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How To Dial a Phone Number in Mexico

Can You Hear Me Now?

We sometimes wish there had been a video camera trained on us the first time we tried to use a cellular phone in the small town of Dolores Hidalgo in Mexico. It could have been a comedy hit on YouTube. We had bought a new cellular phone package and a pay-as-you-go card, called an Amigo card. This was a new concept to us at the time, having come from the land of two-year, ten-page contracts. We were excited to use our new purchase.

Our complete lack of both speaking and understanding Spanish made it totally impossible to activate the Amigo card in order to use our newly purchased cell phone. We must have listened to that Spanish recording ten times before finally, with much exasperation and embarassment, we employed our best charades skills to ask the teenage girl at the cash register of a restaurant to do it for us. That was a moment of intense powerlessness, and we have never  forgotten it, though we can certainly laugh about it now. Eventually we figured out how to activate the “English” setting on the phone as well, which certainly helped. And then finally, seven or so years later, we know enough Spanish that we can figure it out (or not) in either language.

Still Confused After All These Years

Despite our familiarity with our adopted home, we still are puzzled when it comes to telephones at times. The options keep multiplying, and they were confusing to begin with. We have a suspicion that we are not the only ones who struggle with this, so we researched the different protocols and we present them to you here.

A few notes. 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. We use all of the different formats below so you can get used to the chaos. It’s amazing how just switching where the space goes in a number can confuse a person!

The instructions below are for phones purchased in Mexico. There are also, of course, calling cards that can be used at quickly-disappearing public phones. And yet another alternative is a new concept that turns out to be more convenient than traditional calling cards. Those are online phone card services, such as Rebtel, that is available in many countries, including Mexico. Once you own an account, you can exercise your credit from any of about 50 countries, making it easy to move between countries without the fear of losing any of your money or having to learn a new process.

In the instructions below, we are quoting Telmex and Telcel costs mostly, because we are most familiar with them and they are the most ubiquitous in Mexico. There are other companies for land lines (Cablevision, Axtel, Nextel) and for cel phones (Iusacel, Movistar, Nextel), and costs may vary. And they vary constantly, so by the time we are done writing this article, they will be out of date. Just take them as a serving suggestion.

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.

 

How To Dial A Phone in Mexico – From Anywhere to Somewhere Else

From a Land line to a land line in the same city in Mexico(example: Merida to Merida)

Prefix needed:  No prefix, no area code
Complete dialed number:  123-4567

This is the simplest option anywhere. The caller pays $1.5 pesos per minute plus IVA.  A house Telmex phone line will get the first 100 calls per month free. A business Telmex phone line pays for every call.


From a Land line to a cell phone in the same city (Merida to Merida)

Prefix needed:  044
Complete dialed number:  044-99-91-234-567 (US Format: 044-999-123-4567)

When asked, a person will usually give you his/her cellular phone number with the area code (in the case above “999”). Thus, “Mi numero celular está ‘99 91 234 567’.

As an example, the price per minute from Telmex to Telcel in Merida is $1.84 pesos (about $.12 USD) plus IVA.


Dialing a phone in Mexico

From a Land line to a cell phone in another town (Progreso to Merida)

Prefix needed: 045
Complete dialed number: 045-99-91-234-567

This will be a long distance call from your landline and the calling phone will pay the entire cost of the phone call.  The cell phone will not get charged for the long distance call.

For example, if the Progreso land line is (969)123 45 67 and you are calling a cell phone based in Merida,  you will dial 045 999 123 4567. You will use the same protocol, even if the person you are calling happens to be in Progreso at the time, if their phone is usually based in Merida (you’ll know by the Merida area code 999).

If this call is from a Telmex landline to a Telcel cel phone, it will cost $2.85 pesos per minute ($3.28 with I.V.A.).

If you are calling from Progreso to a Progreso-based cell phone and the person happens to be in Merida for the afternoon, you dial 044 969 123 4567.

