MAKING WIRELESS CALLS IN MEXICO
How to Make Calls, Access Data and Save Money While Using Wireless in Mexico.
- Making Calls in Mexico is Different!
Unless you've worked ahead, none of your phone book entries will work when calling from Mexico, including for Voice Mail. You might assume you can't call out from Mexico and give up. What to do?
The Plus Sign ("+") Makes Calling Easy
In Mexico, or at home, adding the "+" before a number tells the phone you want it to determine the dialing sequence. The digits that follow include the country code, followed by the individual phone number. While in Mexico, the "+" tells the phone to automatically enter "001" before the country code (which is "1" for the US), then followed by the 10-digit number. If this sequence is already saved in your phone book, the call can be made as you would at home. There is no harm saving all your domestic phone book entries with the "+" sign before the "1" and the 10-digit number. This is also recommended for your Voice Mail access number.
The + sign is added in various ways based on the phone model, the most common is holding the "0" (zero) button until the "+" appears.
- Remember to Enable Data Roaming
Even though you think your phone's cellular data should work in Mexico, your phone may have a selection in Settings that prohibits data roaming. Look for a slide button or check box that allows data roaming. In Android phones it may look like: SETTINGS > Wireless & Networks: MORE > CELLULAR NETWORKS > DATA ROAMING > Slide ON.
- Your Voice Mail Button (Icon) May Not Work in Mexico
Your phone may have the Voice Mail number pre-programmed in it, and, in most cases, it won't work outside the US. You must enter the proper sequence of numbers and it may not be programmed in your phone. In most cases, you can access your Voice Mail the foreign country's international long distance access code. In Mexico, that's "001". Using the "+" as noted above, is a valid short cut. Then enter the US country code, "1" followed by your own 10-digit number. If your number is 213-555-1234, to call your own voice mail from Mexico is: +1-213-555-1234.
- Long Distance Calls FROM Mexico:
To a Mexican telephone number: 01 + city code + local number
To the U.S. or Canada: 001 + area code + local number
To other countries: 00 + country code + city code + local number
To a cell phone in Mexico: 045 + area code + local number
Operated-assisted calls in Mexico: 020
Operated-assisted calls to other countries: 090
- Long Distance Calls TO Phones in Mexico:
From within Mexico: 01 + city code + local number
From the U.S. or Canada: 011 + 52 + city code + local number
From other countries: international access code + 52 + city code + local number
Calls to a cell phone from outside Mexico: omit the "044" which is often given in the prefix of a cell phone number.
- Remember, Your US Wireless Number Does Not Change.
Even though you are roaming in Mexico, anyone calling you will need to enter your normal cell phone number including 1 plus the 10-digit number, regardless where they're calling from. For outgoing calls, your cell phone will behave like a local telephone. You do not need to use the country code for calls to telephones within Mexico, but calls to Mexican cell phones need the "44" or "45" code in place of the country code. You do need the country code for all calls to numbers outside of Mexico. Remember the country code for USA is "1".
- Some US "800" Numbers Can Be Accessed from Mexico
by using the "001" ("+1" on GSM phones) before the 800 number. Most US 800 numbers do not accept calls from Mexico since they are paying for the call. Most large companies, like credit cards and wireless carriers have a normal (non-800) number you can call in the US if you cannot make a call to a US "800" number. This is can be made "Collect" and will be free. Calls to US "Toll-Free" 800 Numbers (001-800... in Mexico) are Not Free. Per minute (or per call) rates apply, but long distance charges do not. Mexico also uses the "800" prefix for their own toll-free numbers, so be careful. Without entering the long distance calling code, you may be calling someone in Mexico.
- "911" is Now the Official Number for All Emergencies in Mexico
This is a change made in 2016. In larger tourist towns English-speaking help is often available, otherwise be ready to speak some Spanish. If you have trouble being understood, try calling your hotel and ask them for help. Program in their number as soon as you arrive. The conversion to "911" has not occurred in every state in Mexico but your phone should convert to the right number, automatically.
- 10-digit dialing:
Not all calls in Mexico require 10-digit dialing (city code + 7-digit number), but always use all 10 digits since your wireless phone knows the right procedure.
- 044: Many Mexico Cell Phone Numbers Use the Prefix "044" (or 045).
This is only used when calling the number locally and is omitted for incoming international calls. For example, to place a call locally to a cell phone you must dial 044 + the 10-digit number. To place a long distance call to the cell phone you omit the 044, e.g. 011-52 + the 10-digit number. To place an international call to a cell phone, you now must add a "1" after the country code, i.e. 011-52-1 + 10-digit number. If you are calling a Mexican cell phone from within Mexico but it is a long distance call, the prefix is 045, then dial the 10-digit number. Omit the 045 when calling from outside Mexico and dial 011-52 + 1 + the 10-digit number.
- There Can Be a Per Minute Charge for Calls That Go to Voice Mail,
even if your phone is off and even if no message is left. You can have your home carrier temporarily disable voice mail. Make sure your own network knows when you are "home" by turning on your phone once you arrive in the US. Some carriers, like AT&T, don't charge for these calls if your phone is turned off, but Cricket Wireless, an AT&T company, does charge for calls sent to voice mail, even when your phone is off and no message is left.
- Calls to Your Own US Cellular Service Provider Do Not Incur Charges
This includes calls to "611" and the carrier's non Toll-Free number. Check with your carrier before you leave to make sure. They may be able to help with some of your Roaming problems in English. Ask for their non-"800" number in case you need to call them "Collect".
- Consider Having One Party Call the Other Party Back
Unless calls from Mexico are included in your wireless plan, consider a short call to the US to have the other party call you back based on who has the cheapest rate. A person calling your US wireless number may only be calling a local (to them) number. Charges for long distance calls from the US to Mexico can vary widely.
- You May Need ID to Buy a Cellular Phone or SIM
This is normal in most countries to thwart drug dealers. However, some Mexican cellular retailers offer pre-activated phones and SIM's for the convenience of tourists. Don't be afraid to ask. This may eliminate the need to go through a lengthy application.
- Mexico Roaming May Need to be Activated
with phones from US carriers. This is usually done for free by customer service and you should ask them to do it before you leave the US. It usually only needs to be done once. Your carrier's web site may provide information about the status of Mexico roaming.
- Use Your Wireless Phone to Make Calls from Your Hotel
If you make calls from your hotel or resort they will most likely charge a significant fee for calls, including for Local, Long Distance and "Toll-Free" numbers. Fees can be as high as $5US per call. Use the hotel phone for room-to-room calls only.
- These are observations we and other contributors have noted while calling in Mexico, yours may be different, and prices are subject to change. If so, we'd like to hear from you.