Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now? What American tourists should know

In the wake of the recent killing of two U.S. citizens in Mexico, travelers may be wondering if it's safe to go there for spring break or other vacations.

Four Americans traveling for cosmetic surgery were kidnapped in Matamoros, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Two died when caught in the crossfire of rival drug cartel groups. The others returned to the U.S., one of whom was injured with a leg wound.

The U.S. Department of State issues different advisory levels for each Mexican state rather than for the country as a whole. Here's what the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico advise if you plan to visit Mexico.

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Are there any travel advisories for Mexico right now?

The State Department currently has a Level 1 advisory, meaning to exercise normal precautions, for Campeche and Yucatan. Yucatan includes the tourist areas of Chichen Itza, Merida, Uxmal and Valladolid.

A Level 2 advisory, meaning exercise increased caution, is in place for Aguascalientes, Baja California Sur (including Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and La Paz), Chiapas, Coahuila, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Mexico State, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo (including Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the Riviera Maya), San Luis Potosi, Tabasco, Tlaxcala and Veracruz. The advisory is in effect because of crime and/or kidnapping in these states.

A Level 3 advisory, meaning reconsider travel, is in place for Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco (including Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta), Morelos and Sonora (including Puerto Peñasco). The advisory is also in effect because of crime and/or kidnapping.

Find the State Department's complete guidance on travel to Mexico at

What are the 'do not travel' states in Mexico?

The State Department's highest advisory is Level 4, or "Do Not Travel." It warns Americans not to travel to six Mexican states because of the risk of violent crime and kidnapping.

The six states are Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico stated that U.S. government employees have been instructed to avoid the area until further notice. When travel by government employees is prohibited or restricted, it means the U.S. government has a limited ability to provide emergency services to citizens, according to the State Department.

The State Department also includes guidance on travel to high-risk areas.

What documents do I need to travel to Mexico?

A valid passport book is required to enter Mexico by air, according to the State Department. A passport book or card may be used if entering by land.

People taking Mexico cruises can use a passport card to reenter the United States at sea ports of entry, but the State Department advises that a traveler who is unable to return via the cruise ship for any reason, such as an emergency evacuation, must present a passport book to fly back to the United States.

Anyone entering Mexico who plans to travel outside the immediate border area must stop at a National Migration Institute office to obtain an entry permit. If traveling with a car, a temporary vehicle import permit is also required, according to the State Department.

A tourist visa is required for travelers staying longer than 180 days.

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What should I do to stay safe in Mexico?

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico offers the following recommendations:

  • Avoid travel to "do not travel" states.

  • Be aware of your surroundings.

  • Seek shelter if needed.

  • Monitor local media for updates and call 911 in case of emergency.

  • Review your personal security plans and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Get the latest Mexico travel alerts from the U.S. Embassy at

When is spring break 2023 in Arizona?

Arizona's three public universities — Arizona State, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University — as well as public schools in Maricopa County are on spring break in early and mid-March 2023. Here's the spring break calendar for metro Phoenix public schools.

Reach the reporter at Follow him on Twitter @salerno_phx.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Is it safe to travel to Mexico? What Americans should know