Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza, Mexico
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Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza, Mexico

© 123rf.com / Bruno Medley

Mexico Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

1,964,375 sq km (758,449 sq miles).

Population

128,632,004 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

62 per sq km.

Capital

Mexico City.

Government

Federal republic.

Head of state

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador since 2018.

Head of government

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador since 2018.

Electricity

110 volts AC, 60Hz. North American-style two-pin (flat) plugs are usual, but most sockets cannot accept a North American-style three-pin plug.

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.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Areas where FCDO advises against all but essential travel

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice. Consular support is also severely limited where FCDO advises against travel.

State of Baja California

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to 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

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to 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.

State of Chiapas

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to within 40km of the Guatemalan border between the Pacific Coast up to and including the border crossing at Gracias a Dio

FCDO advises against all but essential travel on Federal Highway 199 (Carretera Federal 199) between Rancho Nuevo (just outside San Cristobal de las Casas) and the Chancalá junction just outside Palenque (where Federal Highway 199 meets Federal Highway 307).

State of Chihuahua

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 and 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

State of Colima

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Colima, except:

  • the city of Manzanillo accessed by sea or air via the Manzanillo-Costalegre International Airport

State of Guanajuato

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the areas southwest of road 45D.

State of Guerrero

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Guerrero, except:

  • the town of Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa accessed by air.

State of Jalisco

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the areas south and southwest of Lake Chapala to the border with the state of Colima.

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the northern municipalities of:

  • Bolaños
  • Chimaltitán
  • Colotlán
  • Hostotipaquillo
  • Huejúcar
  • Huequilla el Alto
  • Mezquitic
  • San Martin de Bolaños
  • Santa Maria de los Ángeles
  • Totatiche
  • Villa Guerrero

State of Michoacán

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Michoacán, except:

  • the city of Morelia accessed by federal toll roads 15D, 126 and 43; and the federal toll road 48D between the city of Morelia and the General Francisco Mujica airport
  • the town of Pátzcuaro accessed by federal toll roads 14D and 15 from Morelia, and boat trips out to islands on Lake Pátzcuaro
  • the Federal Highway 15D

State of Sinaloa

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to 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 and from Los Mochis, El Fuerte and the towns immediately on this route

State of Tamaulipas

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas, except:

  • the border crossing at Nuevo Laredo accessed by federal toll road 85D from Monterrey
  • Federal highways 80, 81 and 85 between Tampico, Ciudad de Victoria and Magueyes, and the entire area of Tamaulipas south of these highways.

State of Zacatecas

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Zacatecas.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you: 

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice 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 not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Mexico’s embassy or consulate in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Mexico.

Passport validity requirements

If you are visiting Mexico, your passport should be valid for the length of your stay in Mexico.

Visa requirements

If you’re visiting Mexico as a tourist, you do not need a visa.

You’ll get a stamp in your passport with the number of days you are allowed to stay.

British Nationals entering Mexico by land must fill out an immigration form online.

Employment, voluntary work, research and eco activities

Tourists cannot undertake voluntary (including human rights) work, or activity, or any form of paid employment. 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 for some adventure or ecotourism 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 in doubt, check with the Mexican Embassy in London well before your visit and ask for written confirmation if necessary.

Applying for a visa

For information on how to apply for a visa while in the UK read the Mexican Embassy in the UK website.

For information on applying for a visa while in Mexico, read the Mexican government website.

Entering Mexico via the USA

If you’re crossing the border into Mexico from the USA, and there isn’t an immigration officer at the port of entry to issue your visa on arrival or give you an entry stamp, find the nearest immigration office to get your passport stamped before continuing your journey into Mexico. Customs officials at the border should be able to tell you where to find the immigration office – it’s usually close to the border. If you don’t clear immigration correctly at this point, it is often more complicated to do so once you have left the border area.

If you are travelling to or from Mexico via the USA, even if you are only transiting, check the latest USA entry requirements on our USA travel advice or with the US Embassy in London. If you do not have the correct authorisation, you will not be allowed to travel to or transit through the USA.

Check with your closest US embassy or consulate for more information.

E-gates

The immigration service has installed e-gates in some terminals of the main international airports. You can use them if you are a tourist aged 18 or over. Make sure you collect the ticket printed by the e-gate as you will need to present it when exiting the country.

You can get digital proof of entry and how long you are allowed to stay in Mexico, by downloading it from the Portal de Servicios del INM website within the first 60 days of your visit.

