Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel
Hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel have affected most parts of the country with the States of Guerrero, Veracruz and Oaxaca most affected. The airport in Acapulco has now reopened and Irish citizens are advised to check with flight operators to determine flight availability. The motorway from Mexico City to Acapulco has partially reopened. The Embassy in Mexico is monitoring the situation and we advise all Irish citizens to monitor local media and follow any advice given by the local authorities.
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, is obtained before travelling to Mexico. Travellers should note that the Irish government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains. You should ensure the recreational activities you choose are covered by your travel insurance or by a local insurance. Ensure sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition, especially for scuba diving. Many operators do not conduct regular safety checks.
Safety and Security
Most visits to Mexico are trouble-free, however, we advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Mexico because of the high level of violent crime. Pay close attention to your security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Recently there have been reports of foreigners being violently targeted for assault and robbery at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. Victims are followed after exchanging or withdrawing money in the arrival areas the airport. It is therefore recommended to avoid withdrawing or exchanging money in the public areas of the airport. Should you absolutely need to do so, financial transactions should be done before exiting the customs area. The Mexican public security authorities have set up the following dedicated telephone number to deal with reports of illegal or unusual activities in Benito Juarez International Airport - 01 52 55 5533 5533 (if calling from an Irish mobile phone) or 5533 5533 (if calling from a landline in Mexico City).
Please be aware when crossing from the US into Mexico – particularly the city of Tijuana – there have been reports of kidnappings, muggings, and drink-spikings. This type of crime appears to be increasing, and Irish citizens are advised to exercise a high degree of caution and avoid putting themselves in vulnerable situations. Be aware that alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment.
In general, you should withdraw or exchange money at automated banking machines or bureaux de change (casas de cambio) during daylight hours only, and inside shops and malls rather than on the street. Keep your credit card in sight when paying. It is safer to limit withdrawals or currency exchanges to small sums.
Please be advised that street crime is on the increase. You should take the usual safety precautions with your valuables and avoid any obvious displays of wealth. You should be particularly alert on public transport, at airports, bus stations and tourist sites. The Plaza Garibaldi area is particularly dangerous. Pick-pocketing is common on the Mexico City Metro. Avoid travel during the rush hour if you can. Remain vigilant on long distance bus journeys and pay attention to you hand luggage. It is advisable to use first class bus services and travel during daylight.
Incidents of kidnapping are frequent, particularly in Mexico City. There have been incidents of "express kidnappings", where people are forced to withdraw funds from ATMs to secure their release. If you are the victim of such an attack you should comply with all the demands of the perpetrator. Longer-term kidnapping for financial gain also occurs, and there have been allegations of complicity by police officers. You should be cautious and discreet about openly discussing your financial or business affairs.
Passengers have been robbed and/or assaulted by unlicensed taxi drivers, particularly in Mexico City. Avoid hailing taxis on the street. Either book taxis through hotels or by phoning a reputable taxi company, or taxis based at stands (sitios). At airports, use only authorised prepaid airport taxi services; official taxi company booths are located in the arrivals hall at airport terminals.
Crime levels on inter-city buses and on highways are high, and the risks increase after dark. Using toll (cuota) roads may reduce the risk of crime when driving, but you should remain vigilant.
You should exercise caution if approached by persons presenting themselves as police officers and attempting to fine or arrest you for no apparent reason. There have been instances of visitors becoming victims of theft, extortion or sexual assault by persons who may or may not be police officers. When in doubt, ask for identification and if possible note the officer's name, badge number, and patrol car number. If you are stopped in these circumstances you should try to ensure that you remain in a busy area.
If you are the victim of a crime, report it immediately to the Agencia del Ministerio Público nearest to the crime scene. No criminal investigation is possible without a formal complaint to Mexican authorities. You must present photo identification. It is especially important to report the loss or theft of your identification documents (to Mexican authorities and to the Irish Embassy in Mexico), in order to protect yourself should the documents later be misused at the scene of a crime. Minor fees may apply to obtain the copy of a document. For emergency services, dial 060 or 066.
The border region with the US is considered especially unsafe. Foreign visitors and residents have been among the victims in this region, including the cities of Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Nogales, Reynosa and Maramoros. Travellers to northern border and Pacific states should special caution; Ciudad Juarez in particular is considered unsafe at this time. A number of Irish and other foreign students in the city of Monterrey have decided to leave before completing their studies due to the security situation, and any Irish students considering studying there should contact the Embassy for an update on the security situation.
Irish tourists or students who consider it necessary to visit Tijuana should remain in the Zona Río and Av. Revolución areas of the city and avoid the Zonas Norte and Oriente. You are likely to face prosecution and lengthy sentences if found in possession of any amount of illicit drugs. There have also been reported cases of police extortion. In recent years a number of Irish students have had their passports and other valuables stolen while on day visits from San Diego to Tijuana. If this happens to you, you will be refused re-entry into the US if you cannot produce a valid passport and visa. If you are not in a position to pay the fine, the only alternative is to travel to the Embassy in Mexico City to obtain a replacement passport. Please therefore take extreme care with your passport and other personal documentation when travelling to Mexico to avoid an unpleasant and inconvenient situation.
There have been more than 50,000 drug-related murders since 2006, with northern border states (Baja California Norte, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas) and Pacific states (Durango, Guerrero, Jalisco and Michoacán) particularly affected. There has been a recent increase in violent incidents and gun battles in and around Jalisco, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Matamoros, to the north and east of Monterrey, and in Monterrey itself. There have also been incidents of drug trafficking organizations setting up vehicle "checkpoints" in these regions, leading to an increase in car-jackings in cities and on highways.
