5 Things You Need Before Driving to Mexico

You're getting ready to take a trip to Mexico, are you ready?

Around 40 million Americans travel to Mexico every year and a large portion choose to drive. If you are traveling to Mexico by car, be sure you prepare for crossing the border, driving in the interior and returning home. Having these five things will make your travel much easier.


Proper Identification

Going to Mexico

Travelers must have a valid passport to go to Mexico. Other acceptable documents include a passport card (cannot be used for air travel) or a green card.

For the latest Mexico entry requirements: Visit the Embassy of Mexico website or call the Embassy at (202) 736-1000 or any Mexican consulate in the U.S.

Entering the U.S. from Mexico

When entering the U.S., one of the above documents, or a WHTI-compliant document, is needed.

The passport application process requires that you submit an official passport photo. A good place to get one is at a local pharmacy.

All passport applicants must also submit an original copy of a state issued birth certificate. If your birth certificate was issued by a hospital, the U.S. Department of State will not accept it. Ordering a new official birth certificate directly from the state where you were born is the best option to avoid any confusion.

The passport application process can take anywhere from one week to more than a month to complete, so it is best to get started well in advance of your trip to Mexico.

If you are pinched for time or on short notice, you can elect to pay extra money to expedite the process.

For more information about applying for and obtaining a passport visit www.travel.state.gov.


Vehicle Import Permit

If you are crossing the Mexican border by car and you plan to travel outside the free or border zone you must obtain a temporary vehicle importation permit.

Failure to do so puts you at risk of expensive fines and/or having your vehicle confiscated by Mexican customs officials. At present, the only exceptions to the requirement are travel in the Baja Peninsula, and most of the state of Sonora.

The fee for vehicle importation is approximately $51.00 USD at the border or $45.00 USD online, plus IVA (tax), which can vary based on the peso exchange rate.

You will also be required to pay a deposit to ensure the vehicle is returned to the U.S. The deposit will be refunded upon cancellation of the permit at Banjercito offices, as long as it is returned prior to the expiration date of the permit (after six-months). Deposits cost between $200 and $400 USD, depending on the age of the vehicle.

See our Vehicle Import Permit page for more detailed information

Mexpro cannot provide Vehicle Import Permits and has no affiliation with the Mexican federal agency who supplies them. Apply online now through Mexico's Banjercito Website


Mexico Tourist Insurance for Your Vehicle

U.S. automobile liability insurance coverage is not valid in Mexico.

In addition, most collision and comprehensive insurance is not valid in Mexico.

The U.S. State Department strongly recommends you purchase a full coverage insurance policy that will cover the cost of bail, in the event of an at-fault vehicle accident in Mexico.

Mexpro suggests you use only A-Rated Mexico insurers. While there may be some cheaper options available, it's best to use a trustworthy insurance provider you can count on to take care of your vehicle and occupants should you need to file a claim.


Mexico Visa

Citizens of the U.S. and Canada who wish to visit Mexico as tourists, on business, as a journalist, for studies, or passing through Mexico, for a period not exceeding 180 days do not require a tourist visa. (Mexican Consulate, Toronto)

A Mexican RESIDENT visa is required for those staying longer than 180 days in Mexico.

Mexico Migratory Form

Citizens of the U.S. and Canada MUST obtain a travel permit called the Multiple Migratory Form or Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM). You must fill it out and keep a copy with you at all times while in Mexico. It will be provided by your airline, you can get it online, or at your port of entry into Mexico. Random inspections take place in the interior of Mexico, where you may be required to present your FMM.

The repercussions of not having an FMM include:

  • Mexican insurance claims may not be honored.
  • You may be detained for hours before being sent back to the U.S. border.
  • In the event of an emergency that requires you to be flown back to the U.S., you will not be allowed to get on the plane, as an FMM is required.

Mexican Customs (Aduana) may not check to be sure you have an FMM when you cross the border into Mexico.


Driver's License

American & Canadian citizens planning to drive to Mexico should carry a valid driver's license at all times.

U.S. and Canadian driver's licenses are recognized in Mexico. In addition, your Mexico Insurance policy is invalid if you do not have a valid, non-Mexican, driver's license.