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Staying Connected — México


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There are a variety of ways to stay connected with friends and family back home:

Internet  Offering an alternative to pricey international phone calls or slow postal services, the internet — cheap, instantaneous, and nearly everywhere — is fast becoming the preferred method for most travelers to stay connected with friends and family back home and research and book travel plans.

Telephone  By far, it is cheaper to receive calls from abroad than to make them. Still, phoning home or local and long-distance calls cost only pesos per minute with prepaid phone cards bought in México or from call offices.

Cell Phone  Renting or buying an international cell phone before leaving home or getting one in México are the best options for ordinary travelers. Phoning home with a cell phone, regardless of the option, is one of the costliest means of staying connected. Texting, however, can be cheap.

Mail & Shipping  The Méxican postal service is slow, cheap, and mostly reliable. International airmail, depending on how and where it's sent, can take weeks or even a month or more to arrive. For domestic airmail expect one to two week delivery times. México City is the exception, expect international and domestic airmail to arrive in just under a week. Private courier and shipping companies offer a faster, but much more expensive, alternative.

Fax  Still a convenient way of staying connected with friends and family back home, especially for those who are not online and email is not an option.

Time Zones  Keep in mind when placing international or long-distance calls that Mexico uses three time zones.

Contents


Internet

Internet cafés are everywhere in México, not just in places where travelers frequent, offering cheap reliable internet access for around Mex$10-20 an hour. Resort areas can be pricey, expect to pay as much as Mex$80 an hour. If near a town center or village, shop around for a better deal. Times vary, but most Internet cafés are open long hours, usually from early morning until late in the evenings and on weekends.

Many hotels, hostels, cafés, and restaurants offer free internet and wifi access for their customers as an inducement, although some will charge a small fee. When it's available, internet and wifi access is always noted in this guide.

The ever shrinking laptop has gotten even smaller in the last couple of years with the arrival of the netbook. Traveling with a compact laptop or netbook isn't really that much of a bother. That said, access to cheap or free computers and the internet is so widespread in México that unless there is some compelling reason to bring one, like work, there really is no point. And, of course, never leave a laptop in the hotel room when out for the day, always keep it in the safe.

Email

Free web-based email accounts such as Microsoft Hotmail (www.hotmail.com), Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), and Google Mail (www.gmail.com) are the easiest to access while traveling abroad. To check work, internet service provider, or other types of email accounts while traveling, contact them for specifics. Most will have a web-based interface available to access their email accounts.

Security

Computers accessible to the public at such places as hotels, hostels, cafés, restaurants, and internet cafés, are susceptible to being infected with viruses and other malicious software, putting the sensitive information of everyone who uses them at risk.

Everyone who uses a public computer to access email or online financial accounts is entrusting this sensitive information to whomever is administering the computer and all the users who have come before them: is the antivirus software adequate? are the computers, networks, and firewalls being administered competently? has even one previous user inadvertently infected the computer? has a cybercriminal, posing as a regular user, installed a program that records every keystroke and emails this information to the cybercriminal? and so on.

Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer are, by far, the most widely used operating system and web browser; it's not surprising then that they are the ones cybercriminals write the majority of the malicious software for. Other less used operating systems such as Mac OS and Linux and browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome are targeted less by cybercriminals, making them inherently more secure. If they're available and you know how, always use them. Indeed, the current recommendation from many computer security experts is to use Linux and Mozilla Firefox to access online accounts with sensitive information.

So are public computers safe to use? If these six simple, yet important, security practices are followed, they can be.

1. If logged in to a website, always log out before leaving the website

Never leave a website by typing in a new web address or closing the browser before logging out. Doing so will usually not terminate the login, leaving it open to access by other users in the future without having to login . On most websites look for the log out or sign out or similar link to log out with.


Often websites include an automatic login feature, usually a check box, that saves usernames and passwords. Never enable this option.


2. Never leave a public computer unattended with sensitive information on the screen

Always log out of all programs and websites and exit all windows before leaving a public computer.


3. Never leave a trace

All web browsers, even after they've been closed, leave a trace of which websites were visited, temporary internet files, cookies, account names and passwords entered, values typed in fields, and other sensitive information. The collection of this information can be disabled on all browsers. Since Internet Explorer is the most widely used and misused browser, only its security features are described. Most of the other browsers will have analogous features.


