foreign cars in mexico

by Daniel Ruiz de la Peña Sandoval, Attorney at Law


Many US Citizens have done or are interested in making the road trip from T ijuana to Los

Cabos or other places in Mexico, due to the fact that Mexico has so many beautiful beaches, great places to visit and extraordinary food to taste. But before making such plans there are some tax, immigration, and legal issues to fulfill.

According to Mexican Customs Laws, all vehicles that are the property of foreign individuals can travel within
20 kilometers of the border and in the border area (Baja California, Baja California Sur, and part of Sonora in the Northwest) with the foreign licensed car, if said person is in the vehicle, with current license and current registration documentation on board.

It is important to mention that if the foreign individual it is not in the vehicle, the Mexican Tax Authority or Federal Police could confiscate the car and charge a Tax Debt to the Mexican individual who drove the vehicle. Then, in order to get the vehicle(s) back, a Tax Lawyer will need to be hired to submit a lawsuit that could last at least 10 months.

But the above rule only applies if the foreign individual will stay no longer than 7 days. If he or she stays for a
longer period of time, the foreign individual must request a tourist visa or temporal business resident ID at the Immigration Office, so that they can give the authorization to stay for a timeframe of no longer than 180 days.

If the foreign individual is planning to stay more than 180 days in Mexico, they will need to obtain a temporal
resident ID at the Immigration Office that will be granted for no more than 4 years, to which could be added the children of the temporal resident, the children of his or her spouse, his or her spouse, companion and parents.

Such Immigration documents must be obtained or the Immigration office could return the foreigner to his country for being in Mexico without a legal resident ID.

If the foreign individual is planning to extend the road trip to a non-border area, it will be necessary to request a foreign vehicle permit at Banjercito (Mexican Army banks that are in Mexico and all over the Country including some parts of the US), pay $56 US dollars for a 180 day road permit and give a deposit of between $200 to $400 US dollars.

Such permit could be requested at the Mexican Army Branches that are all over Mexico and the US, with branches in Texas, Illinois, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado; or be requested by internet, requesting an Immigration pre‐authorization before 30 days of crossing into Mexico, and then requesting by internet the vehicle permit. Such permit will be given for no more than 180 days, depending on the Immigration permit.

Once the car comes back to the US, it is necessary to inform the Customs Authority about the return of the vehicle, in order to get back the deposit given to the Mexican Army Bank.

Be sure and enter Mexico, especially for extended periods of time, the right way!

By Daniel Ruiz de la Peña Sandoval, who is a Tax and Corporate Mexican Attorney with more the 14 years of experience,  Partner of  Ruiz de la Peña y Asociados, S.C.  Cel +521(664) 3-09-62-09 Office + 52  (664) 6840287,