Public transportation and taxis abound in Mexico. While this is the case, you might want to consider bringing your own car along if you are planning to move to Mexico. Having your own form of personal transportation will make exploring the country easier. Nonetheless, after reading the following restrictions on importing your car to Mexico, you might find it easier to simply purchase a Mexican licensed car once you arrive. Read on and make up your own mind.
Going Beyond the “Free Zone”
There are areas in Mexico where you can drive a car that does not have a Mexican license plate, and these area are labelled as the “Free Zone”. When you drive beyond the free zone, you will have to secure certain documents and pay a fee to get a permit. Foreigners who arrive as tourists may bring one car which does not necessarily need to be their own vehicle as long as you can present the right documents proving you have permission to use the vehicle in Mexico. For those with a residents visa, you can only bring a vehicle that belongs to you.
Getting Around the “Free Zone”
The “Free Zone” is an area about 22 miles or 35 km from the land border. Cars that are non-Mexican may cross the border and drive within this zone. No application nor a temporary vehicle permit is needed. Just be aware that driving further south may lead you into several guarded checkpoints where permits will have to be shown. If you plan on heading south with your vehicle, make sure you have your permit already since you cannot purchase these permits at the checkpoints.
Bringing and Leaving Your Vehicles
Each individual moving into Mexico may bring only one car. A spouse or a child who is older than 18 may also bring and register their own cars. When towing an RV, you will need to get permission for both vehicles. Make sure you can prove you are the registered owner for both vehicles. Once you leave Mexico to return home, you will need to bring the vehicles with you. You cannot leave them in Mexico.
You may also bring along with you to Mexico your motorized vehicles like motorcycles and ATVs. You just need to register them together with the car towing them to your destination. Per main vehicle you are limited to up to three single-passenger vehicles. All of these must leave the country once the owner leaves as well. Proof of ownership is necessary too.
How long does a permit last?
As long as your present visa is valid, so is your car import permit. If you have a temporary resident visa, you may use your car within the country as long as you are here. The disadvantage of having a permanent resident visa is that you will no longer be allowed to move your vehicle here. Leaving the Mexican border with your car means you have to surrender your car permit and you will have to buy a new one when you return to Mexico.