Internet Explorer Version 8 has a new feature, InPrivate Browsing, that Microsoft claims leaves no trace from web browsing.


To use InPrivate Browsing:
1. Launch Internet Explorer Version 8
2. In the Menu, click Tools
3. Then click InPrivate Browsing, this pops up a new Internet Explorer Window running in InPrivate Browsing mode
4. Do all sensitive web browsing in the InPrivate Browser. Exit browser when finished.


or after launching Internet Explorer 8, strike and hold down the keys: Ctrl+Shift+P.


InternetExplorer8InPrivateBrowsing.JPG


Internet Explorer Versions 6 & 7 do not have a single feature to disable all tracing. Password collection can be turned off before browsing; however, all other collected information will need to be purged when browsing is completed.


Before browsing disable the collection of passwords:
1. Launch Internet Explorer
2. In the Menu, click Tools
3. Click Internet Options
4. Click Content tab, then click AutoComplete button
5. Click to clear both check boxes having to do with passwords
6. Click Okay button for AutoComplete
7. Click Okay button for Internet Options.


InternetExplorerAutoComple.JPG


After browsing delete temporary Internet files and browsing history:
1. Launch Internet Explorer
2. In the Menu, click Tools
3. Click Internet Options
4. Click General tab
5. Click Delete Cookies, Delete Files, and Clear History buttons
6. Click Okay button for Internet Options.


InternetExplorerDeleteHistory.JPG


4. Beware anyone peering over your shoulder

A cybercriminal could watch as you enter sensitive usernames and passwords, websites, and other sensitive information, especially, if you're a slow typist.


5. Never enter sensitive information into a public computer

A cybercriminal, posing as a regular user, could have installed a program that records every keystroke and then emails this information to herself. Unfortunately, nothing in the security practices discussed so far does anything to guard against this trap. There's only one way to avoid it: never type any sensitive information into any public computer. This will, of course, significantly limit what can be done online while traveling. The only real workaround is to keep a second less secure email to use on public computers.


6. Keep two emails

Treat one email as secure for communicating sensitive information on private computers only, never login in to this account from any public computer.


The other email can be treated as less secure for use on public computers, never communicate sensitive information with this account. For added security, use a pseudonym for the username. An account with any of the free web-based email services is fine. When traveling use this account on public computers to stay connected.

Internet Phone Calls

Making phone calls over the internet with wifi-enabled smart phones and laptops is another inexpensive way to phone home. Many smart phones — such as the iPhone, Android, and the Blackberry — are enabled with the same wifi technology that allows laptops to connect to the internet.

With Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications, like www.skype.com and www.vonage.com, wifi-enabled smart phones and laptops connected to the internet can make phone calls. Setting up VoIP applications isn't that difficult, but it does take some tech-savvy. If this isn't you, it's probably best to use a more traditional means of staying in touch.

Telephone

Calling México is almost always cheaper than phoning home. A discount prepaid phone card not tied to a major telecom company is cheapest; although, phone cards tied to major telecom companies have more predictable rates and only slightly higher costs, making them a viable low-cost option.

Phoning home for only pesos per minute is possible, if receiving calls from abroad is not convenient. Telephone call offices or public phones using phone cards either bought in México or brought from home are the cheapest. Among these options, the cost differences are negligible, which to use depends on which is most convenient.

Long-distance & local calls can be made cheaply and conveniently from telephone call offices or from public phones using phone cards bought in México. Also, some hotels let their customers make locals calls for free.

Making Calls

Local

To call a local landline number just dial the seven or eight digit number.

Long-distance

To call a landline number long-distance always dial the prefix 01 first, then the two or three digit area code, then the seven or eight digit local number. States with two-digit area codes: Jalisco, México, Nuevo León and the Distrito Federal have eight-digit phone numbers, while all other states have three-digit area codes and seven-digit phone numbers. In every case, the number of digits in the area code and the phone number will always total ten.

For example, to call the Hotel Posada del Centro in Oaxaca from outside the 951 area code, dial 01, then the Oaxaca area code 951, then the hotel's seven-digit number: 516-1874. (01-951-516-1874)

Area Codes

For a list of area codes for 4700 cities, all 31 states, and the Federal District visit the México Area Codes or Telmex's online area code search engine.

