General Info, Travel Info, & FAQs are provided to assist with your vacation.
ATMs Not all ATMs in the Caribbean operate like those in your home country. Some may only accept a four digit PIN number, so if yours is longer you may want to change it before your trip. Ensure you keep your travel money in your primary chequing account as some ATMs default to this account and will not allow you to choose another. Withdrawal fees are generally much higher outside your home country.
ATMs are called cajeros. The main banks are Banamex (tel 998/885-0384), Bancomer, Banco Santander (tel 998/883-0148), Banorte (tel 998/883-1653) and Scotiabank (tel 998/887-5920). ATMs generally accept Visa and MasterCard on the Cirrus/Maestro and Electron/Plus networks and dispense Mexican pesos. Some may dispense US dollars. Be quick removing your card otherwise the machine may keep it. For safety reasons try to only use ATMs during the day and in populated areas.
BANKING AND BUSINESS HOURS Banks Banking hours vary. Generally they are open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and some are open Sat 10am-2pm. The Banamex branch on Rodrigo Gomez is open Mon-Sat 11am-7pm and Sun 11am-4pm.
Post Office Mon-Fri 8am-4pm Sat 9am-1pm
CHURCHES/RELIGIONS Predominantly Roman Catholic. Protestant also represented.
CURRENCY AND CREDIT CARDS The local currency is the Mexican peso (Mex$ or MXN), which is divided into 100 centavos (cents). Note: Mexico uses $ to denote pesos. Paper money runs in denominations of $10, $20, $50, $100, $200 and $500 notes, and coins in 5¢, 10¢, 20¢ 50¢, $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50 pieces. Notes in $100 and $200 are most commonly used. It is hard to obtain change for $500 notes. Ensure you carry coins in smaller denominations of pesos as many vendors don't have change.
Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept US dollars, major credit cards (American Express, MasterCard and Visa) and traveller's cheques. To ensure hassle-free purchases during your trip, you may want to contact your credit card company and let them know you will be travelling abroad.
Exchange houses, known as casas de cambio, are the most efficient places to exchange currency and they offer the best rates of exchange.
EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS American Express: lost or stolen card, 336/393-1111 (call collect); lost or stolen cheques or cheque cards, 866/247-6878 (toll free) or 801/964-6665 (call collect) Discover Card: 801/902-3100 MasterCard: 800-1561 Visa: 410/902-8022 (call collect) Western Union: Banamex, 800/800-3930
DEPARTURE TAX All visitors must pay a departure tax of about US$13 and a tourism tax of about US$8.50. It is usually included in your airfare, so check in advance. If it is not, you must pay it in cash at the airport.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS A valid passport is preferred and ensures faster processing through immigration, however, American and Canadian citizens can also use proof of citizenship (such as a certified, not photocopied, birth certificate with embossed seal, Naturalization Certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or a Certificate of Citizenship) and valid official photo identification (such as a driver's license).
Upon entry into Mexico all visitors must provide a completed tourist card, known as an FM-T, which is provided by the airlines or at points of entry. The cost for the tourist card is usually included in the price of your airline ticket.
For more information consult your nearest Mexico consulate/embassy or call the Mexico immigration department at 52-998/884-1749.
Note: As of January 8, 2007, all persons travelling by air to the Caribbean, Mexico and Bermuda will require a valid passport, Air NEXUS card or US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document to enter and/or re-enter the United States in accordance with the US Government's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. For more information visit the US Government's Bureau of Consular Affairs website at www.travel.state.gov.
Some countries require single/lone parents or other adults travelling alone with children to provide documents showing evidence of parental/custodial and/or access rights, and/or documents authorizing consent from the parents, legal guardian, and/or the court for the children to travel. Parents of adopted children, particularly those of a different nationality, should carry the proper documents.
NEAREST FOREIGN REPRESENTATION British Embassy: 55/5242-8500 (Mexico City)Consulate of Canada: 883-3360/1 (Cancun), 800/706-2900 (after-hours emergencies, Mexico City), 800/514-0129 (toll free to Ottawa) or 613/996-8885 (collect to Ottawa) US Consulate Agency: 883-0272 (Cancun), 55/5080-2000 (US Embassy, Mexico City)
As of November 13, 2006
British pound sterling
European Union euro
HEALTH STANDARDS There are a number of new hospitals and clinics in the Hotel Zone, as well as a hospital downtown that caters to tourists. Staff at these facilities are generally bilingual. Most major hotels also have a doctor on staff or can provide referrals, although these medical providers may overcharge for services or provide unnecessary medical care. Be prepared to pay for medical care yourself and seek an insurance refund when you return home, as many medical facilities will not deal directly with insurance companies.
Your home medical program may not provide payment for medical services outside your home country. Obtaining adequate medical/travel insurance, including air ambulance coverage, and consulting a physician or travel medicine specialist six to eight weeks prior to your trip to determine health risks and necessary vaccinations is recommended.
Hospitals in downtown Cancun include Ameri Med Hospital (tel 892-4440 or 881-3400) located on Plaza Las Americas, Total Assist (tel 884-1092 and 884-8116) at 5 Claveles St, Hospital Americano (tel 884-6133 or 884-8152) at 15 Viento St, AMAT Hospital (tel 887-4422 and 887-4434) at 13 Nader St, and Hospiten de Mexico (881-3703 and 889-9468) on Bonampak Ave.
Pharmacies, called farmacias, are well stocked, however, prescription and over-the-counter medications may have minor differences from those you obtain at home.
