What Do I Need to Cross My Car into Mexico?

Road trips can be a lot of fun and Mexico can be a great place to take one! Like driving in any foreign country, there are some things you need to know - not the least of which is driving across the border into Mexico from the U.S. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to drive across the border! You do need to take care of some documentation first and we’ll break that all down for you and give you some helpful tips to make the most out of your time driving in Mexico. Read on to find out more!

Crossing the Border

Just as you need your driver’s license in the U.S. to drive, you will need it in Mexico as well. In addition to your driver’s license, you will need a passport or passport card. You also need to fill out the FMM, or official entry immigration form before you get to Mexico. You can fill it out at the border, but do it ahead of time and save yourself some time at the border. Another important document you need is a temporary vehicle importation permit. This form is required if you drive out of the free zone. This form is more complex than any of the others so you need to make sure you do it ahead of time if possible. Again, you can fill this one out at the border as well, but it takes some time and can be a time suck. To fill out the temporary vehicle importation permit, you will need proof of ownership of your car, proof of registration in the U.S., an affidavit from the lien holder, proof of citizenship, and a valid driver’s license. You will also need Mexican car insurance.

Mexican Car Insurance

Having car insurance from a Mexico-based insurer is extremely important. It can make the difference between going to jail, being detained, getting hit with a big fine, or just taking care of property damage or bodily injury. Although it will cost a bit more upfront, it is well worth the extra cost. Some U.S. insurers might cover some property damage, but the only way to be sure is to purchase a temporary policy through an insurance company in Mexico. It is pretty simple to obtain a policy. Most of the information you need for a Mexican car insurance policy is the same as what you need for the temporary vehicle importation permit. Many companies make it easy to fill out all of the information online and get a quote within just a few minutes.

Crossing the Border

Actually driving across the border is simple enough. You’ll get in line and follow the traffic signals. Green, as expected, means go and cross into Mexico. Red, on the other hand, means stopping and following the border officials' directions. They may ask questions like what is your purpose for visiting Mexico or search your vehicle. This is also why having all of your paperwork in order is so important.

Tips for Driving in Mexico

It’s best to drive during the day as night is when bandits would be more likely to cause you problems. Additionally, many roads are not well lit and you could find yourself hitting a nasty pothole. Stick to the main roads as side roads or back roads are not maintained well and can have very large potholes or be washed out in some areas of the country.
If you do happen to break down on the road, call the “Green Angels” or Los Angeles Verdes. These crews are paid by the government and bilingual. You can call them 24-hours per day.

There are many reasons to road trip to Mexico, just be sure to have your documents ready, your Mexican car insurance in hand, and make good safety decisions while driving!


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