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Telephone — México

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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


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


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.


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

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.

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

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.

Visit Internet México for more information.


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.

Time Zones

Keep in mind when placing international or long-distance calls that 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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