If you buy a new car, then you obviously aren’t going to just sit and stare at it. You will want to drive it immediately, and you shouldn’t have to feel like you are limited in where you can go in it. If you are someone who travels to Mexico frequently, then it’s only natural to want to take your new car with you on your next visit.
Generally, driving into Mexico with a new car doesn’t involve much different of a process than driving across the border in any car. You still need to obtain all the appropriate documentation, including Mexican auto insurance, before you can continue your journey. Additionally, you have an obligation to take as many safety precautions, if not more, when driving your new car and when leaving it unattended.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the things that you need to keep in mind when preparing to cross the Mexican border in your new car.
Traveling with New Registration and Temporary Plates
After buying your car, it usually will take your state several weeks to process the new registration into that system and issue permanent license plates and registration documents. Until that time, you will likely have temporary tags attached to your vehicle.
It is perfectly legal to travel in Mexico with temporary U.S. tags. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- If you do not have either the appropriate tags or the appropriate registration on your car, then do not cross into Mexico.
- Some thieves target vehicles with temporary tags more than they do those with permanent tags. As a result, it doesn’t hurt to take a few extra precautions when securing the vehicle.
- Consider taking a picture of your temporary tags and keep that picture with you throughout the trip. You’ll be able to identify the tag number in case your vehicle does get stolen. Do not drive your car if your temporary tag disappears.
- Keep your temporary registration documents in your vehicle at all times. You can also make copies to keep on your mobile device if necessary.
- Take down your vehicle identification number (VIN) so that you can use it to identify your vehicle if the temporary plates or the vehicle itself get stolen.
If your temporary tags disappear, then immediately report this to the police, and call your home state’s DMV to determine what they recommend you do next. Your registration and your insurance policy will be linked to your Vehicle’s identification number (VIN), rather than the tags themselves. Therefore, even if your temporary tags disappear, the car is still registered, and you will still be able to prove ownership and registration when crossing back into the U.S.
Obtaining a Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TIP)
Depending on where you plan to travel in Mexico, you might be required to obtain a temporary import permit (TIP). A TIP essentially acts as your vehicle’s registration that permits it to enter certain parts of Mexico.
TIPs are required for any vehicle that travels outside of the Mexican Free Zone. The Free Zone is an area in Mexico where customs and immigration regulations are less stringent, for the reason of facilitating better travel and trade between the two countries. The Free Zone generally extends about 15 miles from the border, though the entire Baja Peninsula and a larger part of the state of Sonora are part of the zone. You will see signs or checkpoints before you exit the free zone, and you cannot leave the free zone without the TIP.
TIPs are issued by Mexico’s Banjercito government agency, and you can either obtain them online at the agency website, or at the time you cross the border. You must display the TIP in your vehicle (usually in the windshield) at the time you cross the border, and you cannot get the TIP once you enter Mexico. Standard TIPs are good for up to 180 days once you cross the border. You can make multiple crossings on the same TIP if it has not expired.
Getting Mexican Auto Insurance
All foreign drivers traveling in Mexico are required to buy auto insurance. American auto insurance plans are not recognized by Mexican law, and you therefore must buy a Mexican auto insurance policy, and keep it active for as long as you are traveling in the country.
Your American policy will essentially be null and void from the time you enter Mexico to the time you re-enter the states. However, you should not cancel it during your travels. Additionally, you can keep a Mexican policy active for longer terms, if you plan to make several border crossings.
Most Mexican auto policies are required to include liability insurance, which helps you compensate others when an accident is your fault. Mexico uses an at-fault system when determining who pays for car wrecks, which makes this coverage essential.
Additionally, however, you can buy other coverage that will help you cover the value of your new car in case it sustains damage during your trip. Critical benefits might include:
- Physical damage insurance
- Partial theft coverage
- Total theft coverage
- Uninsured motorist coverage
- Roadside assistance coverage
- U.S. repair options
With the help of your Sanborn’s agent, you’ll have the opportunity to design not only quality Mexican auto benefits, but also keep them affordable.