Security Alert: Spring Break

U.S. Embassy Mexico City

Date: March 9, 2020

Event:  Each year, thousands of U.S. citizens visit Mexico during Spring Break.  While the majority of travelers have safe and enjoyable trips, Spring Break travel can sometimes include unforeseen problems, such as the following:

  • Medical Emergencies:  CDC’s Travelers’ Health webpage and the Embassy webpage on COVID-19 have up to date information about various health risks in Mexico.  An illness or accident could result in the need to seek medical treatment or hospitalization in Mexico.  Private hospital prices are comparable, and often higher, to those in the United States.  Many facilities require payment (sometimes only in cash) either before providing treatment or before discharging a patient.
  • Drowning:  Some beaches have strong undercurrents and rip tides.  Beaches may lack lifeguards, warnings, or signs of unsafe conditions.
  • Unregulated Alcohol:  U.S. citizens have reported losing consciousness or becoming injured after consuming alcohol that was possibly unregulated.
  • Sexual Assault:  U.S. citizens have reported incidents of rape and sexual assault in some resort areas.  Perpetrators may target inebriated or isolated individuals or may employ drugs that alter the victim’s physical or mental state.
  • Drugs:  Drug possession and use, including medical marijuana, is illegal in Mexico and may result in a lengthy jail sentence.
  • Guns and Ammunition:  All guns and even small amounts of ammunition are illegal in Mexico and may result in lengthy jail time.
  • Arrests:  Drunk and disorderly behavior, urinating in public, and open alcohol containers in vehicles are illegal in Mexico.  If you break Mexican law, you can be arrested.
  • Kidnapping:  Mexico experiences high rates of kidnapping.
  • Extortion:  Mexico has experienced a rise in extortion schemes in which criminals convince family members that a relative has been abducted, when, in fact, the person is safe but unreachable.
  • Robbery:  Robberies in which abductors force victims to use their debit or credit card to withdraw money from ATMs in exchange for their release occur in many locations.  There is also a risk of fraudulent charges or withdrawals being made from accounts due to “skimmed” ATM cards.
  • Cruise Safety:  The Department recently updated our advice for cruise passengers, particularly those with underlying health conditions.

Actions to Take:

  • The phone number to report emergencies in Mexico is “911.”  Although there may be English-speaking operators available, it is best to seek the assistance of a Spanish speaker to place the call.
  • Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas or purchase travel insurance that specifically covers you in Mexico.  Seek coverage that includes medical evacuation.  Confirm costs of medical treatment in advance, when possible.
  • Check CDC’s Travelers’ Health information for Mexico and the Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for up to date information about health risks and conditions in Mexico.
  • Avoid strong currents and do not swim after drinking or when warning flags note unsafe conditions.
  • Drink responsibly and watch your drink at all times.  If you begin to feel ill, seek medical attention immediately.  Report cases of unregulated alcohol to the Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS) via email at contactociudadano@cofepris.gob.mx, file a report online via the COFEPRIS website, call the COFEPRIS call center at +52 (55) 5080-5200, or visit a COFEPRIS office to report.
  • Know your drinking companions and stay in a group of friends who have your safety in mind when you are in clubs and bars, out walking in dimly lit areas, or in a taxi at night.  Obey Mexican law and remember Mexican laws may differ from U.S. laws.
  • If you choose to use credit or debit cards, you should regularly check your account to ensure there are no unauthorized transactions.  Limit the amount of cash you carry in public, exercise caution when withdrawing cash, and avoid ATMs in isolated or unlit areas.
  • Be aware of your safety and protect your personal possessions when using public transportation.  Use radio taxis or those from “sitio” taxi stands.   Application-based car services such as Uber and Cabify are available in many Mexican cities, and generally offer another relatively safe alternative to taxis.
  • Do not discuss travel plans, your room number, or any other personal information within earshot of strangers.  If you are threatened on the phone, hang up immediately.  If you believe you or a member of your traveling party has been kidnapped, please contact the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate immediately.
  • Keep your friends and family back home informed of your travel plans, especially if traveling alone.
  • If traveling to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cozumel, consider downloading the “Guest Assist” application on your smart phone.  The Mexican government provides information on emergency services and assistance for tourists via app and their website.
  • Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you need assistance.

Assistance:

  • For Emergency Assistance for U.S. citizens in Mexico, call 1-800-681-9374 from Mexico or 1-844-528-6611 from the United States.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is located at:

Paseo de la Reforma 305
Colonia Cuauhtémoc
06500, Ciudad de México
Phone: +52-55-5080-2000
Fax: +52-55-5080-2005
E-Mail: ACSMexicoCity@state.gov