From a Land line to a land line in another town (Progreso to Merida)

Prefix needed:  01
Complete dialed number:  01 (999) 123 4567

This is larga distancia automatica nacional (automatic national long distance) and you will dial 01 before the area code and the phone number. The caller will be charged about $4 pesos during the day and $2.50 pesos at night for this phone call (without a special larga distancia plan).

There are exceptions to this rule. In Merida, for example, Acanceh and Uman have different area codes, but the caller to numbers in those towns is only charged $.50 pesos per minute instead of the national rate of $2.50 to $4.00 pesos. These are called “neighborhoods”, and there are equivalents for every city. So we’re guessing that Cancun, for instance, might have Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos in its “neighborhood”, making those calls cheaper than calls to, say, Tulum or Felipe Carrillo Puerto which are farther away.


How to dial a phone number in MexicoFrom a Cell phone in Mexico to a cell phone in Mexico

Prefix needed:  None
Complete dialed number:  999-123-4567

To call a cell phone from another cell phone, regardless of where the person is located at the moment, just dial the area code and 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 cell phone in Mexico to a cell phone in another town (Merida to Playa del Carmen)

Prefix needed:  None
Complete dialed number:  984-123-4567

Again, dial the numbers of the cell phone including the area code. The cost of a call like this depends on your carrier and your plan, but can be from $1 peso to $2.4 pesos per minute, and will be paid by the caller.

From a cell phone to a land line in the same town (Merida to Merida)

Prefix needed: None
Complete dialed number:  999-123-4567 or 123-4567

You can either dial the area code and the 7 numbers or just the seven numbers. The price will depend on your plan. It can range from $1 peso plus IVA to $2.50 pesos plus IVA per minute.  If you have an Amigo card, and you call a land line, you will be charged $4 pesos plus IVA per minute. The caller pays.


From a cell phone to a land line in another town (Merida to Playa del Carmen)

Prefix needed:  01
Complete dialed number:  01-984-123-4567

Treat the number being called as a national phone number. The price depends on the plan you have, and will be paid by the caller.


From a cell phone to a US or Canada cell phone or land line

Prefix needed:  001
Complete dialed number:  001-408-123-4567

To dial an international phone number from Mexico to the United States or Canada, dial the prefix 001, followed by the area code (408) and the phone number. 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 cell phone in Mexico

Prefix needed:  011-52-1
Complete dialed number:  011 52 1 999 1 23 45 67

You will dial 011 to make an international call. 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. Then dial the area code and number.

If you are in the city where you have contracted for and/or purchased your cell phone in Mexico, you will not be charged for an incoming phone call. If you bought your phone in Merida, but are receiving this call on a weekend in Playa del Carmen, you will be charged something per minute (depending on your plan) for mobility (what we used to call ‘roaming’).


From a US or Canada phone to a land line in Mexico

Prefix needed:  011-52
Complete dialed number:  011 52 999 1 23 45 67

You will dial 011 to make an international call. Then dial Mexico’s country code, which is “52” and then the area code and number.


Dialing a Toll Free Number in 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!

 

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.


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40 Responses to “How To Dial a Phone Number in Mexico”

  1. This is a very helpful article. A relative of mine in the UK kept trying to dail my cell without the “1″ and didn’t get through. She told me I must have given her the wrong number till we finally got it sorted out.

  2. Re Amigo cel phone: I was told that the “per minute” cost was $3 for the first year of a new account. If you have the account in continuous use for more than one year, the cost drops to $1 per minute.

    Also, you didn’t mention the “promotion” you gain by buying larger deposit cards. The 500 peso card (about $35 USD) actually gives you 1,000 peso credit, meaning the cost per minute is really about 1/2 peso.

    Anyone with an Amigo cel can easily find out what they are paying by checking balance before a call and then checking balance after to see what was used. Check balance by dialing *333 and when the recording comes on dial 1 (one).

  3. THANK YOU!!!!!!!! We really needed this article! :)
    Thanks a lot for keeping us informed.

  4. Thank you, Lary. That is all good information!

  5. really, a very useful information. Your time well-spent for helping others. Thx.

