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While Mexico is known for its luxurious resorts, delicious guac and refreshing margaritas, it’s also known for strict travel regulations, illness from unsanitary drinking water and tourist scams. But fear not – Mexico’s worst stereotypes are easy to avoid as long as you know how to.
Australians heading to Mexico are required to have a valid passport – a visa is not required unless visiting for longer than 180 days. However, you will also need a Multiple Immigration Form (Forma Migratoria Multiple – FMM) as this acts as a visitor’s card detailing your plans. No need to worry about this ahead of time, it should be passed out on the plane as you land (also available at land borders). Make sure you keep your visitor card with you otherwise they make you pay for another one when you leave the country.
Also ensure your passport is stamped when you arrive as you will be fined at departure if you do not. Additionally, it’s common practice that immigration will ask for your travel plans as well as proof that you have sufficient funds to stay. To satisfy this question, present them with your travel itinerary.
For many, flight schedules will include a stop over in the US, in which case you will also need to meet US entry or transit requirements even if you aren’t planning on leaving the airport. This means you will need to pick up a transit visa (otherwise known as a C visa). Australians visiting the States are eligible for up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and must apply for authorisation through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).
All of this is done online at http://www.cbp.gov/esta and costs you US$14 (AU$17).
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t drink water from the tap, but there’s a bit more you can do to keep yourself safe from foreign illnesses! The World Health Organization recommends that all travellers be vaccinated for:
However, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, or have never been vaccinated as a child, it’s important to talk to your doctor a couple of months ahead of your trip to ensure you don’t need any extra care.
And, it’s true, you shouldn’t drink the tap water while in Mexico unless you are planning on properly treating it (boiling and filtering) before drinking it.
Right now, Smartraveller’s official advice has visitors of Mexico exercising a high degree of caution. However, this may change by the time you visit, so be sure to check the site before your trip.
But, no matter where you are visiting, it’s best practice to be cautious of your surroundings, that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most common scams in Mexico so you can stay as safe as possible on your trip.
No matter what part of Mexico you’re in, you need to be wary of petty theft, as it is prevalent in this country. It’s recommended that you not keep all your money on your person directly. Thieves in Mexico are skilled at pick pocketing, however, they’re also good at ‘express kidnapping’.
Express kidnapping is where the kidnapper holds you for ransom, forcing you or a loved one to withdraw money from an ATM. Sometimes this person will be physically holding you or a loved one hostage, but other times they might have gathered information from you in order to pretend they have your companion hostage. In this case, they will call you or your next-of-kin saying they have your friend and will demand money.
To avoid this scam, never give out your personal information to strangers and, if you are kidnapped, make sure you comply with their demands – they usually just want the money.
Beware of ‘plain clothes’ policemen or other local law enforcement officials as these are not real officials. If you are ever confronted with law enforcement and suspect that they are not legitimate, ask to see identification or even insist on going to the police station. Unless you can confirm their authority, it’s important that you never give them your identification or money as long as it doesn’t compromise your safety.
Yes, everyone loves a margarita, but make sure you know where it’s coming from, as its common for locals to lace drinks. Never leave your drink unattended, and if you for any reason suspect it may have been tampered with, don’t accept it. Someone who is spiking a drink could be attempting to harm you or steal from you.
Note: Information current as of March 14, 2018. Check smartraveller.gov.au for the latest updates.
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