- 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 common. Pickpockets 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 carjackings occurring and Australians are advised to be vigilant.
- 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 areas most affected by drug-related violence are the northern states that border the United States of America including Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, and along the Pacific coast including the states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit and Sinaloa.
- Due to the heightened risk of violence in the northern states, we advise against road travel along the northern border with the US.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Ciudad Juarez due to the very high level of drug-related violence.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the state of Michoacán, except the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas, due to increasing organised crime and the volatile security situation in the state.
- 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 customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mexico for the most up-to-date information.
Mexico requires a notarised consent for minors (under 18) travelling to Mexico from the non-travelling parent(s) or guardian(s). Australians travelling with children are advised to contact their nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mexico for further information.
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 can be obtained on arrival and should be presented with passports for inspection at immigration.
In 2013, changes were made to 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. Travellers should monitor the local media for developments and follow the advice of local authorities.
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.
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 pickpocketing and bag snatching, is prevalent in tourist destinations, airports, hotels, bus stations and on public transport.
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 and public transport in Mexico City have been among those targeted. The use of ATMs located inside shopping centres 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.
You should avoid changing money at the airport if possible, or change only small amounts to avoid attracting attention. A number of travellers have been attacked by organised gangs after changing money at airports.
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 carjackings 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.
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, Michoacán, 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, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Nogales, Piedras Negras and Reynosa have been particularly affected. Visitors should remain within tourist areas and avoid road travel in affected states.
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.
Travellers should be prepared for roadblocks and random vehicle checks by the police or military. Drug cartels also set up roadblocks in the northern areas of Mexico to hinder military and police movement. Motorists who have not stopped at the roadblocks have been killed.
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 (Chihuahua): We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Ciudad Juarez 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 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.
Michoacán: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the state of Michoacán, except the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas. Federal authorities assumed full control of public safety in Michoacán in early 2014 due to increasing organised crime-related activity and the presence of a large number of so-called self-defence groups in the state. The actions of these self-defence groups are unpredictable and the security situation is volatile. If you do decide to travel to Michoacán, 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 new 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 valuable documents 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 48hours.
Driving on rural roads in Mexico is dangerous due to poor road conditions, the presence of pedestrians and livestock 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 travel 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. 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. Suspects may be detained until their legal situation is assessed.
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, including 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. More conservative attitudes prevail in parts of the country and public displays of affection between members of the same sex may not be considered socially acceptable in some areas. See our LGBTI travellers page.
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, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians 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 page 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.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
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 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.
Visitors to Mexico City may experience health problems caused by high altitude as well as 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.
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. Familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo 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.
In Mexico there are several active volcanoes, including the Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes. The Popocatepetl volcano varies between a Yellow Phase Two and Yellow Phase Three alert, depending on its 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.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.