Visiting Mexico: Leave Your Guns at Home

Source: iStockphoto

I shake my head every time I read an article about an American getting arrested at the Cancun airport for having a firearm and/or ammunition in their checked luggage. It’s not as rare as you might think.

The people being arrested aren’t international arms traffickers, they’re just tourists who — through a complete lack of common sense and good judgement — thought it would be okay to ‘pack heat’ while on vacation south of the border.

The two that were arrested at the airport in Cancun last week should really have known better because they’re both deputy sheriffs employed by the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia.

Here’s what they decided to bring on vacation:

They spent two days in a Mexican jail before they were able to bond out. They returned to the United States on Monday — without their firearms.

Since this blog has tens of thousands of readers in the United States, many of whom are law enforcement officers who are accustomed to carrying firearms on their person, I decided to do a quick post to make the following very clear:

“Do not bring your firearms or ammunition with you to Mexico or you will be arrested.”

Of course, this does not apply to those folks who have received prior written authorization from the Mexican government to bring weapons into the country for a specific purpose.

You can read more about the legalities of possessing a firearm in Mexico by clicking HERE.

Other Prohibited Items

While we’re on the topic, here are a few other items that are illegal to bring along with you:

Electric weapons (Tasers)

Pepper spray (capsicum)

If you would like to see a complete list of what’s permitted and what’s not, check out this guide from the Mexican government: Importing Weapons to Mexico (PDF)

Let’s Wrap This Up

So, unless you’re hoping to star on a future episode of Locked Up Abroad, I suggest that you leave the weapons at home and pack more useful items like sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

51 Comments on "Visiting Mexico: Leave Your Guns at Home"

  1. I saw this and now to know they are LE is mindblowing. 100+ rounds 9mm and a 12 gauge. LMFAO

  2. I remember reading a couple of years ago that a traveler – using the same carry on that he used on hunting trips – had a stray bullet or two in one of the pockets of the bag. That put a dent in his vacation too. Check all the pockets, nooks, and crannies. Not sure what a cranny is, but check it anyway.

    • That’s good advice for those folks who have firearms at home.

    • Dan, Coincidentally you mention this as I’m reading Paul’s post and what you said was the first thing that came to mind. We were flying out of Vancouver to Cancun in April and while we were going thru CATSA, my son was pulled aside after they scanned his backpack; a backpack he uses for hunting. Needless to say, they found something. Bullets. Totally accidental. Fortunately, those bullets never made it to Mexico. The CATSA agent was albeit firm and was doing his job, he was understanding and we were very appreciative as he said he could have called the police.

  3. Geez, it never ceases to amaze me how incredibly stupid people can be! Can’t fix ‘stupid’! SAD!

  4. Wow! I cant believe a police officer would bring guns to Mexico, or any vacation for that matter. If you are that scared to go somewhere don’t go.

  5. linda nordmarken | August 29, 2018 at 9:33 am | Reply

    Canada is just considering banning handguns and assault rifles altogether – we are buying a condo in Puerto Aventuras, and feel safer coming to live in Mexico than in the US, because of the gun culture.

  6. Just saw the news cast! It was a direct International flight. Since they are officers they can carry guns on the plane, but when TSA finds out they have guns TSA should be proactive, ask them where they are going and tell them the laws of their destination. No, wait these two should have never brought guns with them to begin with. Unbelievable!

    • This is what the TSA site says about the topic of flying internationally with firearms in your checked luggage:

      “If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel.”

      it looks like they put it back on the traveler to be informed.

  7. In due time I will be moving permanently to Los Mochis, Sinaloa where my wife and I reside part-time. Will one please advise if upon relocation and procuring permanent residency if I can import select firearms I possess here in the US. In particular I have an antique COLT 45 (still functional) issued to my great uncle during WWI and a Sig Sauer 380 P232. Thank You for any response.

  8. Mark in Merida | August 29, 2018 at 9:53 am | Reply

    Do you think it’s because there is still the belief in the US that Mexico is filled with Rapists and Drug dealers and unsafe; or just lack of common sense? It does make one wonder, since getting on a US domestic flight, guns isn’t legal — how would it ever be allowed on an international flight….

    • Anyone can carry an unloaded firearm in their checked luggage in the U.S. When it comes to international flights, the TSA website seems to out the responsibility of staying out of trouble on the passenger:

      “If you are traveling internationally with a firearm in checked baggage, please check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information and requirements prior to travel.”