Traveller's diarrhea is the main health risk for tourists. Unless you're in a hotel with a water purification system, avoid tap water (use bottled water to brush your teeth), ice cubes, raw fruits and vegetables that are washed in tap water, unpasteurized milk and milk products, raw fish and seafood, and food from roadside vendors, including ice cream and sorbet.
Beware of strong undercurrents at some of Cancun's beaches, and heed the flags that indicate sea conditions. A white flag signals excellent sea conditions, green is normal conditions, yellow indicates changeable conditions and black or red flags warn of unsafe or dangerous conditions.
ILLEGAL ITEMS There are harsh penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs, and strict regulations for exporting or temporarily importing firearms and weapons.
The following items are prohibited entry: firearms; live predatory fish in their fingerling, juvenile and adult stage; thallium sulfate; fresh, refrigerated or frozen totoaba fish; insecticide (Isodrin, Aldrin, Heptachloro, Drinox, Endrin, Mendrino, Nendin, Hecadrin or Leptofos); turtle eggs of any kind; turtle or green turtle skins; poppy seeds and poppy seed flour (opium poppy); opium juices and extracts prepared for smoking; Imide of N-phtalilglutamic acid (Thalidomide); marijuana (Cannabis Indica), including seeds and spores, even when mixed with other seeds; medicinal preparations based on marijuana, and extracts, juices, mucilages and thickeners derived from marijuana; heroin, base or diacetylmorophine hydrochloride; medical preparations based on acetylmorphine, its salts or derivatives; and stamps printed in colours or in black and white, presented for sale in envelopes or packets, even when they include chewing gum, candy or any other type of articles, containing drawings, figures or illustrations portraying childhood in a denigrating or ridiculous manner, in attitudes which incite violence, self destruction or any other type of anti-social behaviour.
For more information call the customs department (Aduanas Mexico) at 52/9157-3436.
LANGUAGE The official language is Spanish. In main tourist areas some people speak rudimentary English.
POSTAGE The Mexican postal service is called SEPOMEX (tel 800/701-4500). The post office in Cancun is located at the intersection of avenidas Sunyaxchen and Xel-Ha, and is open Mon-Fri 8am-4pm and Sat 9am-1pm. Stamps are also available at vending machines outside post offices, at bus stations, airports and some stores. Airmail to North America can take one to two weeks and to the UK, two to three weeks. Courier service is also available.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS - Jan 1 New Year's Day (Ano Nuevo) - Feb (first Mon) Constitution Day (Día de la Constitucion) - Mar (third Mon) Anniversary of Benito Juárez's birth (Natalicio de Benito Juarez) - Mar/Apr (varies) Maundy or Holy Thursday - Mar/Apr (varies) Good Friday - Mar/Apr (varies) Easter - May 1 Labour Day (Primero de Mayo) - May 5 Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla (Cinco de Mayo) - Sep 1 President's Report Day - Sep 16 Independence Day (Día de la Independencia) - Oct 12 Race Day (Día de la Raza) - Nov 2 Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) - Nov (third Mon) Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 (Día de la Revolución) - Dec12 Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Fiesta de la Virgin de Guadalupe) - Dec 25 Christmas Day (Día de Navidad)
SHOPPING HOURS Shops in the Hotel Zone are generally open daily 8/10am-10pm. Shops downtown generally open daily 10am-9pm, although many close for several hours in the early afternoon (usually 2-4pm).
TAXES A 10% value-added tax (VAT), called IVA (impuesto de valor agregado), is added to all goods and services, including hotel and restaurant bills. A 2% hotel tax is also added to most room bills.
As of July 1, 2006, upon departure, international tourists can receive a refund on the VAT they paid on merchandise by presenting their receipts (valued at a minimum of 1,200 pesos) to customs for verification.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS The phone system in Mexico is adequate and cellular and Internet services are available. To find an Internet café look for signs that say Acceso a Internet, Cibercafe or Cibernautica.
The country code for Mexico is 52 and the area code for Cancun (and Isla Mujeres) is 998. Local Cancun phone numbers have seven digits while local numbers in some major cities, such as Mexico City, have eight digits. For local directory assistance dial 040 and for the international operator dial 090. To place an international call dial 00 + country code + area code + local number. To make a local call within Cancun just dial the seven-digit number. To call a local cell phone number dial 044 + 998 + local number. To call long distance within Mexico dial 01 + area code + local number.
Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) is the country's national telecommunications company. Public pay phones do not accept coins. Prepaid MultiFon cards, which allow you to make local and long distance calls from any public telephone, as well as offering prepaid Internet access, are available at Telmex stores (tel 800/123-0101) and authorized dealers, such as newsstands and convenience stores, displaying the MultiFon logo. Telmex/Ladatel phone booths offer the best rates for making long distance calls.
For more information see the section in FAQs: Can I use my calling card from here?
Caseta de Larga Distancia, located in most bus stations in major tourist and business areas, are calling centres that offer long-distance calling services in private booths, as well as fax and Internet services. A clerk records the length of your call and collects the fee.
Not all US and Canadian toll-free 800 numbers work in Mexico. If you're willing to pay the regular phone rate dial 001-880 instead of 1-800, 001-881 instead of 1-888, 001-882 instead of 1-877 and 001-883 instead of 1-866.
Cellular roaming services are available all over Mexico. Check with your service provider to see if they have a roaming agreement with a company in Mexico.
TEMPERATURES Temperatures in Cancun range from 81°F to 95°F. Mexico's rainy season is May-Oct.
TIME ZONE Cancun is on Central Standard Time, which is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight savings time is observed.
Disclaimer: Information is provided as a service to visitors and is updated regularly. All
information should be verified prior to travel.