Mexico - Consular Information Sheet
December 20, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mexico covers an area of 1,972,500
sq. km. or 761,000 sq. miles, about three times the size of Texas.
The capital is located in Mexico City. The population of the area
around Mexico City is about 20 million, the largest concentration
of people in the world. The latest estimate (in 2000) has the
population of Mexico at 97.4 million with an annual growth rate
of 1.9%. Mexico has a chief executive (president); a bicameral
legislature; a judicial system with a Supreme Court, local and
federal courts; and an administrative subdivision of 31 states
and one federal district. Mexico has a rapidly developing economy
and has sought economic prosperity through liberalization of its
trade regime. The climate ranges from tropical to desert, and
the terrain consists of coastal lowlands, central high plateaus,
and mountains up to 18,000 feet.
Many cities throughout Mexico are popular tourist destinations
for Americans. Travelers should note that city-specific information
contained below is not confined solely to those cities, but can
occur in all areas of Mexico.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: The Government of Mexico requires
that all U.S. citizens present proof of citizenship and photo
identification for entry into Mexico. A U.S. passport is recommended,
but other U.S. citizenship documents such as a certified copy
of a U.S. birth certificate, a Naturalization Certificate, a Consular
Report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Citizenship are acceptable.
U.S. citizens boarding flights to Mexico should be prepared to
present one of these documents as proof of U.S. citizenship, along
with photo identification. Driver's permits, voter registration
cards, affidavits and similar documents are not sufficient to
prove citizenship for readmission into the United States.
Minors require notarized consent from both parents if traveling
alone or in someone else's custody, or from the absent parent
if traveling with only one parent. Please see also the Children's
Issues paragraph below.
A visa is not required for a tourist/transit stay up to 180 days.
A tourist card, also known as a FM-T, available from Mexican consulates
and most airlines serving Mexico, is issued instead. Travelers
entering Mexico for purposes other than tourism require a visa
and must carry a valid U.S. passport. The Government of Mexico
charges an entry fee of approximately $15.00 per person to U.S.
citizens traveling to Mexico's interior.
Upon arrival in Mexico, business travelers must complete a form
(Form FM-N 30 days) authorizing the conduct of business, but not
employment, for a 30-day period. U.S. citizens planning to work
or live in Mexico should apply for the appropriate Mexican visa
(Form FM-2 or 3) at the Mexican Embassy or nearest Mexican consulate.
U.S. citizens planning to participate in humanitarian aid missions,
human rights advocacy groups or international observer delegations
also should contact the Mexican Embassy or nearest Mexican consulate
for guidance on how to obtain the appropriate visa before traveling
to Mexico. Such activities, undertaken while on a tourist visa,
may draw unfavorable attention from Mexican authorities because
Mexican immigration law prohibits foreigners from engaging in
political activity. U.S. citizens have been detained or deported
for violating their tourist visa status. Therefore, tourists should
avoid demonstrations and other activities that may be deemed political
by Mexican authorities. This is particularly relevant in light
of the tension and polarization in the state of Chiapas. U.S.
citizens and other foreigners have been detained in Chiapas and
expelled from Mexico for allegedly violating their visa status
or for interfering in Mexican internal politics.
Mexican regulations limit the value of goods brought into Mexico
by U.S. citizens arriving by air or sea to $300 per person and
by land to $50 per person. Amounts exceeding the duty-free limit
are subject to a 32.8 percent tax. For further information concerning
entry and visa requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy
of Mexico at 1911 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006,
telephone (202) 736-1000, or any Mexican consulate in the United
DUAL NATIONALITY: As of March 20, 1998, Mexican law recognizes
dual nationality for Mexicans by birth, meaning those born in
Mexico or born abroad to Mexican parents. U.S. citizens who are
also Mexican nationals are considered Mexican by local authorities.
Therefore, their dual nationality status could hamper U.S. Government
efforts to provide consular protection. Dual nationals are not
subject to compulsory military service in Mexico. Travelers possessing
both U.S. and Mexican nationalities must carry with them proof
of their citizenship of both countries. Under Mexican law, dual
nationals entering or departing Mexico must identify themselves
as Mexican. For additional information, please see the
Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov
for our Dual Nationality flyer.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy recommends that
U.S. citizens traveling to the state of Chiapas exercise caution.