International

To make international calls from México always dial the international prefix 00, then the country code, then the area code, then the local number. (00 country code + area code + number)

For example, to call the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art dial the international prefix 00, then the country code for the US 1, then the area code for San Francisco 415, then the local number 357-4000. (00-1-415-357-4000)

Commonly called countries and codes:

Australia 61
Belize 501
Canada 1
Cuba 53
France 33
Germany 49
Guatemala 502
Ireland 353
Italy 39
Japan 81
Netherlands 31
New Zealand 64
South Africa 27
Spain 34
UK 44
US 1


The international prefix to call a landline number in México from another country varies depending on the country and the long distance carrier. Whatever the international prefix, México's country code 52 needs to be dialed, then the area code, then local number.

The website www.countrycallingcodes.com has a complete list of country codes.

Toll-Free Numbers

Méxican toll-free numbers can be called for free from any public phone anywhere in México without a telephone card. Méxican toll-free numbers always begin with 800 followed by a seven-digit number. To make toll-free calls dial the long-distance prefix 01 followed by 800, then the seven-digit number. (01-800-seven digit number.)

Canadian and US toll-free numbers can sometimes be reached from México. This can be convenient; although, the calling party will usually be charged the international rate for calls to Canada or US from the call office or on the phone card.

Canadian and US toll-free numbers always begin with 800 or 888 followed by a seven-digit number. To call Canadian or US toll-free numbers from México dial the international prefix 00, then 1, Canada and the US share the same country code, then either 800 or 888, then the seven-digit number. (00-1-800 or 00-1-888, then seven digit number.)

Cell Phone

Just like landline phones, every Méxican cell phone (teléfono celular) has an area code and a local phone number.

See the section on cell phones in México for more information.

Landline to cell

To call a cell phone from a landline with the same area code dial 044, then the area code, then the cell phone number.

To call a cell phone from a landline with a different area code dial 045, then the area code, then the cell phone number.

Cell to cell or landline

To call a cell phone or a landline from a cell phone just dial the area code and then phone number.

Call a cell from abroad

To call a Méxican cell phone from another country, dial the international access code, then 52 (México country code), then 1, then the area code, then the cell phone number.

Collect Calls

A collect call (llamada por cobrar), making a phone call at a the receiving party's expense, is always going to cost the receiving party much more than if a the caller had placed the call himself from a call office or from a public phone using any form of phone card. Nevertheless, sometimes collect calls are necessary, such as in cases of emergency. If cost is an issue, place the collect call to the receiving party, end it as quickly as possible, and then have the other party call back using a cheaper method.

To place a collect call from any public phone in México, dial the operator at 020 for domestic collect calls or 090 for international collect calls.

With home country direct service (pais directo), international collect calls can be placed direct with an operator in the country being called, bypassing Méxican international operators entirely. Some Méxican international operators may have information on how to connect direct to a specific country, but don't count on it. Since every country is different, it is best to this information before leaving home.

Operator Numbers

Directory Information 040
Domestic Operator 020
International Operator 090

Phone Cards

Discount Prepaid Cards

Discount prepaid phone cards are the cheapest option for calling México. Calling from the US is particularly cheap, as low 2¢ per minute. Calling from Europe, Australia, and Canada costs a little more; although, it is still cheaper than calling from México. The trick to saving money with discount prepaid phone cards is to make one or two long calls per card instead of many short calls, the longer the call, the cheaper the cost per minute. To place calls, all cards require calling a toll-free access number and giving a PIN number.

Phone cards are usually sold at mini-marts, mail drops, grocery stores, and large discount stores. In the US check the Yellow Pages to locate local retailers selling cards. To buy online try www.callingcards.com. They have a good reputation and offer virtual cards instantly.

Many vendors outside of México offer cards for calling abroad from México. We do not recommend buying these cards since their reliability cannot be assured until they are tried in México. Call offices and Ladatel phone cards (see below) are the cheapest and most reliable ways of phoning home.

