Mexico Travel Advice

Security travel advice for Mexico

Security information

Threat level: Medium
The current travel safety advice for Mexico is to remain cautious and follow the travel advisories and warnings put into place by your local foreign office, especially when travelling to destinations which are not main tourist districts. There is a low threat of extremist terrorism unlike much of the western world, however there is a very high risk of other violent crimes.

It is advised extra caution and to defer all non-essential travel to the following states: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas; due to violent crime and gang-related activities taking place in these areas.

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Recent Security Risk Events
On the 26th of September 2018, a clash between members of a cartel and the Mexican Army occurred in Ciudad Mier after several gunmen were spotted by a military plane. 27 drug cartel gunmen were killed, two soldiers were injured and three kidnap victims were freed.

It was reported that on Wednesday 23rd of February 2018, that there was a small explosion on board a ferry operated by Barcos Caribe, as it unloaded in Caribbean beach city of Playa del Carmen. A number of people were injured in this explosion including a number of Americans. No-one has claimed responsibility for this incident. A further development is that, undetonated explosives have since been found on another ferry operated by Barcos Caribe that operated between Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, both locations very popular vacation destinations for US tourists. Extreme caution is advised.

On the 16th of January 2017, five people were killed in a shooting at the BPM music festival which takes place in Playa Del Carmen. It is still uncertain who is behind these attacks, however 4 people have now been arrested by the Mexican authorities.

Two days later on January the 18th, three gunmen and a police officer died during a gun battle at a state prosecutor's office in Cancun. It is still uncertain as to whether or not these two attacks are linked or not, but the attacks have spread panic in the Caribbean coastal city.

Do not travel at night in these areas as there have been an increase in the homicide rates within these cities, with La Paz having most of these incidences. There have been numerous security-related events in and around the surrounding areas of Acapulco.

In December 2016, there was a large explosion at Mexico's notorious San Pablito Market in Tultepec. The blast was caused by fireworks igniting in the market place causing a chain reaction of explosions. 29 people were killed.

Security Risks
International visitors have been the victims of violent crime within Mexico. This ranges from petty theft through to more serious murders, kidnappings, and carjackings by organised crime syndicates.

It is strongly advised you remain within the popular tourist destinations, where the strict police presence is high and incidences are lower. Areas such as Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cozumel, and Los Cabos are popular destinations.

Females need to remain extra vigilant as the rate of sexual assaults are steadily increasing. It is advised females do not travel alone on public transport without taking extra security measures. There has also been an increase in organised crime-led kidnappings for ransom.

A majority of business and some domestic visitors invest in their safety by contracting Close Protection Services for their stay. It is advised you lower your personal profile whilst staying in the country and do not display jewellery, cameras or wealth in public.

Areas of concern for robbery and extortion are adult entertainment establishments and gambling establishments; previous incidents have occurred in: Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit

There can be sporadic and unpredictable gun battles between rival groups or Mexican Authorities during both daytime and night time hours in public places. These have included vehicles being stolen and the creation of roadblocks set up by the criminal factions to prevent assistance from the public services.

There are demonstrations which can turn violent in Mexico, alongside this they can also heavily disrupt transportation links including airports and toll booths on the highways. It is advised that avoidance of such public protests are undertaken, however do not leave the public highways as risk of further danger is present. It is illegal for international visitors to take part in political activities, which can result in imprisonment or deportation.

International Relations
Mexico has a low geopolitical risk, interacting well with its neighbours. There are some concerns over human rights, corruption and bribery within the country as well as scandals involving the political cabinet.

The country has a reasonably strong presence in major economic groups including the G7+5 which integrates the seven major advanced economies and the five leading emerging economies which includes Mexico and Brazil. The aim was to have a stronger group representing a wider array of countries to address items such as trade talks and issues of climate change.

Travel considerations
Be extra vigilant on public transport and around travel hubs such as bus stations, as theft is common place and there have been incidences of rape and full buses of travellers have been known to be hijacked. It is advised to use first class bus travel wherever possible, as these journeys will stick to the main highways and safer routes. Robberies have occurred by unlicensed taxi drivers, so please make sure you make your checks before entering any vehicle.

If you are considering driving in Mexico, it is recommended to keep doors locked and windows closed, avoid isolated roads and drive on toll roads ('cuotas') instead.

It is advised that you co-operate at all check points, including those that have been set up by criminal factions, as those who have failed to stop have been killed or abducted.

General information

Capital: Mexico City
Official languages: Spanish
Religion: Roman Catholic
Currency: Peso
Time now in Mexico:

Visa requirements
If your stay is under 180 days, you do not require a visa to enter Mexico if you are part of the 65 countries it admits freely.

You will need to carry your passport and additionally your birth certificate. You will need to apply for a tourist card upon entry to the country and subject to departure tax.

It is advised that visitors to Mexico are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.

Other health risks
There have been confirmed cases of the Zika virus, Chikungunya fever and Dengue fever in Mexico and suitable precautions are advised. All three diseases are transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and although there is no vaccine at present, taking precautions against bites can prevent contraction in the first place.

You can find more about the Zika virus here: Zika virus facts
More information on Dengue fever, see: Dengue Fever facts
Information about the Chikungunya Fever, see: Chikungunya Fever facts

Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold. Ice should be avoided within refreshments purchased as it is not guaranteed to come from a clean water source.

Consular information

U.S. Embassy Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma 305
Colonia Cuauhtemoc
06500 Mexico, D.F.
Telephone: +55 5080 2000

British Embassy Mexico City
British Embassy
Río Lerma, No. 71,
Col. Cuauhtémoc, CP. 06500
Mexico City,
Telephone: +52 55 1670 3200

You are responsible for your own safety abroad and for making the decision to travel.

The information contained in this Travel Advice for Mexico is provided for information only. Whilst care is taken to ensure that this country brief is as up-to-date and accurate as possible, it is provided on an "as is" basis without any representation or endorsement made and without warranty of any kind, express or implied. Intelligent Protection International Limited does not assume responsibility and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

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      Mexico City Police: 080
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