Note: All United States citizens are required to have a valid passport to re-enter the United States.
Size / Population: Cancun - 350,000. There are about 80,000 people in the 70 mile strip south of Cancun known as the Riviera Maya.
Political Status: Located in the state Quintana Roo in the Republic of Mexico
Language: Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken in hotels and tourist areas. Mayan is the local language in the Riviera Maya, but English is widely spoken.
Currency: Mexican peso. The rate of exchange against the US dollar fluctuates daily. ATMs available; US dollars are widely accepted.
Electricity: 110 volts, same as U.S.
Time Zone: Central Time; Daylight Saving Time is observed.
Communication: From the U.S. to Cancun, dial 011 (int'l access code) + 52 (Mexico's country code) + 98 (Cancun's area code) + the local number. From the U.S. to the Riviera Maya, 984 is the area code.
To call from Cancun or the Riviera Maya to the U.S., dial 001 + area code + local number. Many U.S. long-distance phone companies have access numbers that you can dial in order to use your phone card, usually through the Mexican telephone company public phones, LADATEL. Internet access is widely available.
Drinking Water: Water is potable throughout the tourist areas and hotel zones, but if you travel to the countryside bottled water is recommended.
Transportation: Rental cars are available at the airport in Cancun and through some hotels. Driver must be 25 years old, hold a valid driver's license and a major credit card. City buses and taxis run through the Cancun hotel zone and downtown. Local urban bus companies service the hotel zone and stop by all hotels during the day. Taxis are a common mode of transportation throughout the Riviera Maya. The ferry to Isla Mujeres departs Puerto Juarez, just north of downtown Cancun, eight times a day in both directions.
Local Customs: The legal drinking age is 18. Tipping: generally 15-20% in restaurants; bellmen: $1 per bag; housecleaning staff: $1-$2 per day. Many all-inclusive hotels include all gratuities. Ask if you are in doubt.
Getting Married: Both Cancun and the Riviera Maya are popular destinations for weddings (and honeymoons) and it is legal for U.S. citizens to marry in Mexico. Please contact a Vacation Express representative for details on resorts offering special wedding packages and to discuss your particular wedding requirements. Our experienced group department will be happy to assist with travel arrangements for all attendees.
The information below is a general list of requirements to perform a legal wedding ceremony in Mexico. Depending on the area of Mexico or even resort you have chosen for your wedding ceremony, legal requirements may vary. Please check with the Mexico tourism department or wedding coordinator at your resort for additional information on legal requirements and fees for weddings in Cancun. All foreign documents which are to be submitted (except passports) must have the legal Spanish translation and must be certified by an Apostille. An apostille is an internationally recognized notary certification, done in the country of origin of the document, and usually issued by the State Department of each country. In the United States, contact the Secretary of State in the state where you live. All information below is subject to change without notice.
Ceremony: For a wedding ceremony to be considered legal and binding in Mexico, the bride/groom must have a civil ceremony with a Justice of the Peace.
(Note: A civil ceremony is a marriage performed with no religious affiliation, officiated by a Judge, Mayor, Justice of the Peace or non-denominational minister. Civil ceremonies can be performed just about anywhere. In a judges chambers, at the wedding location, the City Clerk's office, or even on the beach. In most cases, couples can choose the ceremony's wording and offer their own vows as they see fit. Religious readings can also be added, if this is what the couple desires.)
Most hotels offer symbolic (or non-legal) ceremonies as well, for those who choose to marry at home first then celebrate with a symbolic destination wedding with family and friends in attendance. Again, only a civil marriage is recognized as legal. Persons wishing to do so may also have a religious ceremony, but it has no legal effect and does not replace in any way the legal and binding civil marriage. A civil wedding in Mexico is fully valid for legal purposes in the U.S.
Documentation: The bride/groom must bring original copies of the following documents:
• Original and copy of official birth certificate
• A valid, non-expired passport
• Tourist Card (this is given to all arriving passengers at the airport - keep it in your passport)
• Original prenuptial medical certificate with test results issued locally within 15 days of wedding
• Divorce or death certificate if applicable
• Original and copies of the official identification of two witnesses
Divorced/Widowed Travelers: For divorced or widowed parties, you must provide official copies of the divorce decree (Decree Absolute) or a certified death certificate. Divorced people cannot marry in Mexico until one year after the termination of the divorce.
Blood Test: A blood test will need to be performed in destination with test results for venereal disease, HIV and Rh factor (blood type) determined prior to the wedding. Note: Some resorts provide this service onsite. Check with your wedding coordinator.
Waiting Period/Residency Requirement: It is recommended that the bride/groom arrive at least 5 days (or 3 business days) prior to the wedding date to ensure time for translation into Spanish of any necessary documents and processing of paper work; however, there is no legal residency requirement.
Witnesses: You must have two witnesses over the age of 18 each with proper identification credentials. Your destination wedding resort may provide witnesses if necessary.
Fees: Marriages are performed without charge at the the “Registro Civil” (or Local Registry Office). If performed elsewhere, a license fee may apply. Fees vary so consult your wedding coordinator at your destination wedding resort for the most current information.
Ten Spanish Phrases Everyone Should Know
- ¿Cuánto cuesta? How much is it? (As you're pointing at an item)
¡Qué hermosa eres! You are so beautiful! (To a girl ... For guys, substitute “hermosa” with “guapo,” which means “handsome”)
¿Donde estoy? Where am I?
¿Cómo se dice ... ? How do you say ... ? (Followed by the word you wish to learn)
¡Muchas gracias! Thank you!
Con permiso. Excuse me. (As you are trying to get by someone)
Por favor ... Please ...
No hablo español. ¿Hablas inglés? I don't speak Spanish. Do you speak English?
¿Dónde está ... ? Where is ...
No, gracias. No, thanks.