This month, news reports broke about four U.S. citizens kidnapped in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The four had crossed the border from Texas, reportedly on a medical tourism trip not far from the Mexico-U.S. border.
The story has shone a light both on the prevalence of medical tourism—over a million Americans a year reportedly travel to Mexico specifically for medical tourism—and on the safety of travelers headed to Mexico.
Here’s what both the U.S. and Canadian governments are saying prior to what is typically a busy spring break travel season to Mexico.
U.S. State Department
In the midst of the news this month, the U.S. State Dept. renewed its Mexico travel warning. The warning, which comes just ahead of spring break, advises Americans to be aware of the crime in certain parts of the country.
“Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico,” the warning reads.
“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted. In many states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities.”
The advisory isn’t the same for all of Mexico; it is specific to regions.
There are six states that the U.S. is warning not to travel to—Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas. Tamaulipas is the region where the most recent incident took place.
Then, there are seven states that the U.S. is warning Americans to “reconsider” travel to—Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, and Sonora.
Everywhere else in Mexico is either categorized under the “exercise increased caution” or “exercise normal precautions” banners. That includes some tourist hotspots like Quintana Roo, Mexico City, and Baja California Sur.
The U.S. State Dept. also employs a separate webpage for high-risk areas.
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico
The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico City also have a warning out for travel to the country. Its “actions to take” include five pieces of advice to travelers:
- Avoid the area.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Seek shelter if needed.
- Monitor local media for updates and in case of emergency, call 911.
- Review your personal security plans and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Government of Canada
Last week, Canada updates its travel advice page for Mexico, alerting travelers to “exercise a high degree of caution” when traveling to the country due to “high levels of criminal activity and kidnapping.”
Canada’s advisory, in particular, zeroes out regions where its citizens should “avoid non-essential travel” including Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero, Sinaloa, Sonora, and more. The full list can be found here.
“Levels of crime, particularly violent crime, are high throughout Mexico. Arrest and detention rates are low and don’t deter criminal activity,” the advisory reads.
Canada is not warning to avoid traveling to other regions in Mexico. Instead, it is alerting citizens to exercise caution. For comparison, Canada also has the same advisory for countries including Jamaica, France, Sweden, Morocco, the United Kingdom, and more.
“There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media, and follow the instructions of local authorities,” it said.