Entry tax for the state of Quintana Roo

The state of Quintana Roo charges all visitors a tax. You can pay before or during your stay on the VISITAX web portal, available in English. You can get help with the web portal at Cancun Airport. You must show proof of payment at the airport before leaving.

Travelling with children

If you are accompanying a child, you may be asked for:

  • evidence of your relationship with the child– for example, a birth or adoption certificate, divorce or marriage certificates, a Parental Responsibility Order
  • the reason why you are travelling with them

Dual nationals

Children with dual nationality of Mexico who are travelling without a parent or legal guardian must apply for a permit to leave the country.

Accommodation, funds and proof of departure

Mexican immigration officials may ask to see proof of your departure plans from Mexico before allowing you into Mexico. You may also need to:

  • show proof of your accommodation, for example, a hotel booking confirmation
  • prove that you have enough money for your stay

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’re visiting. This should include as much information as possible, including the host and travellers:

  • full names
  • contact details
  • address while in Mexico
  • reason for visit

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can bring into and take out of Mexico. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Check whether you will need to declare anything on arrival to customs officials – read the guidance from the Mexican government (in Spanish). If you have goods to declare, you must fill in an online form before travelling to Mexico. If you do not declare goods, they may be seized, and you may be fined.

Leaving Mexico

To leave Mexico, you must show your passport with the stamp showing the number of days you were allowed to stay.

If you lose your passport, you must pay a fee to replace the entry stamp. The fee is approximately 600 Mexican pesos, to be paid at a bank. Migration officers do not accept cash. You can replace the stamp at the immigration office at any international airport in Mexico or start the replacement process online on the Mexican government website. You’ll be told how to pay by the immigration officials.

False immigration officers can operate in international airports. Always refuse offers of help and head directly to the immigration office.

Departure tax

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 cash. Most airlines include the cost within the ticket price. If in doubt, check with your airline or tour operator.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and regional risks advice.

Upcoming Elections 

Mexico will hold national elections on 2 June 2024. There may be an increase in political demonstrations and travel disruptions, such as roadblocks or disputes between supporters. Avoid demonstrations and move away quickly. Be aware of the potential for disruption and monitor local media.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

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 how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Mexico

Terrorist attacks in Mexico cannot be ruled out.

Political situation

Political demonstrations are common in Mexico City and can happen across the country. These can be tense and confrontational and could potentially turn violent. Onlookers can be quickly drawn in. Monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations.

It is illegal for foreigners to participate in political activities in Mexico. Participation in demonstrations may result in detention and deportation.

Politically motivated violence can happen across the country. 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.

Crime

Crime in Mexico can pose a risk for foreigners, particularly in major cities and tourist resort areas where street crime is a serious issue.

Many Mexican and foreign businesses choose to hire private security. You should:

  • research your destination thoroughly
  • only travel during daylight hours when possible
  • monitor local media
  • inform trusted contacts of your travel plans

If you’re the victim of a crime and want to report the incident, do so immediately to the nearest branch of the state prosecutor’s office (‘Agencia del Ministerio Público’). A criminal investigation is not possible without a formal complaint to Mexican authorities. Complaints must be made in person before leaving Mexico.

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.

Using ATMs

Take care when withdrawing money from ATMs or exchanging money at an exchange shop (bureau de change). It’s generally safer to use ATMs during daylight hours and inside shops or malls. People withdrawing money from airport money exchange shops and ATMs in various locations have later been targeted by criminals.  Avoid withdrawing large amounts of money and be careful of your surroundings and who is around you while you are using the ATM.

Protecting your belongings

Pickpocketing and theft are common, including on public transport. Avoid wearing expensive clothing, jewellery or watches. Limit the amount of cash or credit/debit cards you carry with you. Watch your briefcases and luggage, even in apparently secure places like the lobby of your hotel.

Scams

Be wary of people presenting themselves as police officers trying to fine or arrest you for no reason, travellers driving rental cars have been targeted. Some police officers have extorted money from tourists, for alleged minor offences or traffic violations. If this happens:

  • do not hand over money or your passport
  • ask for a copy of the written fine, which is payable later.
  • ask for identification
  • try to take note of the officer’s name, badge number, and patrol car number

Criminals may attempt to contact your friends or relatives to transfer money to Mexico, this can occur following cases of phone theft or hacking, arrange with relatives and friends how you will contact them or how you would arrange to transfer money in advance.

