Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 15 March 2018, 16:55 NZDT
  • Still current at: 11 December 2018

Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero (except for the cities of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Taxco and the toll road to Taxco), Michoacán (except for the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas), Sinaloa, Sonora and Tamaulipas due to the high levels of violent crime in these regions.

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution elsewhere in Mexico due to violent crime and drug-related violence.

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On 7 September 2017 there was an earthquake of magnitude 8.2 off the coast of Chiapas. On 19 September 2017 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck in the state of Puebla, which caused significant damage to Mexico City and five other regions. On 23 September 2017 there was an earthquake of magnitude 6.1 in Oaxaca. On 16 February 2018 a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Oaxaca causing damage to buildings and homes near the epicentre of the event. New Zealanders travelling to Mexico should contact accommodation providers or travel agents directly to check whether specific destinations are affected by the earthquakes and to ensure all essential utilities and services are operational before departure.

Violent crime
Violent crime, including kidnapping, armed robbery and sexual assault is common in Mexico, including in tourist areas. There have been reports of assaults and robberies being committed by people representing themselves as police officers.

New Zealanders throughout Mexico are advised to be security conscious at all times. Particular care should be exercised in tourist areas, at airports, bus stations and when using public transport, where theft is common. We advise against travelling or walking alone at night. Remain vigilant, monitor local media closely and let family and friends know about your travel plans.

Violence related to organised crime has been on the rise in Mexico in 2017 and 2018, including in Quintana Roo and Baja California. Though not usually focused on foreigners, travelers can become inadvertently involved. On 21 February 2018, an explosive device detonated on a tourist ferry operating between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, Quintana Roo. The explosion injured 20 people, including tourists. On 1 March, local authorities found an undetonated device on another ferry operating on the same route.

Petty theft and other crime is a problem in major cities and tourists areas. New Zealanders in Mexico should be aware that victims of financially-motivated violent crime are often targeted due to their perceived wealth. It is advisable to avoid wearing or displaying items that appear valuable, such as mobile devices and jewellery, and take steps to secure your personal belongings.

Kidnappings, sexual assaults and armed robberies have taken place in taxis and with the collusion of taxi drivers. Taxis should not be hailed on the street. Taxis caught from airports, hotels or “sitios” (taxi sites found near any shopping mall or tourist attraction) are generally safe.

There have been occasional reports of food and drink spiking. We recommend taking extra care to ensure your food and drink is never left unattended and being cautious accepting drinks from strangers and recent acquaintances.

Drug-related violence
Drug-related violence and criminal activity is a significant issue in Mexico and can pose a danger to foreigners. Violence, including murder, kidnapping, and shoot-outs, is largely concentrated in specific areas of Mexico, particularly in the northern states bordering the United States (Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora and Tamaulipas). Some central region states (Durango, San Luis Potosi, State of Mexico and Zacatecas) and others along the Pacific coast are also affected (Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit and Sinaloa). The security environment in some of these states, particularly in rural areas, may be volatile and unpredictable.

Driving on rural highways in any of these states is considered dangerous due to the presence of drug cartels. Carjackings, illegal roadblocks and armed robberies occur, including on major highways and motorists have been killed. Armed clashes between security forces and drug cartels can occur without warning.

Most victims of drug-related violence are Mexicans involved in or caught up as bystanders in criminal activity, however it is also possible for foreigners to be caught up in violence directed at others, such as shootouts in public places. Mexican authorities have made efforts to protect major tourist destinations such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Cozumel.

On 6 August 2017 there was a shooting on Palmilla Beach in Los Cabos. Incidents in Playa del Carmen and Cancun have resulted in an increase of police presence in these areas. In March 2018, 900 additional police officers were deployed to Quintana Roo. There have also been several incidences of armed crime both within and outside tourist areas in Acapulco. If possible, travel by air, and be extra vigilant within the area.

Road travel
Carjackings and highway robberies occur regularly in Mexico, particularly in states which border the US and on the Pacific coast. Police do not regularly control highways and road conditions vary.There have been incidents of crime and civil unrest associated with illegal roadblocks in some states, such as Chiapas and Guerrero. In January 2016, several tourist buses were attacked and set on fire by protestors at a roadblock in Chiapas.

New Zealanders travelling through Mexico by road are advised to use toll roads (or “cuotas”) where possible and to avoid isolated roads and road travel outside urban areas at night. It is advisable to keep car doors locked and windows up at all times, particularly when stopped at traffic lights. For safety reasons, we recommend using first-class buses for inter-city travel and only during daylight hours.

Kidnapping
Kidnapping for financial gain is common in Mexico, and there have been allegations of police officers being involved. You should exercise discretion in discussing financial or business affairs in places where you may be overheard by others.

Incidents of “express kidnappings”, where individuals are forced to withdraw funds from automatic teller machines (ATMs) to secure their release, are an issue in Mexico. To reduce the risk of this occurring we recommend you take extra care while using ATMs and use machines located inside banks or shopping malls during daylight hours.

Virtual kidnappings have also occurred, where victims are contacted by phone and coerced by threats of violence to provide phone numbers of family and friends, so that an immediate ransom can be demanded. New Zealanders are advised to avoid giving personal information to strangers over the phone. Report any kidnapping, physical or virtual to the local Mexican police.

Civil unrest
Demonstrations, protests and strikes occur regularly in Mexico and have the potential to disrupt local travel and last for long periods of time. The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activity by foreigners and participation in such action may result in detention and/or deportation. New Zealanders are advised to avoid any areas where demonstrations and protests are taking place as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning. Follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.

General travel advice
Upon arrival into Mexico, travellers must obtain a ‘Forma Migratoria Múltiple’ (FMM) from the Mexican immigration office and have their passport stamped. Failure to obtain an FMM and stamp in your passport on arrival may result in deportation or detention. If you enter through a land border, you may need to seek out an immigration official to obtain the FMM required and have your passport stamped.

The police are known to on occasion ask foreigners to show identification. We recommend you carry photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and the FMM given to you on arrival at all times and leave your original passport in a safe place.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Mexico should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Mexico are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips


The New Zealand Embassy Mexico City, Mexico

Street Address Jaime Balmes No 8, 4th Floor, Los Morales, Polanco, Mexico D.F. 11510 Telephone +52 55 5283 9460 Fax +52 55 5283 9480 Email nzmexico@mfat.govt.nz Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/mexico Hours Mon - Fri 0930 - 1400, 1500 - 1700 hrs

See our regional advice for North America

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New Zealand Embassy Mexico

Street Address
Jaime Balmes No 8, 4th Floor, Los Morales, Polanco, Mexico D.F. 11510

Telephone: +52 55 5283 9460

Fax: +52 55 5283 9480

Email: nzmexico@mfat.govt.nz

Website: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/mexico

Hours: Mon - Fri 0930 - 1400, 1500 - 1700 hrs

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