If you’re travelling to Mexico, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
- Safety and security
- Local laws and customs
- Natural disasters and climate
- Additional information
We advise Irish citizens in Mexico to exercise a high degree of caution.
We advise against non-essential travel to the states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Tamaulipas except for the cities of Morelia (Michocán), and Acapulco, Taxco and Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo (Guerrero).
Latest travel alert
There is currently an outbreak of Zika Virus (a dengue-like mosquito-borne disease) in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Irish Citizens are advised to follow guidance available on the website of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, start by talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Mexico by dialling 060 or 066.
Our tips for safe travels
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravel for the latest travel updates
- Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide
Safety and security
Safety and security
- Read our Know Before You Go travel guide for useful security tips when travelling abroad
- Get advice locally about areas of risk and security concerns
- Take common-sense precautions about safety and security
- Know who to contact in case of an emergency
- If travelling to an area which is not regularly visited by tourists, direct contact should be made with the Irish Embassy in Mexico in advance for advice on your intended travel plans
- There have been a number of violent incidents on the main road between San Cristobel and Palenque, Chiapas, which have affected European tourists. Visitors should exercise extreme caution when visiting this area.
- There have been more than 50,000 drug-related murders in Mexico since 2006. If you’re travelling to northern border and Pacific states, be particularly careful; Ciudad Juarez is considered especially unsafe at this time.
- We would advise against non-essential travel to northern border states of Baja California Norte, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas with the exception of the cities of Mazatlán, Hermosillo, Guaymas/San Carlos and Nogales
- Foreign visitors and residents have been among the victims of violence in areas including the cities of Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Nogales, Reynosa and Maramoros.
- There have been a number of violent incidents and gun battles in and around, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Matamoros, to the north and east of Monterrey, and in Monterrey itself. Whilst there has been some improvement in the security situation in Monterrey over the past year, we would advise any Irish students considering studying there to contact the Embassy for an update on the security situation.
- Irish tourists or students who consider it necessary to visit Tijuana should remain in the Zona Río and Av. Revolución areas of the city and avoid the Zonas Norte and Oriente.
- Many areas in the South Western / Pacific states of Guerrero, Jalisco and Michoacán have been severely affected by drug-related violence. Violence related to organized crime has increased in the states of Guerrero (including Acapulco). In the State of Guerrero, 43 students who had attended protests in Iguala have been missing since 26 September 2014. On 5 October 2014, the remains of 28 people were found in a mass grave near Iguala.
- Cities including Guadalajara, Morelia and the tourist zone of Acapulco remain popular, as are certain tourist areas including Lake Chapala and the coastal area around Puerto Vallarta. We would advise against non- essential travel to less frequented areas. There have been several instances of armed crime both within and outside tourist areas in Acapulco.
- Air travel should be favoured for travel to and within the northern border and Pacific states unless the safety of your preferred road route has been confirmed.
There is a high level of violent crime in Mexico. Pay close attention to your security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Be aware that street crime is on the increase and take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- In general, you should withdraw or exchange money at automated banking machines or bureaux de change (casas de cambio) during daylight hours only, and inside shops and malls rather than on the street. Keep your credit card in sight when paying. It is safer to limit withdrawals or currency exchanges to small sums. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
Kidnapping is a risk to be taken seriously, including in the main cities. Victims tend to be Mexican citizens rather than foreign tourists but basic precautions will reduce the risk of opportunistic targeting. For your own safety when travelling in Mexico, you should:
- Get advice from your local contacts about staying safe
- Follow advice below regarding use of taxis iously, including in the main cities
- Be cautious and discreet about openly discussing your financial or business affairs
- Avoid travelling at night, particularly inter-city
- Avoid travelling alone
- When driving, ensure all car doors are locked
- Vary your routes and departure times – avoid patterns which could be tracked
- Pay careful attention to local media for reports of kidnapping activities
There have been incidents of ‘express kidnappings’, where people are forced to withdraw funds from ATMs to secure their release. If you’re the victim of such an attack, you should comply with all the demands of the perpetrator.
Passengers have been robbed and/or assaulted by unlicensed taxi drivers, particularly in Mexico City. Avoid hailing taxis on the street. Either book taxis through hotels or by phoning a reputable taxi company, or taxis based at stands (sitios). At airports, use only authorised prepaid airport taxi services; official taxi company booths are located in the arrivals hall at airport terminals.
Assault and robbery
Recently there have been reports of foreigners being violently targeted for assault and robbery at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. Victims are followed after exchanging or withdrawing money in the arrival areas the airport. We recommend that you avoid withdrawing or exchanging money in the public areas of the airport. If you need to do so, make sure your financial transactions are done before you leave the customs area. The Mexican public security authorities have set up the following dedicated telephone number to deal with reports of illegal or unusual activities in Benito Juarez International Airport - 01 52 55 5533 5533 (if calling from an Irish mobile phone) or 5533 5533 (if calling from a landline in Mexico City).
Pick-pocketing is common on the Mexico City Metro. Avoid travel during the rush hour if you can. Remain vigilant on long-distance bus journeys and pay attention to your hand luggage. It is advisable to use first-class bus services and travel during daylight. Crime levels on inter-city buses and on highways are high, and the risks increase after dark.
Lost or stolen passports
If your passport is lost or stolen, you’ll need to travel to the Embassy in Mexico City to get a replacement, which can take up to three weeks, due to time and distance factors. So please take extreme care with your passport and other personal documentation.
You should be very cautious if approached by people who present themselves as police officers and try to fine or arrest you for no apparent reason. Visitors have become victims of theft, extortion or sexual assault by those who may or may not be police officers. When in doubt, ask for identification and if possible take note of the officer's name, badge number, and patrol car number. If you’re stopped in these circumstances, try to remain in a busy area.
