Have a look at some useful tips before you go on vacations to Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya: passport and visa requirements, customs and regulations, alcohol and smoking restrictions and other practical information.
Good to know before you travel.
When you reach the arrival terminal in Cancun, you will be guided to the immigration hall where you will form a line and wait for your turn with a Mexican Immigration officer.
This officer will ask you for your passport, entry visa (if you are from a country which requires it), and your tourist card, which will be given to you aboard the plane. The immigration officer may ask you a few questions about the purpose of your trip, how long you will be staying and if this is your first time in Mexico.
This two parts document is your "permission" from the Mexican government to visit Mexico. It is available free of charge. The airlines always have an ample supply upon check in.
- Do not lose or deface the bottom portion returned to you after the immigration inspection. It must be returned to Mexican Immigration upon departure.
- TIP: write down your tourist card number and keep it with your travel documents. If the card is lost, having the number will help greatly. Keep your tourist card and travel documents in a secure place. Do not carry them with you everywhere you go, unless traveling extensively from your point of arrival.
If you wish, you can ask to have your card validated for a longer time (up to 180 days).
Everybody needs a passport to enter Mexico and citizens from some countries require an entry visa. If you are not sure please check with your travel agent and/or the Mexican Embassy in your country.
Several countries do not need a visa to enter Mexico. We cannot list all of them but they include the United States, Canada and most members of the European Union.
Customs in Mexico - What can I bring to my vacations in Cancun?
As a rule of thumb you are allowed to bring into Mexico whatever you need for the time period you will be staying.
You are not allowed to bring food, fruits and/or products that are not "company" packed and sealed. Special food or products are allowed only if you need them due to a special diet or medical reasons.
Returning to the US from Mexico, Cancun customs:
You are allowed to enter free of charge any purchases with a combined value of up to $800usd when you have been out of the US for at least 48 hours. This amount excludes Mexican handicrafts.
One liter of alcohol is allowed into the U.S. duty free. In some US states, additional bottles may be brought in if duty free is paid and traveler is at least 21.
NOTE - IT IS NOT LEGAL TO BRING CUBAN CIGARS INTO THE U.S.
Alcohol law in Mexico
The age limit in Mexico for purchasing beer, wine and liquors is 18. Wine, spirits and beer are only sold at some stores.
In Playa del Carmen, there exist some specialized stores where you can buy any beer and wine you want from all over the world.
You are allowed to bring with you the following alcoholic beverages free of customs and excise duty:
• Three- liter bottles of wine, hard liquor and beer.
Smoking Restrictions in Mexico
The age limit for smoking is 18.
Smoking is not permitted in hotels, bars, restaurants and all other establishments where food and beverage are served, but many establishments have their smoking area. All work places are non-smoking areas.
You are allowed to bring with you up to two cartons of cigarettes or 200 g of other tobacco products.
Emergency numbers in Cancun, Riviera Maya
In the event of an emergency, here you have some emergency telephone numbers:
• 066 - Fire
• 066 - Police
• 066 – Ambulance
** FREE CALL FROM MEXICAN CELULAR, PUBLIC PHONE, OR LINE PHONE
• (984) -879-3669 , 70 - Fire (Direct line)
• (984) -879-3669 , 70 - Ambulance(Direct line)
• (984) 877 – 3340 – Playa del Carmen Police ( Direct line)
• (984) 871- 2005 – Tulum Police (Direct line)
• (984) 803-1002 – Playa del Carmen Private Hospital – HOSPITEN
Most of the time the airport tax is included in the price of your airplane ticket. Please check with your airline or check your airline ticket to make sure this is the case. Depending on the exchange rate, the tax is around $48.00usd per person.
It is prohibited without special permission to import the following:
- Drugs, and poisons (minor quantities of medicine for personal use are permitted).
- Alcohol over 60 % per vol.
- Weapons and ammunition.
- Mammals, birds and exotic animals.
- Plants/parts thereof for cultivation.
Can I pay in US dollars in my holidays in the Riviera Maya? The official currency in Cancun & Riviera Maya is the Mexican peso but American dollars are also accepted. Banks are open Monday-Friday from 9am to 4pm but there exist exchange houses all over Cancun & Playa del Carmen that are open much later.
It all depends on how many people you are traveling with, how many days you will be in Mexico for, what you are planing on doing, etc. On average a family of two people traveling for five days in Mexico would exchange about $1,000.00 USD. Again, this is just the average but it should give you an idea.
Electrical devices in your vacations in Mexico:
The electricity in the Riviera Maya is 110 volts AC. This is the Mexican electricity standard.
Hotels usually offer voltage converters for 220 volt devices. Many sockets do not accept polarized or three-prong plugs, therefore it is recommended that you bring your own adapter but you can usually buy these in the hotel shops.
Regular taxis or cabs ARE NOT allowed to pick up passengers at the airport. Only authorized transportation companies are.
You can hail a taxi off the street or pick one up at the many taxi ranks throughout the towns.
What clothes should I pack?
The Riviera Maya's weather does not fluctuate significantly throughout the year. Here you'll find some tips of how to dress in the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
For the average tourist, there's not much need for dressy clothes. You'll know whether you're the type to visit fancier restaurants that require dressier clothes. Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya are diverse and cosmopolitan, so look fancy and gorgeous and enjoy the Mexican Caribbean in a huge variety of this type of places. If you are in an All-Inclusive Resort, some of them require formal casual clothes to dine in their restaurants. You may need a light sweater or sweatshirt for the occasional cool evening.
Shoes: bring a pair for walking, and sandals for the beach.
Camera and video: if you forgot your camera, it's sometimes overpriced to get one in the tourist areas. If you go to the major grocery stores or Wal-Mart in downtown Playa del Carmen, you'll find camera or photo accessories at reasonable prices.
In case you are traveling to Tulum clothing is more informal. All restaurants accept people with shorts, or nothing fancy. We highly recommend you use repellent though.
Daylight Saving Time in Mexico: daylight saving time (DST) gives us the opportunity to enjoy sunny summer evenings by moving our clocks an hour forward in the spring.
The main purpose of daylight saving time (DST) is to make better use of daylight. We change our clocks during spring months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.
DST, also known as summer time, always starts on the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday of October.