Wondering what the deal is with COVID-19 in Mexico? Looking for information on travel restrictions in Mexico? Read on!
If you’re planning a trip to Mexico right now, be aware that the COVID-19 situation is still evolving. Mexico is doing its best, especially in popular tourist destinations, to be safe and welcoming for tourists, but there are some restrictions in place in certain areas.
I created this page as a resource to help you stay up to date on the coronavirus situation in Mexico so you can make informed travel decisions.
We’ll discuss what’s currently open in Mexico, what types of coronavirus restrictions to expect, and then we’ll cover the logistics of traveling in and out of Mexico right now.
I will continue to update this page as the situation evolves.
I have worked very hard to ensure the information presented here is accurate, but things are constantly changing, and restrictions vary from region to region. If you notice any errors, let me know!
I hope this info will help you have a great Mexico trip and keep yourself and those around you safe in the midst of this virus.
- Mexico Coronavirus Statistics
- Mexico’s COVID-19 Response
- Are Mexico’s borders open?
- Mexico entry requirements during COVID
- Traveling to Mexico from the US
- Traveling to Mexico from Canada
- What to expect when visiting Mexico during COVID-19
- Where can I find updates about the COVID situation in Mexico?
- Vocabulary to know
- Where can you get a COVID-19 test in Mexico?
- What happens if you test positive for COVID-19 in Mexico?
- TL;DR: Travel to Mexico During COVID-19 FAQs
- Is it safe to travel to Mexico during COVID?
- Be a respectful traveler
- Continue Planning Your Trip!
You need travel insurance.
Travel insurance is more important now than ever before. Thanks to the coronavirus, you’re more likely than ever before to get sick while traveling. And now, getting sick while abroad has even more significant consequences than ever before.
Due to travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19, testing positive could result in a lengthy quarantine in a foreign country. You may even have to change your travel plans and delay your return home.
And, even though it’s probably unlikely, should you need emergent medical care, hospitalization, or medical evacuation, insurance will help cover the cost.
- SafetyWing insurance policies cover some of the expenses related to COVID-19 testing and quarantine.
- World Nomads also offers policies covering some of the associated costs of testing positive for COVID-19. These benefits include coverage for trip interruption, emergency medical, and medical evacuation. The exact coverage depends on your home country and the policy you choose.
According to the New York Times, over 267,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Mexico; 1 in 36 residents has contracted the virus. As of September 2021, Mexico has reported over 3.5 million cases of COVID-19, with August 2021 having the highest average number of cases.
You should take Mexico’s COVID-19 statistics with a grain of salt. Mexico has been underreporting cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
On top of that, many Mexicans don’t trust hospitals and refuse to go even when their condition is grave. There are likely many individuals who passed away in their homes without ever seeking medical attention.
While it’s worth keeping an eye on how the curve is trending in Mexico, it’s safe to assume that the numbers are much higher than what is actually reported.
The vaccine rollout in Mexico has been slow. Currently, less than 50% of the country has been fully vaccinated. Be mindful when traveling, as many residents haven’t yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated to protect against COVID-19.
Mexico’s COVID-19 Response
Mexico’s president, AMLO (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador), has downplayed the severity of the virus since the start of the pandemic. Despite contracting COVID-19 himself in January 2021, he has continued to eschew wearing a mask. He has been reluctant to put any restrictions in place in the name of keeping Mexico’s economy open (and protecting his chances at re-election, no doubt).
Fortunately, many of Mexico’s other leaders and the majority of the general population seem to be working hard to protect against the virus. This is why there is such a disparity in coronavirus measures across the country; some states take a much more strict approach than others. Generally, people seem to be taking the virus seriously, even when the government is not.
The semáforo (stoplight) system
Mexico uses a stoplight system (semáforo, in Spanish) to indicate the level of COVID-19 restrictions in place. Each state updates its stoplight color every second Thursday. Red indicates the highest COVID risk, while green indicates the lowest.
Here is a breakdown of what each color of the stoplight system means:
- Green: Low risk. Activities may carry on as usual, but with some precautions in place, such as reduced capacities in restaurants, mask requirements, etc.
- Yellow: Medium risk. Businesses can remain open with safety protocols in place. Activities may be permitted in public spaces (like parks and beaches). Activities within enclosed spaces (restaurants, museums, etc.) may be allowed with restrictions such as limited capacity, social distancing, and mask requirements.
