In Mexico, knife laws are regulated both federally and by each individual state. There are general guidelines around blade length, open/concealed carry, and type of knife that dictate what is legal to own and carry throughout the country. However, regulations can vary across different states and situations. This article will provide an overview of knife laws in Mexico and discuss legal knife sizes and types that can be carried.
Federal Laws on Knives in Mexico
At the federal level, the primary law governing knife legislation in Mexico is the Federal Penal Code (Código Penal Federal). Under this law, there are some general stipulations about legal and prohibited knives:
- It is illegal to carry any type of knife that is considered an “exclusive use of the army, navy or air force” without proper authorization. This includes daggers, bowie knives, and some other full-tang fixed blade knives.
- Switchblades and other automatic knives are illegal to import, sell, acquire, or carry in Mexico according to federal law.
- Folding pocket knives with a blade of less than 11.81 inches (30cm) are generally legal for everyday carry under federal law, but local state laws may prohibit shorter fixed blade lengths as well.
- Using any knife to commit a crime or threaten violence is illegal, regardless of the type of blade.
So in summary, at the federal level in Mexico, knives like switchblades are prohibited entirely, while pocket knives under 30cm are permissible with state or local laws potentially imposing other restrictions.
Pocket Knife Laws by State in Mexico
While federal law provides an overarching framework for knife legislation, individual states in Mexico have certain autonomy in regulating knives as well. Here are some highlights of different state knife laws on legal blade lengths and prohibited knives:
- Legal pocket knives have a blade length of up to 11.81 inches (30cm)
- Prohibits switchblades, daggers, Bowie knives
- Pocket knives must have a blade of 11.81 inches (30cm) or less
- Switchblades and daggers illegal
- Sets maximum blade length of 5.9 inches (15cm) for pocket knives
- Bans gravity knives, switchblades, daggers
- Allows pocket knives up to 2.75 inches (7cm) blade length
- Prohibits butterfly knives, switchblades, daggers
As seen above, some states adhere to the federal 30cm pocket knife allowance, while others impose more restrictive blade length limits, like Mexico City at just 7cm. Switchblades and daggers are universally banned across states.
Factors for Legal Blade Length
When evaluating if a knife is likely to be considered legal for carry in Mexico, these key factors around blade length should be considered:
- Type of knife – Folding pocket knives have more allowable length for blades compared to fixed blade knives in most cases.
- Concealed or open carry – In some areas, concealed carry of knives leads to smaller legal blade sizes.
- Location – Tourist regions like Cancun or Los Cabos may be more restrictive than rural areas.
- State laws – The laws of the particular state should be consulted to determine local knife length limits.
As a general guideline, a folding pocket knife with a 3-4 inch blade length and no prohibited features like spring-assist should not violate most knife laws across Mexico. However, exceptions do exist so specific travel plans should be evaluated.
Common Legal Knives
Based on the knife laws and regulations in Mexico, here are some common types of knives that are generally legal to carry:
Pocket Folding Knives
- Blade lengths under 4 inches
- No spring-assist opening
- Common brands like Buck, Spyderco, Benchmade, etc.
- Tools like Leatherman Wave, Gerber Suspension, etc.
- Blade must not exceed length limits
Small Fixed Blade Knives
- Sheath knives 2-4 inches in length
- Common types like neck knives or boot knives
Double edge daggers, large Bowie knives, butterfly knives and switchblades remain prohibited across all states in Mexico.
Purchasing Knives in Mexico
When looking to buy a knife in Mexico, either while traveling or as a resident, abiding by both federal and local knife laws is important. Some tips include:
- Purchase folding knives from reputable dealers that carry legal knives like sporting goods stores.
- Avoid purchasing from street vendors or merchants that may carry illegal switchblades or daggers.
- Ask merchants about blade length limits and other regulations for the area.
- Get a receipt detailing the type of knife, blade length and other specifics.
Following these best practices helps ensure you acquire a legal and safe knife while in Mexico.
Knife Carry Laws and Enforcement
Like purchasing knives, carrying either a folding or fixed blade knife legally in Mexico also requires adhering to regulations. Here are some key tips for carrying a knife properly:
- Make sure your blade length fits state and local laws.
- Carry pocket knives clipped in your pocket rather than concealed when possible.
- Sheath fixed blade knives openly on your belt or backpack.
- Avoid brandishing knives in public or threatening manners.
- Be prepared to show identification and your legal knife receipt if stopped.
Also keep in mind that enforcement around knives can vary widely across different areas of Mexico. More tourist-focused regions and cities tend to have tighter enforcement, while rural areas are more relaxed. But ignorance of the law is no excuse, so comply with regulations.
Exceptions for Hunters and Campers
Some exceptions to standard knife laws in Mexico exist for temporary transport and use of knives for legitimate purposes like hunting and camping. Specifically:
- Hunters can obtain temporary transport permits for larger hunting knives over the general limits.
- Fixed blade knives usually prohibited may be allowed for camping/hiking if transported directly to and from these locations.
- Always keep knives secured while not in active use if traveling under these exceptions.
So if traveling to remote areas of Mexico to hunt or camp, be sure to research if permits or exemptions exist for carrying larger knives. But otherwise adhere to general regulations.
Punishments for Violating Knife Laws
If caught by police carrying a prohibited knife or one over length limits, there are a range of penalties that can be imposed. These include:
- Fines up to 5000 pesos (around $250 USD)
- Confiscation and destruction of the illegal knife
- Up to 6 months in jail in some cases for repeated offences
- Other weapons charges if knives are combined with other violations
Fines and confiscation of knives are the most common punishments for many minor first offences. But lengthier incarceration is possible depending on the circumstances and local laws.
Understanding knife laws and abiding by federal, state and local regulations is crucial for both visitors to Mexico and residents carrying knives. While there are some general guidelines around blade lengths and restricted knives, specific details can vary across different states and municipalities.
As a summary:
- Pocket folding knives under 4 inches are generally the safest bet countrywide.
- No switchblades, daggers, or Bowie knives which are prohibited everywhere.
- Always research specific local laws for the area being visited or resided in.
- Use common sense and caution when purchasing and carrying to avoid penalties.
With its complex patchwork of laws, Mexico requires diligent research to ensure any knife carried or transported follows regulations. But if care is taken to choose legal knife sizes and styles for the particular area, carrying a knife for utility purposes can generally be done lawfully in Mexico.