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Is it safe to visit Mexico? What Canadians must know about the updated 2024 travel advisory

Here is everything you need to know.
Canada has updated its Mexico travel advisory in April 2024. Here's what travellers departing from the YVR airport in Vancouver need to know.

It might be the third-most-visited destination for Canadians after the United States, but Mexico isn't considered a low-risk country for travellers. 

The Canadian government continues to advise tourists to exercise a high degree of caution when visiting Mexico, highlighting the country's "high levels of criminal activity and kidnapping." 

In November 2023, the United Nations stated that over 100,000 people are currently missing in Mexico, characterizing the mass disappearances as "alarming," according to Reuters.

In December 2023, the Mexican government released the findings of their Disappeared Persons Search Strategy, revealing the scope of missing people in the country. However, the document "ambiguously" categorized roughly 80,000 individuals "due to the lack of sufficient data," said Amnesty International. 

Other violent crimes, including armed burglaries and physical and sexual assault, are common in many places. Many robberies happen at airports, currency exchange bureaus, or ATMs.

Petty theft, including purse and bag snatching, is also common, particularly in popular tourist areas or during crowded festivals or protests.

Updated Mexico travel advisory for Canada in 2024

Canadian travellers do not require a visa to visit Mexico but their passport must be valid for their stay in the country. It is always a good idea to ensure your passport is valid for six months after you return home from travel. If you become ill or injured while in your destination, you may not be able to travel home. Having a buffer for your travel document before it expires ensures you won't have trouble coming home. 

In 2022, Canada and its neighbours south of the border issued updated advisories for parts of Mexico due to violent crime, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery. 

There continue to be high rates of these types of crime in popular tourist destinations such as the Mayan Riviera (Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, and Tulum), and Acapulco. Criminal groups and drug cartels are also present in tourist areas and bystanders can get caught in crossfire.

Disputes between taxi and ridesharing application drivers may occur in these popular tourist destinations. Drivers generally don't target tourists but you "be caught up in these incidents and harassed or injured."

In Mexico City, government-authorized taxis have licence plates starting with “A” or “B." Other taxis at stands will have their company's logo and the plate number stamped on the side of the car. Official taxis in Mexico City are pink and white. Users can validate the pink and white taxis on the CDMX app.

Buses are relatively safe in the capital city but you should use VIP or executive class transportation when travelling to other cities.

Avoid all travel to the Guerrero State 

Canada continues to advise against any travel to the Guerrero State due to the aftermath of Hurricane Otis. The area has grappled with increased criminal and gang activity following the natural disaster. 

The cities of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo and Taxco are excluded from the advisory. 

Avoid non-essential travel to these areas in Mexico

The Canadian government warns against non-essential travel to the following areas due to high levels of violence of violence and organized crime

  • all Chihuahua
  • all Colima, except the city of Manzanillo
  • all Coahuila, except the southern part of the state at and below the Saltillo-Torreón highway corridor
  • all Durango, except Durango City
  • in Guanajuato
    • Highway 45 between León and Irapuato
    • the area south of and including Highway 45D between Irapuato and Celaya
  • all Michoacán, except the cities of Morelia and Patzcuaro
  • in Morelos
    • the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park
    • the municipality of Xoxocotla
  • in Nayarit
    • the area within 20 km of the border with Sinaloa and Durango
    • the city of Tepic
  • all Nuevo León, except the city of Monterrey
  • all Sinaloa, except the cities of Los Mochis and Mazatlán
  • all Sonora, except the cities of Hermosillo and Guaymas/San Carlos and Puerto Peñasco
  • all Tamaulipas
  • all Zacatecas

What happens if you are caught committing a crime in Mexico?

If you are caught committing a crime, even a "minor" one such as smoking outside a public building or public urination, you could be detained. 

Penalties for breaking the law in Mexico can be more severe than in Canada. Travellers can be held in pre-trial detention for 72 hours before a trial.

Paying a fine may secure an early release from detention but is not guaranteed.

Smoking is prohibited in all public places except for clearly marked designated smoking areas. Some places tourists can no longer smoke include beaches, parks, hotels, and restaurants. If you are caught smoking in public, you may be fined.

What to do if you need help while you are in Mexico 

In case of an emergency in Mexico, dial 911. 

Contact roadside assistance if you run into an issue on a highway. The Angeles Verdes is a highway patrol service that provides free assistance on all major toll highways from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. 

To contact the Angeles Verdes, download their App on your mobile device. In an emergency, dial 078 or 800 006 8839 (toll-free in Mexico) to reach them.

Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance should contact Global Affairs Canada's Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling 001-800-514-0129 (toll-free from Mexico only), +1 613 996 8885, by text message at +1 613-686-3658, via WhatsApp at +1 613-909-8881, via Telegram at Canada Emergency Abroad or by e-mail

Visit a travel medical clinic before you book a ticket from Vancouver International Airport (YVR). The healthcare professionals will inform you about what vaccinations you require and what you can expect on your trip. There are risks of contracting several viruses spread by mosquitoes including dengue, Zika, and chikungunya.

Travellers should always check the latest government advisory before booking a ticket from Vancouver to Mexico. They should also purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy when they book their ticket, which will cover the cost of your ticket in case you can't leave due to an unforeseeable medical or other emergency reason. It will also cover incidents such as missed connections, baggage interruption and loss, and more. 

Canadians should always register trips they take online before they leave so that the government can contact them in an emergency.

Find more information about exciting destinations in B.C. and across the globe, as well as travel deals and tips, by signing up for V.I.A.'s weekly travel newsletter The Wanderer. Since travel deals can sell out, find out the day they are posted by signing up for our daily Travel Deals newsletter.

Want to learn more about a specific destination or have a travel concern or idea you would like V.I.A. to write about? Email us at elana@vancouverisawesome. Send us stories about recent holidays that you've been on, or if you have any tips you think our readers should know about.