United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(COP 16 & CMP 6)
To be Held in Cancun, Mexico, November 29-December 10, 2010
Major environmental conferences, the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) and the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), will be held in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10, 2010. The event is expected to draw 20,000 participants to include UN and Secretariat officials, international delegations, NGO representatives, and global media. Due to the event’s subject matter and high profile, thousands more may show up to participate in protest and demonstration activity surrounding the COP 16. For additional information on COP 16 and the surrounding meetings including information regarding the venue and accommodation, please see the COP16 website. U.S. citizens planning to travel to Cancun during this time should visit the U.S. Consulate Merida website.
Large demonstrations have occurred at previous COPs, and thousands of environmental activists are expected to gather in Cancun during the convention. Event organizers have designated several sites in the city as gathering places for non-accredited participants. Anyone demonstrating outside the designated sites, or interfering with the conference, will likely be detained and fined by authorities. Travelers should expect some delays and road closures due to the protests, and police checkpoints can be expected throughout the hotel zone.
The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners; such actions may result in detention and/or deportation. Travelers should avoid political demonstrations and other activities that might be deemed political by the Mexican authorities. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of any protests.
Travel Documents and Entry Requirements:
U.S. citizen travelers to Cancun should not depart the United States without a valid passport. For information on how to obtain or replace a U.S. passport, please see the Department of State webpage concerning passports. Travelers should ensure their passports are in good condition before traveling. Travelers with passports that are found to be washed, mutilated, or damaged in any way may be refused entry and returned to the United States.
Travelers are required to have a valid Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM), also known as a tourist card or visa. The FMM is a form that declares the traveler’s stated purpose of visit as tourism, and is valid for 180 days. International air travelers should receive their FMM during their flight and the fee is already included in the price of the flight. Travelers utilizing ground transportation or domestic flights will need to purchase a FMM before leaving the border zone. The FMM is available from Mexican border crossing points, Mexican tourism offices, airports within the border zone and airlines serving Mexico. Travelers should take care to safeguard their FMM during their trip as they will be required to produce it upon exiting Mexico. Failure to produce a FMM upon exit may result in significant fines and lengthy delays.
U.S. citizen travelers considering making a border crossing at a land entrance and then traveling via a domestic Mexican flight or via ground transportation must have a valid passport and visa. While it is possible to enter into Mexico and travel within the border zone with documents other than a passport, Cancun is not within the border zone and therefore U.S. citizens who travel to Cancun are required to have valid passports and visas. This includes domestic travel by air or land. U.S. citizens who are found to be traveling by any means beyond the border zone without a passport and visa can be detained, fined, and possibly deported.
Upon arrival in Mexico, business travelers must complete and submit a form (Form FM-N 30 days) authorizing the conduct of business, but not employment, for a 30-day period. Travelers entering Mexico for purposes other than tourism or business or for stays of longer than 180 days require a visa. U.S. citizens planning to work or live in Mexico should apply for the appropriate Mexican visa at the Embassy of Mexico or any Mexican consulate in the United States.
Minors traveling with only one parent or without parents should carry a written consent letter from the non-traveling parent(s) authorizing their international travel as Mexican immigration authorities may ask to see such a document at any time. The letter should contain the minor’s name and date of birth, the relationship to the minor, the statement of consent, the parent(s) names and signatures, and a copy of the non-traveling parent’s photo ID.
Travel by Vehicle – Entry Requirements
In addition to a passport and tourist card, travelers wishing to bring their personally owned vehicles into Mexico will need to purchase a temporary vehicle importation permit and have Mexican insurance coverage. The temporary importation permit can be purchased at a border crossing. Travelers will need: proof of car ownership, proof of U.S. registration, an affidavit from any lien holders authorizing temporary importation, a valid U.S. driver's license, and their passport. Mexican insurance can be purchased before traveling and can also be purchased from offices at most border crossings.
Travel by Vehicle – Safety
Because of the security situation in northern Mexico, travel by vehicle is not recommended. Continued concerns regarding road safety along the Mexican border have prompted the U.S. Mission in Mexico to impose certain restrictions on U.S. government employees transiting the area. Effective July 15, 2010, Mission employees and their families may not travel by vehicle across the U.S.-Mexico border to or from any post in the interior of Mexico. There have been recent incidents of U.S. citizens becoming victims of crime while traveling in certain areas of northern Mexico. For more information, please see the Department of State Travel Warning regarding Mexico.
