattended in bars and restaurants. Travellers have been robbed or assaulted after being drugged. There have also been reports of tainted alcohol causing illness or blackouts. If you have any concerns, seek advice from your tour operator or the local authorities.
Several serious sexual offences have occurred in tourist areas outside of Mexico City. Take care even in areas close to hotels, and especially after dark.
Scams and virtual kidnapping
Foreign visitors and residents may be targeted by scam artists. Be wary of strangers approaching you or contacting you by phone asking for personal information or financial help. If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Mexico, make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it.
The most common scam involves criminals phoning, acting as a distressed member of your family, or an employee, claiming to be kidnapped and demanding money for their release. Thieves may also deceive the family by assuring them that their relative is being detained. If you are threatened over the phone, the recommendation is to hang up and authenticate the safety of your family member or employee.
Tourists have reported that some police officers have extorted money from them, for alleged minor offences or traffic violations. Travellers driving rental cars have also been targeted. If this occurs, do not hand over money or your passport, ask for the officer’s name, badge and patrol car number and ask for a copy of the written fine, which is payable at a later date.
Short-term opportunistic kidnapping - called ‘express kidnapping’ - can occur, particularly in urban areas. Victims are forced to withdraw funds from credit or debit cards at a cash point to secure their release.
Longer-term kidnapping for financial gain also occurs, and there have been allegations of police officers being involved. Be discreet about discussing your financial or business affairs in places where you may be overheard by others.
You can drive in Mexico using a UK licence or an International Driving Permit. Driving standards are very different from the UK. Roads can be pot-holed. Driving can be erratic, be prepared to stop unexpectedly and beware of vehicles moving slowly, changing lane without indicating and going through red lights. Many local drivers don’t have any form of car insurance.
To reduce air pollution, Mexico City and some other parts of the country have introduced restrictions on driving. Cars may be forbidden from entering certain areas on particular days, based on their number plates, check the Hoy no Circula programme for further details. These regulations are strictly enforced and offenders face heavy fines and temporary confiscation of their vehicle. This only applies to older vehicles and not to newer models which are often used for car hire. Please double check with your car hire company directly.
There is an additional driving restriction in Mexico City, where vehicles without registration plates from the State of Mexico (Estado de Mexico) or Mexico City are not allowed to enter Mexico City from Monday to Friday between 5:00am and 11:00am, and Saturday between 5:00am and 10:00pm. If air pollution is high, generally between February and June, further driving restrictions may apply.
In remote areas, you may come across unofficial roadblocks, including on main roads, manned by local groups seeking money for an unofficial local toll, they can become violent and deny entry.
If you take part in adventurous sports (including paragliding, skydiving, scuba diving and jet-skiing), make sure adequate safety precautions are in place. Equipment may not meet UK safety and insurance standards. Only use reputable operators, and satisfy yourself that the company is using the most up-to-date equipment and safety features, and that they are fully licensed and insured. Check that you’re covered by your travel insurance for all the activities you want to undertake. British nationals have been injured and in some cases killed participating in extreme sports.
Shark attacks are relatively rare in Mexico, but you should take care particularly when surfing, research the local area and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Crocodiles are present in Mexico, most commonly in lagoons and coastal areas. Sightings have been reported near tourist areas, including Cancun and resorts on the Pacific coast. There are signs warning about crocodiles around many lagoons in these areas. Respect the warnings and don’t walk too close to the water. Tourists have been seriously injured in crocodile attacks in the past.
In some hotels, balcony balustrades may not be as high as you expect and there could be a risk of falling.
Mexico has an established multiparty democracy. Political demonstrations are common in Mexico City and can occur across the country. These can be tense and confrontational and could potentially turn violent. Onlookers can be quickly drawn in. You should monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations.
The Mexican constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners. Participation in demonstrations may result in detention and deportation.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Mexico, attacks can’t be ruled out.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
The Mexican Police have the authority to ask for proof of legal status in Mexico at any time. A number of British people have been detained for not having the relevant documentation on them. If you are a resident you may be asked to provide your residency card issued by the Mexican government.
If you are travelling in Mexico you will need to be able to provide your passport and stamp proving your entrance and stay if requested by Mexican authorities. Copies/photos are not accepted. To demonstrate your visa status, you can get a digital registry of your entry documents from the Portal de Servicios INM. If you are unable to produce these documents, you may be questioned by Immigration officers and taken to a detention centre to evaluate your immigration status, while this happens you are asked to remain there. Depending on outcome, you can ultimately be deported.
Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for drug offences are severe. Convictions carry sentences of up to 25 years.
It is forbidden to import electronic cigarettes, vaping devices and solutions into Mexico. If found in your belongings by customs officials, these will be confiscated; resulting in being fined or detained.
It is illegal to smoke or vape in public places, the penalty for violating this law is a fine of up to £150. It is illegal to sell or buy electronic cigarettes (vapes).
