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 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 Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum; as well as the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres.
Mexico’s Four Time Zones
Baja California [North] (Zona Noroeste) — Which covers the northeastern reaches of the Baja peninsula, the state of Baja California and is 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 Pacifico) — This zone begins in Guayabitos, north of Puerto Vallarta (Vallarta and environs are not affected) and includes the states of Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Baja California Sur. Zona Pacifico is aligned with US Mountain Time.
Mexico’s Central Time Zone (Zona Centro) — This zone covers most of Mexico’s land mass, including Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Merida 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 aligned with US Eastern Standard Time but unlikely ET in the US, it does not move its clocks backward or forward each year.
Seasonal Time Changes
To complicate matters, 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.
For example, 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, but leaves that alignment by an hour when the US moves its clocks forward (the alignment returns in the fall when the US moves it clocks back again). And because the Northeastern time zone synchronizes on the date that US Pacific clock-times change, and not the date of the Mexican Central clock-time change, there can be further clock-time disparity for some weeks each year in the spring and autumn.
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 state of Sonora does not move its clocks, mirroring Arizona, one of the few US states that don’t observe DST.
You can find out about this year’s Clock-time changes in Mexico here.
For detailed information about Mexico’s time zones, connect to the practical information page on our Mexico Essentials guide.
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