A common scam involves criminals phoning, acting as a distressed member of family, or an employee, claiming to be kidnapped and demanding money for their release. Thieves may also claim that a relative is being detained. If you are threatened over the phone, hang up and check on the safety of your family member or employee.

Drink and food spiking

Do not leave food and drinks unattended in bars and restaurants. Travellers have been robbed or assaulted after being drugged. Tainted alcohol has caused illness or blackouts. If you have any concerns, get advice from your tour operator or the local authorities.

Sexual assault

Sexual offences have been reported in tourist areas. Take care even in areas close to hotels, and especially after dark.

Kidnapping

Short-term opportunistic kidnapping (called ‘express kidnapping’) can happen, particularly in urban areas. Victims are forced to withdraw money from credit or debit cards at a cash point to secure their release.

Longer-term kidnapping for financial gain also happens, 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.

Violence

Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Drug-related violence in Mexico has increased over recent years. 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 advice from local authorities or your hotel
  • be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • use reputable tourism or transport companies
  • travel during the daytime where possible

Vehicle crime

Stay away from isolated roads and use toll roads (‘cuotas’) whenever possible. Keep car doors locked and windows closed, especially at traffic lights.

Violent car-jackings and robberies happen along the Pacific Highway, if you suspect you’re being followed or watched, drive to a police station or other safe place. Targets have included large camper vans or sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

There have been incidents of criminals deliberately causing traffic accidents in order to make insurance claims or request cash from the other party. They are sometimes accompanied by threats of violence or intimidation. Contact the authorities for support where necessary.

If you are involved in a hijacking, stay calm and surrender your valuables and your vehicle if asked. Resisting demands for your belongings can put you at significant risk of harm.

Public transport

Be alert on public transport, at airports and in bus stations. Theft on buses is common, so always keep your belongings safe.

Buses have also been hijacked. Try to 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.

Women travelling alone on public transport have been targeted with harassment, robbery and sexual assault.

Laws and cultural differences

If you require information on procedures, local laws, development of current events or social services you can contact Mexico City’s public telephone service LOCATEL on 5658 1111. They have English-speaking staff available.

Personal ID

If requested by Mexican authorities, you will need to provide your passport and stamp to prove your entrance and stay, copies and 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 held in a detention centre while the authorities check your immigration status. Depending on the outcome, you can be deported.

The Mexican Police have the authority to ask for proof of legal status in Mexico at any time. Several 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.

Smoking and e-cigarette bans

It is illegal to bring electronic cigarettes, vaping devices and solutions into Mexico or to buy and sell them. If found in your belongings by customs officials, these will be confiscated; resulting in being fined or being detained.

You can be fined up to £150 for smoking or vaping in public places.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for drug offences are severe and convictions carry sentences of up to 25 years.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex relations in Mexico are generally tolerated, rather than accepted. Civil unions between same-sex partners are legal in Mexico. Public displays of affection between same-sex couples may be frowned upon. Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Surrogacy

Assisted human reproduction, including surrogacy, is only legally recognised in some Mexican states. If you’re considering a surrogacy arrangement in Mexico, familiarise yourself with the relevant laws and regulations and make sure you meet all legal requirements to take the child out of Mexico before you start the process. Seek independent legal advice before entering into any surrogacy arrangement. For more information see our guidance on surrogacy overseas.

Main tourist destinations

The Mexican government makes efforts to protect major tourist destinations like:

  • Cancun
  • Cozumel
  • Los Cabos
  • Nuevo Vallarta
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Puerto Vallarta

British travellers have been physically and sexually assaulted. In some cases, hotel employees, taxi drivers and security personnel at popular tourist destinations were involved. On occasion, hotel staff have not been helpful and tried to dissuade victims from pursuing the incident with police.

Cancun and Tulum

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. Since 2021, there have been several cases of tourists being affected by shootings.

Exercise increased caution after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen. Remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones. If you are visiting any of these areas, monitor local advice, remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator.

Hotel safety

In some hotels, balcony balustrades may not be as high as you expect and there could be a risk of falling.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

If you take part in adventurous sports (including paragliding, skydiving, scuba diving and jet-skiing), make sure safety precautions are in place. Equipment may not meet UK safety and insurance standards. British nationals have been injured and, in some cases, killed participating in extreme sports.