Armed rebels and armed civilian groups are present in some areas
of the state. In the mountain highlands north of San Cristobal
de Las Casas, the municipality of Ocosingo, and the entire southeastern
jungle portion of the state east of Comitan, tension and violence
ebb and flow. Furthermore, some segments of the local population
resent the presence of foreigners and openly express their hostility.
For further information, please see the U.S. State Department's
Report on Human Rights Practices at http://www.state.gov. U.S.
citizens traveling to Chiapas are encouraged to contact the U.S.
Embassy for further security information prior to traveling to
Two insurgent groups, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) and
the Insurgent People's Revolutionary Army (EPRI), operate in the
states of Guerrero and Oaxaca. Although these groups have been
quiet in the last few years, they have attacked police and military
targets and have kidnapped civilians in the past. There is no
evidence, however, that U.S. citizens or other tourists have been
targeted. Nonetheless, U.S. citizens may encounter military roadblocks
while traveling, and tourists should be prepared to show identification
and have their vehicles searched. Army, police, and immigration
roadblocks are most common in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero
CRIME: Crime in Mexico continues at high levels, and it
is increasingly violent, especially in Mexico City, Tijuana and
Ciudad Juarez. Low apprehension and conviction rates of criminals
contribute to the high crime rate. Other metropolitan areas have
lower but still serious levels of crime. Travelers should leave
valuables and irreplaceable items in a safe place, or not bring
them. All visitors are encouraged to make use of hotel safes when
available, avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry or designer
clothing, and carry only the cash or credit cards that will be
needed on each outing. Travelers are discouraged from bringing
very large amounts of cash into Mexico because officials may suspect
money laundering or other criminal activity. Any U.S. citizen
victims of crime in Mexico are encouraged to report the incident
to the nearest police headquarters and to the nearest U.S. consular
Visitors should be aware of their surroundings at all times,
especially when visiting bars or nightclubs. Some establishments,
especially in port cities such as Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta,
Mazatlan and Acapulco, can be havens for drug dealers and petty
criminals. Some establishments may contaminate or drug the drinks
to gain control over the patron. Victims, who are almost always
unaccompanied, have been robbed of personal property, abducted
and then held while their credit cards were used at various businesses
and Automatic Teller Machines (ATM).
U.S. citizens should be very cautious in using ATMs in general
in Mexico. If an ATM must be used, it should be accessed only
during the business day at large protected facilities (preferably
inside commercial establishments, rather than at a glass-enclosed,
highly visible ATM on streets where criminals can observe financial
transactions). Recently, there have been cases in which U.S. and
Mexican citizens have been accosted on the street and forced to
withdraw money from their accounts using their ATM cards.
Kidnapping, including the kidnapping of non-Mexicans, is increasing.
So-called "express" kidnappings have reportedly taken
place on well-traveled highways such as the Toluca Highway leading
out of Mexico City. These kidnappings are an attempt to get quick
cash in exchange for the release of any individual, and they often
appear to target not only the wealthy, but also middle class persons.
U.S. businesses with offices in Mexico or concerned U.S. citizens
may contact the U.S. Embassy or any U.S. consulate to discuss
precautions that they should take.
Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico. Therefore,
travelers should exercise caution when traveling on all highways
in Mexico and use "toll" ("cuota") roads,
rather than the less secure "free" ("libre")
highways, whenever possible. Reported incidents include robbery,
kidnapping, and the 1998 murder of an Egyptian diplomat. For safety
reasons, the U.S. Embassy advises all U.S. citizens to exercise
extreme caution when traveling on any highways after dark. U.S.
citizens should not hitchhike or accept rides from or offer rides
to strangers anywhere in Mexico.
All bus travel should be during daylight hours and on first-class
conveyances. Although there have been several reports of bus hijackings
and robberies on "toll" roads, buses on "toll"
roads have a markedly lower rate of incidents than buses (second
and third class) that travel the less secure "free"
highways. While many of the assaults have occurred in daylight,
the U.S. Embassy nevertheless encourages daytime travel to lower
the chance of vehicle accidents. The Embassy also advises caution
when traveling by bus in the area north of the border between
the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero (south of Acapulco). Armed robberies
of entire busloads of passengers have recently been reported to
Tourists should be wary of persons representing themselves as
Mexican police or other local officials. In some instances, Americans
have become victims of harassment, mistreatment and extortion
by Mexican law enforcement and other officials. Mexican authorities
are concerned about these incidents and have cooperated in investigating
such cases. However, one must have the officer's name, badge number,
and patrol car number to pursue a complaint. Please make a note
of this information if you are ever involved with police or other
Tourists should not hike alone in back-country areas, nor walk
alone on lightly-frequented beaches, ruins or trails. In 1998,
three Americans were killed in separate incidents when they ventured
alone into such areas.