- Orange: High risk. Individuals are asked to stay home as much as possible. Activities within public spaces are permitted with limitations. Activities within enclosed spaces are suspended.
- Red: Maximum risk. Only venture out for essentials. Activities are not permitted in public spaces.
If you’re planning a trip, check this interactive map to see the current stoplight color of your desired destination.
The stoplight colors are updated every two weeks based on the following criteria:
- Rate of community transmission
- Number of cases per 100,000 people
- Number of deaths per 100,000 people
- Amount of hospitalizations per 100,000 people
- Percentage of beds occupied in hospitals
- Percentage of beds with ventilators occupied in hospitals
- Percentage of positive tests each week
- Hospitalization trends per 100,000 people
- Infection rates per 100,000 people
- Mortality trends per 100,000 people
Are Mexico’s borders open?
While Mexico has welcomed tourists throughout the pandemic, the northern land borders of the country have been closed to non-essential travel. The border closure was part of an agreement with Canada and the US to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
The land borders may be closed, but travelers are free to enter the country by air.
Mexico entry requirements during COVID
Unlike many other destinations around the world, Mexico doesn’t have strict entry requirements when it comes to COVID-19.
You are not currently required to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccine, nor do you need to provide negative test results before entering the country.
This may change soon, though, as Mexico’s tourism ministers are pushing to implement a COVID-19 screening process for incoming travelers.
When you travel in and out of Mexico you will be asked to complete a health declaration form to help with COVID-19 contact tracing.
You will have to complete the form when you arrive in Mexico and again when you leave the country.
The health declaration can be completed online up to 12 hours before your flight.
The form will ask you to input your name, contact information, and flight details. Then you will list any countries other than Mexico you have visited within the last 14 days and input any symptoms you have experienced within the previous 14 days.
Once the form is complete, a QR code will be generated. Save it so you can pull up the document whenever it’s requested.
Do you have to quarantine when entering Mexico?
Nope! Unless you are experiencing symptoms or test positive for COVID, you will not be required to quarantine when you get to Mexico.
Traveling to Mexico from the US
Travelers from the US will face no difficulties entering the country. However, to return to the US, you will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test. The test must be taken within 72 hours of your return flight. If you test positive, you will have to self-isolate in Mexico until you recover.
Traveling to Mexico from Canada
Canadians can enter Mexico easily, but the logistics of returning to Canada are more complex, especially if you are not fully vaccinated.
(Travelers do not qualify as fully vaccinated unless the second dose of the vaccine was administered 14 days before the day they enter Canada).
Fully vaccinated Canadians must provide proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of their scheduled return flight.
You must update ArriveCAN with your vaccination status, flight details, and proof of your negative COVID test.
You will be asked to monitor for COVID symptoms for 14 days once you arrive in Canada. You must report any symptoms you experience to your local health authority.
Visit this page for more details on Canada’s re-entry requirements (and what to do if you’re not fully vaxxed).
What to expect when visiting Mexico during COVID-19
Mexico is open and welcoming tourists, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can expect everything to be as it was pre-pandemic. The situation on the ground varies from state to state, depending on how their case numbers are.
Generally, you should expect to wear your mask. Sanitization methods will be in place in most places. Your temperature may be taken when going into restaurants or shops. Attractions, restaurants, and even public transportation may be operating at reduced capacity.
Let’s look at some of the steps Mexico is taking to combat COVID and see how they might affect your travels.
Mask requirements: Do you need to wear a mask in Mexico?
You will be required to wear a mask in most areas of Mexico, especially indoors or while using public transportation. In some regions, the mask mandates are much stricter than others. In some cities, individuals can be fined for not wearing masks, even outdoors.
Plan to wear your mask indoors, when you are taking public transportation, and when you are in crowded public spaces.
At this point, you should be wearing a mask any time you are in a crowded or enclosed space, regardless of your vaccination status. Even if you’re vaccinated and healthy, wearing a mask is respectful and prevents you from unwittingly spreading the virus to anyone else.
In light of the pandemic, some cities in Mexico have introduced what they call a ley seca. This translates to “dry law,” and it refers to a ban on alcohol. This law doesn’t exist everywhere, and the specifics of the law vary from place to place.
