Tips to Avoid Paying Too Much for a Taxi in Mexico

In Mexico, most taxis don’t have meters and you pay the fare quoted by the driver. If you’re a local who is familiar with the system and what the taxi fares should generally be, this isn’t a problem. However, if you’re an unsuspecting tourist who has no idea how much a taxi ride from the airport costs — well, you might end up paying a lot more for the same trip.

So, how can you be sure that you’re not being overcharged? There are two basic tips to follow:

1) Verify the Price First

Always confirm the exact amount to be paid before getting in the taxi. If you plan on doing any negotiating, this is the time to do it.

If the price you’re quoted by the driver still seems too high, you can move on to Tip #2.

2) Ask to See the Tarifario

Although it may appear to the casual observer that taxi fares are arbitrarily set by the individual driver, they are not. They are established by local governments through negotiations with the taxi syndicates. If a taxi syndicate wants to raise their fares, they have to show some type of justification (e.g. higher gas prices).

In the state of Quintana Roo where we live, the government entity that establishes the maximum taxi fares is the Secretaría de Infraestructura y Transporte (SINTRA).

The taxi driver should have a list of the approved fares (called a tarifario) in his or her possession. It might even be visible inside the taxi, if it’s not, ask to see it: ¿Me permite ver el tarifario por favor? (May I see the fare list please?)

The tarifario will give you specific fare information for point to point travel. For example: Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen: 1-4 passengers $450 pesos (hypothetical amount). Even if you’re not at the taxi station listed, it will give you a pretty good idea how much the fare should be.

If the driver won’t show you the tarifario, just walk away and find another taxi. I’ve done it several times over the years.

What if I Am Overcharged?

If you believe you have been overcharged or scammed in some way, you can report the driver to the taxi syndicate they work for and/or report them to the government entity tasked with investigating consumer law violations, the Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor (PROFECO).

For more information about how to file a complaint with PROFECO, click HERE.

Let’s Wrap This Up

I don’t want to give you the impression that every taxi driver is Mexico is looking to take advantage of you, that is not the case at all. The majority of taxi drivers out there are honest, hard-working and helpful people – but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few out there who might try to take advantage of you. By following these simple tips, you reduce their odds of being successful.

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About the Author

Qroo 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. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

29 Comments on "Tips to Avoid Paying Too Much for a Taxi in Mexico"

  1. I only use Uber, or a government regulated taxi stand at MEX airport.

  2. A lot of times the hotel will have a copy of the Tarifario and can help you determine the correct fare. I’ve even had the bellman walk out to the taxi stand with me and help negotiate a good fare, for a generous tip, of course.

  3. Great read as usual, always got ripped by Taxi driver in Cancun

  4. Christine Taylor | September 20, 2020 at 8:48 am |

    Each taxi car has a number on it. Take that down and remember it just in case you have an issue. Always check up front what the cost is. You can WhatsApp the local taxi services on Cozumel up until 10pm at the moment to get a ride.

  5. ANNETTE STEVENS | September 20, 2020 at 9:24 am |

    Has Uber entered the market in Akumal, PDC, and Cancun? I know that they attempted to start there, but were not allowed to enter the market. I hate dealing with the cab drivers in that area – it is always like going to the gas station – you feel that you must have your guard up in order to not be scammed! With Uber, you know going in the amount that you should be charged!

  6. Important side issue:
    Only use taxis from sitios (official taxi sites).
    If you hail a cab, it might be cheaper, or you might be abducted.

  7. I live on Isla Mujeres and need a cab especially when I need to go into Cancun. Being overcharged is hard to deal with, because at the same time I don’t want to be scammed, I really get it that they are NOT getting rich on taxi fares, but especially now, barely making ends meet. I understand that we ExPats are quite rich compared to the average Mexican taking a cab, so a little extra is not going to kill me. If I get overcharged, I check myself and the overcharge. Is $.50 or even $5.00 going to break me? What difference will it make in my life compared to theirs? We get our hackles up because it is the principle of it all, that we are being taken advantage of because of our skin color. But even as a Spanish speaking permanent resident of Mexico I am a foreigner, and know that I live in a different world and different culture. I try to let it go, partly so that my stress is less, sometimes I remember Paul McCartney and sing to myself “Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it beee…”

    • What a wonderful attitude. We really do need to count our blessings and lift up those who are less fortunate.

    • I get so frustrated when I travel with friends to Cancun and they complain about the bus driver not giving them 3 or 4 pesos change. And they do the same thing in restaurants. It’s 20 cents get a grip on yourselves. (Then I know who not to travel with in the future. Your post is a good reminder of how much we have and how lucky we are.