Local authorities have reported an increase in armed robberies
in the popular tourist destination of northern Sinaloa, especially
near the fishing resorts. Caution should be exercised when visiting
CRIME IN MEXICO CITY: In Mexico City, the most frequently
reported crimes involving tourists are taxi robbery, armed robbery,
pickpocketing and purse snatching. In several cases, tourists
have reported that men in uniforms perpetrated the crime, stopping
vehicles and seeking money, or assaulting and robbing tourists
walking late at night. The area behind the U.S. Embassy and the
Zona Rosa, a restaurant/shopping area near the Embassy, are frequent
sites of street crime against foreigners. Caution should be exercised
when walking in these areas.
Metro (subway) robberies are becoming more frequent in Mexico
City. If riding the Metro, U.S. citizens should hold valuables
and belongings tightly. Avoid using Metro during busy commuting
hours in the morning or afternoon. Tourists and residents alike
should avoid driving alone at night anywhere in Mexico City.
TAXICAB CRIME: Robbery and assaults on passengers in taxis
are frequent and violent, with passengers subjected to beatings,
shootings and sexual assault. U.S. citizens visiting Mexico City
should avoid taking any taxi not summoned by telephone or contacted
in advance at the airport. In December 1997, a U.S. citizen was
murdered in a taxi robbery. When in need of a taxi, please telephone
a radio taxi or "sitio" (pronounced "C-T-O"),
and ask the dispatcher for the driver's name and the cab's license
plate number. If you walk to a "sitio" taxi stand, use
only a driver known to you. Please ask the hotel concierge or
other responsible individual calling on your behalf to write down
the license plate number of the cab that you entered. Passengers
arriving at Mexico City's Benito Juarez International Airport
should take only airport taxis (which are yellow, with an airport
symbol on the door) after pre-paying the fare at one of the special
booths inside the airport. Radio taxis may be called at tel. 5-271-9146,
5-271-9058, and 5-272-6125 (within Mexico City). U.S. citizens
should avoid taking taxis parked outside the Bellas Artes Theater,
waiting in front of nightclubs or restaurants, or cruising throughout
TRAVELING TO/THROUGH NUEVO LAREDO: Tourists are very vulnerable
when visiting the local "red light district," particularly
if they are departing alone in the early hours of the morning.
Municipal and traffic police are aware of the danger and regularly
check the area for persons carrying weapons or drugs and for drunk
U.S. citizens visiting relatives who reside in the outskirts
of the city and who walk or drive in deserted areas or particularly
dark streets with which they are unfamiliar may also be victims
of random violence.
All U.S. citizens bringing gifts to friends and relatives in
Nuevo Laredo or the interior of Mexico should come prepared to
demonstrate to Mexican Customs the origin and the value of the
gifts. Televisions, video cassette players, computers, bicycles
or any electronic item valued at $50.00 U.S. currency or more
must be declared to Mexican Customs. Any tourist carrying such
items should enter the "Merchandise to Declare" lane
at the first Customs checkpoint. The tourist/purchaser should
have the receipt for the gift's purchase and should be prepared
to pay any assessed duty. Failure to do so may result in the seizure
of the goods as contraband, plus the seizure of the vehicle in
which the goods are traveling for attempted smuggling. The recovery
of the seized vehicle involves the payment of substantial fines
and attorney's fees.
TRAVELING TO CIUDAD JUAREZ: Several U.S. citizens, including
innocent bystanders, have been killed in drug-related shootings
in Ciudad Juarez over the past three years. In recent months,
some of these shootings have taken place on principal thoroughfares
and outside popular restaurants and other public places, including
convenience stores, a currency exchange, and a gas station. In
other instances, U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and scores
imprisoned after getting involved in the sale or purchase of illegal
drugs. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid any involvement with
controlled substances or those who deal in them. U.S. citizens
should be particularly alert to their surroundings when visiting
TRAVELING TO CANCUN: Cancun is now a fairly large city,
approaching 500,000 inhabitants. Approximately 3 million Americans
travel there each year, including as many as 100,000 American
teenagers and young adults during "Spring Break," which
normally begins in mid-February and runs about two months. In
the holiday atmosphere of Cancun, visitors are sometimes caught
off-guard by unfamiliar surroundings and differences in local
practices. Americans have died in automobile accidents, after
falls from balconies, after falls into open ditches, by drowning,
and in water-sports mishaps, among others.
