- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Mexico because of high levels of violent crime and drug-related violence.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
- Australians should be aware of their surroundings and exercise particular caution when travelling or walking alone at night as petty crime is also common. Pick-pockets have been known to target tourists at airports, bus terminals and on the metro in Mexico City. It is advisable to avoid displaying valuables. Tourists should also be aware of members of the public representing themselves as police officers.
- Travellers may become victims of violence directed against others. You should avoid all large public gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. There is some risk of violent crimes such as murders, robberies, kidnappings and car-jackings occurring and Australians are advised to be vigilant.
- The areas most affected by drug-related violence are the northern states that border the United States of America including Baja California (Tijuana and Mexicali), Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon (Monterrey), and along the Pacific coast including the states of Guerrero (Acapulco), Jalisco (Guadalajara), Michoacan (Morelia), Nayarit (Mazatlan) and Sinaloa (Los Mochis). Due to the heightened risk of violence in the northern states, we advise against road travel along the northern border.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Ciudad Juarez due to the very high level of drug-related violence.
- As a consequence of drug-related activities, there is a risk of shoot-outs, grenade attacks and car bombings occurring in public places. Targeted attacks on military personnel, government officials and journalists have also been reported.
- The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur. In the event of a hurricane, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. See the Natural disasters, severe weather and climate section for detailed advice.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mexico for the most up-to-date information.
The requirement to present a notarised, written consent from the non-travelling parent or guardian for children (under 18) to travel with one parent or guardian into or out of Mexico, regardless of their nationality, has been temporarily suspended until 24 January 2014.. Australians travelling with children are advised to contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mexico for further information and to confirm the latest legislation with regard to travelling with children.
If you are travelling to Mexico through the United States of America, or if you are transiting in Honolulu or other US points of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check with your nearest US Embassy or Consulate your visa requirements well in advance of your travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America .
Visitors crossing by land at the US/Mexico border must obtain a tourist card upon arrival to Mexico from the closest immigration office (Instituto Nacional de Migracion) to the land border crossing. All tourists are required to have their passport stamped for entry into Mexico. It is your responsibility to obtain a Multiple Immigration Form (FMM), upon entry into Mexico and failure to do so may result in a fine, detention or expulsion. For Australians entering Mexico by air, an FMM should be presented with passports for inspection on arrival at immigration.
As a result of the recent changes to the immigration legislation, including arrangements for working visas, we strongly advise that you check the latest requirements with your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers .
Civil unrest/Political tension
Protests, demonstrations and strikes are common in Mexico. They have the potential to cause major traffic congestion and restrict movement around the affected areas. You should avoid all large public gatherings, protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Participation in demonstrations by foreigners is prohibited. Travellers should monitor the local media for developments and follow the advice of local authorities.
The city of Oaxaca has experienced periods of violent civil unrest and underlying tensions remain.
Armed rebel and civilian groups are present in the state of Chiapas, particularly in remote areas, including jungle areas near the Guatemalan border. If you travel to Chiapas, you should remain in well-frequented tourist areas and familiarise yourself with the local security situation.
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Mexico because of high levels of violent crime and drug-related violence. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
If you are the victim of a crime, particularly if you wish to proceed to criminal investigation, you should immediately report the crime to the police.
Violent crime, including murder, armed robbery, sexual assault and kidnapping, occurs in Mexico, including in popular tourist destinations and beach resorts, and the risks increase after dark. Petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching, is prevalent in popular tourist destinations, airports, hotels, bus stations and on the metro in Mexico City.
There have been reports of sexual assault, extortion and robbery being committed by individuals presenting themselves as police officers, sometimes driving automobiles resembling police vehicles.
Incidences of kidnapping are increasing and there have been allegations of complicity by police officers. You should be cautious and discreet about discussing your financial or business affairs.
'Express kidnappings', where victims are forced to withdraw funds from ATMs to secure their release, continue to increase, particularly in urban areas. People travelling on the metro in Mexico City have been among those targeted. The use of ATMs located inside shopping malls during daylight hours may reduce the risk.
It is increasingly common for extortionists to call prospective victims by telephone, often posing as law enforcement or other officials, and demand payments in return for the release of an allegedly arrested family member. This is known as ?virtual kidnapping?. Avoid divulging personal information to strangers over the phone and if you receive such calls you should contact local police.
For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.
Incidents of drink and food 'spiking' have occurred in bars and restaurants. Do not leave your drinks unattended in bars or nightclubs and do not accept drinks from new acquaintances.
Thieves often work in cooperation with or pose as taxi drivers. Travellers have been robbed when using taxis hailed from the street. You should only use radio-despatched taxis or taxis based at designated stands (sitios), particularly in Mexico City. Use only official taxis from airports after pre-paying the fare inside the terminal building. Official taxi company booths are located in the arrivals hall at airport terminals.
