Traveling to Mexico?
Here are just a few items from http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html with Tips on Mexico Travel. The site contains everything from Safety Tips and Government EmergencyContacts to How to Donate Goods to Mexico.
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mexico is a Spanish-speaking country about three times the size of Texas, consisting of 31 states and one federal district. The capital is Mexico City. Mexico has a rapidly developing economy, ranked by the International Monetary Fund as the fourteenth largest in the world. The climate ranges from tropical to arid, and the terrain consists of coastal lowlands, central high plateaus, deserts and mountains of up to 18,000 feet.
Many cities throughout Mexico are popular tourist destinations for U.S. citizens. Travelers should note that location-specific information contained below is not confined solely to those cities, but can reflect conditions throughout Mexico. Although the majority of visitors to Mexico thoroughly enjoy their stay, a small number experience difficulties and serious inconveniences.
Please read the State Department’s Background Notes on Mexico and the MexicoTravel Warning for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: For the latest entry requirements, visit the National Institute of Migration’s website, the Secretary of Tourism’s Manual on tourist entry, or contact the Embassy of Mexico at 1911 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006, telephone (202) 736-1600, or any Mexican consulate in the United States.
Since March 1, 2010, all U.S. citizens – including children – have been required to present a valid passport or passport card for travel into Mexico. While documents are not routinely checked along the land border, Mexican authorities at immigration checkpoints approximately 20 to 30 kilometers from the border with the U.S. will often conduct vehicle and document inspections and will require valid travel documents and an entry permit or Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM). All U.S. citizens entering by land and traveling farther than 20 kilometers into Mexico should stop at an immigration checkpoint to obtain an FMM, even if not explicitly directed to do so by Mexican officials. Beyond the 20-30 kilometer border zone, all non-Mexican citizens must have valid immigration documents (FMM, FM2, FM3 or FME) regardless of the original place of entry. Failure to present an FMM when checking in for an international flight departing Mexico can result in delays or missed flights as airlines may insist that a valid FMM be obtained from Mexican immigration authorities (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) before issuing a boarding pass.
All U.S. citizens entering Mexico by sea, including U.S. citizens engaged in recreational or commercial fishing in Mexican territorial waters, are required to have an FMM. Additionally, boats engaged in commercial activities in Mexican waters, including sports fishing vessels, must be inspected and permitted by the Secretariat of Communications and Transportations (SCT), which publishes Spanish-language information on Mexican boating permit requirements. All U.S. citizens aged 16 or older must present a valid U.S. passport book to return to the United States via an international flight. All U.S. citizens aged 16 or older traveling outside of the United States by air, land or sea (except closed-loop cruises) are required to present a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document such as a passport book or a passport card to return to the United States. Travelers with passports that are found to be washed, mutilated or damaged may be refused entry to Mexico and returned to the United States. We strongly encourage all U.S. citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport well in advance of anticipated travel. U.S. citizens can visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on how to apply for their passports.
While WHTI compliant documents other than passport books are sufficient for re-entry into the United States by land or sea, they may not be accepted as entry documents by the particular country you plan to visit; please be sure to check with your cruise line and countries of destination for any foreign entry requirements.
Although Mexican Immigration regulations allow use of the passport card for entry into Mexico by air, travelers should be aware that the card may not be used to board international flights in the U.S. or to return to the U.S. from abroad by air. The passport card is available only to U.S. citizens. Further information on the Passport Card can be found on our website.
Legal permanent residents in possession of their I-551 Permanent Resident card may board flights to the United States from Mexico.
Minors: Mexican law requires that any non-Mexican citizen under the age of 18 departing Mexico must carry notarized written permission from any parent or guardian not traveling with the child to or from Mexico. This permission must include the name of the parent, the name of the child, the name of anyone traveling with the child, and the notarized signature(s) of the absent parent(s). The State Department recommends that the permission should include travel dates, destinations, airlines and a brief summary of the circumstances surrounding the travel. The child must be carrying the original letter – not a facsimile or scanned copy – as well as proof of the parent/child relationship (usually a birth certificate or court document) – and an original custody decree, if applicable. Travelers should contact the Mexican Embassy or the nearest Mexican consulate for current information.
Vehicle Permits: Tourists wishing to travel beyond the border zone with their vehicle must obtain a temporary import permit or risk having their vehicle confiscated by Mexican customs officials. At present the only exceptions to the requirement are for vehicles traveling in the Baja Peninsula and those vehicles covered by the “Only Sonora” program in Western Sonora. This program generally covers the area west of Mexican Federal Highway 15 between the Arizona border and the Gulf of California, ending in Empalme. Foreign vehicles entering Mexico through land border crossings in Sonora do not need temporary import permits if they remain within the zone established by the program. All foreign tourists, however, must have their valid immigration documents (FMM, FM2, FM3 or FME) with them at all times while traveling through Mexico regardless of whether or not they must register their vehicles. For details on the program, visit the “ Only Sonora ” website (Spanish only).