Visitors often purchase inexpensive, all-inclusive vacation packages
and travel on charter flights. These flights sometimes experience
delays, from a few hours to several days. In some cases, tour
operators go out of business, leaving travelers to find their
own flights home. Travelers considering purchasing such packages
are encouraged to deal with reputable travel agents, and to inquire
as to their options in the event of flight delays or cancellations.
It is also important to have both U.S. and Mexican emergency numbers
to call if they experience any problems with flights or ground
operators. Travelers should also consider bringing extra cash
or a credit card for emergencies.
As the population of Cancun has increased, so have reports of
crime. Therefore, it is important for travelers to be aware of
their surroundings and to take general precautions. There has
been a significant increase in the number of pickpocketing incidents,
purse snatchings and hotel room thefts. Public transportation
is a particularly popular place for pickpockets. Valuables should
be left in a safe place, or not brought at all. Please keep track
of your luggage when getting in and out of ground transportation
from the airport to the hotel, and vice versa.
Excessive alcohol consumption, especially by Americans under
the legal drinking age in the United States, is a significant
problem in Cancun. The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years
of age, but even that is not uniformly enforced. Alcohol is implicated
in the majority of arrests, violent crimes, accidents and deaths
suffered by American tourists in Cancun.
Several rapes have been reported to the U.S. Consular Agency
in Cancun. Most of these occurred at night or in the early morning
hours, and they involved alcohol and the discotheque environment.
The victim commonly finds him/herself in a vulnerable situation
and is taken advantage of after being separated from friends.
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of reports
of police harassment, abuse, and extortion in Cancun. Local authorities
are concerned about these incidents and have cooperated in investigating
such cases when they have been reported.
Visitors should be careful when crossing streets in Cancun. Public
transportation vehicles, specifically taxis and city buses, often
do not obey the posted speed limits and do not stop at traffic
Warning flags on the beach should be taken seriously. If black
flags are up, please do not go in the water. There is often a
very strong undertow along the beach from the Hyatt Regency all
the way south to the Sol y Mar. There is minimal lifeguard supervision
in most areas.
VISITING BEACH RESORTS: Visitors to Mexican resorts should
carefully assess the risk potential of recreational activities.
Sports and aquatic equipment that you rent may not meet U.S. safety
standards nor be covered by any accident insurance. For example,
unless you are certain that scuba diving equipment is up to standard,
you should not use it. Inexperienced scuba divers should beware
of dive shops that promise to "certify" you after a
few hours instruction. Safe diving requires lengthy training.
Parasailing is offered at many Mexican beach resorts. Please
be aware that by putting your name on the passenger list, you
may be relieving the boat operator and owner of responsibility
for your safety. There have been cases in which tourists have
been dragged through palm trees or slammed into hotel walls while
participating in this activity.
Please be extremely careful when renting jet-skis. Several tourists
have been killed or injured in jet-ski accidents, particularly
when participating in group tours. Often, inexperienced tour guides
allow their clients to follow too closely or operate the jet-skis
in other unsafe manners. In one case, the jet-ski rental company
carried liability insurance limited to $2,500 U.S. dollars. Please
make sure that the rental company has adequate medical/accident
insurance, is staffed with personnel on-site with water rescue
training, and properly demonstrates safe operation of the vehicle
to you before you rent or operate such equipment.
Please do not leave your belongings on the beach while you are
swimming. Please keep your passport and other valuables in the
Please do not use pools or beaches without lifeguards. If you
do, please exercise extreme caution. Do not dive into unknown
bodies of water because hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause
serious injury or death. Newer resorts may lack comprehensive
medical facilities. Some Mexican beaches, such as those in Cancun,
have warning signs about undertow; please take them seriously.
In Acapulco, please avoid swimming outside the bay area. Several
American citizens have died recently while swimming in rough surf
at the Revolcadero Beach near Acapulco.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Adequate medical care can be found
in all major cities. Health facilities in Mexico City are excellent.