      That’s why people keep getting arrested.

      By the way, an alternate title that I was considering for this particular post was “Mexico: Come on Vacation, Leave on Probation”….lol.

  9. As much as I hate to say this I think some not all LEO think they can get by with anything. They have this holier than though attitude.

  10. Thank you for your blog
    Living in San Miguel de Allende
    What’s best route from Palm Springs ca bringing my Harley down to SMA?
    Bill walker.

    • I don’t know the best driving routes down but I’m sure if you ask the same question in some Facebook groups dedicated to moving to Mexico, someone can give you some firsthand advice.

  11. a mexican security guard friend asked me to bring him a chrome plated magazine clip for his 45 caliber pistol. no bullets, just the magazine. will this cause problems for me? will it flag me somehow?

    • It can get you into trouble. The list of prohibited items includes “any part of a firearm essential for it’s operation” as well as “any accessories for firearms that are not essential but improve some characteristic of the weapon (precision, comfort)” — sounds like they could apply that to your magazine.

  12. I’m enjoying your blog. I’m from Georgia, live in Mexico City, and I’m familiar with Crisp County. I have shared your blog item on gun laws in Mexico, a good model for the U. S.

  13. Thanks for this article, I cross the border often via car and carry my pepper spray w me. I didn’t know it was illegal!

    • One reader wrote me awhile back and told me that seized her pepper spray at the Cancun airport and gave her a warning. It’s certainly not as serious as bringing a firearm or ammunition into Mexico.

  14. Nobody wants to vacation in a Mexican Prison.

  15. If I’m reading the form correctly, it appears a pellet or BB gun that’s manually pumped up is legal, while one operated via CO2 or other compressed gas is illegal. Seems to me it may be tough to make that distinction to somebody examining the weapon. Best idea is to leave it at home.

  16. I’m a Canadian and it shocks me how often we hear about Americans trying to cross the land border with several guns in their car – which get confiscated (I believe they send them over to the US customs office and the travelers are able to pick them up when they cross back, but don’t quote me on that). There seems to be quite a percentage of people in the US who don’t understand that crossing into another country means different rules apply!

  17. I one absolutely must carry some traveling in Latin America, visit Puerto Rico. HR218 still applies there.

  18. I’m coming to Playa del Carman Saturday through Cancun is the Ado the best way to get to Playa? I enjoy your newsletter

    • Many of our neighbors use the Ado to get from the airport down to Playa del Carmen and they highly recommend it. It’s cheaper than taking a taxi and Uber is not an option in Quintana Roo.

  19. Do you know if you’re allowed to have bear spray or some other version of pepper spray for self defense purposes? I live in Mexico and there has been an increase in crime in my area. Wondering if there is anything I can carry just for self defense.

    • The laws related to the possession and use of pepper spray vary depending on where you live in Mexico. The best thing to do is to ask the police in your area.

  20. the same information applies when you cross the border into canada. Guns of any type are not allowed here.

  21. À votre avis, pourquoi les Jumelles optiques sont défendues au Mexique? Merci

  22. Daniel Burnick | August 30, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Reply

    How did they get the guns into MX in the first place? Did TSA miss them, or perhaps they used their LEO credentials to get them on the plane. Stupid is as stupid does.

  23. Only stupids can took gun in the Airplane. Mexico does not allow anyone with weapon.

  24. Firearms seem like a no-brainer, but what about the Krispy Kreme Gold Card? Better to leave that at home as well, or do you carry yours with you?

    • Hahaha, I didn’t even know they had a gold card.

      • Sorry. Bad joke. I had just finished an 18 hour shift when I posted that. I was wondering if you carry your police ID and/or badge with you and if you did so when you traveled to Mexico back before you retired. Also, I’m curious what the attitudes of policía mexicana are toward police officers from the US. The ones who are smart enough to leave the firearms at home, I mean.

      • Now that’s weird. Two different edits of my post just showed up. Hmmm.

  25. I would like to know why binoculars are not alowed in mexico.

  26. Few years ago a local argentinian legal gun dealer bought some stuff in Miami (mostly unprimed cases of diferents calibers) and shipped by plane to his country, while he after went to stayed some days in Cancun, The problem was the air company by mistake sent both personal luggage and purchases shipped to Mexico.
    He enjoyed the prison hospitality for few month, with a last long memory
    Stay safe

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