Travelers to Mexico now see state-specific travel warnings from the US government

May 15, 2022

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Travelers to Mexico heeding U.S. State Department warnings should be aware of new state-specific alerts for various parts of Mexico.

The State Department’s official travel warnings for Mexico should be used by travelers to evaluate safety concerns in specific Mexican states, based on a breakdown of risk indicators such as crime and kidnapping for specific destinations, rather than the country as a whole.

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While the State Department normally issues a Level 1 to 4 warning for each country in the world based on concern for the overall safety for travelers, the travel advisory for Mexico was last updated as “Other” on May 2.

(Screenshot courtesy of the U.S. State Department)

Per a State Department official, the change for Mexico warnings is a result of the State Department shifting gears last month away from COVID-19 concerns, which is currently the focus of warnings from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“In March 2021, the Department updated its Travel Advisory framework to more heavily weigh the CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Health Notices (THN) levels,” a State Department official said. “This meant that from March 2021 to April 2022, our Travel Advisory levels were in most cases directly correlated to the CDC’s COVID-19 THN levels.”

State Travel Advisories no longer match the CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Health Notice levels as of April, which is when the CDC removed every country from its highest Level 4: Do Not Travel warning in an effort to reserve that highest alert level for limited circumstances.

“The Department of State’s goal is that U.S. citizens planning travel to Mexico focus on the particular area of ​​​​Mexico to which they will be traveling,” they said. 

(Screenshot courtesy of the U.S. State Department)

Read more: The difference between CDC and State Department travel warnings

Travelers should continue to view Mexican state-specific advisories like they do country advisories, as they are based on risk factors which include the possibility of tourists encountering concerns related to crime, terrorism, kidnapping, hostage-taking, civil unrest, natural disasters and health.

Mexico’s current warning advises travelers should be aware of “widespread and common violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery,” while also noting that the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico since travel by 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 warning reads.

Additionally, the State Department says travelers should not currently travel to, or should reconsider or exercise increased caution when traveling to 30 of the 32 listed areas.

(Screenshot courtesy of the U.S. State Department)

The Department is currently advising Americans to avoid traveling to the regions of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas “due to crime and kidnapping,” while asking tourists to “reconsider travel” to Baja California, Nayarit and Mexico State, among other areas. The language regarding travel to those states has not changed since April but has been expanded to include additional territories.

Earlier this week, Mexico Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco Marqués and U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter, the Undersecretary of State for Consular Affairs, discussed the State Department’s approach to travel advisories for Mexico, which for much of the pandemic, has warned Americans of travel to certain parts of Mexico due to an increased risk of crime.

Read more: UPDATE: Using new ranking system, CDC removes every country from ‘do not travel’ list

Marqués reportedly asked the State Department to differentiate between isolated acts of violence that occur near tourist destinations and how those events are positioned as affecting the likelihood of crime visitors may face overall, such as how an event like last week’s death of two people in a bar in Cancun ultimately factors into the government’s weekly travel advisories.

The tourist secretary pointed out that “some isolated cases of insecurity are found several kilometers from tourist destinations,” according to local reporting.

This recent conversation between government officials follows the deployment of 6,000 troops in Cancun, part of an increased security presence in response to crime and drug trafficking issues seen this year, including two fatal shootings in January involving Canadian tourists at a five-star hotel in Playa del Carmen and another incident that killed a bar manager at a nearby beach club.

In addition to the State Department, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico, which regularly issues safety updates regarding travel to Mexico, has also issued separate enhanced warnings for travelers this year, including in March when they told Spring Break goers to consider the risk of crime, sexual assault and illegal drug use in popular tourist destinations.

Read more: Americans should consider safety factors beyond COVID-19 when traveling this summer, State Department says

Bottom line

Travel advisories issued by the State Department and those warnings related to COVID-19 via the CDC should be taken for what they are — an official warning from the U.S. government. Traveling abroad always involves an inherent amount of risk as you are stepping off American soil.

“We are committed to providing U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world so they can make informed travel decisions,” the State Department official said. “We provide comprehensive safety and security information for every country in the world to help citizens assess the risks of travel.”

Should you choose to travel to a country with an elevated travel warning, note that you may not be able to receive assistance from the U.S. government due to limited services being available.

Featured photo of the beach in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Related: Airlines concerned about safety in Mexico City’s airspace

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