You should make sure:

  • you only use reputable operators
  • the company is using the most up-to-date equipment and safety features
  • the company are fully licensed and insured
  • you’re covered by your travel insurance for all the activities you want to undertake

Swimming safety

Sea conditions can be unpredictable, and some beaches are unpatrolled. Follow the guidance of the coastguard or other local authorities on whether it is safe to swim.

Shark attacks are 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 do not walk too close to the water. Tourists have been seriously injured in crocodile attacks in the past.

Transport risks

Road travel

Driving standards are very different from the UK. Roads can be pot-holed, and driving conditions can be unpredictable. Be prepared to stop unexpectedly and beware of vehicles moving slowly, changing lane without indicating and going through red lights. Many local drivers do not have any form of car insurance.

Licences and permits

You can drive in Mexico using a UK license or an International Driving Permit. If you are planning to drive in Mexico, see information on driving abroad.

Driving restrictions

To reduce air pollution, Mexico City and some other parts of the country have driving restrictions. Cars may be banned 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. Check if this applies with your car hire company.

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 5am and 11am
  • Saturday between 5am and 10pm

If air pollution is high, generally between February and June, further driving restrictions may apply.

Roadblocks

In remote areas, you may come across unofficial roadblocks, including on main roads. They are manned by local groups seeking money for an unofficial local toll, they can become violent and deny entry.

Taxis

Passengers have been robbed and assaulted by unlicensed taxi drivers including in Mexico City. Use the better regulated ‘sitio’ taxis from authorised taxi ranks or ask your hotel to order you a taxi. At airports, use only authorised pre-paid airport taxi services.

Licensed taxi drivers have been blocking roads and targeting Uber taxis in Cancun’s Hotel zone, in protest against Uber. Tourists have been affected, including being pulled from Uber taxis and experiencing long delays because of roadblocks, sometimes leading to missed flights. Protests can happen without notice. Listen to local announcements and follow the advice of your hotel on how best to avoid any protests.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Hurricanes

Monitor local and international weather updates from the US National Hurricane Center and follow the advice of local authorities and your tour operator including any evacuation orders.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, there can be flooding, high winds and continued rainfall. See the extreme weather and natural hazards for further advice about how to prepare for travel during hurricane season, what to do ahead of a storm and what to expect in the aftermath of a hurricane.

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 causes flooding, landslides and disruption to local services, including transport networks.

On 25 October 2023, Hurricane Otis hit the south coast of Mexico around Acapulco. as a Category 5 hurricane. It caused significant damage to infrastructure in Acapulco and along Mexico’s southern coast between Zihuatenejo and Punta Maldonado. There continues to be disruption to tourism while reconstruction efforts are ongoing, and the security situation is unpredictable. The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office advises against all but essential travel to the city of Acapulco.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes can occasionally happen in most parts of Mexico. Tremors happen 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 (accessible only by local phone numbers: Download on iOS or Android), which warns you an earthquake will happen 60 seconds before the movement starts. Although these alarms are useful, they cannot detect every kind of earthquake there can be.

Volcanic eruptions

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 12km exclusion zone is currently in place around Popocatépetl volcano, which is 92km from Mexico City centre and 64km from Puebla. The alert level at Popocatépetl is Level 2 of the Amber tier. Check with your tour or flight operator or follow Benito Juárez international airport on twitter. Information about the alert level and other Government advice can be found at @SGIRPC_CDMX on Twitter.

Ash fall from Popocatépetl has previously caused flight disruption, including cancellations at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. If you are travelling, you should check your flight status directly with your airline.

Exposure to falling ash and toxic fumes from active volcanoes can affect your health, especially if you suffer from a respiratory condition.

For more updates on both the Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes and the tier system, visit the website of the Mexican Disaster Prevention Centre.

This section has safety advice for regions of Mexico. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice and safety and security advice.

North

Drug-related violence is a particular problem in the northern states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Sinaloa and Durango.

Many fatalities are suspected gang members killed in violent clashes between the different organisations that compete for control of trafficking routes into the USA. Armed clashes between security forces and drug groups can happen at any time without warning. Take extreme care outside tourist areas in all of these states.

Baja California (including Tijuana)

FCDO 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
  • 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 try to do so during daylight, or be very cautious after dark. Tijuana is an extremely violent city and there is a risk that you may be targeted 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 several organised crime groups fighting for control over the city’s drugs trade and trafficking routes. There are high rates of kidnapping, murder and organised crime activity particularly drugs, human and arms trafficking.

