Dec 27

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 or visit this page:

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.

6 Responses to “Importing your Car into Mexico”

  1. Glenn Nicholl Says:

    Do you have any of the rules related to permanently importing a car? We asre considering moving to Mexico and would no longer need (or be able to get) our Canadian car insurance. We understand there are restrictions as to the year of car that can be imported.

  2. Gustavo Ojeda Says:

    I want to permanently import my car to Mexico. I’m a Mexican citizen and my can is a 2004 VW passat. The vin # starts with a letter. Can I import my car to Mexico?

  3. Says:

    we have been driving the baja for many years and have insurance on our cars to drive to cabo where we have a palapa home. the question i have is i always load up my car or pull a small trailer, does this fall into more than the law will allow? usually me car or truck has personal things like clothes, kitchen stuff, sewing machines [2] and i never thought this was a problem.

  4. Says:

    If you live in cabo and have mexican car insurance to drive the baja, are we okay? We live in cabo and have fm3 passports and drive our cars once a year to the states and being back lots of personal things and our household items, are we in violation of our limits to what we bring in? sorry i’m curious.

  5. Paige Peters Says:

    You do NOT need a permit for the Baja, it is a “free zone” this guy bullied by a cop it sounds like. You only have to have a permit for the mainland of Mexico. Way too many gringos live on the Baja for them to make it a law here. I have a friend who just drove an American car down last week and had no problems. I know dozens of people who have driven in the last few months with no problems. Maybe this guy is mistaken and it was on the mainland.

  6. jerry Says:

    FYI: the “G” word (gringo) is highly racist… it is common but way less than polite. Equate it to using the N word

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