Telecom Cards

Phone cards tied to major telecom companies such as AT&T, Bell Canada, BT, Sprint, Telstra, and Verizon are another option for calling to or from México. The variety of plans offered by different telecoms in different countries is numerous. Some plans are prepaid and for convenience can be refilled online. Others are not actual cards; they are virtual and can be purchased online instantly. All require calling the companies' toll-free access numbers to place international calls.

All these cards should work from any public phone in México. That said, be forewarned, until these cards are tried in México their usability cannot be guaranteed. Nevertheless, they are more reliable than discount prepaid phone cards not tied to telecom providers for phoning home.

The companies listed below offer cards that can be used to call to or from México. If a country is not listed, check with long-distance telecom providers there to see if their phone cards will work for calls to or from México.

Country Company Website Phone Toll free from México

Australia Telstra www.telstra.com 1 800 676 638 01-800-123-0261


Canada Bell Canada www.bell.ca, 1-800 561-8868 01-800-123-0200,
(Canada Direct) www.infocanadadirect.com 01-800-021-1994


UK BT (Chargecard) www.bt.com 0800 345 144 01-800-123-0244


US AT&T www.att.com 1-800-225-5288 01-800-288-2872,
(USADirect) 001-800-462-4240


Sprint www.sprint.com 1-800-370-6105 001-800-877-8000


Verizon www.verizon.com 1-800-843-2255 01-800-021-1995

Buy cards in México

Ladatel phone cards, issued by Telmex, México's monopolistic national phone company, are, by far, the most widely used, readily available, consistent on costs, reliable, and easiest to use phone cards for all types of calls in or from México. There are many other domestic phone card options available besides Telmex, particularly in places where travelers frequent. However, user satisfaction with these cards is mixed. Some offer fair deals, while others end up costing an exorbitant amount. Despite Telmex being a monopoly, Ladatel cards are still a better all around deal for calls in or from México than other phone cards sold in México or purchased back home. Generally, stay away from non-Telmex cards while in México unless their costs and reliability can be assured.

Blue-and-yellow Ladatel tarjetas (cards) are sold everywhere, just look for signs posted in store windows, and can be used with any public phone. Cards come in amounts of MX$30, MX$50 and MX$100.

Approximate cost per minute for Ladatel cards:

Local calls to landlines MX$1
Long-distance calls to landlines MX$4
Local calls to cell phones MX$3
US or Canada (except Alaska and Hawaii) MX$5
Long-distance calls to cell phones MX$6
Central America MX$10
The rest of the world MX$20-25



Warning: when using any phone card in México, if an operator asks for credit card information instead of a calling card number, there's a scam afoot. Do not give out credit card information and hang up immediately.

Call Offices

Offering cheap by the minute local, long-distance, and international calls, telephone call offices (locutorios or casetas de teléfono) are everywhere in México.

For quiet and privacy, some telephone call offices have enclosed private booths. This is their primary advantage over using Ladatel phone cards from public phones since the price difference between the two is negligible. There also doesn't appear to be much variation in prices among call offices, especially when there are several near each other.

Many business are one-stop providers of multiple services: internet access, photocopying, phone service, fax, mail, and so on. Most post their services and prices outside or somewhere conspicuous inside.

Approximate costs per minute for call offices:

Canada, US, Long-distance within México Mex$3
Europe, Asia, other Latin America Mex$7
Local calls Mex$1

Hotels

Hotels are usually the most convenient places to receive calls at. And while they may also be convenient places to make calls from, they are invariably going to charge a steep price for long-distance and international calls. Local calls, however, can sometimes free. Always check a hotel's rates for any kind of call, even toll-free, before using their phone.

Credit Cards

In airports, resorts, and other places tourists congregate, there are often advertisements for phone calls abroad using credit cards. The rates for these calls are unpredictable and can be very high. Generally, unless an emergency situation arises, avoid the use of credit cards for any kind of phone call.

Yellow Pages

The Yellow Pages for the entire country can be found online at www.seccionamarilla.com.mx.

Cell Phone

For ordinary travelers, a cell phone is not a necessity. Still, many people can't imagine being without one and they can be useful in cases of emergencies. Anyone considering traveling with a cell phone should keep in mind they are one of the most expensive ways of phoning home. Although with the right plan, texting can be cheap.

Cell phone in México

The most popular technology for cell phones around the world is the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). GSM technology operates on four bands: 850, 900, 1800, and 1900. Different bands operate in different countries.

