Electricity

110-120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachment plugs are standard.

Language

Spanish is the official language in Mexico. Some English is spoken in tourist regions.

Money

Mexican currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN), divided into 100 centavos. Credit cards are widely accepted, particularly Visa, MasterCard and American Express. ATMs are available in most cities and towns and are the most convenient way to get money, but for safety reasons should only be used during business hours and vigilance is advised. Although many businesses will accept foreign currency (particularly US Dollars), it's best to use pesos. Foreign currency can be exchanged at one of many casas de cambio (exchange houses), which have longer hours and offer a quicker service than the banks.

Tipping

Tipping is customary in Mexico for almost all services as employees are not paid sufficient hourly wages and often rely on tips. Waiters and bar staff should be tipped 10 to 15 percent if a service charge hasn't already been added to the bill. The American custom of tipping 15 to 20 percent is practiced at international resorts, including those in Los Cabos.

Health

Those entering Mexico from an infected area require a yellow fever certificate. Malaria and dengue fever exist in some rural areas but not on the Pacific and Gulf coasts, while travellers who come into close contact with animals should consider a rabies vaccination.

Sensible precautions regarding food and water should be followed, and visitors are advised to stick to bottled water. Medical facilities are basic, so comprehensive travel insurance is recommended. As medicines may be in short supply, travellers should consider taking prescription medications in their original packaging, accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.

Zika is still a risk in Mexico. Because Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, women who are pregnant should seek advice from healthcare providers before travelling to Mexico.

Safety

There can be incidents of robberies in the big cities such as Mexico City. Travellers, particularly women on their own, should be vigilant and take care of their belongings, especially on public transport. Only use authorised taxi services and try to avoid bus travel at night.

Visitors are advised to be wary of people presenting themselves as police officers attempting to fine or arrest them for no apparent reason, leading to theft or assault. If in doubt, ask for identification.

Most of the violence related to drug cartel wars in Mexico is concentrated along the border between Mexico and the United States, with tourist zones generally unaffected. Hurricanes may affect the coastal areas between June and November.

Local customs

Mexicans are not impatient and do not appreciate impatience in others, so travellers should expect opening hours and public transport times to be flexible and laid back. Mexicans are friendly and hospitable people, with courteous behaviour greatly appreciated. Travellers should also note that it is common for Mexicans to communicate closer than one arm's length from each other and that it's not an attempt to be forward.

Doing business

In Mexico, business is ideally conducted face-to-face. Although many Mexican businessmen speak perfect English, Spanish is the official language of business in Mexico and learning a few choice words and phrases will go a long way toward ingratiating yourself with your new associates.

Business etiquette in Mexico is marked by a combination of formality and friendliness. It is very rare to hear the word 'no' being used in a direct or confrontational way - bald refusals are seen as rude. Use titles ('señhor' and 'señhora') until specifically instructed not to, but do not shrink away from engaging in personal discussions with your colleagues. Business meetings must be scheduled in advance, and then confirmed a few days before they are due to take place.

The dress code for the Mexican business world is smart and formal. Business hours in Mexico are generally from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, with a two or three hour siesta in the early afternoon.

Duty free

Travellers to Mexico over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 200g tobacco; 3 litres spirits or 6 litres wine; other goods to the value of US$500 if arriving by air, or US$300 if arriving by land are premitted without incurring duty fees. Prohibited goods include narcotics, firearms and used clothing that is not part of your personal luggage. The export of archaeological artefacts is strictly forbidden.

Communications

The international access code for Mexico is +52. There is widespread network coverage in Mexico from Telcel, Movistar, Virgin Mobile and AT&T Mexico. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widely available.

Passport & Visa

All foreign passengers to Mexico must hold a Mexico Visitor's Permit (FMM), which is issued free of charge, and obtainable from airlines, Mexican Consulates, Mexican international airports, and border crossing points. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers transiting through the United States are required to present a passport, or other valid travel document, to enter or re-enter the United States. Foreign passengers to Mexico should ensure that their passports and other travel documents are in good condition - even slightly torn passports will not be accepted. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

US citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Mexico. A visa is not required for stays of up to 180 days.

British citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Mexico. A visa is not required for holders of British passports endorsed British Citizen, British National (Overseas) or British Subject for stays of up to 180 days.

Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Mexico. A visa is not required for stays of up to 180 days.

Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Mexico. A visa is not required for stays of up to 180 days. Note that visa exemptions apply to holders of an APEC Business Travel Card, provided that the card is valid for travel to Mexico (i.e. endorsed with "MEX" on its reverse side).

South African citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Mexico. A visa is required. Passengers with a valid visa issued by Canada, Japan, USA, United Kingdom or a Schengen Member State are visa exempt for a maximum stay of 180 days.

Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Mexico. A visa is not required for stays of up to 180 days.

New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Mexico. A visa is not required for stays of up to 180 days. Note that visa exemptions apply to holders of an APEC Business Travel Card, provided that the card is valid for travel to Mexico (i.e. endorsed with "MEX" on its reverse side).

Useful contacts

Mexico Tourism Board: +52 55 5278 4200 or www.visitmexico.com

911 (General Emergency Hotline)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Mexican Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 728 1600.

Mexican Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7499 8586.

Mexican Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 233 8988.

Mexican Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6273 3963.

Mexican Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 460 1004.

Mexican Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 667 3105.

Mexican Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 472 0555.

Embassies / consulates in Mexico

United States Embassy, Mexico City: +52 55 5080 2000.

British Embassy, Mexico City: +52 55 1670 3200.

Canadian Embassy, Mexico City: +52 55 5724 7900.

Australian Embassy, Mexico City: +52 55 1101 2200.

South African Embassy, Mexico City: +52 55 1100 4970.

Irish Embassy, Mexico City: +52 55 5520 5803.

New Zealand Embassy, Mexico City: +52 55 5283 9460.

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