For your convenience, our most Frequently Asked Questions are answered here…
Q: Is the American Society open to all nationalities?
A: Absolutely! We have members from many different countries. Of course, most of our members are from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. We believe diversity helps us grow and be useful to our members.
Q: What types of services are offered by the American Society?
A: In addition to those already listed below, we have many contacts in the Guadalajara Metro area, including our members, who can provide guidance regarding most questions about life in Mexico, especially the Guadalajara area.
Q: What is the cost to become a member?
A: There is a free one time, one month membership for newcomers.
We have two levels of membership: General and Associate. Our associate members are usually students taking conversational classes and teachers from the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Our general members are usually full-time or part-time residents of the area wishing to have voting rights regarding the governing board of the American Society. Memberships are paid either annually or semi-annually. Please stop by and determine which membership best “fits” you or see our membership page.
Traveling to Mexico
- Avoid problems re-entering the US: Have a current, valid passport.
- IMPORTANT! If you are visiting Mexico, retain the immigration stub that you receive — you will need it when you leave.
- If you plan to stay for a while, immigration requirements can be found at www.inm.gob.mx.
- Most US banks have an arrangement with one or more Mexican banks to use your bank card without local fees.
- The ATM machines provide the highest rate of exchange.
- Credit card usage generally entails fees at both ends.
- For short visits and small amounts, use the money exchange houses; you get less at the airport.
- A person may bring less than $10,000 US into Mexico in cash or travelers checks without having to make a declaration. Any more must be declared or could be confiscated.
- USD checks are impossible to cash unless you have an account at a place like O’Rourke and can deposit the check, at the same time withdrawing cash from the pre-existing balance. There is a long ( 3- 6 weeks) delay for USD checks to clear. A newcomer can open an account at O’Rourke with a tourist visa, but not at a bank ( a resident visa, temporary or permanent, is required for a bank account.) O’rourke is not a bank, but places your money in investment funds – similar to mutual funds in the USA.
- In Mexico, as well as anywhere else in the world: Do not flash large amounts of money. When you exchange money, take someone with you. Put your wallet in your front pocket. Try not to carry anything in your purse that you don’t want to lose. Keep a bit of cash in your pocket and try to show only what you need.
FOOD & WATER
- Wash your hands often.
- Tap water is safe for bathing and brushing your teeth. Use bottled water for drinking. There is home delivery of drinkable 20 liter (about 4.4 gallon) plastic water bottles from a variety of companies. Ask your friends or neighbors what they recommend.
- There are two types of slaughterhouses (rastro): city (municipio) and federal (TIF). TIF means that the sanitation, testing and treatment of animals at the slaughterhouse is controlled and monitored by the federal government, unlike in the US. If the meat is TIF, supermarkets have large signs over the meat displays and sometimes the packages have the TIF symbol. Do not eat beef liver if it is not marked TIF.
- At restaurants: Good safe food at all price ranges.
- At stands: Generally OK. It’s better to avoid seafood from the street stands.
- At home: Soak your fruits and vegetables in water with an anti-bacterial solution (available at all supermarkets and corner stores) or vinegar for 20 minutes to avoid E-Coli, salmonella, etc. before eating them.
- Meats: Great chicken and pork. Avoid pork products if you are allergic to sulfa drugs because they are used to enhance pig growth and the meat may have residuals (also the case in the US). The beef is not as good as you are used to, and is generally cut very thin but the “arrachera” is excellent.
CONSULATES IN GUADALAJARA
- US Consulate in Guadalajara – US Consulate twitter page – US Consulate facebook page
- Click here for a list of other consulates in Guadalajara and their telephone numbers.
- For US visa information (non-US citizens) can go to US Embassy in Mexico website. This page is in Spanish but you can click on the upper left for English.
ABSENTEE BALLOTS FOR US CITIZENS
- The US State Department recommends registering on an annual basis. Visit the web site or visit the US Consulate to get the “Registration and Absentee Ballet Request” and “Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot“. The form is the same for all US states and territories but the data required may be different for each state. Remember, some states require a defined party affiliation for voting in primary elections.
- The US State Department recommends re-filing the absentee ballot request annually and sending in both the federal write-in absentee ballot and any state absentee ballot that you receive. Your signature is required on a paper form, you may leave them with the guard at the US Consulate and they will send it in for you. Forms are also available at AMSOC.
- Always include contact information in case there is an error in the information that you provide so that it may be corrected in time to vote.
- Buses: City buses go almost everywhere but do not keep any specific schedule. The cost is $6, $7 and $12 MXN per bus (about US $ 0.50) depending on the route. Click here for detailed routes. Because the routes are by route number; ask a local which bus to take from where you are to where you want to go and then check in Internet (because locals sometimes give you an answer just to be polite, even if they don’t know). Another good online reference for the local buses is Busca Tu Ruta.