Crossing the US border
There have been reports of kidnappings, muggings, and drink-spikings of people crossing from the US into Mexico – particularly the city of Tijuana. This type of crime appears to be increasing, and you should be extremely careful and avoid putting yourself in vulnerable situations. Be aware that alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment.
If your passport is stolen on a day visit from San Diego to Tijuana, you will be refused re-entry into the US if you cannot produce a valid passport and visa. If you are not in a position to pay the fine, the only alternative is to travel to the Embassy in Mexico City to obtain a replacement passport.
Reporting a crime
If you’re the victim of a crime in Mexico, report it immediately to the Agencia del Ministerio Público nearest to the crime scene – you’ll need to present photo identification. No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to the authorities.
It’s especially important to report the loss or theft of your identification documents (to Mexican authorities and to the Irish Embassy in Mexico), in order to protect yourself should the documents later be misused at the scene of a crime. Minor fees may apply to get a copy of a document. For emergency services, dial 060 or 066.
Road conditions in Mexico vary and can be poor in some areas. Dangerous curves, poorly-marked signs and construction sites, roaming livestock, slow-moving or abandoned vehicles, and other obstacles pose hazards.
Mexican styles of driving and road safety standards are very different from those in Ireland so be prepared for vehicles that fail to observe speed limits or indicate lane changes and that do not stop at red lights.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Road travel should be limited to daylight hours throughout the country and where possible use toll (cuota) roads rather than free (libre) roads
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Be aware of Mexico’s traffic laws, such as speed limits
- Wear your seatbelts at all times
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
- There have been incidents of drug-trafficking organisations setting up vehicle ‘checkpoints’ in northern border states and Pacific states, leading to an increase in car-jackings in cities and on highways
- People who rent or borrow cars in Mexico are responsible for any illegal items found in those vehicles, even if they were unaware of their presence
Vehicle emergency assistance
In case of a vehicle breakdown or roadside emergency, a highway patrol service offered by the Mexican Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR) called the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes) provides free assistance on all major toll highways from 8am to 8pm. The emergency number to request assistance from the Green Angels is 078.
Pedestrians should be extremely cautious at all times as fatal hit-and-run accidents happen.
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Although the threat from terrorism in Mexico is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
- Read our travel advice, inform yourself before travelling and get advice locally when you arrive
- Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them
- Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal
Don’t get involved with drugs of any kind in any way. Penalties for drug offences are severe. Convictions carry very long sentences – up to 25 years – and prison conditions are not good.
You can be arrested for possession of Mexican archaeological artefacts.
The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and participation in activities such as demonstrations may result in detention and/or deportation.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters and climate
- If you’re travelling to Mexico, make sure you know what to expect – then plan and pack so that you’re prepared
- Get local advice on how to manage in the case of a serious incident or dangerous conditions
- Co-operate with local authorities and emergency services in the case of serious incidents
The hurricane season in Mexico extends from June to the end of November and can severely disrupt transportation and utilities. Landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur. In the case of a hurricane, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. You should also monitor local and international weather updates for the region and check the Weather Channel or the National Hurricane Centre in Miami.
If you go to Mexico during the hurricane season you should leave a detailed copy of your travel plans with a family member or friend. You should also register with the Irish Embassy in Mexico City. In the event of an approaching hurricane, identify your local shelter. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended and available flights may fill quickly so contact your airline for the latest flight information.
The hurricane could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. Carry your travel documents at all times (ie passport, picture identification, etc) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. You should also contact friends and family in Ireland with updates about your welfare and whereabouts.
Mexico is in an active earthquake zone and is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. If you’re travelling to or living in Mexico, make sure you know what to do in the event of an earthquake.
There are several active volcanoes in Mexico, including the Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes. Be aware that volcanic ash can cause serious disruption to travel services.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
For entry requirements for Mexico, please contact the nearest Mexican Embassy or Consulate.
Irish citizens need a visa to take part in human rights activities in Mexico. Even if you only plan to undertake voluntary human rights activities during a holiday in Mexico, you should contact your nearest Mexican Embassy prior to travel in order to determine the type of visa you require.
We advise you to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
Travelling with children
According to the Mexican Migration Act, which came into effect in May 2011, to enter or leave the country, children under 18 years ‘must be accompanied by any of the parents or the persons exercising parental responsibility or guardianship over them...’
There’s no specific requirement for authorisation by the absent parent in the case of single parents. However, if you’re travelling with a child who is not, or who appears not to be your child (eg if they have a different family name) you may be asked to show a notarised authorisation signed by the parent who is not travelling with the child, or by both parents where neither is travelling with the child.
If you can’t provide this, you should be able to show evidence of your relationship with the child and/or the reason why you’re travelling with them (eg a birth or adoption certificate, divorce or marriage certificates, or Parental Responsibility Order). This will minimise the risk of problems when entering or leaving Mexico.
Children under 18 years old travelling alone or accompanied by an adult who is not the parent or a legal guardian must present to the immigration officer in Mexico with a valid passport and a notarised authorisation from the parent(s) granting their permission for the child to enter/exit the country. This must be translated into Spanish.
Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for this country.
Malaria and dengue fever
Malaria and dengue fever are endemic in low-lying rural areas of Mexico and outbreaks can occur throughout the year. If you plan to visit these areas, consult your doctor before travelling about suitable anti-malarial medication and on arrival take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquito repellent and clothing covering as much skin as possible provides some protection.
We strongly recommend that you drink bottled (not tap) water. Ice is frequently made from tap water. You should be cautious about eating food and unbottled drinks from street vendors.