FAQs on passports, citizenship, natural disasters, and the law
By Inside México Original Print Publication: March, 2009
The Canadian Embassy Consular Section addresses several travel, legal, and emergency issues that Canadians encounter in Mexico.
Passport loss, theft, and renewal
With a very large resident population and more than a million visitors every year, Mexico is one of the top five passport-producing Canadian missions in the world and we are facing ever-increasing demand for passport services. The full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) in June 2009 will further increase demand for passports. This regulation will oblige Canadians to present a valid passport when entering the United States by land, as opposed to the current regulations which require only proof of citizenship and photo ID.
Another challenge many Canadians face when traveling to Mexico is a lack of clarity regarding required documents. While Mexico does not require a passport to enter the country, and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) does not require Canadians to present a passport to return to Canada, many airlines require that Canadians present a passport in order to board their return flight to Canada, and we have had many cases of Canadians who travel without a passport who are denied boarding to return to Canada.
While we assist these travelers with their passport application, the traveler must delay their return and incur additional expenses for hotel and food, not to mention the fees for the passport. For this reason, we have recently strengthened the advice in our Travel Report to strongly recommend that all Canadians who travel to Mexico do so with a passport.
We also have cases of the loss or theft of passports, and we likewise will offer the client passport assistance so that they can return to Canada. For routine passport renewals for Canadians residing in Mexico, we recommend that clients plan in advance as the current processing time for passport renewals is fifteen business days. Canadians can consult the Embassy's website (canada.org.mx) for all the necessary information about requirements for passport issuance as well as the coordinates for our Passport section.
The consular section processes citizenship requests for those Canadians who have the right to citizenship at birth and who are born abroad. Canadians who have children born abroad can request a citizenship certificate though the Embassy's consular section; all requirements are posted on our website.
In April 2009, Canadian citizenship laws will change and Canadian citizenship will be restricted to the first generation of Canadians born abroad (in the past, citizenship could be extended under some circumstances to the second generation born abroad). Those who are unsure about the impact this legislation may have on them and their children should consult the website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada at cic.gc.ca.
Canadians are often concerned about the potential for natural disasters while traveling in Mexico, given the country's susceptibility to hurricanes and earthquakes. The consular section has in-depth consular contingency plans for all regions of the country and regularly liaises with Mexican disaster response authorities. In the event of an emergency, the Embassy will communicate with registered Canadians by e-mail or phone.
We strongly encourage all Canadians to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) database (information available through the Essential Information for Canadians Abroad website voyage.gc.ca). The system has just recently been upgraded, and registrants can now modify their own information online without having to check in with an embassy or consulate locally.
Many Canadians do not register out of concern that their information is shared with other government departments or agencies, but our privacy regulations ensure that the personal information of Canadians is only used in the event of consular emergencies and not shared with any third parties.
The Embassy has a toll-free number that Canadians can use in the event of natural disasters or any other consular emergencies: 01-800-706-2900. The line is answered by Embassy staff during working hours, and after hours calls are transferred to the 24-hour-a-day Operations Office at Foreign Affairs and International Trade headquarters in Ottawa.
We often are asked by Canadians to get involved in legal issues they may face in Mexico. These issues can range from arrest and detention to timeshare contract disputes to problems related to property. The Canadian Embassy cannot get involved in legal issues in Mexico, as these problems must be addressed through the Mexican legal system. All our consular points of service throughout Mexico have lists of lawyers and translators to whom we can refer Canadians seeking legal advice and guidance.
For arrest cases, detained Canadians are visited regularly by consular officials, and we follow up to ensure that the detainee is being treated fairly and to address any concerns the detainee may have about their health or well-being. However, it is commonly believed that consular officials have the power to get someone out of jail or to request preferential treatment for them; this is not the case.
In cases of timeshare or property disputes, again the Canadian will need to hire a lawyer who can advocate on their behalf. Clients can also turn to the Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor (PROFECO), the Mexican government entity who can act as a mediator in the case of a dispute between a client and a timeshare company.
Canadian Consular services are available in the following cities: Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Acapulco, Cancún, Mazatlán, Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, San José del Cabo, and Tijuana.
For contact information and hours of operation, please consult: