Drive Into Mexico – With Your Own Car and an American Drivers License

Is it possible to bring your American-bought automobile into Mexico?

Yes, of course you can. As long as you follow the rules set by the Mexican Government which I will talk about in a second.

Just remember:  Your driver’s license is valid in Mexico.

Your American auto insurance, I can almost guarantee, is NOT!

At the border, this is just part of the process of entering Mainland Mexico:

• You’ll need a temporary car-importation permit,

• A valid driver’s license,

• Current, original car registration, registered in your name, and a copy of the original car title,

• A valid international major credit card, and of course, your Passports.

If your vehicle is financed you will need to take a letter stating that you have permission from the lending institution to take the car out of the country.

If you do bring your car into Mexico, you cannot let anyone drive it other than family members or it might be confiscated by Hacienda (the Internal Revenue).

Also, you can purchase a Mexican car and get it legally registered no matter what type of visa you have. First, when entering Mexico, your car will have to be registered at the border crossing.

If you are in Mexico on a tourist visa, your car must leave the country when you enter back into the States. You must not permit anyone outside of your family to operate your car in Mexico.

If you are in Mexico with an FM-3 (good for 5 years – renewal each year), and your car has been registered, it’s ok.

Every foreigner is allowed to enter Mexico with one vehicle, which is not Mexican-plated (e.g. US or Canadian), as long as you have the following:

  • Mexican Insurance
  • Proper Visa/Permit
  • registration/ownership in your name

If you have financing on your auto, you must have a letter stating that you have that lending institution’s permission to take that car out of the country), and a credit card or cash to cover a bond for the vehicle. Your other alternative is to purchase a vehicle in Mexico…the best buy being a used car. They will be less to purchase originally, with lower insurance fees, and a lower registration fee.

You can purchase a Mexican auto and get it legally registered, no matter what type visa you have, A Mexican license requires that you first find the Secretary of Transportation and Vehicles (Secretaria de Transportes y Vialidad) in your locale. You need:

  • a valid passport,
  • proper visa/permit,
  • proof of address (a utility bill)
  • a health declaration (sort of says you’re alive and can drive – and we’ve never quite figured our who will write this – other than if you go to a doctor and request one)
  • and a valid foreign driver’s license. You may be required to take a written test.You’ll get the license quite quickly – probably within an hour.

If you’re planning on bringing your car across the border into Mexico, you will leave a deposit at the border crossing when they tell you to (a very minimal amount),(my book, Retire In Luxury, goes into all of this), and you must buy Mexican insurance. You must have an international credit card for the deposit (Master Card or VISA are fine). If you get FM-3 status, you can bring a car and keep it with you as long as that status is maintained.

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