Although civil unions between same-sex partners are now legal in Mexico City and the state of Coahuila, homosexuality in Mexico is generally tolerated, rather than accepted. Public displays of affection between same sex couples may be frowned upon. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Mexican law on surrogacy is under development. Assisted human reproduction, including surrogacy, might only be recognised in some Mexican states. If you’re considering a surrogacy arrangement in Mexico, you should familiarise yourself with the relevant laws and regulations and make sure you’ll meet all legal requirements to take the newborn child out of Mexico before you start the process. You should seek independent legal advice before entering into any surrogacy arrangement. For more information see our guidance on surrogacy overseas.
If you require more information on procedures, local laws, development of current events or social services you can contact LOCATEL at 5658 1111. They have English-speaking staff available.
This page has information on travelling to Mexico.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Mexico set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Mexico’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.’
Length of authorised stay
If you enter Mexico through the visa on arrival scheme, your passport will be stamped to show how many days you have been granted entry for. Check the ‘Temporalidad’ section of the visa stamp for this information. You do not have an automatic right to the 180-day maximum stay length. If you stay longer that you have been granted, you may be taken to the Immigration facilities, while they investigate, with the risk of being deported.
There are no COVID-19 specific entry requirements regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
Testing / screening on arrival
Testing or screening for COVID-19 is no longer regularly conducted, but may occur upon arrival at airports in Mexico. If you present symptoms of COVID-19 you will be directed to a medical facility. Airlines may deny you to board onward flights.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
You should check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are visiting Mexico, your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay in Mexico.
If you’re visiting Mexico as a tourist you don’t need a visa. You’ll receive a stamp in your passport with the number of days that you are allowed to stay. If you require a digital version, you can obtain it from the Portal de Servicios INM website, or in advance from the National Institute of Immigration website. The advance option is only possible if your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your intended date of entry to Mexico.
To leave the country, you will have to present your passport with the stamp showing the number of days granted. If you lose your passport, you will need to pay a fee to replace the entry stamp. The cost of a replacement is approximately $600 Mexican Pesos, which is payable at a bank, migration officers do not accept cash. The process can be completed at the immigration office at any international airport in Mexico, you will be guided on how to make the payment by the immigration officials.
There have been reports of bogus immigration officers operating within international airports. You should always refuse offers of help and head directly to the immigration office.
If you’re crossing the border into Mexico from the US, and there isn’t an immigration officer at the port of entry to issue you with your visa on arrival or give you an entry stamp, you should find the nearest immigration office to get your passport stamped appropriately before continuing your journey into Mexico. The immigration office can usually be found close to the border area, and customs officials at the border should be able to tell you where to find it. If you fail to clear immigration correctly at this point, it is often more complicated to do so once you have left the border area.
Employment, voluntary work, research and eco activities
Tourists are not allowed to undertake voluntary (including human rights) work, or activity, or any form of paid employment. If you wish to carry out this type of work, you must get the correct visa from the Mexican Embassy before you travel.
You may need a visa to undertake certain adventure or eco-tourism activities like caving, potholing or entomology, especially if they involve any scientific or technological research. The Mexican authorities may define scientific or technological research activities far more broadly than other countries. If you are in any doubt, check with the Mexican Embassy in London well in advance of your visit and ask for written confirmation if necessary.
It is no longer possible to switch immigration status in-country. You can’t enter Mexico on a tourist visa and then change it for a work visa. You must apply at the Mexican Consulate of your normal place of residence in plenty of time before you are due to travel.
Proof of accommodation and onward travel
Immigration officials at the port of entry may ask to see proof of your departure plans from Mexico before allowing you entry to the country. They can also ask to see proof of your booked accommodation, as well as funds to cover your intended stay while in Mexico.
If you have been invited to stay in someone’s home, immigration officials may also ask for a “letter of invitation” from the person you are visiting. This should include as much information as possible, including the host and traveller’s full names and contact details, address while in Mexico and reason for visit.
Customs and border control
Check whether you will need to declare anything on arrival to customs officials by reading the guidance from the Mexican government (in Spanish). If you have goods to declare, you must fill in an online form prior to travelling to Mexico. If you do not declare goods, these may be seized and you may be fined.
Importing meat or dairy products
Check the Mexican Government guidance on which Agri-food products you can bring into Mexico.
Travelling with children
The Mexican authorities have suspended the rules which came into effect in May 2011 requiring children under 18 years of age travelling alone, or accompanied by an adult who is not the parent or legal guardian, to apply for a special permit to leave the country. These rules now only apply to Mexican nationals or foreigners with dual Mexican nationality. The accompanying adult may, however, be asked to provide evidence of his or her relationship with the child.
Although there is currently no specific requirement for authorisation by an absent parent, single parents who are not, or who appear not to be, the child’s parent (eg if they have a different family name) may be asked to show evidence of their relationship with the child and the reason why they are travelling with the child. This evidence could include a birth or adoption certificate, divorce or marriage certificates, or a Parental Responsibility Order.