México operates on the 1900 band. So in theory, any GSM cell phone that operates on this band is capable of working there. In practice, however, a 1900 band GSM cell phone needs a thumbnail-sized Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card that works on one of México's cell phone carrier GSM networks.

SIM cards can be either country-specific, with a phone number tied to a specific country that works primarily on a specific country's GSM network, or international, with a single phone number, usually tied to the UK, that works on many GSM networks world-wide.

The upside of an international SIM card is its portability world-wide; the downside is local and long-distance calls in different countries get charged pricier international roaming rates.

The upside of a country-specific SIM card is local and long-distance calls get charged in-country rates; the downside is phoning home is an an expensive international call.

And finally, many GSM cell phones are SIM-locked and will only accept carrier-specific SIM cards. Before they'll work with other SIM cards, they'll need to be unlocked. The carrier who locked the phone will usually unlocked it; although, they will probably charge for the service.

There are numerous sites on the internet that will unlock a cell phone or sell the code for unlocking one. Also, check the yellow pages for local cell phone shops that unlock cell phones.

A GSM cell phone that works on multiple bands and is unlocked is referred to as an international cell phone.

The cell phone options for ordinary travelers are an international roaming agreement with a cell phone carrier back home, renting or buying an international cell phone, or buying a cell phone in México.

International Roaming

Cell carrier back home

If you already have a GSM cell phone that works on the 1900 band and a home cell carrier with an international roaming agreement with a carrier in México, it should be easy to get roaming service in México. Although, you may need to purchase a specific plan or extend an already existing plan to get the roaming service turned on for México. Check with your home cell carrier about the specifics.

However, before signing on to any new plan, be sure there's cell coverage where you're going in México; otherwise, what's the point. Also, make sure that you thoroughly understand the charges for international roaming in México. Horror stories abound of unwitting travelers racking up hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in international roaming fees.

For US-based travelers, of the major US cell carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile have the best roaming coverage in México; they both use GSM technology and have roaming agreements with Telcel, the largest GSM cell carrier in Mexico. Neither Verizon nor Sprint use GSM technology and both have only spotty coverage in México.

Rent or buy an international cell phone

For short-term travelers, temporarily renting a international cell phone makes more sense than buying one. Frequent overseas travelers who need cell constant cell access should consider buying a multi-band GSM phone and putting in a country-specific or international SIM card, depending on their needs.

These vendors rent or sell international cell phones, country-specific and international SIM cards, and prepaid call minute plans that are known to work in México:

www.cellularabroad.com
www.ekit.com
www.telestial.com
www.roadpost.com
www.planetomni.com
www.orange.co.uk
Roll your own

To piece together a cell phone that will work in México, all that is needed is an unlocked GSM cell phone that operates on the 1900 band and has either an international or México-specific SIM card.

For a truly international cell phone, one that operates in most places around the world, choose an unlocked GSM four band cell phone and an international SIM card. If extensive in-country local calls need to be made, a country-specific SIM can be swapped in to get cheaper local rates.

Online there are lots of cheap new and refurbished multi-band GSM cell phones available. If you already have an unlocked GSM phone laying around, international SIM cards are available online for as low as USD$10. This is all you should need to be up and running.

Anyone who's a little tech-savvy should be able to piece this together. That said, there is some risk that the assembled contraption won't actually work when you get in-country. So unless this all sounds like it might be a fun challenge and not an aggravating chore, it is best to either rent or buy a prepackage international cell phone.

Buy a cell phone in México

For extended stays in México, a Méxican cell phone is worth considering for the much lower in-country rates and the convenience of having a local Méxican phone number.

México has three main cell phone carriers:

Telcel www.telcel.com
IUSACell www.iusacell.com.mx
Movistar www.movi star.com.mx


Telcel's coverage is the best nationwide. To get started, a cell phone and a small number of initial call minutes will cost at a minimum between Mex$500-1000. Most service plans are for prepaid minutes. Once the initial minutes are used up they can be replenished with refill cards widely available at cell phone carrier retail outlets, mini-marts, newsstands, and other convenient locations. Some carriers allow refills online. Refill cards usually come in amounts of Mex$100, 200, and 500. A Mex$100 refill card will cover approximately a ten minute call to the US, about twice what call offices or Telmex Ladatel phone cards would cost. Receiving international calls is expensive as well. By far, texting is the cheapest way to stay connected with folks back home with a Méxican cell phone.

