Mexico Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Mexico
How safe is Mexico?
Threat level: Medium
COVID-19 Situation in Mexico
Due to the high infection rate of coronavirus in Mexico, you should reconsider non-essential travel to Mexico. Mexico has reached stage 3 of the virus with widespread community transmission and an increasing number of daily cases. People showing signs of the disease including fever and coughing are asked to self-isolate for 14 days and elderly over the age of 70 are recommended to stay at home for an extended period. Since the 1st of June, citizens from certain industries have been allowed to return to work. Restrictions may vary from one Mexican state to another with some states imposing curfews and the use of face masks when outside the home. To avoid contracting the disease, apply good hygiene practices, wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, avoid public gatherings and unnecessary travel. For more information, please refer to our healthcare section.
Security in Mexico
The current travel 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.
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides Executive Protection services in the Central America. If you are interested in these services, please visit: Bodyguards in Central America.
Recent Security Risk Events
Following the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán López, El Chapo's son on the 17th of October 2019, the city of Culiacán was brought to a standstill with cartel gunmen attacking security forces. Guzmán was later released by the police out of fear of retaliation.
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.
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.
The overall travel advice for Mexico is that 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.
Mexico's 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.
Travelling around Mexico
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.
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency Services in Mexico
Information about emergencies: 060
Religion: Roman Catholic
Time now in Mexico:
Consular information for Mexico
U.S. Embassy Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma 305
06500 Mexico, D.F.
Telephone: +55 5080 2000
British Embassy Mexico City
Río Lerma, No. 71,
Col. Cuauhtémoc, CP. 06500
Telephone: +52 55 1670 3200
Visa requirements for Mexico
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 or apply for it in advance via the National Institute of Immigration website that you must hand back when you leave. You will also be subject to departure tax that is usually included as part of your airline ticket fee.
Healthcare and Immunisations
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.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak that is affecting the country, it is recommended to apply good hygiene practices, maintain social distancing, and avoid contact with people showing flue-like symptoms. If you are coughing and have fever, it is required to quarantine yourself and only call emergency services if you have severe respiratory issues.
There is a health risk within many of the hotels in the Riviera Maya resort and Cancun. The parasite cyclospora is spread by infected human faeces contaminating water or food. It gives severe illness to those affected including symptoms of diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, bloating and nausea. It is strongly advised to take precautions if you travel to these areas.
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.
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.