Seeing Mexico by car is one of the best ways to experience the culture and richness of the country. But if you plan to journey more than a few miles into the country or beyond the “border zone,” you will need a Mexico car permit.
The “border zone” is typically 20 kilometers inside the border, and cars can travel without a permit in the free trade zones within all of the Baja California Peninsula and the Sonora Free Trade Zone. However, since it can be easy to get lost in Mexico, and since you don’t want to be caught outside of the free trade or border zones without a permit, the peace of mind you get by obtaining a Mexican car permit is well worth the $29.70 (as of December 08) that it costs for the paperwork. Quality Mexican insurance is needed in order to keep you from being detained in case of a car accident.
Tourists traveling into Mexico by car will need to show proof of ownership, including the automobile’s registration and the title to the car. They might ask for Mexican insurance. The name on the title will need to match the name of the travelers, and a valid driver’s license in the same name, issued outside of Mexico, is also needed.
All permits must be cancelled when you leave Mexico, so be prepared to surrender the permit when you re-enter the United States. If you forget to cancel the permit, you may encounter trouble the next time you try to drive into Mexico. Also keep in mind that US and Canadian Auto Insurance is invalid and unrecognized in Mexico and because Mexico follows Napoleonic Law, you could be held until the damages you do to others are compensated. Mexican insurance online is the easiest way to meet this requirement.
Inspection of your vehicle may be required for entering the country. Most border locations have a traffic light system. If the light is green, you can proceed without an inspection. If the light is red, you will need to have your car inspected prior to entering Mexico.
Officials can also decide to inspect your vehicle at will. Keep in mind that you are able to travel to Mexico with items for your personal use only. Keep possessions to a minimum to avoid paying taxes on extravagances at the border. The basic necessities for travel – suitcase with clothing, toiletries, cameras, film, and computers can be taken across the border, as can a limited number of sporting goods and even alcohol for personal use. Any additional vehicles, including boats, dune buggies or ATVS will need car permits, as well.
Before traveling to Mexico, be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the country and what you need to know when driving there. Be advised that guns and weapons of any type are not allowed across the border. Accidentally leaving a weapon in the car and having it discovered at the border could lead to a side trip to a Mexican prison, so make sure you are well aware of everything in your car before you make the trip.