Countless Americans travel to Mexico each year. Driving across the border means that you now face a different legal system. For you and your vehicle, this means meeting certain immigration and customs requirements. Among them might be the rule to carry a vehicle importimage of car driving through Mexico permit. What do you need to do to get the permit?

For many American drivers in Mexico, a vehicle permit is critical to legal operations. Therefore, before you leave on your trip, get a permit. You’ll likely face fewer hassles at the border as a result.

What is a vehicle import permit?

A Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit, or TIP, is a form that allows foreign drivers to bring their vehicles into Mexico. It helps the Mexican government know when vehicles from outside the country enter their borders. Think of it as a type of vehicle registration. The permit must remain attached to your vehicle throughout your stay in Mexico.

Do I need a vehicle import permit?

Depending on where you plan to go in Mexico, you may or may not need an import permit.

  • If you plan to travel only within the Mexican Free Zone, you will not need a permit. The free zone extends a certain distance into the country from Mexico’s land and water borders. The length of free zone varies, though it’s usually around 25 miles from the border. You will likely face a customs check upon exiting the free zone into the interior of Mexico.
  • The Sonora Free Zone exists only in the state of Sonora. It is different from the Free Zone in other parts of Mexico. Multiple cities, like Rocky Point and Hermosillo, fall within the zone. Yet, you do have to get a permit if you plan to travel further than kilometer marker 98 on Mexican Federal Highway 15.
  • You do not need a permit if you plan to drive only within the Baja California Peninsula.

Outside of these areas, you will need to get a TIP. So, you’ll need to plan your route through Mexico carefully. Even if you start out in a free zone, you’ll need to still have the permit at the time you cross into a non-free area.

How do I get a permit?

Like with most customs rules, you’ll need to follow a specific process to obtain your import permit. Vehicle permits fall under the jurisdiction of Banjercito, Mexico’s national bank. You will get the permit through registration with the agency.

  • American and Canadian drivers can obtain the permit online. You must apply at least 7 days before your trip. Usually, you should apply for the permit at least 30 days prior, though no more than 60 days in advance. The permit will come via mail.
  • Certain Mexican consulates in the U.S. issue the permits. Contact your local office to determine whether you can get the permit.
  • Banjercito branches exist near the border in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. You can visit the office to obtain a permit at the time of crossing the border.

You will need to present certain information to the issuing authority to get a permit. This includes:

  • Your passport
  • Appropriate travel documents such as tourist, student, immigrant or work visas
  • A valid U.S. driver’s license
  • An original title and proof of vehicle registration on the car
  • A credit card or debit card
  • Proof of valid Mexican Auto Insurance. You cannot use your existing American car insurance policy in Mexico. You must get a Mexican policy before crossing the border.
  • If you have the vehicle financed, or have a lien on the car, get a notarized letter of permission from the responsible parties
  • Those driving company vehicles must receive a notarized letter from their employer
  • If you carried a permit in the past, you must provide proof that you cancelled the previous form
  • All applicable costs and security fees for the vehicle

The cost of the permit itself is around $51, plus taxes. However, you’ll also pay a security guarantee deposit. Depending on the year of your vehicle, the cost will vary. This scale is:

  • Year 2000 and older: $200
  • 2001-2006: $300
  • 2007-present: $400

Upon cancelling your permit, you will receive the security deposit back. If you fail to cancel, you won’t receive the deposit.

Using and Keeping Your Permit

Your vehicle import permit will last for the duration of your visa to enter Mexico. However, it’s up to you to cancel the permit upon returning to the U.S. and completing your trip. By cancelling, you will verify for the Mexican government that you have left the country. If you fail to cancel, you might face challenges re-entering Mexico in the future.

If you have any questions about traveling in Mexico with a TIP, talk to one of the agents at Sanborn’s Insurance 800-222-0158. We’re here to help you understand the process of registering your vehicle and getting appropriate coverage.

Also Read: Your Safe Riding Guide for Mexico

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