  6. Finally – someone that is in the know!!! Thank you for taking the time to share this info with us. I’m printing it out to keep near my telephone, along with a copy I will carry in my cell phone case. Thanks again.

  7. God thank you for the research and information to finally understand the inner workings of the telephone system. After thouroghly covering all the bases of the telmex sysem, i feel confident as a spanglish speaking resident of los pinos neighborhood to at least be able to call someone to ask them what the heck im trying to accomplish. The next step is to be fluent enough to tell the cab where I actually want to go. Baby steps! Your articles are very informative and extremely well reasearched and the time and devotion to your journalism is certainly apparent. Nise work. And nice wide angle lens for your photo’s!

  8. This post is AMAZING. I used this to verify that I was correctly trying to add a 1 after the country code when using Skype to call a Mexican cell. Unfortunately, Skype is not yet hip to the 1 requirement and so – automatically deletes the 1 whether I type it in or not.

    So I have not been able to call a cell in Mexico with my Skype. Anyone know how to trick Skype into keeping the 1 in there?

    Thanks again for the wonderful post (and all of the research!).

  9. I’ve found this site to be very useful when traveling: http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/

    I purchased the iPhone last July and found it has a nice feature called “international assist” It recognizes the system you’re on, and hence your location, and fills in all the prefix info for you.

    Also if dialing one of your contacts, (back in the states,) it again fills in the int’l info allowing you to simply select your contact and dial.

    While in Puerto Vallarta last week I exchanged numbers with someone, and called him later than day and found I didn’t need any extra info other than his Mexico phone #. So as hyped up as the iPhone is on gadgetry it’s a nice feature. I’m sure other grands have it too.

    I use Skype too – but appreciate being able to use my mobile in Mexico. (before the bill comes anyway.)

    cheers – james..

  10. to Andy O:

    I use skype to call a friend’s Mexico City Cell phone. I have it programmed to dial 011 52 1 55 xxxx xxxx. The one goes between the country code (52) and the city code (55, in this case Mexico City). That should work for you.

    Working Gringos: Great Job! Your articles are very informative. I have a teensy suggestion, though. No one (at least not a native speaker) would say “Mi número celular está xxxx-xxxx” They’d say “Mi número celular es xxxx xxxx.”

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we wonder why the phone system was “improved” several years ago to require a one before EVERY number. If every number requires it, why use it at all?

  11. Finally an explanation! I’ve been coming to Progreso for 26 years and still can’t figure out the phone system. Thanks for doing this.

  12. WOW!!!!! Thank you. This will save many hours of frustration. I will be sending this article to all my friends who winter in Chicxulub.

  13. Anyone know how to dial from canada to a mexican land line using skype on a I phone or computer? My fiance is from Monterrey, I purchased the mexico package of skype to use on my i phone and it works great to call home while in mexico (the i phone is mexican) but now that im back in canada I cant figure out how to dial my home phone in Monterrey. Any help would be great!

  14. Thanks SO MUCH for this explanation; I’ve reduced the basics to a little spreadsheet that I can carry with me.
    To all you iPhone users… I’m told that the new iPhone skype app lets you use your iPhone as a cordless skype phone. Seems like you could save a bunch by turning off the roam feature, & forwarding calls to a skype-in phone#, also using skype-to-skype & skype-out options, wherever you have a wi-fi network… Can anyone testify before I change my grand-fathered att plan to get an iPhone?
    Thanks All!

  15. Thank you that was very, very helpful. So far trying to figure these codes out has cost me lost of time in energy in frustration and getting nowhere. Thanks again!

  16. Helpful I think.

  17. Clear as cristal and really helpful! Thanks, please never erase this info from your web site…ok?!

    Thanks!

  18. To follow up on what Lary said, you can check your Amiga balance without making a phone call. Dial

    *133# , and you will receive a text message with your remaining balance. It´s a little more convenient than navigating the automated system.

  19. Hi! I am planning a trip to Merida in August and I will be bringing my iPhone ready to use. I need clarification on something.

    If I am using my cell phone from the USA in Merida, do I dial ad call numbers as if I am calling from From a Cell Phone from the USA?