Enroll with the Consulate
The Department of State urges you to enroll your travel with the U.S. Consulate in Merida, preferably before you travel, via our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This will help us locate and inform you in the event there is a general emergency, natural disaster, or if someone in the United States needs to reach you regarding an urgent matter. Travel enrollment is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Enrollment allows travelers to record information about their country of residence or upcoming trip abroad. You should leave a copy of your itinerary, a copy of your passport data pages, and your contact information with family or friends prior to departure.
Hospitals in Cancun, both public and private, do not accept U.S. domestic health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid and will expect payment prior to any services rendered via cash, credit, debit or transfer. Private insurance will often reimburse these expenses so U.S. citizen travelers to Mexico should ensure that their medical coverage plans insure them while traveling in Mexico. Those without coverage in Mexico should either purchase temporary coverage or be prepared to pay up front for any possible medical expenditure. Unlike the United States, hospitals in Mexico are not required to treat emergency cases, and patients needing emergency treatment can be denied for lack of payment. This includes public as well as private hospitals. For more information, including recommendations regarding immunization and infectious disease precautions, see the Department of State website concerning medical issues abroad.
Importation of Firearms
Firearms are strictly controlled in Mexico, much more so than the United States. Mexico severely restricts the importation of firearms. Entering Mexico with a firearm, certain types of knives, or even a single round of ammunition is a crime unless the proper permit has been obtained ahead of time from the Mexican government. U.S. citizens entering Mexico with a weapon or ammunition, even accidentally, generally are detained for at least a few days, and violations by U.S. citizens have resulted in arrests, convictions, and long prison sentences. For more information please visit the Department of State Mexico Specific Information Page.
Drugs and Controlled Substances
Penalties for drug offenses are strict, and convicted offenders can expect large fines and jail sentences of up to 25 years. The purchase of controlled medications requires a prescription from a licensed Mexican physician; some Mexican doctors have been arrested for writing prescriptions without due cause. In those instances, U.S. citizens who purchased the medications have been held in jail for months waiting for the Mexican judicial system to decide their fate. The Mexican list of controlled medications differs from that of the United States, and Mexican public health laws concerning controlled medications are unclear and often enforced selectively.
The U.S. Embassy cautions that possession of any amount of prescription medication brought from the United States, including
medications to treat HIV, and psychotropic drugs such as Valium, can result in arrest if Mexican authorities suspect abuse
or if the quantity of the prescription medication exceeds the amount required for several days' use. Individuals are advised
to carry a copy of the prescription. If significant quantities of the medication are required, individuals should carry a
doctor's letter explaining that the quantity of medication is appropriate for their personal medical use.
The Role of the U.S. Consulate
The closest U.S. Consulate or Embassy to Cancun is the U.S. Consulate in Merida. Consulate Merida also maintains Consular Agencies in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel that can provide limited services (see contact information at the end of this document). U.S. officers and agents are available to assist Americans in a variety of emergency situations abroad, including lost and stolen passports, illness, crime or arrest. If a U.S. citizen becomes seriously ill or injured abroad, a U.S. consular officer can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing family and friends. If arrested, a consular officer can provide a list of local English-speaking attorneys. If necessary, a consular officer can also assist in the transfer of funds from friends or family in the United States to the citizen abroad. However, payment of hospital or legal expenses is the responsibility of the traveler. Your medical insurance provider can advise you on whether your policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as medical evacuation.
If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen, you will need to apply for a replacement at the U.S. Consulate in Merida or one of the agencies before continuing your travel abroad or returning to the United States. Please note that only the Consulate in Merida is able to provide same-day printing for emergency passports. Passports printed from applications originating in an agency may take several days.
U.S. citizens who need financial assistance should explore commercial options such as Western Union or other money wire services, credit card advances, or automatic teller machines (ATM). In emergencies, the U.S. Consulate can help travelers contact family and friends to assist them in sending money. For more information, please see the Department of State website on Emergency Financial Assistance for U.S. Citizens Abroad.