To acquire a permit, one must submit evidence of citizenship, title for the vehicle, a vehicle registration certificate, a driver's license, and a processing fee to either a Banjercito (Mexican Army Bank) branch located at a Mexican Customs (Aduana) office at the port of entry, or at one of the Mexican consulates located in the United States. Mexican law also requires the posting of a bond at a Banjercito office to guarantee the export of the car from Mexico within a time period determined at the time of the application. For this purpose, American Express, Visa or MasterCard credit card holders will be asked to provide credit card information; others will need to make a cash deposit of between $200 and $400, depending on the make/model/year of the vehicle. In order to recover this bond or avoid credit card charges, travelers must go to any Mexican Customs office immediately prior to departing Mexico. Regardless of any official or unofficial advice to the contrary, vehicle permits cannot be obtained at checkpoints in the interior of Mexico. If the proper permit is not obtained before entering Mexico and cannot be obtained at the Banjercito branch at the port of entry, do not proceed to the interior. Travelers without the proper permit may be incarcerated, fined and/or have their vehicle seized at immigration/customs checkpoints. In addition, in November 2011, Mexico implemented a requirement for emissions certification for vehicles being permanently imported to Mexico. There are restrictions on the age of vehicles being permanently imported, but there are no such restrictions for cars under temporary permits. For further information, visit the website for Mexican Customs (Aduanas) at Acerca de Aduana Mexico (“About Mexican Customs”).
Travelers should avoid individuals who wait outside vehicle permit offices and offer to obtain the permits without waiting in line, even if they appear to be government officials. There have been reports of fraudulent or counterfeit permits being issued adjacent to the vehicle import permit office in Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez and other border areas.
Personal Effects: Tourists are allowed to bring in their personal effects duty-free. According to customs regulations, in addition to clothing, personal effects may include one camera, one video cassette player, one personal computer, one CD player, 5 DVDs, 20 music CDs or audiocassettes, 12 rolls of unused film, and one cellular phone. Any tourist carrying such items, even if duty-free, should enter the "Merchandise to Declare" lane at the first customs checkpoint. Travelers should be prepared to pay any assessed duty on items in excess of these allowances. Failure to declare personal effects may result in the seizure of the items as contraband, plus the seizure of any vehicle in which the goods were transported for attempted smuggling. Recovery of the seized vehicle may involve payment of substantial fines and attorney's fees. See also the “Firearms Penalties” section below regarding Mexico’s strict laws and penalties regarding import of firearms or ammunition.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
Medicare coverage outside of the United States is very limited and in nearly all situations does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs in Mexico. The Veterans Affairs health care program only reimburses registrants in the Foreign Medical Program for eligible health care costs in Mexico.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Continued concerns regarding criminal activity on highways along the Mexican border (which includes placement of illegal checkpoints and the murder of persons who did not stop and/or surrender their vehicles) have prompted the U.S. Mission in Mexico to impose certain restrictions on U.S. government employees transiting the area. Effective July 15, 2010, Mission employees and their families may not travel by vehicle across the U.S.-Mexico border to or from any post in the interior of Mexico. This policy also applies to employees and their families transiting Mexico to and from Central American posts. This policy does not apply to employees and their family members assigned to border posts (Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and Matamoros), although they may not drive to interior posts as outlined above. Travel is permitted between Hermosillo and Nogales, but not permitted from Hermosillo to any other interior posts.
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. Public transportation vehicles, specifically taxis and city buses, often do not comply with traffic regulations, including observing speed limits and stopping at red lights.
Driving and Vehicle Regulations: U.S. driver's licenses are valid in Mexico. Mexican law requires that only owners drive their vehicles, or that the owner be inside the vehicle. If not, the vehicle may be seized by Mexican customs and will not be returned under any circumstances. The Government of Mexico strictly regulates the entry of vehicles into Mexico. Traffic laws in Mexico are sporadically enforced and therefore often ignored by drivers, creating dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians. Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal in all parts of Mexico. Using a mobile device (such as a cell phone) is also prohibited while driving in many parts of Mexico, including Mexico City, and violators may be fined.
Auto Insurance: Mexican insurance is required for all vehicles, including rental vehicles. 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. Motor vehicle insurance is considered invalid in Mexico if the driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Visit www.azeconomyinsurance.com for a location near you.
