Mexico’s Hassle Free Vehicle Zone or “Free Zone“
The Hassle Free Vehicle Zone, which is also sometimes referred to as the Perimeter Zone, the Liberated Zone or the Free Trade Zone, are areas along the international border that have been designated by the Mexican government to have reduced customs requirements. The free zone initiative was begun to help promote Mexico tourism and create greater economic growth for the areas along the U.S. border. Within the free zone, customs importation requirements are essentially removed, allowing goods from other countries to enter Mexico duty free. The Mexican customs checkpoints have been moved further into the interior of Mexico, typically 20 to 26 kilometers, to create a zone that extends along the entire northern border of Mexico.
A few Mexican states have extended free zones
All of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, including the states Baja California and Baja California Sur are inside the free zone. Also, the northwest portion of the state of Sonora, where the zone is delineated by a couple of Mexican Federal Highways. The Free Zone includes the portion of the state of Sonora that lies to the northwest of Mexico Federal Highway Number 2, starting at Agua Prieta, extending through Cananea, up to where it intersects with Mexican Federal Highway Number 15 in Imuris. From Imuris, the free zone is again all of the areas to the north and/or west of Mexico Federal Highway Number 15, which runs south through Magdalena, Santa Ana, Casa Blanca, Benjamin Hill and Hemosillo.
Just north of Guaymas, Highway 15 splits with the Libramiento Guaymas portion extending towards the southeast. Here the free zone encompasses the areas to the south and to the west of Highway 15, to include the areas of Santa Clara, Hacienda El Pardo, Guaymas, and Empalme. The end of the free zone is marked on Mexican Federal Highway Number 15 at kilometer 98, southeast of Empalme.
Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit not required
Within the free zone, the temporary import permit is not required. However, if you travel outside of the free zone, you will have to pass through the customs checkpoint, and will need to pay a deposit to obtain a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit Sticker, which you will need to display on your windshield. Temporary vehicle import stickers must be returned at the border. If you do not return the sticker, not only will you forfeit your deposit, but you also will not be allowed to apply for any future Temporary Vehicle Importation Permits. So, until you return the sticker, you won’t be able to bring any other vehicles into Mexico.
Once you return the importation sticker, then your deposit can be returned. For more information about obtaining Temporary Vehicle Importation Permits, you can contact the Banco Nacional del Ejército, Fuerza Aérea y Armada, a.k.a. the Banjercito.
Even in the free zone, you still need to purchase insurance
If plan to drive your car, truck, van, SUV, motorcycle or motorhome across the border, even if you will be staying inside the free zone the entire time, you will need to have a valid in-force policy that includes Mexican liability insurance coverage.
It does not matter if you are only driving a few feet across the border, you are required to have Mexican liability coverage anywhere inside of Mexico. It is also important to remember that by Mexico law, no U.S. insurer can sell Mexican liability insurance, and the mandatory coverage may only be obtained from an actual Mexican insurance company.
So, even if your U.S. insurance includes an extension of physical damage coverage for Mexico, you still must purchase a separate policy that includes liability coverage from a Mexico insurance carrier. If you would like to learn more about what is included in Mexico Liability insurance policy, as well as the other coverage items that are available, please visit the Mexico Insurance Professionals website at: https://www.mexpro.com/mexico/coverage.html. The page also has links to an online form where you can get quick and easy comparative quotes for Mexico Tourist Auto Insurance from all “A rated” Mexican Insurance Carriers. You can even purchase and print your policy, right from your own computer, anytime, day or night.
If you have other questions about the Mexico free zone, temporary vehicle importation permit requirements or about Mexico Tourist Auto Insurance in general, you can call to speak with a Mexico insurance specialist agent at 888-467-4639.