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Travel advisory: Why the United States issued a new travel warning for Mexico

The Canadian government also advises travellers to exercise a high degree of caution in Mexico.
A travel advisory for Mexico details the risks of travelling to Cancún via a taxi or Uber following a surge of violence in the country. Photo: cancun strip sunset / shutterstock

The U.S. Department of State warns travellers to avoid using ride-hailing services in parts of Mexico due to a violent clash with taxi drivers. 

In an update issued on Jan. 23, U.S. citizens are advised to reconsider the use of "application-based transportation services" in Mexico, including services such as Uber and Cabify. 

While these services are generally considered a safe alternative to taxis, there have been some complaints against Uber and other ride-hailing companies. Additionally, past disputes between these services and local taxi unions have turned violent, "resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens in some instances," according to the update. The most recent clashes have been in the Quintana Roo state.

The advisory also notes that there are a host of other risks associated with travel to Mexico, including violent crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery.

Travellers to Mexico are advised to consult the U.S. Travel Advisory for Mexico and review their security plans in advance of their trip and right before they leave. They should also monitor local media for updates and maintain a low profile. 

In case of an emergency, call 911 in Mexico.

The U.S. issues a travel advisory for Mexico 

Mexico's powerful drug cartels commonly use local gangs to defend their territory and carry out their vendettas.

Quintana Roo state contains the most frequented tourist areas, including the Mayan Riviera hotel zones like Cancún, and has been included in the list of states to exercise increased caution. 

According to the advisory, criminal activity and violence may occur in popular tourist areas. As such, travellers should stay aware of their surroundings and avoid areas where criminal activities occur. If a situation evolves into something potentially dangerous, they should immediately leave. 

Tourists from Canada and the United States have been victims of kidnappings. They have also been caught in the crossfire of shootings between rival gangs. 

Canada advisory on driving restrictions in Mexico City

While some Canadians choose to drive down to Mexico for their holiday, there are driving restrictions in Mexico City.

The Government of Canada says only "selected vehicles bearing plates from the State of México (Estado de México) or the Federal District (Distrito Federal) are allowed to circulate," according to its advisory. The date that the vehicles are allowed to circulate depends on the last number on their plate, from Monday to Saturday, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

These regulations are strictly enforced and you may have your vehicle taken from you if you don't comply.

Some visitors may get an exemption by requesting a tourist pass. It is granted either for two periods of seven days or one period of 14 days within a six-month period.

The Canadian government stresses that "penalties for breaking the law in Mexico can be more severe than in Canada, even for similar offences." This rule also applies to Mexico's new, national smoking ban, which also applies to tourists.

Many petty crimes, including public urination, failure to pay a bill, or disorderly behaviour, may result in a 72-hour detention by police. Travellers may be released early by paying a fine, but it is best to avoid this scenario. 

Many hotels, tour operators and trusted travel agencies arrange buses and shuttles before your arrival in Mexico. These are the best option for providing safe transportation to and from the airport.

Using taxis and ride-hailing apps in Mexico

If you do choose to take a taxi or get an Uber, follow the guidance provided by the Canadian government under the Safety and Security section of the Mexico travel advisory.

In Mexico City, there are ways to identify registered licence plates and taxis. If you arrive at an airport anywhere in Mexico, you should pre-pay the fare and ask to see the driver's identification. 

If you use a ridesharing app, confirm the driver’s identity and the licence plate before getting in the car.

Find out some important insurance considerations for travelling to Mexico with our guide.

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