Same old border scam - what to do next time, and this time?
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Dec 12, 2012 7:06 AM Last Post By: chschen
Nov 19, 2012 7:25 PM
Same old border scam - what to do next time, and this time?Hey All,
Seeking some travel advice. I'm sure many of you are familiar with this story, and probably people have posted about it here before. We crossed the border from Mexico to Guatemala today via El Ceibo. At the border, the officials told us we had to pay a departure tax of 295 pesos each. We had read on forums and in Lonely Planet that the tourism fee was already included in the flight to Mexico, and we should not have to pay a departure tax. When we mentioned this to the officials, they said that it was a new rule (beginning January 2012) that people flying into Mexico have to pay this fem and they showed us official-looking papers that said so (or at least we think it says so since our Spanish is pretty poor). The paper has a date from January 5, 2012, and they gave us a copy of it as well as signed receipts of the tax we paid. At the time, we weren't sure that our flights did charge us the Mexican tourist fee, so we couldn't be sure it was a scam. Now we checked the flight and do know that we already paid the fee in the flight. Is there anything we can do with the receipts and paper they copied for us? Contact the Mexican embassy in the U.S.? Contact the U.S. embassy in Mexico? How do we avoid this situation in the future? We felt a little it in a bind because we did need to exit Mexico, and how could we prove that they were lying? What have others done in this situation?
Nov 19, 2012 9:08 PM
1In over 25 years of travel to and from Mexico I have never been required to pay a departure tax. I have entered/departed Mexico by air and land.
Nov 19, 2012 10:10 PM
2Christine, I am not sure that it was a scam, if they gave you a receipt and all. 295 pesos would be the correct tourism tax rate. They maybe needed proof that you had already paid? It is included on some flight tickets but not all, as those coming to Mexico from the UK on charter flights do not pay the tax in advance.
I will be departing Mexico by land, after arriving on a flight. I will keep a copy of my ticket purchase handy, which shows the tourist tax paid on it. Don't know if that will work, but I am hoping it will.
I know that there has been some scamming at the Belize border and our Canadian Embassy says to contact them if it happens.
Boomer43, don't know how you have avoided a tax that everyone else pays.....you probably just aren't checking all the taxes added into your flight tickets. It is called a tourism tax, not a departure tax. Overland crossing would be another matter.
Nov 19, 2012 10:40 PM
3You would have to show them the part of your immigration form (FMM) that was returned to you by immigration when you landed at the airport. If you did not present that then they were right to fine you for losing it. If you DID have it then they should not have charged you once you gave it to them.
Nov 20, 2012 4:50 AM
Nov 20, 2012 6:33 AM
Nov 20, 2012 7:24 AM
6BCMum, I have traveled Mexico probably 50 times through the years and have never ever paid a departure tax. Not by land, sea or air.
Nov 20, 2012 9:20 AM
7#7: Your point 5 says "Some airlines are still collecting the fee" but in fact ALL scheduled airlines are collecting the fee as part of the ticket price and others (such as UK charter airlines) are collecting the fee separately on departure. Nowhere and at no time does a Mexican government employee collect money directly from a visitor who arrives and departs by air. The article referred to in point 4 refers to airlines not collecting the fee but that only applies to someone entering Mexico by land (and not paying the required fee at a bank) but then departing by air. The OP seems to have arrived by air and departed by land in which case they will have already paid in the cost of their ticket (assuming they weren't on a UK charter flight).
Nov 20, 2012 10:42 AM
Nov 20, 2012 11:15 AM
9chschen: A small hijack of the thread here: You say you crossed from Mexico to Guatemala at El Ceibo. Wondering if this is the backdoor border crossing from Tenosique, south of Palenque, to La Ceiba, Guatemala, near Flores. If so, I'd love a report on the crossing and the roads, apart from the questionable fee.
Nov 20, 2012 11:16 AM
10I just want to clarify a comment I made in post number 2, which said: "I know that there has been some scamming at the Belize border and our Canadian Embassy says to contact them if it happens."
The scamming that this refers to has been done by the Belize officials, NOT by Mexicans.
I should not have included that sentence as it was confusing to the issue of crossing the border Mexico to Guatemala. I only included it because it was an official comment by the Canadian government to contact them in case of problems and I was surprised to read it on the official site.
Nov 20, 2012 5:22 PM
11Thank you, very helpful. We did indeed still have our tourist cards, so we were not charged because we lost them. I feel better at least that this is all probably a misunderstanding. Misterbee, what exactly did you say when you complained to your airline? Did you have an official webpage from the Mexican government that you could cite?
Nov 20, 2012 8:10 PM
12paloblanco: We did indeed go from Palenque to Tenosique to El Ceibo (not La Ceiba) in Mexico/Guatemala (I think it's called the same on both sides), which is then a 4 hour collectivo ride from Flores (though it's only 150 km). Aside from the border crossing, it was pretty easy going, though long. Collectivo from Palenque to Tenosique took about 2 hours and cost M50. The collectivo drops you off on the edge of Tenosique, and then you can either take a tuk tuk to the city center or walk (we walked, but it was a long, hot walk). There are apparently buses that leave from Tenosique to El Ceibo from behind the market in Tenosique (around the intersection of Calles 16 and 45). We got there around 10:20 am and were told by some people standing around that the next bus would leave at 11 am. However, there were no signs on the buses, which were empty, or any driver in sight, and meanwhile there were a lot of cab touts saying they'd take us there for 50 pesos a person. We asked some people at the market who thought the bus would be 35 pesos per person, so we just ended up taking the taxi since it would leave sooner. They grabbed 3 other people who were also going to El Ceibo, so it didn't end up that comfortable a ride (my boyfriend and I had to share the front seat, being the smallest people in the car). Aside from the hassle at the Mexican side of the border, the border crossing was fine. The officer on the Guatemalan side was really nice. He didn't charge us anything, though we had heard from others that they might try. We got our passports stamped and walked across. Directly on the Guatemalan side of El Ceibo you can change US dollars and Mexican pesos to Guatemalan quetzales with a bunch of money changers who flood you when you cross the border. There's also a collectivo right past the wall on the right side that supposedly leaves every hour to Flores but in reality only leaves when it's full enough. We ended up waiting about 1.5 hours for it to leave. It costs Q45 to get to Flores and makes one bathroom stop along the way. Side note: the unexpected tourist fee wiped out all our money, and we had to pawn my boyfriend's watch in order to have enough money for the fare to Flores. Do not expect an ATM after you leave Tenosique until you get to Santa Elena/Flores.
Nov 20, 2012 8:32 PM
13Thanks so much for the border crossing info. We would be driving our own vehicle and have been going back and forth about whether to go that route or not. Really don't want to do the extra border crossing just to pass through Belize. Sounds like the way we want to go. Appreciate the info. (picked up the gender of the town, La Ceiba, from a blog about that crossing. Thanks for the correction.) Two years ago when we crossed from Belize into Guatemala we had used up all our cash paying to leave Belize, getting the truck sprayed, paying for copies, etc. etc. and breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled away and headed for the ATM just across the river. Then we were stopped and had to pay a fee to cross the bridge!!! We used our last little bit of cash. Fortunately, we didn't have to pawn anything. Hope the rest of your trip goes better.
Nov 21, 2012 7:08 PM
Did Mexico stop collecting the 200 peso fee at the border with Belice, and therefore stop rubber stamping "Doble Entrada" on the FMM?
(0 star Hotel)
From US$35.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$74.55 per night
Mexico CityBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$168.57 per night