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Mexican Travel Tips

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Mexican Travel Tips


Everyone must have proof of citizenship, even children, a Passport is the best way to provide this proof.  Unless you are traveling to a "Free Zone".  The Border Towns are usually "Free Zones" and certain designated towns farther in, are in some cases, "Free Zones" also.  Such as the town of Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point).

Carry a marriage certificate if your name is different from the one on your birth certificate or photo identification.

Other required documents vary depending on your personal circumstances as well as the mode and purpose of your trip. It is prudent to have copies of each document so you can carry them and leave originals in your hotel safe.

Canadians travelling for business can complete a Forma Migratoria de Negocios (FM-N), authorizing the conduct of business for up to 30 days per visit. This permit cannot be extended or renewed, and you will require a new one each time you re-enter the country. You can get this form from travel agents and airlines or at the port of entry. If you want to pursue gainful employment in Mexico, you will need special documentation, discussed later in this guide.



Canadian tourists staying no more than 180 days do not need to obtain a visa in advance. They must complete an entry form, available from travel agents and airlines, or at the port of entry. They will be given a Forma Migratorio Turista (FM-T), tourist card. The FM-T is for all practical purposes a visa; the traveller must carry a copy at all times, and must surrender it on departure. An immigration official will stamp the visa and will enter the number of days you will be allowed to remain in Mexico. Do not assume that you will be granted the full 180 days. The authorities can demand this card at any time. Tourists are limited to activities defined by the FM-T category, which include sports, health, artistic and cultural activities. Extensions of up to 90 days beyond the 180-day limit are possible if a physician certifies that you are not fit to travel. Visitors can be expelled from the country if they violate their tourist status or stay longer than 180 days, and can be fined if they lose their FM-T.



Tourists entering Mexico in certain frontier areas along the U.S. border do not require tourist cards for stays of 72 hours or less. But taking a Canadian automobile into Mexico can involve a few complications.

Canadian driver's licences are valid in Mexico. A temporary vehicle importation permit -- Solicitud de importación temporal de vehículos -- is required for a foreign-registered vehicle to enter Mexico. You can obtain one at the border by providing the following documents:

proof of ownership;

proof of Canadian registration;

an affidavit from any lien holders authorizing temporary importation;

a valid Canadian driver's licence; and

proof of citizenship.

Temporary permits are not required in certain designated border areas, such as those immediately south of California, where there is a lot of local tourist traffic. But be sure you know exactly where you are going before relying on this alternative. The vehicle permit is valid for six months and is good for multiple entries.

The temporary vehicle importation permit costs US$15 and must be paid for with a credit card. The card must be issued by a major Canadian or U.S. financial institution in the name of the vehicle owner. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are all accepted but cash is not. If the visitor does not have a credit card, a bond must be purchased and a US$15 processing fee must be paid. You must display proof of payment on the vehicle windshield, and close out the permit on the way out of Mexico. This document constitutes a promise to take the car out of the country within a specified period, and the car will be confiscated if you overstay. Recreational vehicles and large trucks require additional permits.

It is illegal to import used vehicles permanently into Mexico except in designated northern border areas. Your vehicle can be confiscated if it is not properly imported. It is illegal to sell a car brought in on a temporary permit, even to another non-resident.

A temporary vehicle importation permit will be issued to a tourist only for one 180-day period in one year. Visitors intending longer stays are expected to obtain a non-immigrant visa, in which case their vehicle permits will follow the same timing as their visa. If the car will remain in Mexico for more than 180 days, a tax of approximately 30 percent of the value of the vehicle is levied.

Automobile insurance issued outside the country is not valid in Mexico, and you must obtain insurance from a Mexican company. You must do this at the border before entering Mexico. As in other parts of Latin America, if there is an accident, both drivers can be held responsible pending an investigation. They can be jailed and their vehicles seized if there is no proof of ability to pay. In case of serious personal injury, both drivers may be jailed in any event.

Vehicle traffic in Mexico City is restricted to control air pollution. The regulations are based on the last digit of the licence plate number. On every weekday, vehicles with plate numbers ending in designated digits may not be driven in the city. For example, if the plate number ends in 1 or 2, the vehicle may not be used on Thursdays. This amounts to a restriction on 20 percent of vehicles on each weekday. There are no restrictions on Saturdays or Sundays except when an environmental emergency is declared.



