I’ve seen a lot of “I’m visiting Mexico, please help”-type of posts recently. Yet, the description of this sub-redditis for aggregation of “News, blog-posts, odd-stuff, and other interesting things about Mexico, in English and in Spanish.”
Most of us don’t mind answering your questions, but I think that doing it every other day is redundant, and misses the point of this sub-reddit. So, this FAQ has been created for questions that people living outside of Mexico may have about Visiting Mexico. If, after reading it, you still have further, specific questions about coming to our country, the r/Mexico community will be happy to guide you, and will welcome your question posts (Mods reserve the rights to link to your posts). But, please read the following before posting:
– Do you recommend any activities/lodging/transportation now that I am visiting Mexico?
Mexico is a very big country, there a lot of things you can do here in Mexico. The good news is that a lot of r/Mexico redditors are glad to give you the “inside scoop”.
However, before asking this question in a post submission, please consider the following:
Mexicans pay, on average, 60% of their income in taxes. A lot of it goes to wasteful spending and a lot of it goes to corruption. However, some of it is spent in services that are, actually, kind of cool. One of them is this amazing website put together by the Department of Tourism!
Please go to that website and research for yourself what you’d like to do in Mexico, and then come here and ask more specific questions of the particular activities and destinations you are most interested in. Please do this out of respect for us taxpayers, as we are most likely overpaying for this service.
Also, if you already have a specific destination in mind, some local governments also have websites dedicated to tourists to those areas. You might want to check them out:
- Mexico City Spanish only
- Monterrey, Nuevo León
- Guadalajara Spanish only
- Oaxaca Spanish only
If you’re not careful, a lot of airlines may have you making a stop in Mexico City. It is a good recommendation to try and find alternate routes, unless you plan on staying in Mexico City. The Mexico City airport is a very complicated, unorganized nightmare.
– Do I need a visa to enter into Mexico?
If you have a US Tourist Visa, or if you are a citizen of any of these countries you do not need a Visa to enter Mexico for a period of less than 6 months, for tourism only.
If you do not have a US visa, if you are not a citizen of any of the countries listed in the link, or if you intend to enter into Mexico for more than 6 months, or if you intend to enter into Mexico for a purpose different than tourism, then yes, you do need a visa.
It goes without saying, you need a passport from your country to enter Mexico.
– If I do need a Visa, what type of visa is right for me and how do I get it?
As for how to get a visa, your best bet would be to contact your Embassy or Consulate.
If you do not live in the capital city of your Country, Mexico also offers Consular Services in secondary cities in the United States & Puerto Rico, Canada, China & Hong Kong, Spain, Germany, Brasil, Dubai, Honduras, and Guatemala. Here is a list of Mexican Consulates.
The Government Agency in charge of handling immigration is the National Immigration Bureau (Instituto Nacional de Migración, or INAMI). Visit their website if you have any further questions.
– What about all of that violence and insecurity I hear about in the news?
There is no denying violence and crime in Mexico is very bad and intense. However, it is localized to very specific areas and there are things you can do to prevent becoming a victim. Outside of certain areas of the country, crime in Mexico is actually lower than even the US! In fact, USA Today recently ran an article titled Mexico’s violence not as widespread as seems.
Having said the above, there are a few things you should consider before coming to Mexico:
a) If you are not travelling by air, try to avoid travelling by bus, or by night, or both.
b) If in a major city (non-resort town), try to stay near your hotel, or if possible, be inside your hotel, by 10:30pm and until 6:00am.
c) Most big cities have regular taxi cabs and premiere taxi cabs which guarantee safety (usually recommended by the hotel, restaurant, airport, or mall you may be visiting, and they also have cards too). The “premiere” cab service is not much more expensive than the regular taxi cab service, and the price differential is worth it.
d) Don’t try to confront police officers.
e) If you plan on drinking a bit too much, always be accompanied of someone you trust who is not drinking, or stay in your hotel, or both.
f) Ask the locals about the parts of town you should avoid, and avoid them.
You may also Read this Travel Warning by the US Department of State. Take their recommendations seriously.
– What other things should I consider when travelling into Mexico?
Taxes and Tariffs
If you are bringing into Mexico (or getting out of Mexico) things that are charged a tariff, you can either risk to try and smuggle them in or out (at your risk), or you can pay the tariff. The Finance Ministry (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público) is in charge of both, but they collect taxes through the Tributary Administration Service (The Mexican equivalent to the US’s IRS, known as SAT, or Servicio de Administración Tributaria), and tariffs are in charge of the Customs Agency (Aduana de México). If you intend to work in Mexico, you need to be registered in the SAT.
Don’t drink the tap water. If you think it will make you sick, it will. Period. It has nothing to do with whether or not the water is good or bad. Buy bottled water and that’s that.
Mexico claims to have achieved “Universal Healthcare Coverage”. What this means is that, the people who don’t have a private health insurance (paid for by themselves or their employer), have access to some form of government-provided health insurance, from the basic and preventative “Popular Insurance” (Seguro Popular), to the Government-run hospitals of the Mexican Social Security Service (IMSS).
In Mexico, particularly in the big cities, you will find high quality hospitals, but they are expensive. If you ever get sick in Mexico, your best bet is to go to these hospitals. If you have private insurance in your home country, ask your insurer for a plan that covers you in Mexico. This should be available in the US, as many US health insurance companies also operate in Mexico.
– What time is it in Mexico?
Mexico has 3, 4 or 5 time zones (depending on the time of year and who you ask). Most of the country is in Central Time, but we do Daylights Savings a bit differently than in the US, so if it’s that time of year, you may want to check.
Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Cancun, Acapulco, the Mayan Riviera, the entire Gulf and Carribean Coasts, Central Mexico, and most of the Texas Border are in the Central Time Zone. Here is a link to the current time in this time zone.
The States of Chihuahua (Ciudad Juarez), Nayarit (San Blas, Banderas Bay, Chacala Bay) and Baja California Sur, sometimes called “Baja Sur” (Los Cabos, La Paz) are all in the Mountain Time Zone. Here is a link to the current time in this time zone.
The State of Sonora (Rocky Point, Nogales, Guaymas, Hermosillo) is also in the Mountain Time Zone, but, like the US State of Arizona, which it borders, it doesn’t observe Daylight’s Savings Time. Here is a link to the current time in this time zone.
The State of Baja California, sometimes called “Baja” (Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada) are in the Pacific Time Zone. Here is a link to the current time in this time zone.
Finally, Passion Island, or “Clipperton Island“, is an abandoned Coral Atoll claimed by both France and Mexico. It is mostly recognized to be of French Dominion, and France has both the strongest legal argument, and the strongest army, to defend this position. But Mexico is just not letting go, mostly because of Cinco de Mayo. Anyway, here is a link to the current time in Passion Island…
If you have any further questions, feel free to ask the r/Mexico community. We will be happy to help!