Driving a Foreign-Plated auto in Mexico

Are you driving a foreign-plated vehicle into Mexico? ​

Our Tourist Auto Insurance experts have put together a basic guide with important things you must consider when driving a foreign-plated auto to Mexican Territory:

First things first: driving in Mexico is a great way to explore the country and its many beautiful destinations. The roads are generally in good condition; the highways are well-maintained, making it easy to get around. However, as is the case in any other country, there are certain rules and regulations that you need to follow in order to drive safely and legally in Mexico. 

Registration and documentation​


One of the most important things you need to do if you are driving a car with foreign plates in Mexico is to get a Temporary Import Permit (or TIP). The TIP allows you to drive your car in Mexico for the length of your stay, and it can be obtained through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, or SRE). 

Temporary Vehicle Import Permit ​

Temporary Import Permit, also known as TIP, is a document that allows an individual to bring goods into a country for a defined period without having to pay import fees. The permit is typically issued by the Customs Authorities and will outline the terms and conditions under which such goods may be temporarily imported.

A TIP is often used for goods that are intended for a short period of use, i.e., for traveling, vacation, or for goods that are intended to be re-exported after a certain time.

Where can I get my Temporary Import Permit? ​
  • At the border in the Customs Offices 
  • At the Mexican Consulates in Chicago, Illinois; in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Texas; in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Sacramento, California; in Albuquerque, New Mexico; in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States of America, up to six months before the date of entry into Mexican territory. 
  • Via internet through the website of Banjercito: https://www.banjercito.com.mx/registroVehiculos/ 

In this case, the permit’s validity may begin the same day the procedure is carried out. 

What documentation do I need to get the TIP? ​
  • Identification (one of the following): 
    • Passport 
    • Temporary or permanent residency  
  • Proof of ownership or possession (one of the following): 
    • Invoice 
    • Title of the auto
    • Lease contract 

Keep in mind that the TIP is only valid for the length of your stay in Mexico, so you will need to renew it before it expires. If you fail to do so, you may have difficulties driving your car in Mexico. 

Tourist Auto Insurance​

Auto Insurance is another important aspect to consider before you cross the border. In Mexico, it is mandatory for all vehicles to have liability insurance, which covers damages and injuries caused to third parties in the event of an accident. 

If you are driving a car with foreign plates, you have the option of getting a policy for the whole year, or for the specific number of days/weeks/months that you will be in the country. 

It is important to carefully review the policy and compare different options before purchasing insurance.

Third-Party liability is the only mandatory coverage in Mexico, but of course, you can include full coverage to add more benefits to your policy. This way you are also covered against damages to your own vehicle in the event of an accident, total theft, total loss due to collision, roadside assistance, etc.

Roadside assistance ​

Whether it’s’ your first time driving Mexican roads or if you’ve done it before, the roadside assistance coverage provides you with extra peace of mind in the event of a breakdown, flat tire, battery, towing services, or other emergencies on the road. Our experts at Guardian Insurance MX highly recommend getting this coverage as it’s inexpensive and incredibly helpful if needed.

Driving laws and regulations

  • Always wear your seatbelt 
  • Do not use your cell phone while driving 
  • Respect the speed limit and traffic signs 
  • Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs 
  • Always carry your driver’s license, passport, and other identification documents with you when driving

Violating these laws and regulations can result in fines, points on your driver’s license, or even jail time in severe cases. We encourage you to get familiar with the local driving laws and regulations and to always drive responsibly and safely.

Final thoughts ​

Driving a car with foreign plates in Mexico can be a great way to explore the country and its many beautiful destinations and landscapes. However, it is important to be aware of the local laws and regulations and to have all the necessary documents and insurance in order to drive legally and safely in Mexico. We hope this guide has made your trip plans easier, and we wish you safe travels to Mexico.

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