There have been a number of incidents involving travellers changing money at Mexico City airport. Gangs are known to have arranged attacks on travellers at the airport after they have changed money. You should avoid changing money at the airport if possible or change only small amounts to avoid attracting attention.
Crime levels on inter-city buses and on highways are high, and the risks increase after dark. It is recommended travellers use first class buses and travel during daylight hours. There have been a number of reported robberies of tourists travelling by bus along the Pacific Highway, including from Acapulco to Ixtapa and Huatulco.
Using toll (cuota) roads may reduce the risk of crime when driving, but you should remain vigilant, particularly when travelling on toll roads in Sonora, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and border regions as tourists have been attacked on highways in these areas. Avoid driving at night outside of major cities, including on major highways. Incidents of violent car-jackings have increased significantly, particularly in northern border areas, but also along the Pacific coast. On occasions these attacks have been carried out by heavily armed gangs posing as police officers.
Visitors travelling in large camper vans or sports utility vehicles (SUVs), on roads in and out of the United States, have been targeted by organised crime groups.
Drug-related Violence : Since 2008, Mexico has experienced a dramatic increase in drug-related violence. Violent crimes related to the drug trade, including murders, kidnappings and carjackings, have become widespread. Shoot-outs, grenade attacks and car bombings have occurred in public places, and targeted attacks on military personnel, government officials and journalists have increased. Travellers may become victims of violence directed against others.
The Mexican government has deployed large numbers of military personnel and federal police in an effort to deal with the increasing levels of drug-related violence.
The areas most affected are the northern border states (Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas), the states along the Pacific coast (Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit and Sinaloa), the central region incorporating the states of Durango, San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas, and the state of Veracruz on the Gulf coast. Major cities along Mexico?s border with the United States, including Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez (see below), Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Nogales, Monterrey, Piedras Negras and Reynosa, have been particularly affected.
There has been a significant increase in drug-related violence in Monterrey (Nuevo Leon) since 2010. Shoot-outs at busy intersections and in restaurants have taken place. Drug cartels have erected roadblocks without warning. Gunfire has been heard throughout the city at irregular intervals and grenade attacks, car-jacking and kidnappings have occurred in Monterrey and the surrounding areas. Violent incidents continue to occur on a regular basis, including shootings in bars and public places. On 25 August 2011, gunmen attacked a casino in Monterrey, resulting in the deaths of at least 52 people.
Acapulco (Guerrero) : We advise you to exercise particular caution in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. We strongly advise you to travel only within well-frequented tourist areas and to be alert to any suspicious activity. The general level of violence in Acapulco (Guerrero) remains high. Incidents have included shoot-outs and murders in public places. On 4 February 2013, six female Spanish tourists were staying in a beach-front house in Barra Vieja, outside the main tourist area of Acapulco, when a group of intruders broke into the house, held the women at gunpoint and raped them. The Mexican authorities are currently investigating the crime and have increased security in the area.
Drug-related violence has increased in the state of Veracruz. In September 2011, 35 bodies were dumped on a highway in Veracruz near a tourist destination. Guadalajara has also experienced increased drug-related violence.
Increased levels of drug-related violence have been reported in Zacatecas, particularly in the remote north-western region of the state, where robberies, car-jackings and violent crime are occurring with increased frequency.
Other cities affected by drug-related violence include popular tourist destinations such as Zihuatenejo, Cuernavaca, Mazatlan and the area around the Copper Canyon. Violent attacks on public bars took place in Puerto Vallarta and Cancun in August 2010.
On 24 August 2012, two US Government employees were shot at while travelling south of Mexico City on a local road in the vicinity of Tres Marias, Morelos.
Travellers should be prepared for roadblocks and random vehicle checks by the police or military. Drug cartels also set up roadblocks on roads in the northern areas of Mexico to hinder military and police movement. Deaths have occurred when motorists have not stopped at the roadblocks.
If you travel to the areas mentioned above, we advise you to be aware of your surroundings, pay close attention to your personal security, avoid isolated locations, and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Evening activities should be restricted to well-known and well-frequented public establishments where access to safe transport is available.
Ciudad Juarez : We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua) due to the very high level of drug-related violence. The city has a drug-related murder rate many times higher than the national average. While not normally targeted, foreigners and tourists have been victims of the drug-related violence in the city. If you do decide to travel to Ciudad Juarez, you should exercise extreme care. Pay very close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media and other local sources of information about possible security and safety risks.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Mexico. US dollars are widely accepted in holiday resort areas of Mexico. For security reasons, you should only use ATMs during daylight hours.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home. Store your passport and other valuables in the hotel safe where possible and carry a copy of your passport for identification purposes.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority .
