FAQ Mexican Vehicle Permit TIP Complications
Veracruz highway with red pickup truck

FAQ Mexican Vehicle Permits (TIP) Complications

This page is for people with complicated circumstances that make getting a permit to drive their vehicles to Mexico complicated. If you merely have a car, truck, RV, motorcycle, getting your Temporary Importation Prmit is straightforward and covered on another page. 

Can You Enter Mexico At A Different Border Crossing If You Get Your Permit Online?

YES BUT ...." Often people come to me for trip-planning advice after they got their online permit. After we talk, they often change their route, based on my knowledge and suggestions. Then they get in a panic.

One official told me privately that if you cross in the same region, you will be okay. That means if you chose any crossing in Reynosa or Matamoros, you will be okay, as they all are all in the same region. If you chose Nogales and change your mind to Matamoros, I really don't know what would happen. However, I have had people cross at Reynosa who said they were going to cross at N. Laredo.

Sometimes It Makes Sense To Get Your Vehicle Permit Online

Nothing written about Mexico should be black and white. There are always exceptions. Some motorcyclists find it of great value, however. It eliminates the need for them to carry the title to their ride, which is necessary (for them only) to get a vehicle permit.

If you are driving to Mexico during the Christmas or Easter vacation time, yeah, go ahead. It is definitely worth it because the lines will be long at the border.

If you have a vehicle with a GVWR > 7,714 pounds, since the regulations change often, try getting the online permit first.

You Can Cancel (Return) Your Vehicle Permit At Any Border Crossing with a Banjercito office. Tiny ones don't have offices.

It does not matter where you got the permit for your car, truck, RV or motorcycle. Canceling your permit means showing up at the Banjército kiosk with your vehicle and all the documentation you received when you got your permit. If you lost that computer printed receipt you got when you registered, don't worry. You will get a scolding and be asked to sign a form indicating you are a forgetful, disorganized klutz and didn't mean violate the laws permitting foreigners to temporarily import their vehicles into Mexico. Once signed, all will be smiles and you can cancel your permit. I speak from sad experience on this. It is officially on record that I am a forgetful, disorganized klutz.

What if you drove back without canceling your permit?

There are two scenarios here. If you still have the vehicle and can drive it back to the border, you can cancel it without incident. There is no time limit or fine. You don't even need the receipt or permit. Just the vehicle.

If you can't drive it back to the border, things are stickier. You will be suspected of selling it in Mexico and won't be able to drive any vehicle back again until things are cleared up. There are still a couple of ways you MAY be able to fix it - if you did not sell your vehicle 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 I 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?

Car & Trailer Permits

Now, 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, leave them in Mexico and come home, or bring them back and end up selling the trailer in the USA or Canada. Then, when they expire, they will be barred from driving in Mexico.

Please note: If the border official wants to put your car and trailer on the same permit, don't let him. If he does, you won't be able to cancel your car permit if you don't also cancel your trailer permit. In other words, you would have to bring them both back to the border. If you are getting a Residente Temporal (not permanente) visa, your car and trailer should be good as long as your immigration visa is good.

This changes all the time, but often RV's are inspected when crossing at most border crossings, even at some Baja crossings.

Exceptions to Needing A Vehicle Permit

You must obtain a Mexican vehicle permit if you are driving in Mexico beyond the Mexican border - except for parts of Sonora. No permits are required to drive to Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco) or as far south and west in Sonora as Guaymas, San Carlos and Empalme. A special "Sonora Only" permit is required if you drive farther south or east, but still only in Sonora. Should you cross at Agua Prieta, you need the federal vehicle permit that is good for the whole country. You can get either the Sonora only or all-Mexico vehicle permit at the Banjercito kiosk right on MEX-15 at Empalme, SE of Guaymas. Thanks to alert reader, Maralan, who corrected an earlier mistake of mine. Last I checked you could not cancel the permit here, but things change so ask them.

You Can Lose Your Deposit If ...

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 after you cancel the old permit, no matter when. Let me be perfectly clear about this. You MUST 'cancel' or return your permit before you can get another permit. That pretty much means you have to drive the permitted vehicle BACK to the border. If you cannot drive it back to the border because it was lost, stolen or broken, go to see my information on what to do.

Special Rules for Residents

For Temporary residents (old FM3) and permanent residents (old FM2) things are a bit different. AND they could change tomorrow. They changed often enough last year. Double-check all this stuff while you are at the consulate, don't wait until you get to the border!

Since you have to get your residency visas validated in-country, you should have gotten a temporary travel permit stamped in your passport by the consulate. It is good for 30 days and is validated at the border. However, some border officials want to issue you an FMM. You should make sure you got a travel permit and use that. Temporary visa-holders - your vehicle permit is good as long as your immigration permit is good. Permanent visa-holders - see below.

When you get your temporary permit validated, things change. Again, thanks to Henry for these details:

I went to our office in Progreso Yucatan. There I needed to contact Aduana, submit a letter with attachments and copies, then wait for the packet to be sent to DF for approval. Hassle, but not insurmountable. This let me extend the TIP to the end of the first year of my Temporal ( I only paid for one year).

For permanent residents, you have to import your vehicle to Mexico and pay taxes on it. It becomes "regularized" or registered in Mexico. The government began cracking down (impounding vehicles) on residents who didn't pay their annual taxes so make sure you do this right - if you want to keep your vehicle. You could also take it back the the USA and sell it, then buy a new vehicle in Mexico.

Can you take a towed vehicle to Mexico? A motorcycle? ATV?

These are the official rules from Hacienda for non-Motorhome tourists. If you have a motorhome, you can temporarily import a towed vehicle.

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. Note: that is currently interpreted as GVWR - NOT payload.

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 vehicle permits.

You can't just pass them to the toll-taker at the bridge or border crossing. You must find the Banjército / Migración complex and get the vehicle permit recorded, scanned and scrapped off your windshield by a polite Banjército 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 vehicle VIN, 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. The Banjercito office is generally near the bridge or crossing point. Google "Banjercito offices" to find addresses. ALWAYS stop before getting into a long line of vehicles at the border crossing. Look for official-looking buildings, generally to the left, in the middle between incoming and outgoing lanes. There is often a sign. Sure it is a PITA to return your permits, But, trust me, it is more of one to cancel one later.

Mike and Fluffy
Keep me in kibbles. Hire my human to plan your trip.

Customer comment after using one of my trip-plans: With "Mexico" Mike as our partner, we felt safe & enjoyed our trip. He delivered more than promised.

Roadlog sample
Independent travelers. Maps and directions make the drive easy.

If you don't need personal planning, look at my mile-by-mile roadlogs. Full of maps, directions, hotels, RV parks, facts.

Mexican family smiling
Get to know the Mexican people.

A little Spanish will open a world of friendship. Many Mexicans speak English. Please learn some online or in immersion course at the Spanish Institute of Puebla. Don't be an ugly American or Canadian.

Save on Insurance

Mexican vehicle insurance is required. I've been around this block for 30+ years and this is what I buy. Also Travel Health, air evac and expat medical, homeowners.

Colonial hotel
Save on hotels

All prices and classes. Sort by pet-friendly, pool, hot tub. Pay on arrival.