Travel to Mexico

The U.S. Department of State updated the Travel Warning for Mexico on May 5, 2015. This Travel Warning is in response to the increased levels of largely narcotics-related violence and crime. The homicides, gun battles, kidnappings, carjackings, and highway robberies involving individuals not engaged in criminal activities creates concern for the safety of UA travel to Mexico.

In order to facilitate continued and safe travel to Mexico, UA has responded in the following manner:

1. Travel to any location in Mexico continues to be considered of higher safety risk.

2. Recognizing that 12 Mexican states and the Federal District (Mexico City) do not have advisories included in the Travel Warning, travel approval for the following locations and scenarios is delegated to the supervisor, Department Heads and Unit Directors, or Deans*:
Estado de Mexico, Mexico City, Chiapas, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Yucatan, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Tabasco
Also: Daylight travel on major highways to Nogales, Hermosillo, Mexicali, and Puerto Peñasco.

3. Travel to any other state or area in Sonora must be reviewed in advance by the ITSOC and approved by the Provost. *The issuance of an advisory to any of the above areas would result in required review and approval of the travel.

4. Each trip to Mexico requires registration in the University International Travel Registry, a Travel Authorization, and a Supplemental Travel Authorization at least 30 days in advance of the departure date.

5. To support UA travel to Mexico which is often frequent, regular, and involves groups, the following procedures are now in place:

a. Regular travelers may indicate on the Supplemental Travel Authorization the repeated nature of their travel and request preauthorization for trips that include the same travelers and same conditions.
b. Group travel can be indicated on a single Supplemental Travel Authorization.
c. Provided that information presented on the Supplemental Travel Authorization is unchanged, once preauthorization is attained:

  • Submit the Supplemental Travel Authorization: Preauthorized Travelform for the traveler/group.
  • Submit the Travel Authorization for each traveler.
  • Register each traveler in the UA International Travel Registry.

d. A new Supplemental Travel Authorization review is required for any changes to preauthorized-travel.

When planning UA travel to Mexico, please ensure the following precautions are taken:

  • Review the latest Travel Warning and evaluate your planned itinerary against the information contained therein. If possible, avoid or defer travel to specifically identified hazardous areas.
  • Plan all roadway travel to occur during daylight hours and to the greatest extent feasible, use only major roadways.
  • For travel to Puerto Peñasco, use the Lukeville port of entry to minimize highway travel to the region.
  • Consider flying commercially to your destination instead of driving.
  • Students and employees must be allowed to opt out of travel if they wish, and must be provided with an alternative to participation.
  • For countries with Travel Warnings students and volunteers are required to sign the Assumption of Risk and Release Form (in the Travel Registry).
  • In addition to travel registration, all faculty, staff and students traveling to countries with Travel Warnings must register with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free system provides timely alerts to travelers and allows Embassy staff to rapidly locate and contact travelers in the event of an emergency situation in the area being visited. The STEP program is available here.

Click on the image below to see the enlarged map:

travel to mexico map

Map Explanation: Areas with Varying Levels of Risk (polka-dotted sections of the map above)