- Taxis: Can be relatively inexpensive. Either insist on the meter being on or ask “tiene taximetro?” and check the price in advance. If you are at a hotel, ask the concierge which bus to take or how much a taxi should cost.
- Uber: You can use the uber app as you do in the US.
- Visiting other cities: The long distance buses are very comfortable and inexpensive.
- If you have residence status or Mexican citizenship and have reached 60 years of age, you can go to your city DIF (social services agency) with copies of the photo and identification pages of your immigration document which should also serve as proof of your birth date, 4 photos “tamaño infantil” (baby size), a “comprobante de domicilio” (a receipt in your name from your residence – i.e., telephone, electricity or property tax, and to be safe, a copy of another photo) to obtain an INAPAM card. For more information, call 3834-5520, Mon. – Fri. 8 AM to 2 PM. These cards provide for a 50% discount on long distance and local buses, a 50% discount on annual water bills if paid by February 28 with no usage of more than 25 cubic meters per month the year before and smaller discounts at some stores and pharmacies and, starting in 2010, a 50% discount on property tax (impuesto predial) in Zapopan. The INAPAM card is now covered by the DIF card – the card has both logos. Many museums and Jalisco Phiharmonic tickets are discounted for seniors.
TELEPHONE & INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS
- Principal providers are Megacable and Totalplay, depending on the city where you live, which also provide cable television and VOIP telephone services.TELMEX, Mexico’s biggest telephone service provider, also manages Prodigy, the third principal provider, which is universally available. All provide cable and wireless Internet service. AMSOC provides wireless Internet for $10 MXN per hour (so come visit us during the week or come for lunch at noon on Thursdays and take advantage of this service.)
- TELMEX is the country’s biggest provider of standard phone service and their subsidiary Telcel is the biggest provider of cellular phones but there are a variety of other services available.
- Your US mobile phone will not work in Mexico unless it´s GSM (worldwide and T-Mobile or AT&T in the US) or G3/G4. If it is GSM or G3/G4 you will need the unlock code to use a local chip.
- If you’re here for a visit, the least expensive calls back to the US are with a prepaid calling card or the 10 pesos per call service at AMSOC.
- EMERGENCY Telephone numbers: 066 this is like dialing 911 in the states. Zapopan police dept. = 3836-3636. Red Cross (ambulance) 3613-1550, 3614-2707, 3614-5600. Gas leaks = 3668-3800. Electricity Problems = 071. Traffic police (Transito) = 3819-2425, 3819-2426,3819-2400. Guadalajara police dept. = 1201-6000, 1201-6074 to 6080. Tonalá police dept. = 3284-3061, 3284-3040, 3284-3041. Tlaquepaque police dept. = 3635-2084, 3657-9228, 3635-8068.
- You need Mexican insurance, vehicle registration and a valid driver’s license. The company O&A is a good bet because they are local, speak English, have group rates and will cover legal services.
- If you are involved in an accident, do not move the vehicle until the “Transito” (traffic police) tell you to do so and immediately call your insurance agent. If the other driver does not have insurance, he needs to pay your insurance agent or you on the spot or both vehicles will be towed and you must appear at the state traffic office to get everything settled. If the other driver offers to pay you later or take you to his body shop and pay — he most likely will not.
- WARNING: If you are drunk or hit a person, bicycle or motorcycle your vehicle is towed and you go to jail, regardless of who is at fault. Stealing mirrors, headlights, tail lights, etc. is common here just like stealing catalytic converters for their precious metals is common in the US. Park in secure places or paid parking lots. You can get “protections” installed: Auto Sports charges in the neighborhood of USD $110 to USD $140 for complete protection, depending on the vehicle.
CHURCHES & TEMPLES
- Buddhist – Mahayana, Vajrayana, Mindroling tradition from Nyingma school. Chan (Zen) Buddhism, Directly from the Shaolin Monastery. Tel: (33) 3587-2609.
- Catholic and other Christian denominations – See the Yellow Pages under Iglesias. There is a Catholic church near the Grand Plaza that offers Mass in English on Sundays at 11 A.M. The name is San Juan Chrisostomos, located at Dom Bosco 115, Tel: (33) 3122-7167.
- Jewish Temples – Kolel Guadalajara – Lubovich – Tel: (33) 3642-4490. Kol Beth Shalom – Conservative – Tel: 3642-0336.
- St. Mark’s Anglican/Episcopal Church, Chichimecas 836 at Aztecas. English Mass at 10:30 Sundays. One mile north of Plaza Mexico and near the entrance of medical school of U. A. de G. The pastor is an outstanding biblical scholar – Rev. Dr. Jim Priddy (33) 3817-4511. Church office: (33) 3641-6620.
Not finding what you want? Reach out directly through our Contact page.