On federal Mexican highways, there is a vehicle assistance service called "Green Angel," operated by the Ministry of Tourism -- Secretaria de Turismo. Green trucks equipped for basic repairs and first aid travel each major route at least twice daily.

Green Angels are a fantastic free service. It even provides bilingual mechanics.

They operate in the morning & afternoon hours, and will repair your vehicles for minor emergency breakdown problems.  The only cost to you is the parts. Just open your hood up all the way to signal them!  If you do need their service, we suggest a tip; these guys really do care and are definitely Angels.

(Toll free number In Mexico only 91-800-903-0092) 



Mexico is improving their highways more and more every day.

If it’s a toll road, it is called "Cuota", and "Libre" means no toll.

Most of the roads are in good condition, however, there is less shoulder and you may encounter a few potholes here and there.

The road to Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco) is done very well with no potholes and large shoulders.

All the Speed limits are in Kilometers; the best way to know how fast to go is to "go with the flow of traffic".



Generally the highway conditions are pretty good.  Some things that you might want to watch out for are occasional potholes and animals crossing the road.  For sure you can expect a variety of dramatic turns (sometimes very sharp) and the same goes with the dips in the road.  If you are traveling on a "Cuota" Highway ("toll" Highway) the conditions will slick and smooth sailing.  Some regular highways are actually pretty good, such as the road to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), Hermosillo, and even Ensanada is not too bad.

Watch for loose gravel, and low areas during flash floods.

If you are traveling a long distance choose designated drivers for each part of your trip (Designated driver would want to get adequate sleep and food.  Don't forget to take brakes, staying alert is real important when driving on any trips, and especially in Mexico.



Night driving if it has to be done, needs to be done with caution, farm animals in the road or slow moving vehicles sometimes with out taillights are often on roadway. 

Driving in the night time is more dangerous than most think, with 3 times the fatality rate than during daylight.

Driving is about 90% visual which makes it much harder to see objects on the road (Mexico has a lot of objects on the road).

We suggest considerably slowing your speed, make sure you are not fatigued, and definitely be alert.  It's better to arrive late than not at all.



The best way to go is to fill up before entering Mexico as their gas can contain some grit.

If you have to get gas and, it is unleaded gas you want, then get (Magna Sin).

Premium unleaded is becoming more available, mostly in the larger cities.  Diesel fuel is also available (Diesel).



Dogs or cats can be brought into Mexico without advance approval. You will need a certificate from a Canadian veterinarian, issued within the previous 72 hours, stating that the animal is free of communicable diseases. You will also need a rabies vaccination certificate showing that the pet was vaccinated against rabies at least one month but not more than one year before departure.

We would suggest purchasing a Pet Travel Insurance Policy from Pet Care before leaving the Canada.  This will both help you protect your pet and give you peace of mind that you will be able to find a qualified veterinarian will in the USA and assistance finding a vet in Mexico.

When bringing the pet back to Canada, you must present a certificate from a Canadian or Mexican veterinarian stating that the pet was vaccinated for rabies within the preceding three years. Canada has special regulations governing the importation of more than two dogs aged less than eight months. Taking birds or exotic pets into Mexico is not generally possible and the pet may be confiscated on arrival. Consult the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for more information.



Business visitors must complete a Mexican Forma Migratoria de Negocios (FM-N), available at a Mexican port of entry or from airlines and Canadian travel agents. The following information is required:

details about the visitor and his or her Canadian company;

a description of the business activities to be carried out; and

the name and address of the enterprise in Mexico which will be involved.

Examples of permitted activities include market research, marketing products, negotiating contracts or taking orders. Canadians providing after-sales service are eligible as business visitors, but must be prepared to show, in addition to the basic documents, a copy of the sales contract and proof that they possess the necessary specialized knowledge and skills. There is no charge for an FM-N visa, which is valid for 30 days per trip.



Unlike business visitors, people who plan to receive remuneration, directly or indirectly, from Mexican employers or clients must apply for an FM-3 visa. This can be done in Canada at the Mexican Embassy or one of the consulates. Regardless of the category involved, fees are levied for all types of work permit. Business visitors who enter on an FM-N for business development purposes and then decide to stay to work on a contract can apply at an Instituto National de Migración (National Migration Institute) office in Mexico. They must, however, obtain an FM-3 before they can begin remunerative work.