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Australians may be issued with an Emergency Travel document if their passport is lost or stolen and will need to get a US transit visa should their return travel be via the United States. This process requires a minimum of 48-72 hours.
Driving on rural roads in Mexico is dangerous due to poor road conditions, the presence of livestock and pedestrians on roads, and inadequate street lighting and signage. Criminals have targeted vehicles. When driving always keep doors locked, windows closed and do not leave valuables in vehicles even when locked. When driving in towns and cities, ensure there is enough room between your vehicle and those around you in case you have to change direction quickly. For further advice, see our road travel page. There are strict rules regarding foreigners driving in Mexico especially in relation to the reporting of accidents and having a relevant insurance policy. If you intend to drive within Mexico, you should ensure that you are well-informed of these laws.
Visitors intending to travel to Mexico in an owned or rented vehicle should ensure they have all the appropriate permits to enter Mexico. Check with the nearest Mexican embassy or consulate prior to your travel.
The standards maintained by diving schools, dive operators and other adventure activity companies may not be high or comparable to those in Australia. Carefully check the operator's credentials beforehand and ensure that your insurance policy covers you for all activities that you undertake.
Standards maintained by search and rescue services may not be as high or comparable to those in Australia. These services may not be available in some locations.
Visitors to beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Mexico should follow the warning flags. Local undertows and currents may endanger even strong swimmers.
Please refer to our air travel page for information on air travel.
When you are in Mexico, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. In Mexico, suspects may be considered guilty until proven innocent.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter .
The Mexican constitution expressly prohibits political activity by foreign nationals while they are in Mexico. This includes participation in protests or demonstrations. Such activity may result in detention or expulsion from Mexico for up to 10 years.
Mexico City has passed a law allowing same-sex marriages. Same-sex civil unions are legally performed in Mexico City and the state of Coahuila. Homosexuality is tolerated rather than accepted and public displays of affection between same sex couples should be avoided.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy prison sentences in local jails. This may also include controlled medications if not purchased with a legal prescription.
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. There are strict rules regarding foreigners driving in Mexico especially in relation to the reporting of accidents and having a relevant insurance policy. If you intend to drive within Mexico, you should ensure that you are well-informed of these laws.
You can be arrested for possession of Mexican archaeological artefacts.
It is illegal to enter Mexico, including Mexican waters, with firearms and/or ammunition without having a permit. This permit has to be issued by a Mexican embassy or consulate prior to your arrival. It cannot be done once you arrive. Mexican authorities strictly enforce these rules at all land borders, airports and seaports.
Australians residing in Mexico and planning to acquire property or invest in time-share agreements should undertake thorough research and seek the advice of a qualified lawyer before making any financial commitments.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money, laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years? imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Information for dual nationals
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of medical facilities provided by private hospitals in Mexico and other major cities is reasonable. Outside major cities, however, facilities can be very limited. Treatment at private clinics and hospitals is expensive. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care. Island resorts may lack comprehensive medical facilities.
Hyperbaric chambers are available in major cities and in resort towns where scuba diving is popular.
Malaria is a risk throughout the year, particularly in the state of Chiapas, in rural areas of Nayarit, Oaxaca and Sinaloa, and in some parts of Chihuahua, Durango, and Sonora.
Dengue fever and other insect-borne diseases (including Chagas' disease and leishmaniasis) are also a risk to travellers. You should consult your doctor or travel clinic about prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose fitting light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, typhoid, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
In addition to difficulties caused by high altitude, visitors to Mexico City may experience health problems caused by air pollution, which is at its peak during the winter months. Visitors with heart, lung or respiratory problems are advised to consult their doctors before travelling.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website . For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza .
Where to get help
In Mexico, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Embassy, Mexico City
Ruben Dario #55
Corner of Campos Eliseos, Polanco
Colonia Bosque de Chapultepec
11580 Mexico DF Mexico
Telephone: (52 55) 1101 2200
Facsimile: (52 55) 1101 2201
If you are travelling to Mexico, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides and flash flooding may occur, including in Mexico City. In the case of a hurricane, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials.
The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning. You can check the latest hurricane information at the National Hurricane Center website .
In the event of an approaching hurricane, you should identify your local shelter. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. You should 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. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, picture identification, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see our Severe Weather page.
Mexico experiences a number of tremors/earthquakes each year. Visitors should ensure they are aware of the safety exits in their hotel or accommodation.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure .
There are several active volcanoes, including the Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes. The Popocatepetl volcano currently has a Yellow (phase two) alert following significant recent activity. Information on volcanic activity can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service .
If a natural disaster occurs, you should monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children brochure .
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.