|Mexico has very strict rules regarding the entry of foreign motor vehicles. Travellers are allowed to bring only one vehicle into the country at a time. Those travelling with a recreational vehicle are not entitled to tow a second vehicle, unless it is registered in the name of an accompanying traveller. It is the owner's responsibility to obtain a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (solicitud de importación temporal de vehículos) at the customs office at the U.S.-Mexico border or, in some cases, within 30 km of the authorized border zone (zona fronteriza). Travellers should ensure that they obtain a permit upon entry and cancel this permit before exiting Mexico. Watch for signs indicating customs checkpoints and Banjercito Bank locations (where permits can be issued and cancelled). Do not proceed to the interior of Mexico without having obtained the proper permit. Travellers without a vehicle importation permit may be incarcerated, fined and/or have their vehicles seized at immigration/customs checkpoints.
The following documentation is required:
a) valid immigration document (passport, tourist card, etc.);
b) valid driver's licence; and
c) documents to prove legal ownership of the vehicle.
In the case of a rental vehicle
The contract must be in the traveler's name and include a full description of the vehicle. If the vehicle is owned by a company, the traveller must produce proof of employment by that company and proof of the vehicle's ownership by the company. If the car is owned by a relative, the person driving the car must have documentation to prove the relationship, such as marriage or birth certificates.
What do I need to apply for a Mexico Vehice Permit
When applying for the Temporary Importation Permit, present the original and a copy of all documents. Originals will be returned. While in Mexico, other persons are allowed to drive the car only if the permit holder is in the car with them. The fee for the Temporary Importation Permit is US$34 plus local tax, which is not refundable. In addition to the fee, tourists are required to leave a guarantee in any of the following forms
a) imprint of an international credit card (Visa, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard) issued outside of Mexico;
b) bond purchased from an authorized company at the border. The bond company will require a deposit, which varies according to the vehicle model and the length of the visit in Mexico. Bond charges will be deducted from the deposit and the balance will be refunded if the traveller and the vehicle exit Mexico on or before the date indicated on the Temporary Importation Permit; or
c) refundable cash deposit at Banjercito Bank for a percentage of the total value of the vehicle, which varies according to the vehicle model and the year.
Requirements for a temporary vehicle importation permit are the same for both regular vehicles and recreational vehicles. Travellers should contact the Embassy or Consulate to verify the latest regulations regarding recreational vehicles. Large trucks require an additional permit.
How to cancel a Mexico Vehicle Permit
To have the refundable cash deposit returned upon departure, visitors must have the Temporary Importation Permit cancelled by the Banjercito Bank and then present it at the Mexican customs office. Both are located at the border. If a bond was purchased from the Insurgentes or Mexicana companies, the deposit can also be recovered at the Banjercito Bank. Otherwise, the bond deposit must be recovered directly from the issuing company.
Tourists and their vehicles are not allowed to remain in Mexico beyond the return date indicated on the Temporary Importation Permit, usually up to six months. Since requirements may vary for those who have obtained temporary residence in Mexico, it is recommended that the precise requirements be verified with Mexican customs authorities. In case of an accident or theft of the vehicle, a police report should immediately be obtained and presented to the nearest customs office, no later than two days after the occurrence.
Mexico Auto Insurance
U.S. and Canadian automobile insurance is not valid in Mexico and you must obtain a separate auto insurance at the Mexican border before crossing into Mexico, including if you are driving a rented vehicle. Full coverage is recommended, including coverage for legal assistance. You can purchase and print Mexico Insurance online, Be aware that many local drivers do not have any form of car insurance. Foreigners involved in traffic accidents may face serious legal problems, including imprisonment. They will be taken into custody until it can be determined who is responsible for the accident and until all penalties are paid. Depending on the extent of injuries or damages, drivers may face criminal charges. Motor vehicle insurance is considered invalid in Mexico if the driver is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if the driver has no valid driver's licence.
It is illegal to sell your vehicle in Mexico. If you do, or if you stay beyond the date indicated on the Temporary Importation Permit, the vehicle may be impounded and become the property of the Mexican Ministry of Revenue. You could be subject to a fine and deportation.
Driving Restrictions in Mexico City
There are time restrictions on driving in Mexico City and in parts of the state of Mexico in order to reduce air pollution. Based on the last digit of your licence plate number, there will be at least one day each week when you are not allowed to drive. This applies equally to permanent, temporary, and foreign plates. There is no specific provision regarding plates with letters only. These regulations are strictly enforced. Offenders face heavy fines and temporary confiscation of their vehicle. Information is available in Spanish at www.hoynocircula.com.mx.
Monday: No driving if licence plate ends with 5 or 6.
Tuesday: No driving if licence plate ends with 7 or 8.
Wednesday: No driving if licence plate ends with 3 or 4.
Thursday: No driving if licence plate ends with 1 or 2.
Friday: No driving if licence plate ends with 9 or 0.
Saturday and Sunday: All vehicles may be driven.
For additional information concerning Mexican driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, mandatory insurance, etc., please contact the Mexican Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR)
Secretaría de Turismo (SECTUR)
Av. Presidente Masaryk 172, Col.
Chapultepec Morales, 11587 México DF, Mexico
Tel: (55) 3002 6300. Fax: (55) 3002 6371.