Regardless of the NAFTA category involved, the procedures for applying for an FM-3 are basically the same. The visa is normally issued within one month, and is valid for one year, renewable annually for an additional four years. An application for an FM-3 must be accompanied by the following documents:

a letter in Spanish addressed to the immigration authority (It must contain the applicant's full name and address, request an FM-3 visa and refer to attached documentation.);

a passport;

a certification from your local police force stating that you do not have a criminal record;

a medical certificate stating that you are free of communicable diseases;

up to eight photographs;

cash or money order for the application fee;

copies of any divorce decrees;

a certified copy of your marriage licence, if applicable; and

a copy of a valid tourist card, if the application is made in Mexico.

The applicant must also provide details of his or her employment relationship or other source of income in Canada and Mexico. If the circumstances of the employment change, the FM-3 permit is no longer valid and a new one must be obtained. The requirements vary by category and are described below.

If applying in Canada, four copies of each document must be sent to a Mexican consulate. The original passport will be returned along with the visa, which is a small booklet. An immigration office in Mexico must validate the visa within 45 days of arrival. If applying in Mexico, the procedures are slightly different, and details can be obtained from an immigration office.

The FM-3 can be renewed annually four times at an immigration office in Mexico. After five years, a new FM-3 can be obtained, but some long-term visitors elect to upgrade to an FM-2 visa at that time. This is discussed in the section, Living in Mexico.



Canadians who retire in Mexico are not considered tourists and should obtain a Forma Migratoria-3 (FM-3) visa. For less than 180 days, this visa is available in the visitor category. For longer periods, retirees can obtain a special version of the FM-3 visa. The FM-3 inmigrante rentista status is intended for foreigners who are not part of the local work force but are supported by income from outside Mexico or earned from Mexican-based investments. Holders of an FM-3 can bring reasonable quantities of household goods and one automobile with them duty free when they arrive.

An FM-3 visa can be obtained from the Mexican embassy or consulate in Canada, or an immigration office in Mexico. The procedures are described in the section, Working and Doing Business in Mexico. The only difference in the case of rentistas is that instead of details of employment, the rentista must show proof of minimum income.

The FM-3 can be renewed annually four times at an immigration office in Mexico. After five years, a new FM-3 can be obtained, but many foreign residents elect to upgrade it to an FM-2 visa at that time. An FM-2 is an immigrant visa. It must be renewed annually, but after five years the holder is eligible to apply for inmigrado status, which is permanent residency. An FM-2 application must be made in Mexico and usually requires a lawyer.

The minimum income for either an FM-2 or an FM-3 changes periodically, and it is expressed as a multiple of the Mexico City minimum wage. In late 1997, it was approximately 10,000 Mexican pesos per month. About half the minimum is required for each dependant. Twelve months of bank statements or proof of Canadian pension eligibility are usually accepted as proof.

Retirees receiving pensions from a Canadian source in Mexico will generally be subject to withholding taxes in Canada and may also be taxed in Mexico. The Canada-Mexico tax treaty prevents double taxation of these earnings by setting maximum rates for the total tax. Pensioners contemplating living in Mexico should verify the details with the International Tax Services Office of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.



Canadians (and other foreigners) may acquire real estate in Mexico, and they have the same rights as Mexican citizens, except for three principal restrictions.

They cannot own mineral or water rights.

They must apply for a permit to own land.

They may not own property within a 100-kilometre band along the borders or a 50-kilometre zone along the coasts.

Non-residents must acquire an additional permit from the Secretaría des Relaciónes Exteriores (SRE) (Secretariat of Foreign Affairs).

Indirect foreign ownership of land within the border and coastal zones can be arranged using a fideicomiso -- a bank trust with a 50-year term. The bank holds legal title to the property for the benefit of the buyer. A fideicomiso can also be used outside the restricted zones to establish multiple owners or successor rights.

To prevent the assembly of large estates, Mexican law restricts maximum property sizes, depending on the type of land involved. For example, the limit is 100 hectares for irrigated land and 300 hectares for non-irrigated land.

Mexican real estate transactions can be complex, and Canadians should research potential property purchases very carefully. Real estate agents are not licensed or regulated. Zoning laws may restrict the use of some properties, and financing is not generally available. It can be extremely difficult to evict existing tenants. Closing costs are usually borne by the buyer and include agents' commissions and transfer taxes. The buyer also pays the fee for a notary public or notario, who must handle all real estate transactions.