Please note that consular officers in our Consulate in Merida and our agents cannot act as travel agents, ticket brokers, banks, lawyers, investigators, post offices, or law enforcement officers. They cannot find you employment, provide you with residence or driving permits, search for missing luggage, or settle disputes with hotel managers. They can, however, assist you in finding resources for these and other matters.
Security and Safety
Cancun has not experienced the levels of cartel-related violence and crime found in the border region and other areas along major drug trafficking routes. However, extortion, kidnappings, and violent incidents in the Cancun area have risen since mid–to-late 2009. Most narco-related violence tends to take place outside major tourist zones and typically involves individuals associated with cartel activity. A number of recent incidents have occurred in the downtown area of Cancun during late night hours.
Petty thefts, pick pockets, and non violent robberies are the crimes that are most reported by U.S. citizens visiting the Cancun area. There is no evidence that indicates that criminals specifically target U.S. citizens. Criminals select victims based on appearance, vulnerability, and inattentiveness. Crowded tourist market areas, crowded airport loading areas, and crowded night clubs are prone to this type of activity.
There have been a number of sexual assaults reported in Cancun and other resort areas. Many of these have occurred at night or in the early morning. Attacks have also occurred on deserted beaches and in hotel rooms. Acquaintance rape is a serious problem. In other cases, hotel workers, taxi drivers, and security personnel have been implicated.
It is highly recommended that you use caution when venturing out alone after dark. If you wish to visit restaurants/nightspots in the city go with a group or in pairs - - there is some safety in numbers. Always remember to maintain your level of awareness and be cognizant of events around you. For more information, please see the Department of State Travel Warning for Mexico.
Police corruption and involvement in criminal activity occurs in Cancunas it does in most parts of Mexico. You are advised to cooperate with police if stopped and questioned. If involved in a traffic accident or victimized by crime, you may be asked to accompany the investigating officer to a local police station to file a report.
Standards of security, safety, and supervision in Mexico may not reach those expected in the United States. This has contributed to deaths of U.S. citizens in automobile accidents, after falls from balconies or into open ditches, by drowning in the ocean as well as in hotel pools, and in water sports mishaps.
One way to make your foreign travel safer and more enjoyable is to inform yourself of what you will find when you arrive overseas. The Department of State publishes a Consular Information Sheet for Mexico that includes information on usual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, usual currency and entry regulations, as well as crime and security – including risk of terrorism and drug penalties. Consular Information Sheets include information designed to help you make your own decisions about travel.
U.S. Consulate Merida
Calle 60 No. 338-K x 29 y 31
Col. Alcala Martin Merida, Yucatan, Mexico 97050
011-52-999-942-5700 (direct dial from the U.S.)
202-250-3711 (Vonage dialing from the U.S.)
01-999-942-5700 (dialing from within Mexico)
942-5700 (dialing from within Merida)
Open Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Consular Agency Cancun
U.S. Consular Agency Cancun
Blvd. Kukulcan Km 13 ZH
Torre La Europea, Despacho 301
011-52-998-883-0272 (direct dial from the U.S.)
202-640-2511 (Vonage dialing from the U.S.)
01-998-883-0272 (dialing from outside Cancun but within Mexico)
883-0272 (dialing from within Cancun)
Open Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Consular Agency Cozumel
Plaza Villa Mar en el Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque Juárez between Melgar and 5th Avenue) 2nd floor, locales #8 and 9, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
011-52-987-872-4574 (direct dial from the U.S.)
202-459-4661 (Vonage dialing from the U.S.)
01-987-872-4574 (dialing from outside Cozumel but within Mexico)
872-4574 (dialing from within Cozumel)
Open Monday – Friday, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Consular Agency Playa del Carmen
Plaza Villa Mar en el Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque Juárez between Melgar and 5th Avenue) 2nd floor, locales #8 and 9, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico).
011-52-984-873-0303 (direct dial from the U.S.)
202-370-6708 (Vonage dialing from the U.S.)
01-984-873-0303 (dialing from outside Playa Del Carmen but within Mexico)
Open Monday – Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Local Authorities (Police, Fire, Ambulance)