Transiting the US on the way to or from Mexico
If you are travelling to or from Mexico via the US, even if you are only transiting, check the latest US entry requirements at travel advice for the USA and/or with the US Embassy in London. If you don’t have the correct authorisation you will not be allowed to travel to or transit through the US.
Check with your closest US Embassy/Consulate for more information.
You may need to pay a departure tax when leaving Mexico by air or land. The cost can vary and some airports or border crossings only accept payment in cash. Most airlines include the cost within the ticket price. If in doubt, check with your airline or tour operator.
Entry tax for the State of Quintana Roo
As of 1 April 2021, the State of Quintana Roo charges a tax for all tourists visiting the state. Tourists can make the payment before or during their stay. Proof of payment must be presented at the airport prior to departure. The payment can be made on the VISITAX web portal, available in English. Assistance with the web portal is also available at Cancun Airport.
Importing meat or dairy products
You can’t bring meat or dairy products into Mexico from the UK.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Mexico and are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Mexico. You should also check the requirements for any country that you are transiting through. All tourists, including holders of ETDs will need to show the entry stamp to leave the country. If you lose your passport with the original stamp, you will need a new one. You can get it replaced at the immigration office at any international airport in Mexico.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
UK health authorities have classified Mexico as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Mexico, including Mexico City, the rest of the Mexican Altiplano, and the Sierra Madre Mountains. More information about altitude sickness is available from TravelHealthPro.
High levels of air pollution can occur in Mexico City and may aggravate heart, lung or respiratory conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can check the pollution index levels for many cities in real time.
Drink only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Make sure ice is also made from boiled or bottled water.
In the last 3 years there has been an increase in reported cases of a food and water bug, Cyclospora, affecting travellers returning from Mexico, particularly from the Riviera Maya region between the months of May and June. You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.
Local medical care
Not all hospitals will agree to deal directly with medical insurance companies. You should be prepared to pay for treatment yourself up front and then seek a refund. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Mexico. For more details about this outbreak, see the website of the National Health Network and Centre. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. In Mexico City, you can also use the emergency buttons on CCTV cameras visible across the city which will immediately connect you to the emergency services. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Many pharmacies in large cities provide 24/7 service, as well as home deliveries of medication. Any prescription issued outside of Mexico will require a translation into Spanish. It is up to the individual local pharmacy whether they will accept a foreign prescription or not. However, many pharmacies in Mexico also have an onsite GP who can assess a patient and prescribe medication if required.
The hurricane season in Mexico normally runs from June to November and can affect both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The effects of tropical storms and hurricanes can span hundreds of miles from the centre of the storm, causing flooding, landslides and disruption to local services, including transport networks.
Monitor local and international weather updates from the US National Hurricane Center and check with the local authorities or your tour operator for any impact that hurricanes may have on your travel plans.
See our tropical cyclones page for information and advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.
Most of Mexico is occasionally subject to earthquakes. Tremors occur regularly, particularly in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake or tsunami as does the Mexican Ministry of Civil Protection (in Spanish).
If you’re travelling in Mexico City you can download the 911 CDMX app, which warns you an earthquake will happen 60 seconds before the movement starts. Although these alarms are very useful, they can’t detect every kind of earthquake there can be.
The Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes are active and closed to the public. There are danger zones around both volcanoes, the size of which can change depending on the current level of activity. A 7-mile (12km) exclusion zone is currently in place around Popocatépetl volcano, which is 57 miles (92 km) from Mexico City centre and 39 miles (64km) from Puebla.
The alert level at Popocatépetl was raised to Level 3 of Amber tier (Intermediate/High Activity: Residents are advised to remain alert and prepared for a possible evacuation) on 21 May 2023. This followed an increase in volcanic activity and falling ash that caused airport closures and significant flight delays, including at Mexico City’s main international airport. Flight delays and airport closures could continue to happen at short notice. In these events, we recommend staying in contact with your tour or flight operator, or following Benito Juárez international airport on twitter. If the alert level is raised again, the area surrounding the volcano would likely be evacuated. Up-to-date information about the alert level and other Government advice can be found at @SGIRPC_CDMX on Twitter.
Exposure to falling ash and toxic fumes from active volcanoes can affect your health, especially if you suffer from an existing respiratory condition.
For more updates on both the Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes, visit the website of the Mexican Disaster Prevention Centre.
The local currency is the Mexican Nuevo Peso, known colloquially as ‘Peso’. It’s easier to exchange US dollar bank notes into local currency than Sterling. UK debit and credit cards are widely accepted for payment and in ATMs. It’s not usually possible to exchange cash at hotel receptions - this can only be done at banks and bureau de change.
Foreign nationals have been caught up in property scams. Before making financial commitments and buying property in Mexico, you should seek independent qualified legal advice.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.