Will My Cell Phone Work in Mexico?
If you’re like most people, you can’t imagine traveling without your cell phone. It’s not just a communication device, it’s also a valuable source of information, a GPS navigation device, a useful tool in emergencies, and, of course, a camera.
Using your cell phone in Mexico can be tricky though, especially if you’re not familiar with the country’s telecommunications infrastructure. In this article, we’ll let you know what the options are for using a cell phone in Mexico, so you can stay connected without headaches.
Mexico has a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure, with both mobile and fixed-line networks covering most of the country. Mexico has good coverage for 3G and 4G networks, especially in major cities.
What Are the Options for Using a Cell Phone in Mexico
- International Calling plans
- Purchasing a Mexican SIM Card
- Using your U.S. or Canadian Plan and Monitoring Cell phone expenses while in Mexico
- Using Wi-Fi
International Cell Phone Plans
Before taking your cell phone to Mexico you want to find out what plans are available from your phone carrier. With so many changes in cell phone plans and technology over the years, you may have international calling and data available as part of your service plan.
Many carriers in the United States, like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and others include international travel to Mexico and Canada in their plans. In that case, you’re good to go. Enjoy using your phone in Mexico.
Some cell phone carriers have international features or add-ons you can request, or international agreements that allow you to use your cell phone in Mexico for a price.
Be sure to contact your cell phone carrier/company to determine if your current cell phone plan includes international service, what costs are associated, if any, and how you will be charged. Be sure to ask about extra costs that could show up on your monthly bill, roaming, and data charges.
When a Mexico SIM Card or Phone is Beneficial
In some instances, purchasing a Mexico SIM card for use with your phone, that includes a data plan may be a lot cheaper alternative. These include:
- Expensive or Non-existent International Plans. The lack of an international plan can result in roaming and data charges that can add up quickly, so it’s important to know how much your carrier charges for international roaming.
- You Have Spotty or Non-existent Coverage. If you’re going to be traveling in rural or remote areas of the country, a SIM will help you stay connected. Sometimes U.S. carriers don’t have strong signals, even with international plans.
- You Are Planning to Use Your Cell Phone A Lot While in Mexico. If think you will frequently use your phone, for instance for work or keep in touch with family a SIM may come in handy.
- You Are Going to Be in Mexico for An Extended Period. If you are so taken with Mexico (like us) that you’ve decided on staying for a long-term, a local SIM card could save you money.
If your phone is unlocked, you can purchase a SIM card in most cities that has Mexican service. Look for Telcel, AT&T, and Movistar shops. Be sure you do not lose your non-Mexico SIM card so you can use it when you return to your home country.
You can also purchase an inexpensive phone that works with the same Mexican carriers. You’ll lose the convenience of having your personal digital ecosystem, data, logins, pictures, etc., but you won’t have to worry about things like connection availability or pricing.
With a SIM card or Mexican phone, you’ll have a Mexican phone number and won’t have to worry about roaming charges.
Steps to Take Before Taking Your Mobile Phone to Mexico
Do these things before you go to Mexico and you’ll be better prepared to use your phone there.
- Before you leave, be sure to download important apps, documents, and/or entertainment needs, in case you have a slow Wi-Fi connection in Mexico.
- Speaking of Wi-Fi and data speed. If these are important to you, ensure that your accommodations have adequate Wi-Fi speed. Often you can check with the hotel, resort, or Airbnb host and ask them to confirm the speed for you.
- It’s important to make sure your phone is insured or get travel insurance that covers your cell phone in case it’s lost or stolen. Without insurance, you’ll be responsible for the entire cost of replacing your phone.
- Don’t forget to bring your charger. There’s nothing worse than traveling and finding out you left your charger at home. Double check to make sure it’s packed.
- Back up your photos and information. Not only does it free space on your phone so that you can take more pictures on your amazing vacation, but it provides peace of mind in case something happens to your phone while traveling.
- Familiarize yourself with the country’s cell phone laws. For example, it’s illegal to use a cell phone while driving in Mexico.
- Have the contact information for your provider handy so you can report a lost or stolen phone quickly. Also, know you IMEI number in case your phone is lost or stolen so you can provide it to authorities.
How to Call the U.S. or Canada from Mexico
Making international phone calls isn’t as simple as dialing the phone numbers like you do in your home country.
International calls require first dialing the exit code of the country you’re currently in, followed by the country code of where you are calling, then, finally the standard phone number.