Road Emergencies and Automobile Accidents: Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death of U.S. citizens in Mexico. Motorists should exercise caution and remain alert on all Mexican roads. If you have an emergency while driving, the equivalent of “911” in Mexico is “066”, but this number is not always answered. If you are driving on a toll highway (or “cuota”), or any other major highway, you may contact the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes), a fleet of trucks with bilingual crews. The Green Angels may be reached directly at (01) (55) 5250-8221. If you are unable to call them, pull off to the side of the road and lift the hood of your car; chances are that they will find you.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, you may 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 you are almost certain to spend some time in jail until all parties are satisfied that responsibility has been assigned and adequate financial satisfaction received. Drivers may face criminal charges if injuries or damages are serious.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP)/EMBASSY, CONSULATE & CONSULAR AGENCY LOCATIONS: U.S. citizens living or traveling in Mexico are encouraged to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security. U.S. citizens without Internet access may sign up directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Enrolling is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
Embassy Location: The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc; telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. You may contact the Embassy by e-mail or visit the Embassy website. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is also on Facebook &Twitter.
The Embassy serves a consular district encompassing the Federal District of Mexico; the states of Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Michoacan, the State of Mexico, Tlaxcala, Morelos, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Tabasco, and Chiapas; and the city of Tampico, Tamaulipas. In addition to the Embassy there are nine United States consulates and thirteen consular agencies located throughout Mexico. In the list below you will find the consular district covered by each consulate.
CONSULATES (with consular districts defined by Mexican state):
Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua): Paseo de la Victoria 3650, telephone (011) (52) (656) 227-3000. Facebook & Twitter
Guadalajara (Nayarit, Jalisco, Aguas Calientes, and Colima): Progreso 175, Col. Americana; telephone (011) (52) (333) 268-2100. Facebook & Twitter
Hermosillo (Sinaloa and the southern part of Sonora): Calle Monterrey 141 Poniente, Col. Esqueda; telephone (011) (52) (662) 289-3500. Facebook
Matamoros (the southern part of Tamaulipas with the exception of the city of Tampico): Avenida Primera 2002 y Azaleas; telephone (011) (52) (868) 812-4402.Facebook & Twitter
Merida (Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo): Calle 60 No. 338 K x 29 y 31, Col. Alcala Martin; telephone (011) (52) (999) 942-5700.
Monterrey (Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and the southern part of Coahuila): Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente; telephone (011) (52) (818) 047-3100. Facebook & Twitter
Nogales (the northern part of Sonora): Calle San Jose, Fraccionamiento “Los Alamos”; telephone (011) (52) (631) 311-8150. Facebook
Nuevo Laredo (the northern part of Coahuila and the northwestern part of Tamaulipas): Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin; telephone (011) (52) (867) 714-0512.
Tijuana (Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur): Paseo de Las Culturas s/n Mesa de Otay, telephone (011) (52) (664) 977-2000. Facebook
CONSULAR AGENCIES (mainly serving the location city only):
Acapulco: Hotel Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 – Suite 14; telephone (011)(52)(744) 481-0100 or (011)(52)(744) 484-0300.
Los Cabos: Tiendas de Palmilla, Carretera Transpeninsular Km 27.5
Local B221, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, C.P. 23406: Telephone: (624) 143-3566 Fax: (624) 143-6750
Cancun: Blvd. Kukulcan Km 13 ZH Torre La Europea, Despacho 301 Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico C.P. 77500; telephone (011)(52)(998) 883-0272.
Cozumel: Plaza Villa Mar en El Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque Juárez between Melgar and 5th Ave.) 2nd floor, Locales #8 and 9; telephone (011)(52)(987) 872-4574.
Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo: Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa; telephone (011)(52)(755) 553-2100.
Mazatlan: Hotel Playa Mazatlán, Playa Gaviotas 202, Zona Dorada; telephone (011)(52)(669) 916-5889.
Oaxaca: Macedonio Alcala No. 407, Interior 20; telephone (011)(52)(951)514-3054 or (011)(52)(951) 516-2853.
Piedras Negras: Abasolo 211, Local 3, Col. Centro; telephone (011)(52)(878) 782-5586 or (011)(52)(878) 782-8664.
Playa del Carmen: The Palapa, Calle 1 Sur, between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20; telephone (011)(52)(984) 873-0303.
Puerto Vallarta :Paseo de Los Cocoteros 85 Sur, Paradise Plaza – Local L-7, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit C.P.; telephone (011)(52)(322) 222-0069.
Reynosa: Calle Emilio Portes Gil #703, Col. Prado Sur; telephone: (011)(52) (899)-921-6530
San Luis Potosi: Edificio "Las Terrazas", Avenida Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco; telephone (011)(52)(444) 811-7802 or (011)(52)(444) 811-7803.
San Miguel de Allende: Centro Comercial La Luciernaga, Libramiento Manuel Zavala (Pepe KBZON), telephone (011)(52)(415) 152-2357.