A friend who just moved to Ensenada, Baja California, was stopped by the police and his car was temporarily impounded, until he got a importation permit. The reason? Whenever you plan to bring your car into Mexico and pass the (imaginary) 50KM line, you must import your vehicle. Granted, most of us drive our cars up and down Baja without concern about this law, but in some cases, you may come across a cop that knows which statute to use, and then you’re fried.
So, to avoid this hassle, you should import your car in Mexico, at least temporarily. How to do it:
American tourists planning to go to Mexico by car beyond the border zone ( 20 to 30 kilometers of the border with the United States) must previously get from the Mexican consulate or Mexican Immigration at the border check point, a tourist card and a temporary import permit for the vehicle. Proof of citizenship, car title (or pink slip) and registration must be produced, along with the driver’s license, to a Banjército Bank at a Mexican Customs office (there is a Banjército in Tijuana at the Patria Plaza, on Agua Caliente Blvd). The fee to process the permit will be approximately $25.00 (remember that fees change every six months according to the respective law). A bond must be posted at Banjército either in cash (US$200 to 400.00 depending on the model of the car) or by credit card, to ensure foreign made vehicles will be taken out of the country at permit expiration date. Visa, American Express, or Master Card are welcome by Banjército. To check the car out of Mexico, tourists must return to exactly the same Customs office upon leaving the country; otherwise they run the risk of further credit card charges and/or they forfeit the bond posted.
If the vehicle is not paid off, please submit a notarized letter of authorization issued by the proprietor. If the car or van belongs to your employer, you will be required to produce an identification as his (her) employee. If the vehicle is rented, you should submit the rental contract with the respective authorization.
The traveler can take his or her luggage and additional items up to $50.00 per person or $250.00 for a family of five, never exceeding US$1,000.00 in total, when travelling by road. If you exceed that limit, make the necessary arrangements at the Mexican Customs Office.
For more information on how to bring a car into Mexico, please consult Tips for Travelers to Mexico, which appears on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov or visit this page: http://ciudadjuarez.usconsulate.gov/wwwhcarb.html
Applicants, under 18 years old, traveling by themselves, must present a notarized authorization, signed by both parents or legal guardians, granting their permission to get their tourist visa.
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