Foreign visitors and residents have been among the victims in the border region, including the cities of Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Nogales, Reynosa, Monterrey, and Maramoros. Foreign citizens have not normally been targetted in drug related violence, although the murder of two US citizens in Ciudad Juárez in March 2010 has raised concerns about the safety of foreigners in the region. Travellers to northern border and Pacific states should exercise special caution, particularly in Ciudad Juárez at this time. A number of foreign students in the city of Monterrey have decided to leave before completing their studies due to the security situation, and Irish students there may wish to carefully consider the situation.
Oaxaca city and rural parts of Oaxaca state have experienced periods of violent civil unrest in recent years. Underlying tensions and a large police presence remain in the city. On 27 April 2010, a Finnish national was murdered while participating in a human rights observation mission to San Juan Copala in rural Oaxaca. A Mexican human rights activist was killed in the same attack. Irish citizens considering participating in human rights observation missions in Mexico should ensure they have reliable information about the security situation in the places they plan to visit and should be aware that the Mexican security forces are not always able to prevent fatal attacks on human rights defenders in the country. Irish citizens are also required to have a visa in order in order to participate in human rights observation activities in Mexico. Even If you only plan to undertake voluntary human rights activities during a holiday in Mexico, you should contact your nearest Mexican Embassy prior to travel in order to determine the type of visa you require.
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 are considering travel to remote areas of Chiapas, you should remain in well-frequented tourist areas and familiarise yourself with the local security situation.
The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and participation in activities such as demonstrations may result in detention and/or deportation.
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.
The threat from terrorism is low. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Local Laws and Customs
For entry requirements for Mexico, please contact the nearest Mexican Embassy or Consulate. Irish citizens require a visa in order in order to participate in human rights activities in Mexico. Even If you only plan to undertake voluntary human rights activities during a holiday in Mexico, you should contact your nearest Mexican Embassy prior to travel in order to determine the type of visa you require.
It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
In the event that your passport is lost or stolen, obtaining a replacement passport can take up to three weeks, due to time and distance factors. You should take necessary precautions to keep your travel documents secure at all times.
You are advised not to become involved with drugs of any kind in any way. Penalties for drug offences are severe. Convictions carry very long sentences – up to 25 years – and prison conditions are not good.
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. You can be arrested for possession of Mexican archaeological artefacts.
Travelling with children
According to the Mexican Migration Act, which came into effect in May 2011, to enter/exit the country children under 18 years "must be accompanied by any of the parents or the persons exercising parental responsibility or guardianship over them..."
There is no specific requirement for authorisation by the absent parent in the case of single parents. However, those who are not, or who appear not to be, the child's parent (e.g. if they have a different family name) may be asked to show a notarised authorisation signed by the parent who is not travelling with the child, or by both parents where neither is travelling with the child. If they are not able to provide this, they should be able to show evidence of their relationship with the child and/or the reason why they are travelling with the child, e.g. a birth or adoption certificate, divorce or marriage certificates, or Parental Responsibility Order. This will minimise the risk of problems when entering or leaving Mexico.
Children under 18 years old travelling alone or accompanied by an adult who is not the parent or a legal guardian must present to the immigration officer in Mexico a valid passport and a notarised authorisation from the parent(s) granting their permission for the child to enter/exit the country. This must be translated into Spanish.
Natural Disasters and Climate
The hurricane season in Mexico extends from June to the end of November and can severely disrupt transportation and utilities. Landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur. In the case of a hurricane, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. You are also advised to monitor local and international weather updates for the region by accessing, for example, the weather channel or the National Hurricane Centre in Miami: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
Irish citizens going to Mexico during the hurricane season should leave a detailed copy of their travel plans with a family member or friend. You should also register with the Irish Embassy in Mexico City. 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 and 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 ID's, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. You should also contact friends and family in Ireland with updates about your welfare and whereabouts.
Please see our travel advice about Hurricanes for further information and advice.
Mexico is in an active earthquake zone and is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There are several active volcanoes in Mexico, including the Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes.
Additional Country Info
A/H1N1 Pandemic (Human Swine 'Flu Virus): For latest information and updated advice on the A/H1N1 epidemic in Mexico, please consult the website of the Mexican Ministry of Health: http://influenza.salud.gob.mx/
We strongly recommend you should drink bottled (not tap) water. Ice is frequently made from tap water. Food and unbottled drinks sold by street vendors are also likely to be unsafe.
Malaria and dengue fever are endemic in low-lying rural areas of Mexico and outbreaks can occur throughout the year. If you plan to visit these areas, before travelling there you should consult your doctor about suitable anti-malarial medication and on arrival take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquito repellent and clothing covering as much skin as possible provides some protection.
Road conditions vary and can be poor in some areas. Dangerous curves, poorly marked signs and construction sites, roaming livestock, slow-moving or abandoned vehicles, and other obstacles pose hazards. Road travel should be limited to daylight hours throughout the country and where possible use toll (cuota) roads rather than free (libre) roads.
Mexican styles of driving and road safety standards are very different from those in Ireland. Be prepared for vehicles that fail to observe speed limits or indicate lane changes and that do not stop at red lights. Pedestrians should be extremely cautious at all times. Fatal hit-and-run accidents occur. Keep your car doors locked and the windows rolled up, especially at traffic lights, where you can be a target for criminals. For emergency services, dial 060 or 066.
In case of a vehicle breakdown or roadside emergency, a highway patrol service offered by the Mexican Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR) called the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes) provides free assistance on all major toll highways from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The emergency number to request assistance from the Green Angels is 078.
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS IN MEXICO
Contact details for all Irish Missions (including Honorary Consuls) in Mexico are available hereTop