Why to Keep License & Registration Current when Driving to Mexico
Traveling to Mexico for an extended period of time? Why bother keeping current plates and registration? It's a hassle, inconvenient and besides Mexico doesn't require it, right? Wrong!!! A vehicle being driven in Mexico with expired tags will be seen as a Mexican vehicle with expired tags regardless of where it was last registered. Therefore the vehicle is subject to legal confiscation by the local authorities.
Confiscation can be a major inconvenience since:
- impound fees are usually quite expensive
- insurance policies do not cover confiscation by legal authorities
- chances of recuperating a confiscated vehicle are slim to none, and
- your importation permit will be negatively affected.
The best advice: don't risk it.
Want to know more about the C word – Confiscation? Fees can be up to 60% of the vehicle value plus any additional fines for impound fees, tickets, as well as the original registration fees can apply. All these can quickly add up to a hefty sum. Not to mention you may need to hire the services of a lawyer to represent you; and the added time and stress.
Another legal implication is the effect confiscation will have on your vehicle importation permit. The Banjercitos Temporary Importation Vehicles User Manual (Manual De Usuario IITV) states on page 15 section 5.1.1 "DOCUMENTS Required part c. CURRENT TAGS" (see here http://www.banjercito.com.mx/).
Also important are the repercussions as stated in Banjercitos General Conditions For the Temporary Import Of Vehicles To Mexico part 8.1 through 8.6 and Section 9. Applicable Law is as follows (paraphrased):
The "IMPORTER" is hereby informed that in case of violating any of the dispositions indicated in this agreement; he/she will be subject to applicable fines as stated in the Mexican Legislation, which include economic fines and incarceration. The Importer is also aware of the legal repercussions resulting from making false statements to any authority.
This clearly states the unpleasant repercussions of violating any of the terms in the contract. Exorbitant fines, loss of your vehicle and even incarceration. (https://www.banjercito.com.mx/)
Incarceration is scary anytime but especially in another country. Although a tourist may not be familiar with the local law they will be treated as a citizen of Mexico and held to the same legal consequences. Tourists will not get special treatment as citizens of the U.S. or any other country so the claim of "but I didn't know!" will fall on deaf ears.
The consequences of driving in Mexico with expired tags far outweigh the relatively small inconvenience of keeping your vehicle legally registered. It avoids those pesky fines or, worse, incarceration. So keep your vehicle registered and enjoy your stay in Mexico.