  • Baja California Sur: Cabo San Lucas and La Paz are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Southern Baja California – Exercise caution in the state capital of La Paz. According to the Department of Interior of Mexico, Baja California Sur registered its highest homicide rate ever as of October 2015. Many of these homicides have occurred in La Paz, where there has been an increase in public acts of violence between rival criminal organizations.
  • Chihuahua: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua City, and Copper Canyon are major cities/travel destinations in Chihuahua - Exercise caution in traveling to: the business and shopping districts in the northeast section of Ciudad Juarez and its major industrial parks, the central downtown section and major industrial parks in the city of Chihuahua, the town of Palomas, the urban area of the city of Ojinaga, and the towns of Nuevo Casas Grandes and Casas Grandes and their immediate environs. Travel to the Nuevo Casas Grandes area should be through the Palomas port of entry (POE) on U.S. Highway 11, continuing south until reaching Mexico Highway 2 west to Nuevo Casas Grandes. Travel to Ojinaga should be on the U.S. side via U.S. Highway 67 through the Presidio POE. Defer non-essential travel to other areas in the state of Chihuahua and travel between cities only on major highways and only during daylight hours. Crime and violence remain serious problems throughout the state of Chihuahua, particularly in the southern portion of the state and in the Sierra Mountains, including Copper Canyon. 
  • Estado de Mexico: Toluca and Teotihuacan are major travel destinations in Estado de Mexico - Exercise caution in the State of Mexico. Due to high rates of crime and insecurity, defer non-essential travel to the municipalities of Coacalco, Ecatepec, Nezahualcoyotl, La Paz, Valle del Chalco, Solidaridad, Chalco, Ixtapaluca, and Tlatlaya, which are portions of the greater Mexico City metropolitan area, located just to the east of the Federal District of Mexico and Benito Juarez airport, unless traveling directly through the areas on major thoroughfares. Defer non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac, Morelos and Santa Martha, Estado de Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas. 
  • Guerrero (includes Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco, and Zihuatanejo) - Travel to the state of Guerrero, including Acapulco, is prohibited for U.S. Government personnel with the exception of travel to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo by air. In Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, US Government personnel must exercise caution and remain in tourist areas. The state of Guerrero was the most violent state in Mexico in 2015 for the third year in a row, with a murder rate of 57 per 100,000 residents, according to the Mexican Secretariado Ejecutivo Nacional de Seguridad Publica. Self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.
  • Jalisco: Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Lake Chapala are major cities/travel destinations in Jalisco – Exercise caution throughout the state, particularly in rural areas and when using secondary highways. Defer non-essential travel to areas of the state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas. The security situation along the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders continues to be unstable. U.S. government personnel are authorized to use Federal toll road 15D for travel to Mexico City; however, they may not stop in the town of La Barca or Ocotlan for any reason. Use of Highway 80 between Cocula and La Huerta is prohibited for personal travel by U.S. government personnel. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from personal travel to areas of Jalisco that border Zacatecas, and are prohibited from intercity travel at night. 
  • Michoacán: Morelia is a major city/travel destination in Michoacán - Defer non-essential travel to the state of Michoacán except the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas, and the area north of federal toll road 15D, where you should exercise caution. U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling by land in Michoacán except on federal toll road 15D during daylight hours. Flying into Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas is permitted for U.S. government personnel.
  • Morelos: Cuernavaca is a major city/travel destination in Morelos - Exercise caution in the state of Morelos. Defer non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac in the northwest corner of the state and Santa Marta, Estado de Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas. 
  • Nayarit: The Riviera Nayarit coast, including the cities of Tepic, Xalisco, and San Blas, is a major travel destination in Nayarit - U.S. government personnel may travel to Riviera Nayarit, San Blas, Santa María del Oro, Tepic, and Xalisco using major highways. Intercity travel at night is prohibited for U.S. government personnel. Defer non-essential travel to other areas of the state.
  • Sinaloa: Mazatlan is a major city/travel destination in Sinaloa - Defer non-essential travel to the state of Sinaloa except the cities of Mazatlan, Los Mochis, and the Port of Topolobampo, where you should exercise caution. One of Mexico's most powerful criminal organizations is based in the state of Sinaloa, and violent crime rates remain high in many parts of the state. Travel in Mazatlan should be limited to Zona Dorada and the historic town center, as well as direct routes to and from these locations and the airport. Travel in Los Mochis and Topolobampo is restricted to the city and the port, as well as direct routes to/from these locations and the airport. 
  • Sonora: Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Hermosillo, and San Carlos are major cities/travel destinations in Sonora - Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades and can be extremely dangerous for travelers. Travelers throughout Sonora are encouraged to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours. Defer non-essential travel to the region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and from Caborca north (including the towns of Saric, Tubutama, and Altar), and the eastern edge of Sonora bordering Chihuahua, as these are known centers of illegal activity. Travelers should also defer non-essential travel to the eastern edge of the state of Sonora, which borders the state of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of the northern city of Agua Prieta and the southern town of Alamos), and defer non-essential travel within the city of Ciudad Obregon and south of the city of Navojoa. You should exercise caution while transiting Vicam in southern Sonora due to roadblocks that can be instituted ad hoc by local indigenous and environmental groups. U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco should use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing, and limit driving to daylight hours.