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Mexico Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Mexico spans three different time zones: South, Central and Eastern Mexico GMT 6 (GMT 5 from first Sunday in April to second last Saturday in October); Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa and southern Baja California GMT 7 (GMT 6 from first Sunday in April to second last Saturday in October); Northern Baja California GMT 8 (GMT 7 from first Sunday in April to second last Saturday in October).

Electricity

110-120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachment plugs are standard.

Language

Spanish is the official language in Mexico. Some English is spoken in tourist regions.

Travel Health

Those entering Mexico from an infected area require a yellow fever certificate. Malaria and dengue fever exist in some rural areas but not on the Pacific and Gulf coasts, while travellers who come into close contact with animals should consider a rabies vaccination.

Sensible precautions regarding food and water should be followed, and visitors are advised to stick to bottled water. Medical facilities are basic, so comprehensive travel insurance is recommended. As medicines may be in short supply, travellers should consider taking prescription medications in their original packaging, accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.

Zika is still a risk in Mexico. Because Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, women who are pregnant should seek advice from healthcare providers before travelling to Mexico.

Tipping

Tipping is customary in Mexico for almost all services as employees are not paid sufficient hourly wages and often rely on tips. Waiters and bar staff should be tipped 10 to 15 percent if a service charge hasn't already been added to the bill. The American custom of tipping 15 to 20 percent is practiced at international resorts, including those in Los Cabos.

Safety Information

There can be incidents of robberies in the big cities such as Mexico City. Travellers, particularly women on their own, should be vigilant and take care of their belongings, especially on public transport. Only use authorised taxi services and try to avoid bus travel at night.

Visitors are advised to be wary of people presenting themselves as police officers attempting to fine or arrest them for no apparent reason, leading to theft or assault. If in doubt, ask for identification.

Most of the violence related to drug cartel wars in Mexico is concentrated along the border between Mexico and the United States, with tourist zones generally unaffected. Hurricanes may affect the coastal areas between June and November.

Local Customs

Mexicans are not impatient and do not appreciate impatience in others, so travellers should expect opening hours and public transport times to be flexible and laid back. Mexicans are friendly and hospitable people, with courteous behaviour greatly appreciated. Travellers should also note that it is common for Mexicans to communicate closer than one arm's length from each other and that it's not an attempt to be forward.

Business

In Mexico, business is ideally conducted face-to-face. Although many Mexican businessmen speak perfect English, Spanish is the official language of business in Mexico and learning a few choice words and phrases will go a long way toward ingratiating yourself with your new associates.

Business etiquette in Mexico is marked by a combination of formality and friendliness. It is very rare to hear the word 'no' being used in a direct or confrontational way - bald refusals are seen as rude. Use titles ('señhor' and 'señhora') until specifically instructed not to, but do not shrink away from engaging in personal discussions with your colleagues. Business meetings must be scheduled in advance, and then confirmed a few days before they are due to take place.

The dress code for the Mexican business world is smart and formal. Business hours in Mexico are generally from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, with a two or three hour siesta in the early afternoon.

Communications

The international access code for Mexico is +52. There is widespread network coverage in Mexico from Telcel, Movistar, Virgin Mobile and AT&T Mexico. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widely available.

Duty Free

Travellers to Mexico over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 200g tobacco; 3 litres spirits or 6 litres wine; other goods to the value of US$500 if arriving by air, or US$300 if arriving by land are premitted without incurring duty fees. Prohibited goods include narcotics, firearms and used clothing that is not part of your personal luggage. The export of archaeological artefacts is strictly forbidden.

Become our Mexico Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Mexico travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Mexico or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.