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.
We advise Irish citizens in Mexico to exercise a high degree of caution.
Due to high levels of violence, mainly linked to organised crime, we advise against non-essential travel to the states of Michoacán (except Morelia), Guerrero (except for Acapulco, Taxco and Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo), Colima (except Manzanillo), Chihuahua, Coahuila (except Saltillo), Durango, Nuevo Leon (except Monterrey), Sinaloa (except Mazatlán), Sonora (except Hermosillo and Guaymas/San Carlos) and Tamaulipas.
Latest travel alert
Presidential elections are scheduled to take place on 1 July 2018. Be vigilant during the election period. Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place. Follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media for the latest information.
Although it does not target tourists, violence related to organised crime has been on the rise in Mexico in 2017 and 2018, including in tourist zones in Quintana Roo (Cancun and Playa del Carmen) and Baja California Sur (Los Cabos).
An explosive device was detonated on a tourist ferry operating between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, in Quintana Roo, on 21 February 2018. Another undetonated device was found on a similar tourist ferry by local authorities on 1 March 2018. Mexican authorities are investigating these incidents.
On Tuesday 19 September 2017 there was an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 near Puebla, Mexico – approx 140km south east of Mexico City. Damage to infrastructure in affected areas was severe, with disruptions to electricity, water and gas supplies and communications services, including internet and mobile phone service, in affected areas.
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
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- 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 @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
- Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide
Safety and security
Safety and security
- Drug-related violence in Mexico has increased over recent years, with homicide rates in 2017 the highest since record keeping began. The violence is concentrated in certain areas. Make sure you research your destination thoroughly.
- Due to high levels of violence, mainly linked to organised crime, we advise against non-essential travel to the states of Michoacán (except Morelia), Guerrero (except for Acapulco, Taxco and Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo), Colima (except Manzanillo), Chihuahua, Coahuila (except Saltillo), Durango, Nuevo Leon (except Monterrey), Sinaloa (except Mazatlán), Sonora (except Hermosillo and Guaymas/San Carlos) and Tamaulipas.
- Although tourists are not targeted directly, the popular tourist destinations of Acapulco, Los Cabos, Taxco, Tijuana and Zihuatenejo are now classified as amongst the most dangerous locations in Latin America due to their homicide rates.
- Visitors should not drive at night and should monitor the media and other local sources of information about security incidents and safety risks.
- 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. There are high levels of crime in Rosarito.
- 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.
- 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.
Demonstrations and protests
- Demonstrations and protests occur regularly throughout the country. Demonstrations and roadblocks are common in Mexico City (including to and from the airport) and in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca. You should avoid demonstrations and follow the advice of the local authorities if you’re in an area where a protest is taking place.
- Protests and illegal road blocks have affected the Oaxaca-Puebla highway in the municipality of Nochixtlán and a number of people have been killed in violent clashes between police and protesters. Travel by road on the Oaxaca-Puebla highway is not advised until further notice and all but essential travel to Istmo de Tehuantepec should be avoided.
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,, 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 and windows rolled up
- 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.
- 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.
Passengers have been robbed and/or assaulted by unlicensed taxi drivers, particularly in Mexico City. Do not hail taxis on the street. Either book taxis through Uber, 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. It is strongly recommended not to accept water, food or sweets from taxi drivers in Mexico.
Assault and robbery
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. Getting a replacement passport will be easier if you are able to provide a copy of the lost or stolen one, so keep photocopies of your passport.
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-Mexico border
Students in the US on J1 visas are strongly advised against leaving and re-entering the United States during your J1, unless there are compelling reasons for doing so. Students have encountered particular difficulties crossing the US-Mexico border, which has sometimes led to deportation and an end to their J1 visa. This will permanently impact on your ability to travel to the US in the future. Participants in a J1 programme must also ensure that their sponsor permits temporary travel outside the United States while on a J1 programme.
If you travel to Mexico and lose your passport here, you may in real difficulty – immigration controls have tightened considerably and you won't be allowed re-enter the US without a valid machine readable passport. There is no Irish Consulate in Tijuana and Mexico City is a 3 hour flight away. Irish citizens who travel outside the US while participating in a J1 programme should expect to be subject to standard immigration procedures on re-entering the US.
There have been reports of kidnappings, muggings, and drink-spiking 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.
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. Illegal roadblocks have been reported, particularly in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas. If you’re driving in these states, travel during daylight hours and use toll roads, although you may still encounter disruptions.
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
- Keep your vehicle doors locked, windows rolled up and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you are 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).
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 (i.e. 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.
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
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.
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.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
If you are unsure of the entry requirements for this country, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the country’s nearest Embassy or Consulate.
You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.
If you’re visiting Mexico as a tourist you don’t need to apply for a visa in advance, but you do need a stamped ‘Forma Migratoria Múltiple’ (FMM) which you will receive on arrival by completing an immigration form available at border crossings or on-board flights to Mexico. You need this FMM to leave the country. If you lose your FMM you can get it replaced at the immigration office at any international airport in Mexico. The cost of a replacement is $295 Mexican Pesos which usually needs to be paid in cash.
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.
It is no longer possible to switch immigration status in-country. You can’t enter Mexico as a tourist and then convert to a work visa. You must apply at the Mexican Consulate of your normal place of residence in plenty of time before you are due to travel.
Mexican immigration law is strictly enforced and it is essential you do not overstay the 180 day visa free period during which Irish citizens can visit Mexico for tourist or business purposes.
If you are traveling by land to Mexico, particularly from Guatemala, it is essential to ensure that your passport is stamped with an entry stamp. If you are planning to stay in Mexico for a longer period of time it is vital to ensure you have the correct visa and that your residency status is up to date, or you risk being detained and deported. Detention conditions can be poor. The Embassy cannot regularise your immigration status for you, nor can we intervene with the Mexican authorities to prevent you from being detained in advance of deportation.
The Mexican Police have the authority to ask for proof of legal status in Mexico and, on occasion, have detained EU nationals without documents. 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 and of the stamped ‘Forma Migratoria Múltiple’ (FMM) given to you on arrival in Mexico at all times. Your passport should be valid for 6 months from the last day of your stay in Mexico. If you’re a resident you may be asked by the Mexican Police to provide your residency card issued by the Mexican government.
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 (e.g. 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 (e.g. 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.
Although civil unions between same sex partners are now legal in Mexico City and the state of Coahuila, homosexuality in Mexico is generally tolerated, rather than accepted. Public displays of affection between same sex couples outside the main cities and tourist resorts in Mexico would be unusual and may attract negative attention.
The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and participation in activities such as demonstrations may result in detention and/or deportation.