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Guide to import a car into Mexico

By Rodrigo Manterola

This Guide to import a car into Mexico is a collection of first-hand knowledge and knowledge from the herd attained over the years, this information is subject to change without any notice but we have included the links to the official Mexican government websites for further research. Enjoy

As we said before in our Road Trip to Baja article, you do not need a special permit to drive your car down Baja and other “Free Zones” in Mexico but if you planning to drive beyond the “Free Zone” then you need a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) issued by Banjercito to import a car into Mexico, but you do need a Mexican insurance, required by law

Whether you want a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) or a definitive import you need to meet some other requirements to import a car into Mexico by the Mexican Consulate in the U.S.

Steps and requirements for Temporary Import Permits (TIP) Mexico

You can speed up the process and save a lot of time if you apply online at the Banjercito website. You will receive a passcode. All this needs to be done at least 10 days and up to 60 days before your trip

You now got your passcode; you have; 15 days from the day after your registration of the vehicle to visit any of the Banjercito branches located along the US/Mexico border and get the document.

Alternatively, you can get your TIP in person.

Temporary Import Permits can be purchased at CIITEV offices located in the same Banjercito branches all along the border in California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.

Another option is purchasing it at the Mexican consulate office in the US

Documentation required

  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Proof of migratory status
  • Original and copy of proof of ownership of the vehicle or notarized authorization letter from vehicle owner if it’s a leased, financed or company car; an original and a copy of marriage certificate is needed if the car is in spouse’s name.
  • Proof of Mexican valid temporary insurance
  • Certificate of cancellation of any prior temporary import permits
Baja Bound Mexican Insurance

A vehicle temporarily imported by the owner may be driven in Mexico by a spouse or adult children, as long as they have the same immigration status. Other persons may drive the vehicle as long as the owner is in the vehicle.

Are you going to stay longer in Mexico and you want to permanently import your car into Mexico?

Personally I would not go through this process, it’s a lot easier to just sell your car in the States and buy a new one in Mexico

But let’s say you love that old car of yours… in that case.

Import a car into Mexico
Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

Steps for permanently import a car into Mexico

By law, you’re going to need to contact a customs broker or freight forwarder to complete these steps and be sure when you contact them that you receive an estimate of the total costs to do so

And of course, you will be asked for the VIN number (Vehicle Id number) as well as the make, model and year of your vehicle.

Remember, the total cost of importing your car should include all charges: the 16% taxes based on vehicle value and then the broker and government fees.

At this point, you should now prepare copies of your Mexican driver’s license or a Mexican Government issued Photo ID if you have one. US License is accepted.

  • Have your vehicle cleared by U.S. customs.
  • Leave a copy of Driver’s license and pay the broker, be sure to get a receipt or “factura” and remove your U.S. plates from your car
  • Once notified, you can pick your car up in Mexico.
  • Get Mexican insurance, is required by law

Once you have your car imported you will need to provide copies of the “Hojas de Pedimiento de Importacion” (Green Sheets) to the insurance broker and your payment to activate your Mexican insurance.

The final import papers or “Pedimiento de Importacion” will either be green for “Frontera” (border)or White sheets for National plated vehicles. 

The “Frontera” plates are only for driving in Baja California and Baja California Sur and the Border States; it will be treated as foreign plates if you go to mainland Mexico. National plates have greater value at resale in Mexico.

You will get your original title back and it will be stamped with the date of export and is therefore no longer valid in the U.S. and the vehicle would have to go through the process of being exported out of Mexico if you want U.S. plates again

You can drive Mexican plated vehicles in the U.S. for a temporary lapse and there is tourist insurance from Mexican carriers for those that want to take their vehicles back to the U.S. for a trip.

In order to legally drive your vehicle without Mexican license plates from the border, you should first go to the “Transito” office (Mexican DMV) and obtain a temporary 30-day permit. If necessary you may make a copy of your ‘Hoja de Pedimiento” and stick the first page in the back window for the police to see.

Remember you need to pay  all Mexican fees like  (tenencia) at “Secrataria de Finanzas del Gobierno de Estado“.

What you pay here depends on the year and type of car you’re importing.

You will need to show a “comprabante de domicilio”  (bill or receipt)  from your Mexican residence to prove your address, copies of your driver’s license, your immigration documents,  the importation papers (green sheets) and “factura” (Invoice from importer) that you will be given when you pick your car up

If you want to put the car in your business name then have copies of your corporation “persona moral” or papers from “Hacienda” ( Mexican taxes office)

You may only import a car into Mexico once a year.

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