Time share properties are becoming increasingly common in Mexico. There have been many complaints about unscrupulous operators in this business, and buyers should proceed with caution. Mexican law allows time share contracts to be cancelled within five days with no penalty.




Mexico offers a wide variety of Hotels & Condominiums.

Almost every price range is available from the modest to the luxurious.

You will find that Holidays and Fiesta times are always booked far in advance if you are traveling to a popular resort area. 



Mexico’s food (comida) can be one of the greatest pleasures when visiting this wonderful country. Lunch is the main meal of the day (2p.m. to 4p.m.). From the smallest out of the way restaurant to the fancy gourmet restaurant, most take pride in the quality and freshness of their meals.

Take a tip from us though, stay away from raw vegetables and salads ("If it's not cooked, don't eat it!")

The water served in a restaurant is generally ok; the water out of the tap at a condo, hotel, or taco stand is equal to 12 rolls of toilet paper and a box of penicillin. 




Spanish is the official language in Mexico, yet English is widely understood.  The best way to win hearts is to attempt the Spanish language.  Mexican people welcome any attempt you make to speak their language.



Mexico has 2 daily English newspapers. The Mexico City Times and The News. They both have the latest U.S. and world news.  (Available usually in the larger cities).



Mexico is one of the best countries in the world to purchase handcrafted items. Almost every town from North to South specializes in a particular type of craft. Everything from baskets to hand crafted silver is available.

There is a certain limit of goods, foods, and liquor that is allowed back into the U.S. and Canada to get the most updated information got the U.S. and Canadian Customs Web Sites to see the exact ruling. 

US – When we last checked there is no duty on purchases made in Mexico. U.S. Customs permits you to bring back merchandise worth $400 U.S. dollars in retail value per person duty-free per month. if it is for your own use, for your immediate family, or for gifts to friends. Anyone over 21 can bring back 1 quart of liquor every 30 days.

Canada -> When we last checked there is no duty on purchases made in Mexico. U.S. Customs permits you to bring back merchandise worth $400 U.S. dollars in retail value per person duty-free per month. if it is for your own use, for your immediate family, or for gifts to friends. Anyone over 21 can bring back 1 quart of liquor every 30 days.


Summary List of Documents

Forma Migratoria de Negocios (FM-N)

Forma Migratorio Turista (FM-T)

Solicitud de importación temporal de vehículos

Forma Migratoria-2 (FM-2)

Forma Migratoria-3 (FM-3)


Mexican Tourism Board Offices



2 Bloor St. West, Suite 1801
Toronto ON M4W 3E2
Tel. (416) 925-2753 and 925-0704
Fax: (416) 925-6061
Director: Alejandro Cruz Serrano



1 Place Ville Marie, Suite 1931
Montreal QC H3B 2C3
Tel. (514) 871-1052
Fax: (514) 871-3825
Director: Guillermo Eguiarte Bendimez



1110-999 West Hastings St.
Vancouver BC V6C 2W2
Tel. (604) 669-2845 y (604) 669-5917
Fax: (604) 669-3498
Director: Carlos Hampe Velázquez


Mexican Consulates General

Consulate General in Montreal:

Consul General: Jaime García Amaral
Deputy Consul: Laura Espinoza Martínez
2055 rue Peel, bureau 1000
Montreal QC H3A 1V4
Tel. (514) 288-2502, 288-2707 and 288-4916
Fax: (514) 288-8287
E-mail: comexmt@consulmex.qc.ca

Consulate General in Toronto:

Consul General: Manuel Uribe Castañeda
Deputy Consul: Enrique Palos Soto
Commerce Court West
199 Bay St., Suite 4440
Toronto ON M5L 1E9
Tel. (416) 368-2875, 368-1847 and 368-8141
Fax: (416) 368-8342 and 368-9384
E-mail: cgmtoronto@consulmex.com

Consulate General in Vancouver:

Consul General: María de Guadalupe Albert Llorente
Deputy Consul: Rodolfo Díaz
710-1177 West hastings Street
Vancouver BC V6E 2K3
Tel. (604) 684-3547, 684-1859 and 683-0674
Fax: (604) 684-2485
E-mail: mexico@consulmexvan.com


Travel Tips information was gathered from a variety of sources including Mexico ¿Qué pasa? A Guide for Canadian Visitors - The Consular Affairs Bureau of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.


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