If you’re thinking about importing a motor vehicle into Mexico, then “drive on” because we have important how-to tips to getting you on the road and enjoying this beautiful country as fast as possible!
2020 note: although the official word is that the land borders are closed due to the pandemic, this is simply not the case. We have many reports of friends and homeowners driving down since March 2020.
Let’s face it, if you’re importing a motor vehicle, you’ll need to pay for the privilege. But if you absolutely love what you’re bringing to Mexico, then it’s worth every peso!
You will need a motor vehicle permit if you plan to drive to and beyond the Mexican border. Exceptions include Baja California and parts of Sonora. Permits are not required if you’re driving to Puerto Peñasco or Guaymas, San Carlos and Empalme in Sonora. (You’ll need a Sonora-only permit for the latter three locations.) Travelers can obtain a federal car permit if they decide to enter Mexico at Agua Prieta. This allows you to have a permit that is good for the entire country of Mexico.
If you plan to import a motor vehicle into Mexico, be sure to have the title and registration handy. If it’s financed, then you’ll need a notarized letter giving you permission to take it outside of your country of contract. If you’re bringing a motorcycle, only a title is needed.
Permit fees vary depending on the type of vehicle you’re importing into Mexico. Please keep in mind that the prices below are approximate dollar-to-peso rates and could be more or less on any given day.
- Car permit fee: $50US for a six-month permit
- RV permit fee: $60US for a ten-year permit
To buy a permit, the Mexican Treasury accepts a Visa or MasterCard credit card. (Just be sure it has the Visa or MasterCard logo.)
The next step is to pay a deposit on your motor vehicle. This will be returned before your permits has expired. You can pay with cash, debit or credit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo.
The deposit amount depends on the model year of your motor vehicle:
- 2007 or newer: $400US
- 2001-2006: $300US
- 2000 and older: $200US
These amounts stand from year to year and do not fluctuate as your motor vehicle changes. For example, a 2007 car will always have a $400US deposit assigned to it.
Should you need to cancel your motor vehicle permit within the allotted time frame, it will be refunded to your debit or credit card within two to three business days. Cash deposits are returned when you cancel the permit.
Simply visit the Banjercito kiosk at the border crossing of your choice. Bring the indicated vehicle and documentation used when applying for the permit. Should you return your vehicle permit late – by even a few hours – you will not receive a deposit. The permit, however, can still be canceled.
Permit Pick Up
Purchasing a vehicle permit is possible both online and at the Mexican port of entry. We recommend purchasing the motor vehicle permit at the border, since travelers still need to pick up an immigration permit. The permit pick up process takes about 30 minutes. On the other hand, if you’re entering Mexico during a high volume time – major holidays such as Christmas, New Years or Easter – then it may be helpful to buy your permit online to avoid long lines.
To purchase online, follow this link:
If you opt to purchase a motor vehicle permit online, you will also be offered auto insurance. Don’t worry, it is legitimate insurance. However, there are differences than what you may be used to in your country of origin. Be sure to read the fine print regarding coverage and determine whether or not you are limited to Mexico-based mechanics and repair shops.
Tack on the Trailer
If you’re importing a trailer, it will need a separate motor vehicle permit than what you’ve purchased for your car. The trailer fee is $644 pesos.
The trailer gets a ten-year permit as opposed to the car’s sixth-month permit. Be sure the border official issues two permits in order to take full advantage of any cancellation policies for both the car and the trailer permits.
Purchasing a New Permit
Once you cancel an old permit, you will be able to purchase a new one from the Mexican point of entry.
Residents, Take Note
If you live in Mexico as a temporary or permanent resident, your motor vehicle permit status is different and ever-changing. Be sure to consult your local consulate for updated information when it’s time to import a motor vehicle into Mexico.
For more information on how to import a motor vehicle into Mexico, contact your local consulate. And if you have any additional information or helpful tidbits to share with other readers, we’d love to hear from you!