If you’re calling the U.S. from Mexico:
Dial Mexico’s exit code, “00”
Then dial “1,” the country code for the U.S. and Canada
Then dial the full U.S. phone number, including the area code.
For example, if you are trying to call someone in the U.S. from Mexico, you would dial “00-1-area code-###-####.”
“911” is the phone number to call in the event of an emergency in Mexico.
For travel or roadside assistance you can call “078” for the Mexico’s Green Angels.
How to Keep Your Cell Phone Safe in Mexico
When you’re in a foreign country, it’s always a good idea to take some precautions with your electronic devices, and your mobile phone is no exception. Here are a few tips for keeping your phone safe while in Mexico:
- Make sure you have a strong password lock on your phone. This will help deter anyone from trying to access your device if it’s lost or stolen.
- Be aware of your surroundings when using your phone in public. Thieves may be looking for opportunities to snatch phones from unsuspecting tourists.
- Keep your phone in a secure place when you’re not using it. A hotel safe or other lockable storage option is ideal.
- Use a reliable phone case to protect your device from damage. Make sure your phone is protected.
- Plan for the heat. Don’t leave your phone in a hot car or outside in the sun where it can overheat. Keep your use of background apps to a minimum so you don’t stress your phone battery. The more you use, the hotter the phone gets. If you have problems seeing the screen in the bright sun, consider getting a glare protector for your phone.
- Keep your important contact information backed up in a safe place in case you lose your phone while in Mexico.
Take these basic precautions and you’ll be able to stay connected while staying safe.
What to Do if Your Cell Phone is Lost, Stolen, or Damaged in Mexico
The loss of your phone, by whatever means, can be a stressful experience, but by taking a few simple steps you can minimize it.
Here are some suggestions on what to do.
- First, try to contact your service provider. They may be able to help you locate your phone or even remotely disable it to prevent unauthorized use.
- If your phone is lost or stolen, you should also report it to the local police. They may ask for your IMEI number.
- You should also contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies will cover the cost of a replacement phone or repairs if your phone is lost or stolen while you’re abroad.
- Finally, make sure you change all your passwords and account recovery options on any accounts that were accessed through your phone. This will help prevent someone from gaining access to your personal information.
When You Return Home from Mexico
After a fun-filled vacation in Mexico, you’ll likely be looking forward to getting home and relaxing in your bed. However, before you can do that, there are a few things you need to take care of.
- If you used your cell phone in Mexico, you’ll need to make sure you reset it to its original settings. This will ensure that you don’t get any unwanted charges on your bill.
- It’s always a good idea to let your cell phone provider know that you’ve returned from Mexico. This way, they can reinstate any features or services that may have been suspended while you were away.
- If you used a Mexico SIM card, be sure to replace it with your U.S. or Canadian SIM.
- If you have any photos or videos stored on your phone, be sure to back them up before you delete them. Otherwise, you might lose them forever!
Purchasing and Having proof of Mexico Insurance on Your Cell Phone
If you’re driving to Mexico in your vehicle, you’re going to need Mexico-specific car insurance.
Luckily, you’re in the right place to find it quickly, easily, and affordably with Mexpro.
Visit our website for more information on our quoting and buying process.
Once you’ve wrapped up the purchasing process, we’ll send you an email with your insurance policy as a PDF. We suggest you print this out as soon as possible and keep it on you at all times while traveling. As a backup, you should also have a digital version on your phone:
Open the policy PDF on your phone.
Make sure to download it or save it to your device so that you can access it without a data or Wi-Fi connection.
It Pays to Be Prepared
Whether you’re looking to keep your digital ecosystem – from your vacation photos to your important documents – all in one place, or you want to avoid the stress of surprise charges on your phone bill, it pays to be prepared before traveling to Mexico. You don’t want to be stuck without a way to communicate with family, work, or get directions.
Don’t forget to…
- Check with your carrier about international roaming rates and what coverage is available in Mexico.
- Consider getting a travel SIM card or a Mexican phone if you will be using your phone a lot. You’ll have a Mexican phone number and cheaper rates than international roaming.
- Download any apps you might need before you go, like Google Maps or a translation app.
- Make sure you have all the important documents you might need stored on your phone, like your travel insurance and Mexico car insurance policy.
- Avoid a lost or stolen phone by making sure you have a secure password, and put your phone somewhere safe if you can’t have it with you.
Following these tips will help you stay connected while you’re in Mexico and avoid stressful surprises.
Enjoy your vacation and stay safe!
You can find more useful tips for traveling to Mexico on our Mexpro blog.