Care in more remote areas is limited. Serious medical problems
requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United
States can be very costly.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Doctors and hospitals often expect
immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance
is not always valid outside the United States. Charges may vary
from doctor to doctor, and Americans may be charged more than
the prevailing rate for services rendered to locals. You may wish
to have the attending doctor explain procedures and costs before
undertaking treatment. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face
extreme difficulties. Please check with your own insurance company
to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision
for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether payment will
be made to the overseas hospital or doctor, or whether you will
be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for
disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information
on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs,
is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs
brochure, Medical Information for
Americans Traveling Abroad, via the Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page, http://travel.state.gov/medical.html, or by autofax:
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: In many areas in Mexico, tap
water is unsafe and should be avoided. Bottled water and beverages
are safe, although visitors should be aware that many restaurants
and hotels serve tap water. Ice made from tap water is also unsafe.
Visitors should exercise caution when buying food or beverages
from street vendors. Air pollution in Mexico City and Guadalajara
is severe, especially from December to May.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may
be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION FACILITIES: A number of facilities
have opened in Mexico that offer behavior modification therapy
for teenagers and others suffering from drug addiction or other
psychological disorders. Standards held by the Government of Mexico
and local government, where they exist, may not meet standards
for similar facilities in the United States. Parents planning
to enroll their children in these facilities should take appropriate
action to investigate the facility first. Please
refer to the Behavior Modification Fact Sheet at http://travel.state.gov/behavior_modification.html.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Mexico is provided for general reference only,
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
Please avoid excessive speed and, if possible, do not drive at
night. Loose livestock can appear on roads at any time. Construction
sites, abandoned vehicles or other obstacles are often unmarked
or poorly marked. Be prepared for sudden stops. For detailed information
on traffic safety and driving conditions in Mexico, please refer
to the publication, Tips for Travelers
to Mexico, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.
DRIVING INFORMATION: U.S. driver's licenses are valid
in Mexico. Mexican insurance is required for all vehicles, including
rental vehicles. (Please see "Automobile Insurance"
The Government of Mexico strictly regulates the entry of vehicles
into Mexico. For detailed information on how to bring a car into
Mexico, please refer to Tips for Travelers
to Mexico at http://travel.state.gov.
For additional information concerning Mexican driver's permits,
vehicle inspection, road tax, mandatory insurance, etc., please
contact the Mexico Government Tourist Organization (MGTO) at telephone
1-800-44-MEXICO (639-426). Travelers are advised to consult with
the Mexican Embassy or the nearest Mexican consulate in the United
States for additional, detailed information prior to entering
AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE: Mexican auto insurance is sold in
most cities and towns on both sides of the border. U.S. automobile
liability insurance is not valid in Mexico nor is most collision
and comprehensive coverage issued by U.S. companies. Therefore,
when you cross the border, please purchase auto insurance adequate
for your needs in Mexico. A good rule of thumb is to buy coverage
equivalent to that which you carry in the United States. If you
are involved in an accident, you will be taken into police custody
until it can be determined who is liable and whether you have
the ability to pay any penalty. If you do not have Mexican liability
insurance, you may be prevented from departing the country even
if you require life-saving medical care, and are almost certain
to spend some time in jail until all parties are satisfied that
responsibility has been assigned and adequate financial satisfaction
received. Motor vehicle insurance is considered invalid in Mexico
if the driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or
drugs. Drivers may also face criminal charges if the injuries
or damages are serious.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Mexico's Civil Aviation Authority
as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of Mexico's air carrier operations. For
further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Mexican customs authorities may enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export
from Mexico of items such as antiquities, medications, medical
equipment, business equipment, etc. It is advisable to contact
the Mexican Embassy or one of the Mexican consulates in the United
States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in Mexico, U.S. citizens
are subject to Mexico's laws and regulations, which sometimes
differ significantly from those in the United States and may not
afford the protections available to the individual under U.S.
law. Americans who commit illegal acts have no special privileges
and are subject to full prosecution under the Mexican judicial
system. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than
in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mexico's
laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
DRUG PENALTIES AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS: Penalties
for drug offenses are strict, and convicted offenders can expect
large fines and jail sentences up to 25 years. As in the United
States, the purchase of controlled medication requires a doctor's
prescription. The Mexican list of controlled medication differs
from that of the United States, and Mexican public health laws
concerning controlled medication are unclear and often enforced
The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to
Mexico for the sole purpose of buying prescription drugs. U.S.
citizens have been arrested, and their medicines have been confiscated
by the Mexican authorities, even though their prescriptions were
written by a physician and filled by a licensed Mexican pharmacist.