In Xalapa, Veracruz, where I lived, ley seca meant that liquor sales were banned from Friday through Sunday. In other cities, liquor sales may be prohibited after a certain time every day.
Sanitation at resorts
Mexico’s hospitality industry has been working hard to ensure that the country’s tourism sector can continue to operate while keeping staff and guests safe and healthy.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) created a designation they call the “SafeTravels Stamp.” To receive the SafeTravel Stamp, businesses must follow a set of health and sanitization protocols outlined by the WTTC.
These protocols were developed through collaboration between health experts, governments, and travel and tourism industry members. The goal behind them is to inspire confidence in travelers who are concerned about the spread of COVID-19.
Many of Mexico’s resorts, tour operators, and other tourism industry businesses have received the SafeTravels Stamp. As such, you can trust that sanitation is top of mind for these organizations.
Attractions & activities
It is not safe to assume your chosen attraction will be open, so do careful research ahead of your trip.
The availability of attractions and activities differs depending on the COVID situation in the area. Some attractions have been closed temporarily, while others are operating at a reduced capacity.
For instance, one of Mexico’s most popular tourist attractions, Chichen Itza, was closed for months during 2020 due to coronavirus concerns. It has since reopened with a reduced capacity for visitors and strict mask requirements.
Another popular archaeological site, Teotihuacan, also has a reduced capacity, and visitors are not currently permitted to climb on the pyramids.
In some cities, there have been periods during which restaurants are only open to provide takeout. Bars and nightclubs were closed altogether in certain areas. In the Riviera Maya, there were times when beaches were closed for a time.
Other measures taken against COVID-19
Many other steps are being taken to limit the spread of COVID in Mexico. Here are some other restrictions you might experience:
- Reduced capacity on public transportation
- Curfews, including vehicle curfews
- Restrictions around entering grocery stores, shops, malls (such as only allowing one person per group to enter at a time)
- Having your temperature taken any time you enter a business
- And more…
Once again, the situation is constantly changing, so do your research before your trip.
Where can I find updates about the COVID situation in Mexico?
US Embassy & Consulates in Mexico: This page outlines Mexico’s entry requirements and how the stoplight system works. It also has links to COVID-19 resources for the states most popular among travelers.
Mexico News Daily takes Spanish-language news articles and translates them into English. Their coronavirus coverage is free to access, and they post regular updates about the COVID-19 situation throughout Mexico.
CDC – Covid-19 in Mexico: The CDC’s Mexico travel page highlights the risks, restrictions, and recommendations for traveling to Mexico at this time.
Local publications: Since the Covid situation is handled slightly differently in each part of Mexico, following a local news source is one of the best ways to stay up to date. There are English language publications out there for the most popular destinations in Mexico. Otherwise, Spanish-language publications are available.
Tip: To find Spanish language publications for your destination, Google “noticias + [city/state].”
Facebook Groups: Don’t underestimate the value of Facebook groups. There are tons of expat groups for Mexico and many devoted to specific cities. These are great places to find up-to-date information. Of course, there are often many people in these groups just desperate to sound off, so try not to take them too seriously. Ask specific, focused questions, and you’ll usually receive some helpful answers.
Tip: Search “Expats in [city]” on Facebook to find local groups.
My Facebook group, Female Travelers in Mexico, is packed with friendly, fellow Mexico travelers and locals who are happy to answer questions. Click here to join us!
Vocabulary to know
The following are some COVID-related terms and phrases that you’re bound to see or hear throughout your travels:
- Cubreboca – Mask
- Gel (pronounced “hell”) – Gel, referring to hand-sanitizer
- Prueba de COVID-19 – Covid test
- Sana distancia – Healthy distance
- Distancia social – Social distance
- Aislamiento – Isolation
- Obligatorio – Mandatory
- Ley seca – Dry law (this refers to a ban on liquor sales)
- Cerrada – Closed
- Síntomas – Symptoms
- Enfermo – Sick
- Riesgo – Risk
- Cuarentena – Quarantine
Where can you get a COVID-19 test in Mexico?
At this point, it’s easy to get tested for COVID-19 in Mexico. Many resorts are offering tests on-site because they know their guests must provide test results before flying home.
You can also get tested at pharmacies. Farmacia del Ahorro is a massive chain of pharmacies that you’ll see throughout Mexico. They offer COVID-19 tests at affordable rates.
