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 crossing the border. 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 legal to travel in Mexico with current 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, you might not be able to obtain a temporary vehicle importation permit to drive past the border free zone.
- 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 Importation Permit with Banjercito
If you are traveling beyond the border free zone, you are required to obtain a temporary vehicle importation permit. A temporary vehicle importation permit essentially allows a foreign vehicle to enter Mexico for a specified period of time, after which the vehicle has to leave the country.
Temporary Importation Permits are required for all vehicles that travel 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. You will see signs or checkpoints before you exit the free zone, and you cannot leave the free zone without the permit.
Temporary importation permits 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 permit in your vehicle (usually in the dashboard) at the time you cross the border, and you cannot get the permit once you cross the free zone. Permits are usually issued for up to 180 days depending on the length of your immigration permit. You can make multiple crossings on the same permit if it has not expired.
Getting Mexican Auto Insurance
All foreign drivers traveling in Mexico are required to have at least Third party liability coverage issued by a Mexican insurance company. American auto insurance plans are not recognized by Mexican law, and you therefore must buy a Mexican auto insurance policy for the duration of your trip, even if it is only for a few hours. Additionally, you can buy long term Mexican policy with significant discounts if you plan to make several border crossings, let one of our Sanborn's Mexico Insurance agents recommend the term that is best for you.
Third party liability is mandatory in Mexico, this coverage 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 along with Legal Aid assistance coverage.
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 and Theft coverage
- Medical Expenses for occupants
- CSL Liability - up to $500,000 US dollars
- Gap Coverage
- Legal Aid, Roadside and Travel assistance coverage
- U.S. repair options
With the help of your Sanborn’s agent, you’ll have the opportunity to personalize the coverage you need while driving in Mexico.