    Thanks in advance!
    Andrew

  20. Andrew, because of the “International Assist” that someone mentioned in an earlier comment, we are pretty sure the answer is “yes”.

  21. You have a great article here, would have been even more helpful if you could have explained how to get English on our cell.

    Cheers and thanks for the insight!

  22. Brent, we will do some research and add that. Thanks for the suggestion!

  23. Ok, we asked around. It’s different on every phone, so we really can’t give those instructions. You’ll have to discover them for yourself!

  24. I’m coming to Merida in January for a month and would like some clarification on using my US cell phone while there. I’ve been told the most important things to do is turn off roaming which I got the info from T-Mobile on how to do. I signed up with them for one free month of international texting so my family can text me for free but my charge will be $.50 per text. I also plan on using Wi-Fi calling and skype. My question is, do I just dial 001+area code+number for calling and texting? Does my family call/text me with 011+52+1+area code+number? “Customer Care” at T-Mobile gives me a different answer each time I call them. Thanks for any advice!

  25. This is an exceedingly helpful article. We’ve struggled for days and went through much of the same frustrations to get our Amigo SIM card / phone to work. Who could have guessed you needed an extra “1″ after the country code to have people from out of country reach you? Thanks very much!

  26. LONG DISTANCE OR NOT LONG DISTANCE?

    I have been living in Mexico for a few months, started in Merida and had a Merida Telcel cell number. When I went to Tulum my cell phone would not make local calls. This article says cell phone to cell phone in different towns does not require a prefix… I tried no prefix, with prefix… nothing worked!
    Now I am in Playa Del Carmen with a playa del carmen telcel number and I can’t seem to call Cancun? They are in the same state though…

    Clarification please? I have many people I can help with this problem too as I have a website catering to people moving to new countries.

  27. Ky-Lee… will will look into this. Things may have changed!

  28. Awesome! We are using a phone card to use a public pay phone to call a taxi driver’s cell in the same town. It’s still not going through, though. We’ll keep trying different ways on your list to see what works. Thank you so much.

  29. By the way, we’re also in Playa.

  30. Thank you, I’m glad it’s not just me! I’m just about in tears trying to call a new friend that I met in Merida from my hotel in Merida! How I will ever find a house or apartment to rent here is beyond me…

  31. I find sometimes I 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. :)

  32. Thank you Kristin!! We will add that to the list!

  33. Tried all day to call from Chelem on a CELL FONE purchased in Merida AND PAID IN MERIDA to a LAND LINE in MERIDA. HELP. It is a taxi service to the airport.

  34. Dciro, we are not sure what you want from us exactly. It is possible that there is no money left on your phone or that the taxi service isn’t answering (it happens…). Can you get a neighbor to help you perhaps?

  35. hi i am nepali citizen , i used the movistar sim card since ten days ..my problem is that i have not received any international call yet ,my realtives says that your mobile no is not reacheable when they are going to make call. However i easily make international and local call..plz give me a reply how to make a call from nepal to mexico in this number
    7771520920

  36. Sumit, we know nothing (sadly) about dialing from Nepal. However, you might want to be sure that they put the “1″ after the “52″ country code when they dial your number.

  37. Skype solution: Dial +52 and then the raw local number, so +52-XXX XXX XXXX
    Don’t use any extra 1s or 0s
    When the number is dialed correctly, before you even call, you’ll see the Mexican flag pop up, verifying that you are good to dial out.

  38. I’m here in Saudi Arabia and I want to called my husband in Cuidad del Carmen Mexico using my cellphone through this number. +522721xxxx. My husband sent me a message via text. I’m trying to call him but the message said “your number cannot completed as dialed”. How could I call my husband using that number?. Any important information so that I could call my husband? Could you help me please?. Thank you!

  39. I am a Canadian trying to use SKYPE in Merida to call a mexican cell phone and just can’t figure it out. I tried all the suggestions above.

  40. Using Skype, you would just indicate “Mexico” and then follow the directions for calling a cel phone from Mexico to Mexico.

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