Here’s a detailed look at the COVID-19 testing process in Playa del Carmen. I’m sure the process will be similar at pharmacies elsewhere in Mexico.
What happens if you test positive for COVID-19 in Mexico?
If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Mexico, you will need to self-isolate until you are no longer contagious. It could take up to 21 days for you to clear the virus.
Naturally, extending your stay will be costly. Your travel insurance could help cover your expenses in some cases, so don’t forget to purchase a policy before your trip.
If you test positive, speak to your hotel about how they can help you remain isolated. They may be able to coordinate food or grocery deliveries on your behalf. Depending on where you are staying, they may wish to move you to a different part of the property to reduce the risk of you exposing other guests and staff members.
Some Mexican resorts and hotels even allow guests who test positive a complimentary stay for up to 14-days.
Before your trip, ask your hotel about their protocols for guests who test positive, so you have a backup plan in case it happens. It will be harder to sort these things out when you’re feeling overwhelmed and under the weather.
TL;DR: Travel to Mexico During COVID-19 FAQs
Too lazy to dig through all the info I shared above?
Here are the essential things to know about traveling to Mexico during coronavirus.
- Do I have to quarantine if I travel to Mexico?
At this time, there is no quarantine requirement for travelers entering Mexico. You will only be required to quarantine if you test positive for COVID-19. Depending on where you’re traveling from, you may be required to quarantine when returning to your home country.
- Do I need a covid test to fly to Mexico?
You do not need a COVID-19 test to enter Mexico, however, you may need to get tested before flying back to your home country. Be sure to study the entry requirements of your home country before booking your trip to Mexico.
- Is there travel insurance that covers COVID-19?
- Where can I get a COVID-19 test in Mexico?
You can get tested for COVID-19 at many pharmacies throughout Mexico, including the national chain Farmacia del Ahorro. Some resorts and airports also have testing stations.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico during COVID?
Whether it’s safe or not to travel to Mexico during the pandemic is a personal choice you’ll have to make based on your lifestyle and risk tolerance.
Mexico’s COVID-19 situation isn’t nearly as controlled as it is in many countries, but residents seem to be taking many precautions to stay safe and protect others.
While life may be relatively “normal” in many of Mexico’s most desirable destinations, COVID is still prolific, and being careless could cost you your health. BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE!
Remember: just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. (Yes, I’m looking at you maskless Tulum partiers).
Be a respectful traveler
I know we’re all sick of being cooped up, and some of us have travel credits just begging to be used… whatever the situation, all any of us want after the last 18 months is a freakin’ vacation (or a time machine).
But…unless you are fully vaccinated, I do not advocate traveling to Mexico (or anywhere else) right now.
At the time of writing, case numbers remain high and much of the country still has not been vaccinated. Mexico may benefit from tourism dollars, but not as much as they benefit from not catching the virus.
Even if you are vaccinated, please be mindful that many Mexicans still are not. Wear your mask when you’re in crowded spaces. If you experience any COVID symptoms, get tested and self-isolate.
Continue Planning Your Trip!
Mexico Guide Books
This Mexico phrasebook will help you communicate, even if your Spanish skills are lacking.
This Mexico travel guide is packed with all the info you could ever need.
I use a combination of Expedia, Airbnb, and VRBO to find accommodation throughout Mexico.
Some cities in Mexico have more listings on VRBO than Airbnb (or vice versa), so it’s best to check both to find the perfect place!
Rental cars add tons of flexibility to your travel plans. If you opt to rent one, I recommend using Discover Car Hire to find the best rates!
Skyscanner is my favorite tool for finding the best deals on airfare.
Never leave home without travel insurance.
SafetyWing offers super-affordable policies that cover things like medical expenses, trip interruption, and lost luggage. They even offer coverage for some expenses related to COVID-19.
World Nomads also offers excellent coverage that you can tailor to fit your travel style.
There’s no question that knowing basic Spanish is wildly beneficial in Mexico. It helps you stay aware of your surroundings, solve problems, and make friends!
RocketSpanish has a well-structured program that will take you from bumbling to conversational in just a few modules. Start your free trial today!
Still have questions?
Join my Female Travelers in Mexico Facebook group, a supportive community of fellow Mexico travel enthusiasts, where you can find answers to all your travel questions!