Moreover, the importation of prescription drugs into the United
States can be illegal in certain circumstances. Further information
on bringing prescription drugs into the United States is available
from the U.S. Customs Service at http://www.customs.ustreas.gov.
Also, the U.S. Embassy cautions that possession of any amount
of prescription medicine brought from the United States, including
medications to treat HIV and psychotropic drugs, such as valium,
can result in arrest if Mexican authorities suspect abuse or if
the quantity of the prescription medicine exceeds the amount required
for several days' use. Individuals should consider carrying a
copy of the prescription and a doctor's letter explaining that
the quantity of medication is appropriate for their personal medical
use. U.S. citizens who plan to go to Mexico to purchase medication
or who may be in possession of medication prescribed in the United
States should check with the nearest Mexican consulate before
traveling to Mexico.
FIREARMS PENALTIES: The Department of State warns U.S.
citizens against taking any type of firearm or ammunition into
Mexico without prior written authorization from the Mexican authorities.
Entering Mexico with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition
is illegal, even if the firearm or ammunition is taken into Mexico
unintentionally. The Mexican Government strictly enforces its
laws restricting the entry of firearms and ammunition along all
land borders and at air and seaports. Violations have resulted
in arrests, convictions, and long prison sentences for U.S. citizens,
including several who unintentionally crossed the border with
firearms or ammunition in their possession. U.S. citizens approaching
Mexico along the land border who realize they are in possession
of unauthorized firearms or ammunition should not try to enter
Mexico. The only way to import firearms and/or ammunition into
Mexico legally is to secure a permit in advance from the Mexican
Embassy in Washington, D.C. or from a Mexican consulate, even
if the firearm is legally registered in the United States.
Vessels entering Mexican waters with firearms or ammunition on
board must have a permit previously issued by the Mexican Embassy
or a Mexican consulate. Mariners do not avoid prosecution for
arms smuggling by declaring their weapons at the port of entry.
Before traveling, mariners who have obtained a Mexican firearms
permit should contact Mexican port officials to receive guidance
on the specific procedures used to report and secure weapons and
ALIEN SMUGGLING: Anyone arrested for transporting aliens
into or out of Mexico may be prosecuted by Mexican authorities
for alien smuggling in addition to any charges they may face in
the other country involved, including the United States. Alien
smuggling and harboring aliens is a serious felony offense in
REAL ESTATE AND TIME-SHARES: U.S. citizens should be aware
of the risks inherent in purchasing real estate in Mexico, and
should exercise extreme caution before entering into any form
of commitment to invest in property there. Investors must recognize
the absolute need to obtain authoritative information and to hire
competent Mexican legal counsel when contemplating any real estate
investment. Mexican laws and practices regarding real estate differ
substantially from those in the United States. Foreigners may
be granted the right to own real property only under very specific
conditions. Whether investing through a trust mechanism in border
and coastal areas or by outright purchase in Mexico's interior,
U.S. citizens are vulnerable to title challenges that may result
in years of litigation and possible eviction. Title insurance
is virtually unknown and untested in Mexico. In addition, Mexican
law recognizes squatters' rights, so homeowners can spend thousands
of dollars in legal fees and years of frustration in trying to
remove squatters who occupy their property.
American citizens also should exercise caution when considering
time-share investments and be aware of the aggressive tactics
used by some time-share sales representatives. Buyers should be
fully informed and take sufficient time to consider their decisions
before signing time-share contracts, ideally after consulting
an independent attorney. They should resist pressure to sign a
contract the very day that they see the model unit. Mexican law
allows time-share purchasers five days to cancel the contract
for unconditional and full reimbursement. U.S. citizens should
never sign a contract that includes clauses penalizing the buyer
who cancels within five days.
OTHER PURCHASES: The U.S. Government cannot act as your
legal representative in a consumer complaint, but the U.S. Embassy
keeps a file of complaints to note if a pattern of abuse emerges.
Your formal complaint against any merchant should be filed with
the Federal consumer protection agency in Mexico, PROFECO. PROFECO
has the power to mediate disputes, investigate consumer complaints,
order hearings, levy fines and sanctions for not showing at hearings,
and do price-check inspections of merchants. All
complaints by Americans are handled by PROFECO's English-speaking
office in Mexico City, telephone 5-211-1723. For more information
and a complaint form, please see their web site http://www.profeco.gob.mx,
"Attention to Foreigners."
