Surprising Things You Can’t Bring to Cozumel
By Tom Seest
At TopCozumelNews, we help people traveling to Cozumel plan their trips and activities using information collected on our trips to the beautiful island.
Cozumel is a safe vacation spot for travelers of all kinds. However, there are some things you should be aware of before traveling to Mexico.
Recently, drug cartel violence has seen a dramatic uptick in Mexico. Fortunately, Cozumel has not experienced any major crime issues of note.
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If you’re planning a cruise to Cozumel, it is recommended that you leave your weapons at home. It is against cruise line policy, local port laws, and maritime law to bring guns or any type of weapon aboard the ship.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re a member of an organized shooting or hunting club with permission from Mexico’s government. However, in order to obtain your firearm import permit, they will require proof of membership first.
In Mexico, citizens and legal foreign residents are each granted the right to own up to 10 registered firearms (nine long guns and one handgun) per household. Businesses cannot keep weapons on their premises unless it is also their residence.
Cozumel is an idyllic island with breathtaking white sandy beaches and warm, year-round tropical weather. Plus, there are several archeological sites from the ancient Mayan culture to explore. Additionally, Cozumel offers plenty of outdoor activities like snorkeling, diving, or golfing for added enjoyment.
It is worth noting that Cozumel has been designated a Biosphere Reserve, meaning its remarkable natural splendor has been acknowledged. This island hosts numerous marine species and tropical rainforests.
Punta Sur Ecological Park should be a must-see during your vacation to Cuba. Situated on the southern tip of the island, it offers visitors an immersive tropical rainforest and wild beaches to explore. Plus, don’t miss out on El Caracol Mayan ruins – a small but worthwhile site! For those seeking more adventure, we suggest taking a coastal drive that follows Cuba’s rugged east coast for some incredible coastal scenery.
It is essential to remember when visiting Cozumel that smoking is strictly prohibited on the island. This applies to cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, and pipes alike.
This ban extends to all public areas, such as parks, beaches, town squares, cruise piers, and hotels. Furthermore, it extends to public transportation vehicles like buses and trains.
Mexico has some of the toughest tobacco control laws in the world, recently passing a ban on smoking on public beaches, resorts, and other outdoor spaces to reduce deaths due to secondhand smoke exposure. Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization have praised this initiative, noting that 10% of deaths in Mexico result from tobacco product use.
On January 15, a smoking ban will take effect across all public spaces in the country. Furthermore, the regulations prohibit advertising or sponsorship of tobacco products, as well as restricting the sale and use of e-cigarettes.
It is essential to be aware that there are exceptions. Some resorts and restaurants have designated smoking rooms and/or areas exclusively for smokers.
Smokers who smoke inside their stateroom or on balconies will be charged a $250 cleaning fee added to their onboard account. If a cigarette burns any furniture, linens, towels, or carpeting, that charge will also be applied to their account.
Though there has been much controversy surrounding the new legislation, it represents a major step in the right direction. This is especially pertinent to Cozumel, where local governments have pledged to promote 100% smoke-free environments in public places and buildings.
The new law is in line with other Latin American nations that are implementing similar tobacco controls in an effort to reduce the number of deaths caused by tobacco-related illnesses. Countries like Ireland, Greece, Hungary, and Malta have also passed similar restrictions.
When traveling to Cozumel, be mindful of the prohibition on alcohol sales. This is something not to be taken lightly and shouldn’t be missed if you want a great experience on this idyllic Caribbean island.
Tourists to Mexico may be used to the freedom of drinking in public without fear of prosecution, however this is not the case here. If you are caught with an open bottle of alcohol on the street, you could face arrest and charges for possession of a controlled substance or drug trafficking.
Mexico has passed a law outlawing the sale of all alcoholic beverages, including beer, in several of its states and major cities. This ban was implemented due to an increasing number of deaths and illnesses caused by drinking tainted alcohol.
There are exceptions to this law, however. For instance, certain bars and restaurants do not need a license in order to sell alcoholic drinks.
These establishments are usually situated in touristic areas and can be found throughout the city. Popular spots include San Miguel de Cozumel and Playa Blanca for their bars.
As with all Mexican states, the minimum legal drinking age in Cozumel is 18 years old. You should also be aware that you will need some form of identification when purchasing alcoholic beverages in most places; this will help avoid any issues down the line.
If you have children accompanying you on vacation to Cozumel, it is legal for them to come along as long as they are under 18 years of age. This may especially be true if they are traveling on a cruise ship and cannot purchase alcohol for themselves.
When traveling to Cozumel, it is imperative that you avoid carrying drugs. Unfortunately, drug abuse has seen an uptick in Mexico recently – particularly during peak springtime vacation periods.
Mexican authorities have strictly enforced a ban on the importation of narcotics, including illicit drugs and those listed on the US-controlled substance list. Tourists caught bringing drugs into Mexico may be arrested and face serious legal consequences.
Travelers needing to bring medications from the United States or Canada must obtain a medical prescription from an accredited doctor. The document must include the name of the physician who authorized it, its professional registration number, and the date of issue.
Passengers with prescriptions must present them at the customs and immigration counter upon arrival in Mexico. Additionally, they must indicate in writing how much medication will be taken during their trip, as well as how often.
If you’re uncertain of which drugs can be brought into the country, consult the FDA website or your doctor’s office. They will give you a list of controlled substances, including those that have either been prohibited from importation in the past or remain prohibited today.
Common drugs that are prohibited from being brought into the country include opioids, benzodiazepines, and cocaine. These can be hazardous for your health and lead to dependence on them.
Furthermore, the FDA has prohibited the importation of unapproved new drugs for distribution and sale, including those that do not meet safety or effectiveness standards set by the agency.
Over the last year, two drug planes from Argentina were intercepted in Quintana Roo. On board were large amounts of cocaine worth more than $5 million.
Cozumel is an idyllic island filled with exciting activities. It’s a popular stopover for cruise ships and boasts some excellent scuba diving spots.
San Miguel, the main town of Cozumel, is a safe and vibrant destination to explore on foot. It’s surrounded by a large Zocalo park with plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops to discover.
Cash is essential when making purchases in Mexico; ideally, bring both pesos and US dollars. Credit cards may not always be accepted in many local establishments, and taxis often only accept cash payments.
Most places display exchange rates, so it’s wise to check them out. Additionally, you can use a reliable currency exchange app on your phone to stay informed and accurately calculate expenses (see below).
ATMs are widely located around the island, dispensing pesos for both debit and credit cards. These machines are connected to banks and feature official exchange rates.
In addition to ATMs, some stores and tourist areas accept credit cards as well. The exchange rate may differ, but you’re likely to get a better deal than exchanging cash for currency.
Some hotels and restaurants also provide currency exchange services, though these tend to be quite costly. Furthermore, you may incur a transaction fee when using your card for this purpose.
If you want to save on fees, try withdrawing your money at an ATM. These can be found in most supermarkets and some larger hotels.
Travelers’ cheques in major currencies, like the pound sterling or euros, are now widely accepted at some banks and exchange houses in Mexico. However, be mindful that a high exchange rate could result in the loss of money when transferring currency, so be wary.
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