Mexico Essentials

Mexico’s Time Zones and Seasonal Clock Changes

Mexico has four different time zones, but not all Mexican states and regions change their clocks, and not all on the same date

Clock Time - Watches

Mexico’s land territory, including the Baja peninsula, straddles an area between 23.6345° North, and 102.5528° West.  To give that some time-zone perspective, its longitudinal land mass covers a distance-equivalent starting on the Pacific coast in California USA, and ending near Pensacola, Florida—thus spanning some 1,700 miles.

Mexico’s four time zones

Mexico used to have three time zones, until February 1, 2015 when a fourth time zone was introduced for the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, home to Mexico’s most popular vacation resorts including Cancún, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum; as well as the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres.

Mexico’s Baja California (North) time zone

Zona Noroeste — This northwestern-most zone covers the northern half of the Baja peninsula in the state of Baja California; it’s aligned with US Pacific Time. (Note that the state’s name is Baja California, not as it’s sometimes erroneously referred to as ‘Baja California Norte.’)

Mexico’s Pacific time zone

Zona Pacífico — This zone begins in Guayabitos, north of Puerto Vallarta (Vallarta and environs are part of Mexico’s Central time zone) and includes the states of Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Baja California Sur. Zona Pacífico is aligned with US Mountain Time.

Mexico’s Central time zone

Zona Centro — This zone covers most of Mexico’s land mass, including the central and southern colonial highlands, Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Mérida/Yucatán, and is aligned with US Central Time.

Mexico’s Southeastern time zone

Zona Sureste — This is the fourth time zone specifically affecting the state of Quintana Roo.  It’s constantly aligned with US Eastern Standard Time (EST) but unlike eastern states in the US, it does not move its clocks backward or forward each year.

Seasonal time changes

Here are some key points about Mexico’s seasonal clock-time changes:

  • Not all Mexican states move their clocks each year, and those that do, don’t necessarily synchronize with dates that other Mexican zones change their clocks, nor the dates that the USA, Canada, and Europe move theirs.
  • Mexico’s (relatively-new) Southeastern time zone aligns with the US Eastern Standard Time and doesn’t move its clocks anymore; so its clock time is aligned for part of the year with the US ET. It leaves that alignment by an hour when the US moves its clocks forward, and the alignment returns in the fall when the US moves it clocks back again.
  • The Northeastern time zone synchronizes on the same date that US Pacific clock-times change, and not the date of the Mexican Central clock-time change; and this causes clock-time disparity for some weeks each year in the spring and fall.
  • Another divergence occurs along the US-Mexico land border, where key border cities in Mexico —including Ciudad Juárez, Reynosa, and Matamoros— move their clocks in alignment with the US cities they are near, not with Mexico’s Zona Centro time, where they are geographically based.
  • The northern Mexican states of Sonora and Quintana Roo do not move their clocks.

Learn more about time and time zones in Mexico

Mexico has several time zones and most states move their clocks forward in the spring and back in the autumn.

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