Armed attacks and targeted killings happen across the state and violent robberies are a particular issue in the urban centres of Tijuana, Mexicali and Ensenada. Be careful 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 have also been incidents of vehicles being targeted by armed attacks. Stay on established tourist routes and destinations across the state and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

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.

Take precautions in the state of Baja California, including Tijuana. There is drug-related crime in Baja California Sur, including Los Cabos.

Chihuahua

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

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, do not walk alone in the canyon, or stray from the tourist trail. Complete all your activities within daylight hours. There are many organised crime groups operating in the area and there is a risk you could be caught up in conflicts between rival groups. Organise all activities with a reputable tour company or trusted local guide.

Sinaloa

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to 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

Armed robbery and vehicle theft has happened in El Fuerte. 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 presence of organised crime, there are high levels of drug-related violence. There are frequent gun battles between government security forces and organised crime groups, including in the city of Culiacán, leading to deaths and the destruction of security infrastructure.

Whilst tourists are not usually 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.

Tamaulipas

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
  • Federal highways 80, 81 and 85 between Tampico, Ciudad de Victoria and Magueyes, and the entire area of Tamaulipas south of these highways.

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.

Zacatecas

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the state of Zacatecas.

The state is extremely dangerous due to battles between organised crime groups for control of drug trafficking routes and rural areas of the state.

There are high levels of drug-related violence, due to the strong presence of organised crime. Gun battles between state security forces and organised crime groups are frequent, leading to deaths and the destruction of security infrastructure.

East

There have been increased security incidents in the states of Tabasco and Veracruz, including the city of Veracruz. Illegal roadblocks are reported frequently. You should take extreme care.

South

Chiapas

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to within 40km of the Guatemalan border between the Pacific Coast up to and including the border crossing at Gracias a Dio.

FCDO advises against all but essential travel on Federal Highway 199 (Carretera Federal 199) between Rancho Nuevo (just outside San Cristobal de las Casas) and the Chancalá junction just outside Palenque (where Federal Highway 199 meets Federal Highway 307).

The border between Chiapas and Guatemala is dangerous due to the presence of many organised crime groups who fight for control of drug- and human-trafficking routes. Whilst tourists are not usually targeted, you could be a victim of violence due to mistaken identity or on suspicion of spying for other organised criminal gangs. There is a risk of being caught in crossfire between rival organised crime groups.

Illegal roadblocks and checkpoints are reported frequently on Federal Highway 199 (Carretera Federal 199) between Rancho Nuevo (just outside San Cristobal de las Casas) and Palenque, and the road is often blocked by protests by indigenous groups. There is a risk of kidnapping.

West and Central

Colima

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. Do 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 leads to armed gun battles on the streets of Colima City as well as throughout rural areas.

Guanajuato

In the state of Guanajuato, FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the areas southwest of the road 45D. This includes the cities of Celaya and Irapuato as well as the municipalities of:

  • Abasolo
  • Acámbaro
  • Cuerámaro
  • Huanímaro
  • Irapuato
  • Jaral del Progreso
  • Manuel Doblado
  • Moroleón
  • Pénjamo
  • Pueblo Nuevo
  • Purisima del Rincón
  • Romita
  • Salamanca
  • Salvatierra
  • San Francisco del Rincón
  • Santiago Maravatío
  • Silao de la Victoria
  • Uriangato
  • Valle de Santiago
  • Yuriria

Guanajuato is a drug trafficking route. There have been increased security incidents and drug-related violence in the state of Guanajuato. Fuel thefts from plants and pipelines also happen. 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 happen in populated areas and bystanders have been caught in the crossfire.

Guerrero (including Acapulco)

FCDO advises against all travel to the State of Guerrero except:

  • the town of Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa accessed by air

Guerrero is a violent state with a history of insecurity. There is an organised crime presence throughout the state, including in central Acapulco and Chilpancingo. There have been instances of armed crime, including shootings and executions, both within and outside the tourist areas in Acapulco and other areas of the state.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Otis, normal work by local authorities to reduce the risks to tourists in the touristic zone in Acapulco has stopped while authorities focus on recovery efforts. There are reports of an increase in crime, robbery and looting across the city, including in previously designated tourist areas. You should take extreme care if travelling to Acapulco.

There are many illegal roadblocks where local crime groups take control of toll booths. If you come across 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 experience disruptions.

