Driving to Mexico

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A temporary car permit (TIP) is not required in the “Free Zone” which is North and South Baja and along all the US / Mexico border up to approx. 16 to 20 miles into Mexico. It also includes the part of Sonora west of HWY 15 to Guaymas and a portion east of HWY 15, north of Highway 2. 

Tourist Vehicle Permits - Free Zone

Also, there is no need for a TIP in Quintana Roo but you need to drive your vehicle there which requires a car permit unless you are arriving from the south (Belize). However, even in areas not requiring a TIP for your car, you must still have a valid FMM tourist card; otherwise, your car is not legal as you are not legal and your insurance is void. 

For those entering as a tourist, your TIP is valid for up to 180 days (please see the Tourist Visa page for current information on the times being granted to tourists these days). You may obtain your TIP at the following Mexican consulates: Chicago, Illinois; Austin, Dallas and Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Sacramento, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado and in Phoenix, Arizona. As well, you may obtain your car permit as you enter Mexico for $59 or online (10 to 60 days before entering) by clicking here (I don’t advise this, see next paragraph).

The deposit for your permit is $400 for 2007 and newer vehicles, $300 for 2001 to 2006 vehicles and $200 for older vehicles. Your deposit may be paid for with cash or credit card. Vehicle permits are digital and windshield stickers are no longer issued. Applicants receive a digital copy via email. Those who obtain their TIP online, they must still stop at the border to register their entry into Mexico, with an FMM date stamped. I advise getting your TIP at the border. If you obtain a TIP online, and for any reason, your car does not enter Mexico, Aduana considers your car as being in Mexico. Or, if you erred in the information entered such as VIN or license plate number you also have a serious issue. These problems are very difficult to resolve.

You may only request a TIP for a vehicle that is registered in your name or that of your spouse, your child or your parent. Recreational vehicles such as motorhomes will often receive a 10-year TIP and a deposit is not required. If you are having an issue with a vehicle temporary import permit (TIP) refund: email: permisovehiculos@banjercito.com.mx??

With a pre-approved Temporary Resident visa from a consulate, when entering Mexico, you obtain an FMM and a TIP. Each is good for 30 days. Within those 30 days of entering Mexico, you must start your visa process at your local Inmigracion office. Once a Temporary Residency visa is issued, please go to Aduana to extend your TIP. If you do not start your residency visa process within 30 days, it will mean you must start over at a consulate and you and your vehicle are illegal.

The law states, that the period authorized to return the vehicles that have been temporarily imported by foreigners will be that of the validity of their condition of stay and their renewals, provided that there is continuity between them. In other words, when you remain legal, such as when renewing a Temporary Resident visa, your vehicle remains legal. However, to protect your deposit, you must go to Adauna to protect your deposit before your TIP expires. Aduana is usually found at a large airport. For those in Puerto Vallarta and Nayarit the location is the Puerto Vallarta airport. For those in San Miguel de Allende please go to the Queretaro airport. You do the same each time you renew your Temporary Resident visa. Your TIP will be extended for the duration of your visa so both have the same expiration date. We can help with extending your car permit and protecting your deposit. 

Vehicles with a salvaged title are normally not allowed a Temporary Import Permit. Nor may a salvaged vehicle be nationalized. And, while you may get away with it, in the event of an accident your insurance may be void. No insurance may = jail. In addition, if caught in a road check your vehicle may be confiscated and a large fine applied. As well, Aduana often checks CarFax and if your vehicle has had structural damage you may be denied a TIP.

Also, a temporary import permit may be restricted to vehicles with a load capacity of less than 7716 pounds.

To check your TIP status, please click here.

You can not sell a foreign plated car in Mexico. For a Temporary Resident it is recommended you turn in your car permit when you drive out of Mexico. If you were unable to return the same vehicle to Mexico (due to total loss, for example), as you will have a difficult time to have the vehicle removed from the Mexican data base. They would consider the vehicle as still being in Mexico and you would forfeit your guarantee deposit and be prohibited from bringing in another vehicle.

Units that may be imported along with the vehicle.

These include along with vehicle having a valid car permit (TIP) you may temporarily import a boat up to four and a half meters (14.7 feet) long plus the trailer for transport; in addition off-road recreational vehicles, motorcycles, tri-motorcycles; ATVs or watercraft up to a maximum of three units, for which you must prove ownership of the units transported and they must be registered on the same TIP as the vehicle. When the vehicle leaves the motorcycle, boat, trailer etc which are tied to the main vehicle’s TIP must leave or typically you are sent back to get all “vehicles” registered on the TIP.

For motorcycles or tri-motorcycles entering Mexico by their own momentum and having foreign plates, they must apply for a temporary import permit (TIP) and comply with all the requirements of a TIP.

Mexican nationals living abroad.

They amy obtain a Temporary Import Permit for 180 calendar days of effective stay in the country, computed from the date of entry of the vehicle into the national territory and usable in a period of 12 months, considering multiple entries and exits. As well as proving work abroad for a year or more, they must submit the document issued by the immigration authorities of the foreign country proving they are a citizen or permanent or temporary residents abroad by the legal authority of that country. The vehicles may be driven in national territory by the importer, his spouse, his ascendants, descendants or siblings as long as they are permanent residents abroad, or by a Tourist or Temporary Resident. When it is driven by someone other than those authorized, the importer of the vehicle must be in the vehicle.

Permanent Resident visa holders may not have a foreign plated car in Mexico.

The only exceptions are 1. when one has a per-approved visa from a Mexican consulate. You may have your vehicle in Mexico for. maximum of 30 day, and 2. where no TIP is required (free zones). Otherwise, it is subject to confiscation plus a large fine. If you are in an accident your insurance is null and void.

Who may drive your foreign plated car in Mexico?

Vehicles with Temporary Import Permits may be driven in Mexico by the importer, their spouse, their parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters, children, grandchildren even though they are not foreigners or by a foreigner who is a Tourist or Temporary Resident without the permit holder in the vehicle. Or, by a Mexican National when, whichever of the prior persons authorized to drive are in the vehicle. This means if a car permit is in the name of a person with a valid FMM tourist card or Temporary Resident, that person’s spouse, even if a Permanent Resident or a Mexican national, may drive the foreign plated vehicle without the person in whose name is the car permit being in the vehicle. It also means a Mexican national such as a maid, gardener, mechanic, bellhop, etc can not drive your vehicle without the TIP holder in the car. In this case, where caught, cars have been confiscated plus fines.

Selling, Scrapping, Donating Car.

You may not sell nor donate a foreign plated vehicle in Mexico.

If a foreign plated car is unable to be driven may it be left in Mexico? NO, it must be towed to the border.

To legally scrap a foreign plated car it is only done so at about 6 locations and you pay the cost. Once scrapped, you then deliver proof of the vehicle being destroyed to the proper authorities in Mexico City. The requirements are very specific. 

The other issue with taking a vehicle to a scrap yard is that the vehicle may be restored. Mexicans are very creative. Or, parts such as the motor ends up in another vehicle and on a motor is a VIN. The vehicle with that traceable VIN ends up in an accident or it is involved in committing a crime. That vehicle is now traceable to the owner who thought the vehicle was destroyed.

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