Your guide to expat life in Mexico

Moving to Mexico

You’ll often hear the word ‘manana’ in Mexico, which sums up its laid-back approach to life. The flip side of this relaxed attitude is that getting things done can take time.

Mexico has the world’s largest Spanish-speaking population – so a grasp of the language will help enormously in everyday life. The country’s heritage is fascinating, with numerous archaeological sites to explore. And its distinctive mariachi music rings out in many restaurants and bars. While violent crime often makes international headlines, it’s mainly linked to the illegal drug trade and rarely (if ever) affects expats. Even Mexico City is relatively safe.

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Basic info

  • Population: About 128 million
  • Capital city: Mexico City (also the largest city)
  • Main languages: Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken, especially in the bigger towns and cities.
  • Main religion: Catholicism. Other religions include Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and various other Christian denominations.
  • Political system: Federal presidential representative democratic republic
  • Time: Mexico spans four time zones. Pacific Time is GMT−8, Mountain Time is GMT−7, Central Time is GMT−6 and Eastern Time is GMT−5. In all states except Sonora, clocks move forward an hour in March and back an hour in November.
  • Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz. Standard plugs have two flat blades. Plugs with two flat blades and a round pin are also used.
  • Currency: Mexican peso (MXN)
  • International dialling code: +52
  • Internet domain: .mx
  • Emergency numbers: 911
  • Road Traffic: Drives on the right

Next holiday

May

01

Labour Day

If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s moved to the first available weekday.

Public Holidays

2016
1 January New Year's day
5 February Constitution Day
21 March Benito Juárez's birthday
24 March Maundy Thursday
25 March Good Friday
1 May Labour Day
16 September Independence Day
2 November Day of the Dead
21 November Revolution Day
12 December Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe
25 December Christmas Day
2017
1 January New Year's day
6 February Constitution Day
20 March Benito Juárez's birthday
13 April Maundy Thursday
14 April Good Friday
1 May Labour Day
16 September Independence Day
2 November Day of the Dead
20 November Revolution Day
12 December Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe
25 December Christmas Day
2018
1 January New Year's Day
5 February Constitution Day
19 March Benito Juárez's birthday
29 March Maundy Thursday
30 March Good Friday
1 May Labour Day
16 September Independence Day
2 November Day of the Dead
19 November Revolution Day
12 December Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe
25 December Christmas Day

Your relocation checklist

Moving to a new country takes a lot of planning. To help you get started, here are some of the things you need to do before you leave home – or just after you arrive.

Key phrases in Spanish

  • Hello Hola
  • Good evening Buenas noches
  • Goodbye Adiós
  • How are you? ¿Cómo está usted?
  • Thank you Gracias
  • Yes Si
  • No No
  • Do you speak English? ¿Habla Usted inglés?
  • Can you help me? ¿Me puedes ayudar?
  • I’m sorry Lo siento

Top tips

View a selection of tips sourced from expats about Mexico:

“Enjoy the culture, nature and the sights - Mexico is very rich in these - also get briefed on personal security precautions, they matter.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Visit all of the country because Mexico has lots of beautiful cities and places.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Mexico is a beautiful, colourful and vibrant country. It is a food lover's paradise, the weather is amazing, it is extremely rich in culture and history and you can find everything from deserts in the North to rainforests in the South, with everything in-between. Mexico is much safer than most people think, it has a very stable economy as well. It is essential to learn Spanish before moving here. Also, do your research regarding visas required as the law surrounding this changed a few months ago. There are millions of expats in Mexico and they all love it here.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“It opens great personal, family and professional opportunities. You can learn and experience new cultures and languages, know different places and people.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

“Take time out before you start to have a crash course in Spanish. Get the basics early and do all you can to work the time into your schedule to keep the training up.” Added by Expat Explorer Survey respondent

View more hints and tips for Mexico

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I've moved around a lot in the last 4 years, to take my home comforts with me but to avoid lugging loads of stuff or paying airline excess baggage fees I use a luggage service.

Chigwell to Washington

View more hints and tips for Mexico

Shipping

You can ship goods to Mexico by air or sea – many international companies offer both options. However you decide to send your belongings, it’s advisable to insure them with a different company to your shipping company.

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Import duties

Depending on the type of visa you have, you can import a certain amount of household goods duty free. Retirees are given generous duty-free allowances. Furniture is cheap in Mexico – so it’s worth buying locally to save on import duties.

Pets

If you want to take a pet to Mexico, they must be vaccinated and have a health certificate issued by a vet in your home country just before you leave.

Banned items

Items banned from import into Mexico include firearms, homemade food and meat products.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in August 2016. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.