RVing in Mexico—Taking Your RV to Mexico
For many Americans and Canadians, the idea of taking their RV on a trip to Mexico is appealing. After all, what could be better than spending time driving through beautiful scenery, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the regional cuisine?
But before you pack up your RV and head south, there are a few things you should know. Here’s everything you need to plan for before taking your RV into Mexico.
The first thing you need to do before going RVing in Mexico is a little routine maintenance. It could go a long way to keep you on schedule as you travel down to Mexico.
Take your RV to a mechanic and have the engine checked, get an oil change, and check the air pressure in the tires. Be sure to pack a road kit and spare tire.
You may also want to:
Flush the water and sewage systems.
Ensure the electric features of your RV are in working order.
Know the weight of your vehicle in order to meet weight requirements for certain roads and destinations.
Vehicle & Towed Unit Insurance
The next thing you need to do is make sure that you have the proper insurance. American auto insurance will not cover you in Mexico, so you’ll need to purchase Mexican auto insurance. Buy your Mexico RV insurance online now.
If you are towing a travel trailer or 5th wheel, you will need to have it listed on your tow vehicle policy, as well on its own, separate Mexican insurance policy. That way it will be covered while in tow and when you disconnect it for use in Mexico.
If you don’t have a clear title on your RV, you’ll need permission from the finance company or leasing agency to take the RV into Mexico.
Temporary Importation Permit
You will need a TIP (temporary vehicle importation permit) if you are going to be traveling outside of the “Free Zone.” A TIP is a document that allows your foreign-plated vehicle to be driven in Mexico for a specified period. Your vehicle must be driven out of Mexico within the specified time frame. The Free Zone is defined as:
within 25 km of the land border (15.5 miles)
all the Baja California peninsula
a specified area in the northern state of Sonora (the road to Rocky Point is included in this)
the southern state of Quintana Roo
If you are traveling anywhere outside of the above areas, you must have a TIP to avoid fines and potential impounding of your vehicle. You must purchase your TIP immediately after crossing the border into Mexico or online.
Banjercito is a government agency in Mexico and the only organization that issues TIPs. Do not purchase from anyone else who may claim they can speed up the process. The cost of the TIP is about $50 USD plus tax. You will also be required to put down a deposit of $200 to $400, depending on the age of your vehicle. You will get your deposit back when you turn in your TIP before you cross back over the border.
Temporary importation permits for RVs and motor homes can be issued for up to 10 years, but they must be registered as a motorhome in order to qualify.
If the motorhome is towing another vehicle, the vehicle must have its own TIP, subject to the regular vehicle TIP restrictions and payments. The duration of the motorhome’s TIP will be ten years, and the maximum time for the towed vehicle’s TIP is 180 days.
If the motorhome is towing a trailer (like for ATVs, jet skis, boats, and the like), the motorhome/RV TIP will only be valid for 180 days.
You will need a passport for each person over the age of 15. For those younger than 15, you will need to show a birth certificate for each child, to cross back into the U.S.
You will also need an FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). This is a document allowing you to be in the country for up to 180 days. An FMM is required for anyone over 2 years old who will travel with you. You may get these at the border or online.
If you’re traveling with pets, be sure to bring their vaccination records. They do not need to be cleared at the border, but it’s a good idea to have them in case something happens on your travels.
Bring valid prescriptions for any medications you are bringing over the border. Make sure your prescriptions are in their original bottle or packaging, with the prescription information and dosing on the outside of the bottle.
Exchanging Your Money
Many places in Mexico take American dollars, but you will get better exchange rates if you change your money to pesos at your bank, rather than a currency exchange in Mexico.
Border Crossing Procedures
When you’re ready to cross the border into Mexico, there are a few things you need to do. First, you’ll need to present your passport to the Mexican authorities.
Once over the border you’ll need to go to Aduanas (Mexico Customs) or Banjercito and get your TIP.
You must stop at Mexico Immigration (INM or Instituto Nacional de Migración), whether you bought your FMM online or not. This is because you need to get it stamped. You must show your receipt to get it stamped.
Always keep your TIP & FMM with you while in Mexico.
What to Take With You
Grocery stores are well stocked, but you may have trouble finding things that you normally buy. For instance, diet soda is hard to find. Here are some suggestions for what to bring in your RV to make your trip a little easier.
Water: do not drink the water in Mexico. Drinking water is available to purchase throughout the country. Make sure the tanks in your RV are full when you cross the border. Check your water filtration system and only use water from your tank to bathe, wash hands, flush toilets, etc. If you must fill your tanks while in Mexico, put some bleach in the water tank, and be sure to purge the tank when you return home.
Food: make sure you bring items you might require for special diets.
Ant powder and ant traps if you’ll be camping on the beach.
Anti-itch products like AfterBite and Calamine lotion.
Suntan lotion and insect repellant are expensive, so better to purchase them at home and have them in your RV.
Spare parts for your RV: extra oil, filters, a good spare tire, spare water pump. RV parts are hard to find in Mexico, and you don’t want to get stuck.
A Surge Protector for your RV: electricity is unreliable, and you don’t want to fry your electronics if the power surges or goes out.
Popular RV Destinations
Mexico is a vast and varied country with something to offer every type of traveler. From the bustling metropolises of Mexico City and Guadalajara to the pristine beaches of Cancun and Los Cabos, there’s no shortage of amazing places to visit. Find information on Northern Baja (Baja California Norte) and Sonora RV beach destinations on our blog.
Safety Tips for RV Travel in Mexico
If you’re planning a road trip through Mexico in an RV, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
Don’t drive at night: it’s best to drive in the daytime when visibility is better. Animals frequent the roads at night, and it’s easy to miss Mexican speed bumps, called tope (pronounced toe-pay).
Plan your route. Try to stick to heavily traveled roads or toll roads. If you need help, look for the Green Angels. They are a government-paid organization who patrol the toll roads and Federal highways, helping stranded motorists. They are like AAA in the U.S.
Don’t drink and drive. Aside from the potential legal issues, many roads are not well-marked and can be dangerous to navigate when intoxicated. Also, any damage you cause with your vehicle is not covered under your Mexico auto insurance policy if you are intoxicated.
Don’t flash your valuables: Be aware of your surroundings. Keep your passports and money hidden away. When packing your RV, make sure all your valuables are stored away in a safe place where they won’t be visible to anyone passing by.
Traveling by RV is a great way to see Mexico—but it’s important to be prepared before setting off on your journey. Whether you’re looking for beaches, deserts, or historical sites, Mexico has it all–and there’s no better way to see everything that this country offers than by RV. By following these tips and rest assured you’ll have a safe and enjoyable trip.