Satellite Phone

Satellite phones are a type of mobile phone that connect to satellites orbiting the earth instead of land-based cell sites. To provide coverage of the entire earth takes many satellites. Except for Iridium, which claims coverage of the entire earth, most satellite mobile phone networks provide only partial coverage.

Satellite phones are too expensive for most ordinary travelers. They're used most often by outdoor enthusiasts, professionals, workers, and researchers who need to stay connected in remote locations where cell service is not available or while traveling worldwide.

These companies claim complete coverage of all of Mexico:

Iridium www.iridium.com Worldwide coverage
Globalstar www.globalstar.com Worldwide coverage, except for polar regions
Inmarsat www.inmarsat.com Worldwide coverage, except for polar regions

Mail & Shipping

Airmail is, of course, faster than surface mail. Still, sending or receiving airmail can take weeks depending on the country; delivery time predictions are at best rough estimates.

That said, expect these delivery times:

Airmail Surface
US, Canada 5 - 14 days 3 - 4 weeks
Europe 1 - 2 weeks 1 - 2 months
Australia, New Zealand, Japan 3 - 4 weeks 1 - 3 months
*Outside of major Méxican cities add one to two weeks to these delivery times.

Business Hours

Times differ depending on location, but Mexican post offices (oficinas de correos) are typically open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.

Sending mail from México

It is safer to take mail to the post office than drop it in a mail box.

Airmail costs for letters and postcards:

Less than 20g Between 20g and 50g
US, Canada Mex$11 Mex$18
Europe, South America Mex$13 Mex$21
Everywhere else Mex$15 Mex$23


Be sure that airmail items are marked with por avión or por vía aérea on the front of the envelope; otherwise, they may be delivered by surface mail. When addressing mail destined for abroad use Spanish abbreviations for countries instead of English. For example, the abbreviation for the US in Spanish is either EE.UU. or E.U.A.

Send all important mail registered (certificado). The extra cost for letters is Méx$20, but is well worth it to guarantee delivery.

Receiving mail in México

One of the most reliable means of receiving mail in México is to use the nearest post office as a mail drop. Post offices will hold mail free of charge for up to a month. This service is especially useful for travelers with loose itineraries given how slow and unpredictable the postal service is. Moreover, even if your hotel dates are firm, there's no guarantee that your mail will arrive when you're there.

There are two ways to address mail to a specific post office — Lista de Correos (mail list) and Poste Restante (general delivery). Mail sent to Lista de Correos is held free of charge for ten to fourteen days and put on a list that is updated daily and displayed in the post office. Mail sent to Poste Restante is also held free of charge, but for much longer, up to thirty days, although its not put on a daily list. In both cases, if the mail is not claimed during that time, it is returned to sender.

Since the Lista de Correos is updated daily and publicly displayed, presumably saving a wait in line for mail that might not be there, it should, in theory, be more convenient than the Poste Restante. In practice, however, not all post offices are diligent about posting the updated list every day, so you'll probably have to wait in line anyway to see if your mail has arrived.

In cases of cities with multiple post office branches, it is best to address mail to the central post office because even if a specific post office is addressed, mail may still be sent to the central office anyway.

Address Lista de Correos mail like so:

Joe SMEDLEY
Lista de Correos
Correo Central
Oaxaca, 68000, Oaxaca (City, Postal Code, State)
México



Address Poste Restante mail like so:

Joe SMEDLEY
Poste Restante
Correo Central
Oaxaca, 68000, Oaxaca (City, Postal Code, State)
México


Make sure everything is printed clearly, especially the addressee's name, and always capitalize the surname, postal staff may have trouble deciphering what are to them poorly scribbled foreign names. And never use middle names, only list a first name and surname. Listing middle names will only cause confusion because the paternal surname in Spanish is the second name in cases of three names and the third name in cases of four names.