VOLCANIC ACTIVITY: Since December 1994, the Popocatepetl
Volcano, situated 38 miles southeast of Mexico City, has registered
varying levels of seismic activity including the release of vapor,
gas, ash, and incendiary material. Depending on the levels of
activity, the Mexican National Center for Disaster Prevention
restricts access or closes parks and hiking trails on the mountain's
slopes. U.S. citizens planning to hike in the area should be alert
to any warnings or signs posted, and should contact the U.S. Embassy
for the latest information about seismic activity.
Civil defense officials in the states of Jalisco and Colima are
closely monitoring activity at the Volcan de Colima, (also known
as Volcan de Fuego), located in south-central Jalisco. The volcano
produced a number of gas exhalations, explosions and ash falls
in February 1999. There is also active lava flow on the south
side of the mountain. A major eruption is possible. U.S. citizens
should exercise caution if planning to travel to the area surrounding
the volcano. They should contact the U.S. Consulate General in
Guadalajara, Mexico at telephone 011-523-825-3429 for the latest
information. Updated information may also be obtained in
Spanish and in
English at web site http://www.ucol.mx/volcan.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: American citizens intending to adopt
abroad must comply with local adoption and U.S. immigration laws.
Any American citizen attempting to circumvent local adoption procedures
may face arrest and prosecution by local authorities.
Many governments have initiated procedures at entry and exit
points to prevent international child abduction, including requiring
documentary evidence of relationship and permission of the parent(s)
or legal guardian not present for the child's travel. Having such
documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry
on international adoption of children and international parental
child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone (202) 736-7000.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The loss or theft abroad of a
U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police
and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens should
carry with them a photocopy of their passport, and leave a photocopy
with a relative or friend in the United States. Travelers may
refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A
Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free
journey. This pamphlet, as well as others, such as Tips
for Travelers to Mexico, is also available by mail from the
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington
D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY, CONSULATE AND CONSULAR AGENCY LOCATIONS:
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy
or at one of the U.S. consulates, and to obtain updated information
on travel and security within Mexico. The
U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma
305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-525-209-9100;
telephone within Mexico City: 5-209-9100; telephone within Mexico
may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are U.S. Consulates General in:
Juarez at Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-N, telephone (52-16) 11-3000.
at Progreso 175, telephone (52-38) 25-2998.
Monterrey at Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente 64000, telephone
at Tapachula 96, telephone (52-66) 81-7400.
There are U.S. Consulates in:
at Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (52-62) 17-2375.
Matamoros at Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (52-88) 12-4402.
Merida at Paseo Montejo 453, telephone (52-99) 25-5011.
Nogales at Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (52-63)
Nuevo Laredo at Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin, telephone (52-87)
There are U.S. Consular Agencies in:
Acapulco at Hotel Acapulco Continental, Costera M. Aleman 121
telephone (52-74) 84-03-00/ or (52-74) 69-05-56.
Cabo San Lucas at Blvd. Marina y Pedregal #1, Local No. 3, Zona
Centro, telephone (52-114) 3-35-66.
Cancun at Plaza Caracol Two, Third Level, No. 320-323, Boulevard
Kukulcan, km. 8.5, Zona Hotelera, telephone (52-98) 83-02-72.
Cozumel at Plaza Villa Mar in the Main Square - El Centro, 2nd
floor right rear, Locale #8, Av. Juarez and 5th Av. Nte., telephone
Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo at Local 9, Plaza Ambiente, telephone (52-755)
3-11-08 or 7-11-06.
Mazatlan at Hotel Playa Mazatlan, Rodolfo T. Loaiza #202, Zona
Dorada, telephone (52-69) 16-5889.
Oaxaca at Macedonio Alcala No. 407, Interior 20, telephone (52-951)
4-30-54 or 6-28-53.
Puerto Vallarta at Edif. Vallarta, Plaza Zaragoza 160-Piso 2
Int-18, telephone (52-322) 2-0069.
San Luis Potosi at Edificio "Las Terrazas", Av. Venustiano
Carranza 2076-41, (52-481) 1-7802.
San Miguel de Allende at Dr. Hernandez Macias #72, telephone
(52-415) 2-2357 or 2-0068.