How To Dial a Phone Number in Mexico
*updated August 2019
Can You Hear Me Now?
In August of 2019 the Mexican government truncated the phone numbering system to ten digits. The area code was added to phone numbers and all other prefixes dropped. All phone numbers should now be dialed using just ten-digits, including local calls. See below for more information about international calls.
Despite simplification, the calling process can still be puzzling at times. For starters, most people in Mexico write their phone numbers differently. They tend to memorize and repeat phone numbers (and other numbers too) in groups of two or three. Americans and Canadians remember their numbers in the XXX-XXX-XXXX format. In Mexico, you might hear XXXX-XX-XX-XX or XX-XX-XXX-XXX. It's amazing how just switching where the space goes in a number can confuse a person!
In the instructions below, we previously quoted costs, but now the costs are pretty much the same. There are companies for landlines (Cablevision, Axtel, Nextel) and for cell phones (Iusacel, Movistar, Nextel) but costs do not vary much anymore. Of course, change is the name of the game in the phone industry, so take whatever prices are below with a grain of salt.
If you have anything helpful to contribute or if we have made a mistake, please tell us in a comment. We intend for this page to be a good reference for all who need it.
From a phone in Mexico to a phone in Mexico
Prefix needed: None
Complete dialed number: ten-digit phone number
To call a phone from another phone, regardless of whether it is a landline or cell, just dial the numbers without a prefix. The caller pays, and the cost depends on the plan. The cheapest Telcel cost for this type of call is $1 peso per minute; an Amigo card charges $2.5 pesos per minute plus IVA for the same call.
From a Mexico phone to a US or Canada phone
Prefix needed: 00 1
Complete dialed number: 00 1 (ten-digit phone number)
To dial an international phone number from Mexico to the United States or Canada, dial the prefix 001, followed by the area code (three-digits) and the phone number (nine-digits). There is no difference in dialing protocol for dialing a landline or a cell phone number.
The price will depend on the plan you have, and will be paid by the caller in all cases. (In the US and Canada, the cell phone user may also pay to receive the call). For example, our contract charges $5.22 pesos plus IVA per minute for a call from our Telcel Mexico cell phone to a United States phone number. We believe that the Amigo plan charges between $11 and $15 pesos per minute for the same call.
From a US or Canada phone to a Mexico phone
Prefix needed: 011 52 1
Complete dialed number: 011 52 1 (ten-digit phone number)
You will dial 011 to make an international call (changes to “00” if dialing from Europe or Central America). Then dial Mexico’s country code, which is “52”. Follow this with a “1” to indicate that you are dialing a cell phone in Mexico. Finally, dial the ten-digit phone number.
Dialing a Toll Free Number in the US or Canada from Mexico
Sometimes you really need to call a toll-free US number from Mexico. It won’t be toll free anymore but being able to do it still comes in very handy! Dial 001 and then dial 880 if your toll-free number begins with 800. Dial 881 for an 888 number. Dial 882 for an 877 number and dial 883 for all 866 numbers. For instance, if the number is 1-800-555-5555, you would dial 001-880-555-5555. That's it... magic!
The Facebook owned messaging app is the most popular method of communication in the Yucatan. The same numbers and rules for dialing can be applied. Please let us know about any difficulties in the comments. If you're not familiar with Whatsapp, check out this primer from Wikihow to get set up.
Phone plans and costs
In early 2015, the Mexican government passed new laws regulating the telecommunications industry. These actions caused the average cell phone bill to plummet, and Mexicans currently enjoy some of the least expensive coverage in the world. Most major carriers provide plans that include calling and SMS across North America.
In our case, we have used a US phone with Verizon, which in 2017, charges $80 a month for 12GB of data and includes coverage within Mexico. It's been very convenient, but they throttle down the data speed after half a GB per day. With the ubiquity of Wifi connections, however, cellular data needs can be kept to a minimum.
US or Canadian phones can be activated to work in Mexico for a low monthly cost. Our Mexican phone is an iPhone5 (purchased in the US) with a Mexican SIM card we purchased at a local Telcel. Originally, we were adding minutes on a pay-as-you-go plan at convenience stores, like Oxxo. Today, we prefer to visit the local Telcel store and pay by the month. We're currently paying 200 pesos/month for unlimited calls, text, 500MB of data and an additional 1,500MB for "basic apps" (Whatsapp, FB, Twitter). These "basic apps" are considered synonymous with the internet in Mexico.
Think You Can Remember All That?
That's it! Easy, right? If you are anything like us, we suggest you bookmark this page. Happy dialing!
For information about buying a cell phone in the Yucatan, check out our article Shopping For Cell Phone Service in Merida.