Taking Rental Cars to Mexico From the U.S.
Learn about the insurance and legal requirements involved in taking a rental car from the United States into Mexico.
Driving to Mexico for a vacation allows you the convenience getting around easily. With a rental car, you can go to the market and pick up groceries, drive to the beaches and explore small villages.
There are a few requirements for taking a rental car across the border into Mexico, per the Mexican government and your rental agency. Make sure you know what these are to avoid any surprises while trying to get across the border into Mexico, or while in the interior.
Rental Company Approval and Requirements
If the car or vehicle you are driving to Mexico is rented, you should have written permission from the rental company to drive the car into Mexico. It is a good idea to have the letter notarized.
Have the rental service address the notarized letter to "Officer in Charge of Customs and Border Protection at the U.S. - Mexico Border" and include the car's make, model, year, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Mexico Auto Liability Insurance
Mexico auto insurance is required in order to drive in Mexico. You must maintain liability coverage that will protect others involved in an accident that is your fault. You are considered guilty until proven innocent in Mexico; if you are in a car crash and do not have this insurance, the Mexican government may fine or jail you.
Beyond liability coverage, Physical damage coverage will protect the car. Many rental agencies will require it.
It's also a good idea to have travel medical insurance in Mexico. Travel medical insurance provides coverage for illness and evacuation back to the United States if you are unable to drive back in your rental car.
Rental Company vs Managing General Agency Insurance
A Managing general agency (MGA), is a company that sells insurance coverage for other insurers. The advantage is they can alter or improve policies based on the needs of their customers. For example, since Mexico requires you be insured by Mexico domiciled insurers, the MGA can negotiate adjusters who speak English. Or if a Mexican insurer does not have an online presence, the MGA can offer policies can be purchased online, by phone, or in person by English speakers.
Seldom are you able to purchase Mexico insurance within the US for vehicles rented in the country of Mexico. If you are renting from within Mexico, you will likely need to purchase an insurance policy from your rental car agency.
Temporary Import Permits
If you plan to stay in Mexico for longer than 72 hours or are traveling more than about 20 miles south of the U.S. - Mexico border, or outside Baja and the Sonora free zone limits, you will need to pay a bond to a bank and obtain a permit. The bond ensures your return to the United States and will be refunded when you leave Mexico.
Make sure your temporary import permit covers the entire time period that you will be staying in the country. If you decide to extend your stay, you may have to apply for an extension or another permit for the rental car.
Wherever you plan to drive during your trip to Mexico, it's important to be aware of the laws and prepare accordingly. Ask your rental and insurance agency for more information to be sure you are ready to head to Mexico. Enjoy your travels!