Mexico has long been a playground for Americans on vacation, but lately it’s been in the news due to an unfortunate epidemic of drug-fueled violence. Is it still a safe place to visit? Despite the grisly headlines, the answer is “yes”-as long as you use common sense and stay away from the most lawless, unsafe regions of the country.

With that in mind, here’s  a summary of the areas in Mexico that the US Department of State has warned US passport holders to avoid:

  • The state of Durango- The Mexican state of Durango has become one of the epicenters of drug cartel-related violence, and the Department of State notes that 4 visiting US passport holders were murdered there late last year or early in 2010. Now is not a good time to visit the birthplace of Pancho Villa.
  • Ciudad Juarez-  In this city, located in the state of Chihuahua along the US/Mexican border,  drug cartels and Mexican government officials have engaged in all-out war, with shootouts occurring during daylight hours and in populated areas like shopping centers.  Over 2,600 people died there last year.
  • The northern border area: Cuidad Juarez is the most notorious northern border city, but really, it’s safest to avoid most of the major cities near the US/Mexico border. Violence also occurs fairly frequently in the cities of Tijuana, Nogales,  Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros, to the point that the US Department of State has advised dependents of US personnel in the region to leave until April 12th.

The good news is that the major Mexican resorts and tourist areas are still pretty safe. For more information on how to enjoy your Mexican vacation safely, see the Department of State website.

Also, don’t forget that passport regulations governing travel to Mexico have changed. You will most likely need a US passport-see Do I need a passport to go to Mexico? for the details.

If you need a US passport in a hurry, the easiest way to get one is to use a private passport expediting company like We hand-deliver your application to the Department of State for processing times as low as 24 hours, with no need for you to make an appointment or travel out of your way to a Regional Passport Agency office.

Apply for your US passport today!