Moreover, when searching the Lista de Correos, interpret it creatively, the transcription of names may be butchered. If the name is found, write down the number next to it; this will help in retrieving the mail. Either way, always write down and hand both the name and the number, if any, to the clerk. If a clerk says there is no mail have them check again under the first name. To claim mail a passport or some other picture identification will usually need to be presented.

Mail can also be forwarded to another post office. This is really convenient when your mail hasn't arrived yet, but you're ready to move on. Change of address cards (Tarjeta de Cambio de Dirección) are available at any post office. The forwarding card can be left at the post office where the mail is addressed to or mailed back from a new location. Keep in mind when mailing a forwarding card back there is a delivery time; the card could arrive after the mail has already been returned to sender.

Change of address cards should be addressed like so:

Administrador
Oficina de Correos
Correo Central
Oaxaca, 68000, Oaxaca (City, Postal Code, State)
México


American Express offices worldwide can be used as a mail drop. They will hold mail for card and check holders for thirty days, others can use this service, but a small fee is usually charged. For more information visit www.americanexpress.com/travel.

And, of course, mail can always be sent to the hotel or hostel. Most will hold mail for current or future customers.

Shipping Packages

As you might imagine, sending packages abroad from México via the postal service (Correos de México) is a fairly bureaucratic endeavor. Mercifully, most postal clerks will usually lead you through the process.

Still, here's what to expect:

  • A postal clerk or customs inspector will probably want to inspect the contents of all packages before they're sealed, so bring them unsealed to the post office.
  • Be prepared to answer a few simple questions about the packages' contents, such as their value and nature, describing the contents as gift will do.
  • A return address is always required. A hotel or hostel address is acceptable.
  • A postal clerk may ask to see your tourist card.
  • Once inspected, all packages will need to wrapped in solid paper (no patterns) and taped-up securely, so make sure to bring paper and tape.
  • Package weight is limited to 25kg (55lbs) or less.


Many stores catering to tourists will ship theirs customers' purchases abroad for them for the cost of shipping and maybe a small fee. It's usually worth taking them up on this offer to avoid the hassle of trying to do it yourself.

Private Mail & Shipping

There are private mail and shipping companies operating in cities, mid-sized towns, and many places with large expat communities that will ship to almost anywhere in México and the world. Although much more expensive than the postal service, private companies can be counted on to deliver letters and packages quickly and on time. If speed is imperative, they're your best bet.

UPS  ships to most countries. Call toll-free 01-800-902-9200 nationwide in México or visit the website www.ups.com to locate customer service centers and authorized agents or to check shipping rates and delivery times.

Fedex ships to most countries. In D.F. call (01-55) 5228-9904, elsewhere in México call 01-800-900-11-00 or visit www.fedex.com to locate customer service centers and check shipping rates and delivery times.

DHL ships to most countries. In D.F. call (01-55) 5345 7000, elsewhere in México call 01-800-7656 345 or visit www.dhl.com to locate customer service centers and check shipping rates and delivery times.

Estafeta is a Méxican company that ships to most countries. In D.F. call (01-55) 5270 8300, elsewhere in México call 01-800-378-23382 or visit www.estafeta.com to locate customer service centers and check shipping rates and delivery times.

Mexpost, although not private, it's run by the Méxican postal service to compete with private courier and shipping companies, ships to most countries and everywhere domestic. Mexpost offices are generally found in mid to large size cities next door to post offices. Ask at a post office for the nearest Mexpost office.

Within México packages can be sent via buses, there just needs to be some at the other end to pick it up when it arrives. Inquire at the nearest first-class bus station about shipping rates.

Fax

Fax service is everywhere in México. Look for 'Fax' or 'Fax Público' signs on telephone call offices, corner stores, photocopy shops, and in airports and bus stations. Figure about Mex$10 - 15 per page to US and Canada, Europe and Asia more. Also hotels will usually send faxes for their customers and, as with most services they provide, charge a premium.

Time Zones

México observes three time zones—Central Time, Mountain Time, and Pacific Time. Most of the country observes Central Time (yellow, see map), while the rest of the country observes Mountain Time (green), except for the state of Baja Californa (red). Every state, except Sonora, observes daylight saving time (formally referred to as horario estacional, but in colloquial speech referred to as horario de verano). Daylight saving time begins at 2 am on the first Sunday in April and ends at 2 am on the last Sunday in October.


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