How to Get Your Tourist Mexican Car Permit To Drive In Mexico
Mexican Car, Motorhome, Motorcycle Permit Regulations
You need a Mexican car permit to drive your car in Mexico
Mexican Vehicle Permit Requirements
For 2013, these are the Banjercito regulations for fees for car permits to drive in Mexico. Now you must pay a DEPOSIT based on the age of your car (not your own age, thank God). You get the deposit back when you cancel the permit. The car permit fee (it changes) is $48.84. Motorhomes permit fee is $58. There is no additional fee for trailers, but it must be included in the original car permit.
In addition to that, you must put a deposit on your credit card (MC, VI only - though oddly enough, they say they accept debit cards if they have the MC, VI logo). Cash is also accepted. The deposits for your car permit vary by the year model of your vehicle. For 2007 and newer vehicles, deposit is $400. 2001-2006 - $300. 2000 and older - $200. This is charged to your credit card immediately. It is refunded the day after you cancel your permit. You must obtain a Mexican car permit if you are driving in Mexico beyond the Mexican border - except for Baja California. No permits are required to drive to Rocky Point or Puerto Peñasco. A special "Sonora Only" permit is required if you drive only in NW Sonora, specifically north and west of Guaymas. Should you cross at Agua Prieta, you need the federal car permit that is good for the whole country. Should your travels take you south or east of Guaymas at all, you need the all-Mexico vehicle permit.
If you cancel your car, RV or motorcycle permit after expiration, you do not get your deposit back, but will be able to obtain a new permit. Now, for holders of FM3's, this is a conundrum. Your car / RV permits are good as long as your immigration status is valid - according to Migracíon. According to Banjercito (the department that actually issues and enforces car / RV permits), vehicle permits are valid for 180 days. Period. I honestly do not know if you would get your deposit back if you hold an FM3 and don't cancel it within 180 days.
Now (2013) a car and trailer get two permits. The car gets a six-month permit to allow it to be driven in Mexico. The trailer gets a ten-year permit. The trailer permit costs (this could change tomorrow) 644 pesos. Thanks to Gary W. for this information.
Those 10-year trailer permits are a dangerous thing. So often people don't cancel them, then end up selling the trailer in the USA or Canada. Then, when they expire, they will be barred from driving in Mexico.
Sometimes the link for the online Mexican car permit works and sometimes it doesn't (try different browsers, it makes a difference - you MUST allow pop-ups). When it works, it saves you a little time but costs more. If you are driving to Mexico during the Christmas or Easter vacation time, it is definitely worth it. Otherwise, I would not waste my time or money. You still have to stop at the border to get your immigration permit, so what's the benefit?
You have to pay the Mexican Treasury department (Hacienda) by credit card (VI, MC) or debit card with a VI or MC logo. You need the title or registration for your car or RV and are supposed to have a notarized letter of permission to take it into Mexico if it is financed (if you can't get one, you'll probably get your Mexican car permit -- I have never been asked for one -- but don't blame me if you run into a Hacienda official who is a sticker for rules and refuses to give you a Mexico driving car permit for not having it). Actually, I have never thought it was a Mexican government rule. I think it was something made up by the US companies selling Mexican insurance.
Can you take a towed vehicle to Mexico? A motorcycle? ATV?
These are the official rules from Hacienda.
a) A temporary import is only possible for one vehicle at a time.
b) The maximum load capacity for a temporary vehicle import is 3.5 tons, not including the weight of the vehicle.
c) You may tow with your vehicle one to three motorcycles, beach cars or dune buggies, or four-wheel motorcycles or ATVs, equivalent to the number of people traveling inside the vehicle. They CANNOT be street-legal. You must be able to provide proof of ownership for the vehicles being transported and they must be returned along with the towing or transporting vehicle. You get one permit for all.
d) It is not permitted to sell the temporarily imported vehicles on Mexican territory or use them for commercial activities.
e) The vehicle must be returned to the country of origin within the authorized time-frame as stated in the Temporary Import Permit.
Be darn sure to turn this permit in before leaving Mexico. Otherwise, you will not be able to drive to Mexico. Period. Hacienda (the treasury department) keeps really good track of these car permits.
You can't just pass them to the toll-taker at the bridge or border crossing. You must find the Banjercito / Migracíon complex and get the car permit recorded, scanned and scrapped off your windshield by a polite Banjercito employee. He or she will give you a computer-printed receipt showing you canceled your permit. There is no other way to do it.
Sonora makes it easy to cancel the permits, with kiosks at KM 21 on MEX-15 (just south of Nogales, Sonora). You pull in, someone scans your permit, does the required checking and you are done. I wish all border crossings were that simple. During Christmas and Easter vacations temporary kiosks are always rumored to be put up near Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, but so far, they are not permanent. See finding customs / immigration offices on my immigration permits page for how to find these kiosks.
For detailed questions about RV permits and other FAQ's, see my advanced RV permit page.
What If I Don't Cancel My Car Permit?
I have been told often enough by Hacienda officials that there is no fine that I believe that to be true. You can turn in a permit no matter how old - you just have to have the car and the permit. If you did not turn your car permit in, I can provide you with the only official way to cancel them. I charge for this service. But read on.
You have to pay the Mexican Treasury department (Hacienda) by credit card or debit card with a VI, MC logo. Discover card is not accepted by them. However, Discover is accepted on a limited basis throughout the country at some hotels, Wal-Mart and even hospitals. This is a big change from the past. An alert reader let me know of this. So take your Discover and ask if you can use it.
That said, some people have told me that they didn’t turn their Mexico car permit in and got back into Mexico anyway. Others have told me that they were detained at the Mexican border.
If you did not turn in your Mexican car permit, you MAY still be able to get it canceled - if you did not sell your car in Mexico and can prove it made it back to the USA. If you cannot do that, do not write me. I have the correct information on how to do this and charge for it.
But please, don't write if you aren't willing to pay for the information it took me a lot of asking to get. How much is your peace of mind worth?Contact Mike