  8. Wow, spoken like a true ex-cop. I moved to a colonial city in Mexico seven years ago and my friends and I live a very different life in Mexico than you do, so my response comes from a different perspective than yours. But encouraging people—especially tourists?—to ask for papers on the chance they may get overcharged by five bucks tops from the airport? Try imaging how much more that five bucks will do for the taxi driver’s family than it will for you to order another piña colada. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but local folks are hurting here!

    • In Quintana Roo, we’ve had people charged much more than $5 USD by some taxis. The point of the article is to inform people that the fares are established by law and how to protect themselves. If you don’t mind being overcharged for goods and services, that is certainly your choice.

  9. Classy response Paul, to one of the few bigots on here.

  10. Bigot??? You need a dictionary.

    • I certainly wouldn’t call you a bigot, but there wasn’t any need to point out the ex-cop thing. I think more than anything that Paul tries to be helpful and he was just giving advice to anyone who was a bit unsure. Lets try to keep it calm here. For those of us living in the USA and experiencing the nightmare that has befallen us, reading about life in Mexico is a welcome escape.

      • I didn’t point out the ex cop thing. I just thought whoever used bigot doesn’t know the definition of the word.

  11. Sharon Watkins | September 20, 2020 at 12:32 pm |

    Interesting comments on here. At risk of jinxing myself, I have to say I’ve never been overcharged or scammed here either by taxi driver, at the gas station or in a shop. Not when we came as tourists or in the last five years I’ve lived here.
    Viva Mexico!

  12. We’ve had very good luck with taxis in PDC and in Cozumel. When they quote too high, we tell them what we will pay, which we know is the going rate, and they agree. We’ve had some wonderful, polite and helpful cab drivers. The majority speak great English and are happy to oblige me when I try to speak Spanish to them.

  13. My comment is not meant to be a directive or “the answer”; however you may consider it to be a suggestion from my experience in Playa del Carmen – 20 years and counting. I stopped asking the fare many years ago because the fare quoted was more often double or triple the actual fare. I prefer to just take note of the taxi number, get in, have a congenial conversation, ask the driver’s name, and then hand the driver enough to cover the fare plus a tip after opening the door and before getting all the way out. I always say “gracias y tengas un buen dia” when I leave. I have never had a problem with this method, however I have heard that late-night taxis may not be so reliable with this method or if my requirement of opening the door before paying is skipped – very important to already have the door open when paid. I also agree that times are tough for the majority of good taxistas and a bit extra is ok.

  14. I see from the comments those folks who don’t mind being overcharged because they feel it is only helping the taxi driver. I consider myself a very generous person and an extreme tipper at times; however, I feel the decision whether or not to do that is mine alone. Once someone chooses to steal from me or scam me, that choice is no longer mine and I’m not okay with that.

    As far as the impact of these scams, I can tell you that many of them go well beyond just a couple of extra pesos. Last year a taxi driver from Cancun charged some Peruvian tourists $4,500 pesos to go from the hotel zone to another part of the city.

    Here’s the article:

    My goal is to educate people who may be unfamiliar with the laws, procedures and common scams in Mexico.

  15. ANNETTE STEVENS | September 20, 2020 at 5:37 pm |

    Thank you Paul, for the post above. I, along with my husband, overtip all of the time. What I will never feel good about doing is being complacent to someone price gouging me, taking advantage of me, and not playing by the rules. After having been taken advantage of by the fact that I am often traveling alone, at 64 years of age and being a woman, it makes me mad! Being STOLEN from for about $25.00 each time at the gas station, TWICE, has made me wary of gas stations. And the same thing happened with cab drivers. I don’t consider those to be examples of just letting them have a little extra cash. I get to decide when I want to tip extra. It is a shame that the Mexican employees at those gas stations and taxis seem to operate with impunity when it comes to those scams. Most Mexicans that I know are gracious, kind and honest people. In the service areas mentioned above, it seems to attract some shady operators. I appreciate you, Paul, for bringing these problems to the attention of all of us.

  16. Is the tarifario posted somewhere or is it possible to get copies, rather than having to rely on the driver to provide it? I asked once and the driver claimed to not have a copy for me to see.

  17. We had this problem in Cozumel. We went to a park on the island, $5 US to go for 4 people. However, the return trip was $20 US!

  18. Thanks Paul! We will be using a taxi quite a bit as we won’t have a vehicle. We were told by a bell boy once that some taxis are owned by the Cartel? Is this true and how can we make sure we don’t get one of those.

    • The taxi syndicates really control them all but there is a problem of some taxi drivers also selling dope on the side for cartels. There is really no way to know for sure. If a taxi driver does offer to sell you narcotics, just flash back to those after school specials and just say no. 🙂

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