Letter of Permission to Drive a Vehicle in Mexico
A notarized letter of permission is a certified document, written by the owner of a vehicle, specifically giving authorization for someone, other than the owner, to drive their vehicle in Mexico.
Permission letters are not only required for insurance purposes, but also to meet legal requirements for driving a borrowed, leased, or financed vehicle into another country (like Mexico).
There are several reasons why you might need a permission letter to take a vehicle across the border into Mexico, including...
- You have a loan on your vehicle and you're still making payments.
- You are leasing your vehicle.
- You are driving a rental vehicle.
- You are driving a work vehicle, or a company car, that you do not own.
- You are borrowing someone else's vehicle, and they are not traveling with you.
It is better to know if you will need a letter of permission before beginning your trip. If you do not own the vehicle that you are planning to drive to in Mexico, it makes sense to make the necessary arrangements to get the letter before you depart.
It is common to borrow money from a lending institution or individual when purchasing a motor vehicle. If you have ever taken out a loan to buy a car, truck, van, SUV, motorcycle, motorhome, travel trailer, or other type of vehicle, then a lien was placed against that vehicle.
Whenever there is a lien on a vehicle, the lienholder maintains a legal financial interest in that vehicle until the loan is completely paid off. Meaning the lienholder is still the owner of the vehicle until the loan is paid off. Once the loan on the vehicle is paid, the lien is removed, and then the title is transferred.
The Lienholder Gets Paid First
When talking about insurance, the lienholder is often referred to as the loss payee on the insurance policy. This is because the lienholder would be the first to receive an insurance claims payout after a loss, instead of the policyholder, also called the named insured. The policyholder would only receive the remaining amount, after the balance of the loan is fully paid.
Why You Need a Letter of Permission from the Lienholder
If there is a lienholder listed on the title for your vehicle, the lender still maintains at least partial ownership of the vehicle, even if you only have one payment left. Because of the lienholder's ownership in the vehicle, the lender has a say in whether you can legally take the financed vehicle outside of the country and the conditions around it.
Vehicle Insurance Prior to Written Permission
The lienholder wants their investment properly insured so they don't lose money, especially while it is away from its home country. They will require you to provide proof that you have purchased a Mexico insurance policy with the proper coverage before they will provide you with a letter of permission.
Lenders often set their own minimum acceptable limit of Mexican liability coverage. They also require both physical damage and theft coverage. And they likely will want fixed deductibles included with the coverage.
Lienholders will usually not accept a policy with a coverage limit that is less than what is owed on the vehicle. Therefore, if you owe more on your vehicle than it is currently worth, you may have to purchase a more expensive policy to satisfy the lenders requirements.
To get a letter of permission to take your vehicle to Mexico, most lenders will simply ask you to fax a copy of the Mexican insurance policy you purchased, showing coverage for the entire period that the vehicle will be in Mexico.
A leased vehicle is owned by an institution, which is referred to as the lessor. With a leased vehicle you pay, usually monthly, to "borrow" and drive the vehicle. If you are leasing a vehicle, then you are referred to as the "lessee."
For leased vehicles, the title remains in the name of the owner/lessor and since they still own the vehicle, they must provide you permission to drive the vehicle across the border into Mexico.
Similar to dealing with a lender, you will need proof that you've met your lessor's insurance requirements before getting a letter of permission to take a leased vehicle across the border.
If you decide to rent a vehicle in the U.S. and drive it in Mexico, you must make sure the rental agency will allow their vehicle to go outside the country. If they do, you will need to obtain a letter of permission from the rental agency, so you can legally drive the vehicle in Mexico.
Rental companies will have insurance requirements, and many offer Mexico insurance. Some rental agencies who do not offer Mexico insurance may still allow you to find your own coverage. They may even allow you to price hunt to find the best deal. However, you will not get a letter of permission, until you meet their Mexico insurance requirements.
Driving a Friend or Family Members Car
It is common for people to borrow a friend or a family members car to drive to Mexico. In the U.S. it is an accepted practice to give someone verbal permission to drive your vehicle. However, if you are driving a borrowed vehicle in Mexico, you need a notarized letter of permission from the owner to comply with Mexican laws.
Work Vehicle / Company Car
In the same way you take any vehicle that you do not own to Mexico, if you are planning to take a company car or a work truck across the border into Mexico, you will need a letter of permission from the vehicle owner.
In Mexico, if you are pulled over by the authorities while driving, you will likely be asked to provide your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, just like in the U.S.
One of the things they are checking for, as they review your vehicle documents, is whether the vehicle is in the possession of the owner listed on the vehicle registration.
Illegal Without Written Permission
Driving someone else's car without their permission in Mexico is illegal. And, as you might have already guessed, Mexican authorities do not typically accept one's word about having permission. They require permission in writing.
The reason the Mexican authorities require a notarized letter of permission is because many vehicles are stolen in the U.S. and driven into Mexico where they are often sold on the black market.
Getting a letter of permission from the vehicle owner before driving the vehicle into Mexico is the smart thing to do.
What if I Don't Have the Letter of Permission?
Not having a permission letter could lead to big problems if you are involved in an accident, get pulled over for a traffic violation, or get asked to show your vehicle documentation to Mexican authorities.
If they find you are not the registered owner of the vehicle, and you do not have a notarized permission letter, they might treat the situation as if the vehicle were stolen. This could include confiscating the vehicle and locking it up in police impound lot.
What Should My Permission Letter Say?
There are just a few simple questions that the letter of permission needs to answer:
- Who owns the vehicle?
- Who is borrowing the vehicle?
- What dates will the vehicle be in Mexico?
The letter of permission also requires the signature of the vehicle owner.
It is highly recommended that letters of permission be notarized and include the raised or embossed seal of the notary public.
The more official your letter of permission appears to the Mexican authorities, the less likely you are to encounter difficulties.
Sample Letter of Permission to Drive a Vehicle in Mexico
To whom it may concern,
I, (name of the vehicle owner as listed on vehicle registration or title), give permission to (name of borrower, as listed on driver's license), to operate my vehicle in Mexico from (date vehicle is entering Mexico) through (date that vehicle leaves Mexico).
(Notary Public Signature and Seal)
Be sure to always keep the letter of permission with you while driving in Mexico, along with the rest of the vehicle documentation, including: the vehicle registration, a copy of your Mexico tourist auto insurance policy, and your U.S. or Canadian driver's license.
Follow these instructions and avoid any problems driving a vehicle, you do not fully own, in Mexico. Happy driving!
Mexpro allows you to compare quotes for insurance from several "A-Rated" insurers in just minutes. Quote, Compare Quotes, and Buy a Mexpro Mexico vehicle insurance policy in 2 minutes or less!