Mexico is open for travel but COVID-19 cases remain stubbornly high, particularly in tourist hot spots. Despite this, the county is continuing to welcome visitors with almost no testing and quarantine restrictions—though local restrictions are in place across individual states through a four-tiered traffic light system.

Travelers should check the regulations and recommendations of their government before planning any travel. Currently the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending that unvaccinated travelers avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. If you're traveling to Mexico, here's what you need to know.

Can I travel to Mexico right now?

Mexico is open to travelers from all around the world and commercial flights are operating in and out of the country. Travelers who go to Mexico are required to complete a health declaration form and scan the QR code it generates on arrival.

Passengers arriving at Mexican airports may be subject to health screenings including temperature checks. Those showing symptoms of COVID-19 could be asked to quarantine. Travelers entering by land may also be subjected to health screenings and temperature checks. Although a COVID-19 test is not required for entry, US travelers will need to take a COVID-19 test before flying home to the US.

Read more: Best time to visit Mexico

On March 21, 2020 the US and Mexico closed their shared land border to non-essential travel, and those restrictions have been extended every month since. The current land border restrictions are in place until at least September 21, 2021. 

Mexico is on the UK's red list for travel. This means that any UK citizen or resident who arrives into the UK from Mexio will have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days upon arrival.

For travel within Mexico, some restrictions on intercity and interstate transit apply, but those details vary from place to place; the US State Department’s Local Resources section has a comprehensive breakdown.

Visitors on the Playa del Norte beach on Isla Mujeres
Visitors on the Playa del Norte beach on Isla Mujeres ©Eddy Galeotti/Shutterstock

Will I have to quarantine when I arrive in Mexico?

Anyone who shows signs of COVID-19 upon arrival may be returned to their country of origin or asked to voluntarily quarantine, but it’s not mandatory at this time. The government is strongly encouraging preventative measures like social distancing and hand-washing, with masks required in some parts of the country though not all. A full breakdown of measures can be found here.

Where can I get a COVID-19 test in Mexico?

A negative viral COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery is required for anyone traveling by air to the US and they should be performed no more than three days before departure. The US Embassy says results for PCR and antigen tests are reliably available within 72 hours in Mexico. Many hotels, resorts and tour operators provide antigen tests for guests, and some airport have mobile COVID-19 testing stations in departure halls. PCR tests can be performed in hospitals and labortories.

What COVID-19 restrictions apply in Mexico?

Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't require mandatory testing or self-isolation upon arrival. But that doesn't mean that it's business as usual when you get there. The Mexican government has implemented a four-tier color-coded traffic light (semáforo) system that corresponds to the level of COVID-19 transmission in each state. What's open depends on the rate of contagion in the area you're visiting. The levels range from green to red, with green for locations where COVID-19 is the least severe and restrictions are at their lowest level. Red is in place for locations where COVID-19 is most severe, and restrictions are at their highest level.

The traffic light system is updated every two weeks and the current restrictions are in place until September 5. However, the Mexican government warns that the classification of each place is subject to change at short notice, especially if there is a sudden increase in transmission.

Read more: Top 5 road trips in Mexico

High Angle View Of Cathedral Against Blue Sky In City
Guadalajara is currently classified as yellow under Mexico's 'semaforo' Covid response Elija Lovkoff / EyeEm / Getty Images/EyeEm

Green Level

Chiapas is the only state classified as green. All non-essential businesses are open here without restrictions.

Yellow Level

Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guanajuato, and Yucatán are at yellow level.

Under yellow, markets, supermarkets and golf courses can operate at 100% capacity. Hotels, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, beaches, public parks, theme parks, water parks, and tour guide services are typically capped between 50% and 70% capacity.

Exterior shot of the Frida Kahlo Museum
Frida Kahlo Museum is open with restrictions ©Elijah Lovkoff/Alamy Stock Photo

Orange Level

Sonora, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Nayarit, Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Veracruz, Querétaro, Michoacán, Estado de Mexico, Ciudad de Mexico, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Campeche, and Quintana Roo are at orange. Popular tourist resorts of CancúnTulum and Playa del Carmen are classified as yellow.

Nonessential businesses are open with stricter capacity limits. Hotels, restaurants, beaches, open-air parks, historical sites and gyms are limited to 50% capacity. Markets and supermarkets can operate at up to 75% capacity. While shopping malls, theaters, museums, and cultural events will be limited to 25% capacity.

Red Level

Colima, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon, Puebla, Tabasco, and Tamaulipas.

Under red level, only essential businesses and services may operate. Hotels are only open to critical workers. Parks open at 25% capacity. Residents are encouraged to remain at home and face coverings are required in public.

COVID-19 snapshot

This story was first published on August 18, 2020 and last updated on August 31, 2021.

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This article was first published Aug 19, 2020 and updated Aug 31, 2021.

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