Unlocking the World

Travel to Mexico during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN staffUpdated 22nd October 2021
Life's a beach on the sands around Cancun.
Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on October 22.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Mexico, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Mexico is open to travelers. There is no need to provide a negative PCR test or quarantine on arrival, though most resorts ask guests to fill out health questionnaires.
The land border between Mexico and the United States is set to reopen to nonessential travel on November 8. You must arrive by air travel until then.
American travelers should remember they will need a negative Covid-19 test taken 72 hours or less before travel to return to the US. The US Embassy says results for PCR and antigen tests are reliably available within 72 hours in Mexico.
As of October 22, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Mexico's travel advisory rating at level 3 -- "high" risk. Level 4 is "very high" risk. The CDC advises travelers to be fully vaccinated before traveling to Mexico.

What's on offer

You'll find incredible food, sensational beaches, charming towns and historical remains. While the beach resorts around Cancun attract the bulk of visitors, those who want more than a fly and flop go for Mexico City's cultural heft, the coastline of Baja California and traditional towns such as Oaxaca.

Who can go

Mexico has had some of the world's loosest border restrictions with anyone allowed to travel by air for business or leisure.

What are the restrictions?

Travelers to the country must complete a health declaration form and scan the QR code it generates on arrival. There is no need to take a test before departure or undertake any form of quarantine. Those concerned they may have symptoms should ask for the Sanidad Internacional health organization.
The land border with the United States remains shut to all but essential travel, but it is slated to reopen to nonessential travel on November 8. People trying to enter through the southern border with Guatemala and Belize may also be denied entry for nonessential travel.

What's the Covid situation?

Mexico has had around 3.77 million cases of Covid-19 and just over 285,000 deaths as of October 22 (although some believe the actual numbers are higher). President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has come under fire for taking a laissez-faire approach to the virus. Restrictions have not been far reaching and life has gone on as normal for many, which critics say has led to high death and infection rates.
As of October 22, Mexico had administered more than 113 million doses of vaccine, or about 87 doses per 100 people. Cases saw a dramatic spike upward in late summer, though numbers started declining sharply in September and October.

What can visitors expect?

Mexico has a four-tier traffic light system of restrictions, with red signifying maximum restrictions, orange limiting capacity in public spaces and at work to 30%, yellow allowing for all work to resume and public gatherings to take place, and green meaning there are no restrictions in place. See a color-coded map here.
As of October 22, all states but one (Baja California) were categorized as yellow or green.
Quintana Roo, where popular tourist destinations Cancun and Playa del Carmen are located, was listed as green. Baja California Sur, home to Cabo San Lucas, and the bustling capital, Mexico City, were green as well.
Visitors are likely to find situations differ depending on where in the country they travel, with local restrictions varying. See the Local Resources section of the US Embassy website for specific information.

Useful links

Our latest coverage

Find out how Mexico has tried to balance its health needs vs. an economy heavily dependent on tourism by clicking here.
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If you're not ready yet to take the plunge, you'll find inspiration with the prettiest towns in the country and an insider's guide to tequila.