Around 20 million Americans travel to Mexico every year, and many of them drive. Here’s what you need before you cross the border:
- Proper identification: To enter Mexico, travelers must have a valid passport, passport card, or green card. Identification is also needed to return to the United States.
- Vehicle import permit: If you plan to travel outside the free or border zone, you’ll need a temporary vehicle importation permit to avoid expensive fines or having your vehicle confiscated by Mexican customs officials. The fee for vehicle importation is $44 plus a Value Added Tax (locally known as IVA), which can vary based on the peso exchange rate. You’ll also be required to pay a deposit to ensure the vehicle is returned to the United States. Deposits are between $200 and $400, depending on the age of the vehicle, and will be refunded upon cancellation of the permit at Mexico’s Banjercito offices.
- Mexico tourist card: You need a Mexico tourist card (also called FMM) if you plan to visit Mexico for an extended period of time, up to 180 days. It’s a government form declaring that you have stated the purpose of your visit to Mexico is tourism, and you’ll need to carry it with you while you’re in Mexico.
- Driver's license: American citizens planning on driving to Mexico should carry a valid driver's license at all times.
Mexico tourist insurance
Auto insurance liability laws in Mexico are often described as “guilty until proven innocent.” Typically, when an accident occurs in Mexico, both parties are put before a judge to determine fault and financial responsibility. If you don’t have Mexican car insurance to cover the damages you’re responsible for, you go to jail—and no one wants to spend their vacation in a jail cell.
If you’re taking a road trip into Mexico, make sure your vehicle is covered. Even though you have insurance here at home, you’ll need Mexican auto insurance for your U.S. registered vehicle.
No U.S. insurance company can adequately provide Mexican car insurance to cover you while driving in that country. You’ll need to purchase a Mexico tourist auto policy from a licensed Mexican insurance company before crossing the border.
Renting a car in Mexico
But what if you aren't driving into Mexico but renting a car once you're in the country? That requires a different set of preparations. The rental agency will likely offer you insurance coverage options. Understand what’s covered. Also, check with your credit card company. Your card’s benefits may cover physical damage and theft—but be aware, you may still need liability coverage in Mexico.
Getting Mexico insurance
Fortunately, companies like Primero Insurance can help you find the coverage you need. All of their Mexico insurance policies are through A-rated carriers. You can get a quote in minutes and you won’t have to worry about carrying Mexican car insurance when you should be enjoying time in the sun.