Mexico's telephone system is slowly but surely catching up with modern times. Every city and town that has telephone access has a three-digit area code (everywhere except for Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, whose area codes are two digits). Local numbers have seven digits (except for in Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, where local numbers have eight digits). To place a local call, you do not need to dial the area code. Mexico's area codes (claves) are listed in the front of telephone directories, as well as in "Area Codes." Area codes are listed before all phone numbers in this guide; when an establishment has two phone numbers with the same area code, we will only list the area code once.
To call long distance within Mexico, the cheapest way is by using the Ladatel phone booths, into which you insert prepaid cards -- available at most pharmacies and convenience stores. Steer clear of calling home from your hotel room, which can cost as much as $10 per minute. Instead, insert a Ladatel card (available in increments of $5, $10, $20, and $50 -- the $10 card is plenty for two 10-min. calls home) and dial as explained below. For long-distance dialing, you will often see the term "LADA," which is the automatic long-distance service offered by Telmex, Mexico's former telephone monopoly and its largest phone company.
To make a person-to-person or collect call inside Mexico, dial tel. 020. You can also call 020 to request the correct area codes for the number and place you are calling.
Many fax numbers are also regular telephone numbers; ask whoever answers for the fax tone ("me da tono de fax, por favor?"). Cellular phones are widely used as an alternative to land lines for small businesses in resort areas and all businesses in smaller communities; they have the same local area codes as their registered users and consist of seven or eight digits just as land lines do. For dialing instructions, read on.
The country code for Mexico is 52.
To call the Baja peninsula from outside Mexico:
1. Dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia.
2. Dial the country code 52.
3. Dial the two- or three-digit city code and then the seven-digit number. For example, if you wanted to call the U.S. consulate in Tijuana, the entire number would be 011-52-664-622-7400.
To call the Baja peninsula from inside Mexico: For local calls, dial only the seven-digit number. For long-distance calls within Mexico, dial 01 before dialing the area code and number.
Cellular phone calls: To call a cell number inside the same area code, dial 044 and then the full 10-digit number, including the city code. To dial a cellphone from outside its local area code, dial 045, then the three-digit area code and the seven- or eight-digit number. To dial a Mexican cellphone from the U.S., dial 011-52-1, then the three-digit area code and the seven- or eight-digit number.
To make international calls: To make international calls from Baja, first dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next you dial the area code and number. For example, if you wanted to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial 00-1-202-588-7800.
For directory assistance: Dial 040 if you're looking for a number inside Mexico, and dial 090 for numbers to all other countries.
For operator assistance: If you need operator assistance in making a call, dial 090 if you're trying to make an international call and 020 if you want to call a number in Mexico.
Toll-free numbers: Numbers beginning with 01-800 within Mexico are toll-free, but calling a 1-800 number in the States or Canada from Mexico is not. It costs the same as any other overseas call. Replace 800 with 877 and it should work.
Mobile service in Los Cabos and Baja is spotty; there's essentially one provider, Mexican Telcel, and little coverage outside of towns and resort areas, which means if you break down on the highway, you may not be able to make calls. (Mexico's other provider, Movistar, has limited coverage.) Telcel uses 1900 Mhz GSM and 800 Mhz for 3G. Because Mexico has recently imposed heavy restrictions on pay-as-you-go mobile SIM cards, buying a throwaway phone number to use here is no longer an option. At present, there's no one renting cellphones in Baja, so that leaves your home mobile phone. T-Mobile, AT&T, and Vodafone have roaming agreements with Telcel, and so their coverage is best; you may be able to use your Verizon phone in resort areas. Check for coverage from other carriers at www.telcel.com. Make sure to activate your international service before you leave home.
If you're going to be traveling in remote areas or spending nights on the water and need to keep in touch, you may want to consider bringing a satellite phone. You can rent them before your trip from Telestial (tel. 213/337-5560 in the U.S.; www.telestial.com).
Internet & Wi-Fi
Internet access, usually Wi-Fi, is widely available in Los Cabos and Baja, offered by nearly all hotels and many restaurants and cafes for free. It's usually offered through national telephone provider Telmex -- you'll see signs with the logo "infinitum" -- and is generally of a speed and bandwidth comparable to the United States. Some U.S. mobile Internet customers can roam for free on Telmex networks; check with your provider for details. If not, you can buy daily access by following instructions as you would in the U.S.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.