The interior of the state is dangerous. Organised crime groups and local ‘self-defence’ organisations often exert control over territory. Foreign nationals in rural Guerrero are likely to be seen as suspicious by organised crime and local ‘self-defence’ groups, and the possibility of a misunderstanding that results in violence is high. There have been cases of armed crime both within and outside tourist areas in the state.

Jalisco

FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the areas south and southwest of Lake Chapala to the border state of Colima. Specifically the municipalities of:

  • Acatlán de Juárez
  • Amacueca
  • Ameca
  • Atemajac de Brizuela
  • Atengo
  • Atenguillo
  • Atoyac
  • Autlán de Navarro
  • Ayutla
  • Casimiro Castillo
  • Chiquilistlán
  • Cocula
  • Cuautitlán de García Barragán
  • Cuautla
  • Ejutla
  • El Grullo
  • El Limón
  • Gómez Farias
  • Guachinango
  • Juchitlán
  • Mixtlán
  • San Gabriel
  • San Marcos
  • San Martín Hidalgo
  • Sayula
  • Tapalpa
  • Techaluta de Montenegro
  • Tecolotlán
  • Tenamaxtlán
  • Teocuitatlán de Corona
  • Tolimán
  • Tonaya
  • Tuxcacuesco
  • Tuxcueca
  • Unión de Tula
  • Villa Corona
  • Villa Purificación
  • Zacoalco de Torres
  • Zapotitlán de Vadill
  • Zapotlán el Grande

The northern municipalities of:

  • Bolaños
  • Chimaltitán
  • Colotlán
  • Hostotipaquillo
  • Huejúcar
  • Huequilla el Alto
  • Mezquitic
  • San Martin de Bolaños
  • Santa Maria de los Ángeles
  • Totatiche
  • Villa Guerrero

This is due to inaccessibility for security forces, lack of state control, drugs cultivation and high levels of violence between rival criminal groups.

Michoacán

FCDO advises against all travel to the State of Michoacán except:

  • the city of Morelia accessed by federal toll roads 15D, 126 and 43; and the federal toll road 48D between the city of Morelia and the General Francisco Mujica airport
  • the town of Pátzcuaro accessed by federal toll roads 14D and 15 from Morelia, and boat trips out to islands on Lake Pátzcuaro
  • 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 and there is very little security presence. The rural terrain of much of the state makes it difficult for state security forces to respond to incidents.

There have been reports of illegal roadblocks and checkpoints on the roads in this region. These tend to be run by local crime groups attempting to control who is entering and leaving. The Michoacán state government itself recommends foreign nationals to avoid this region.

Foreign nationals in rural Guerrero are likely to be seen as suspicious by organised crime, and the possibility of a misunderstanding that results in violence is high.

Centre

Criminal activity is a problem in the state of Mexico (‘Estado de México’). Take care when travelling through the state, as well as outside of tourist areas. There has been:

  • armed robbery on public transport
  • vehicle theft on the highway
  • petty crime

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 911 and ask for an ambulance.

In Mexico City, you can use the emergency buttons on CCTV cameras across the city which will immediately connect you to the emergency services.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Outside of State Capitals and larger urban areas, medical and emergency services may be limited. This includes immediate response, ambulances, basic medical equipment, and expertise.

Vaccinations

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Mexico. More information about altitude sickness is available from TravelHealthPro (from the UK’s National Travel Health Network and Centre).

Heath risks

Health risks in Mexico include:

  • Zika virus
  • Chikungunya virus
  • Dengue fever

See the ‘Other risks’ section of the TravelHealthPro Mexico guide for more details.

Drink only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Cyclospora

There has been reported cases of a food and water bug called Cyclospora. This has affected travellers returning from Mexico, particularly from the Riviera Maya region between the months of May and June. Follow the advice on TravelHealthPro.

Air pollution

The levels of air pollution can be high in Mexico City and may aggravate heart, lung or respiratory conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be affected. You can check the pollution index levels for many cities in real time.

Medication and pharmacies

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

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 needed.

Paying for medical treatment

Not all hospitals will agree to deal directly with medical insurance companies. Be prepared to pay for treatment yourself up front and then get a refund.

You can view a list of English speaking doctors in Mexico.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Mexico

Telephone: 911 (ambulance, fire, police)

Mexico City Tourist Police

Telephone: (0052) 55 5207 4155

WhatsApp: (0052) 55 4891 1166

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

You can also contact FCDO online.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.