Traveling to Mexico offers you opportunities to explore new cultures and scenery. One of the best ways to see the country is to drive it. Still, foreign road trips require planning. This is doubly true if you plan to use a motorcycle as your mode of transport. As a foreign biker, what can you do to ensure you and your bike remain safe?
Pay attention to your driving certifications, local roadway practices and personal safety. With a little care, you can keep yourself and your bike safe during your Mexican vacation.
Licensing and Visa Requirements
Mexico has its own laws and legal jurisdiction. Even as an American citizen, you must follow Mexican law. That includes abiding by driving laws.
Mexican law will recognize most American driver’s licenses. Of course, you’ll have to have a valid, active license with you at all times. The license must include all endorsements that qualify you to use a motorcycle. Keep in mind, you will likely need your passport to enter the country. However, it will not suffice as driving verification.
Depending on where you plan to travel, you will have to buy a vehicle import visa. This is a form that allows you to bring your bike into Mexico. Sometimes, if you plan to stay within the free border zone (an area close to the U.S. border) you might not need the permit. However, if you go outside this area, you will need the permit. You can get one at the border, and from certain banks.
Mexican law does not recognize car insurance policies issued in the states. Thus, if you drive into Mexico, your American motorcycle insurance will lapse
Still, Mexican law requires auto insurance for most bikers, including foreigners. Therefore, you must get Mexican motorcycle insurance. You can obtain policies in a variety of ways.
- Many insurance agencies near the border provide this coverage. You’ll need to buy a policy before crossing.
- Independent agencies throughout the U.S. often offer this protection. Sanborns is one of those providers. Contact your agent to see about local options for coverage.
- Some American insurers work with their Mexican counterparts to help customers get coverage. Keep in mind, your coverage itself will come from a Mexican insurer. However, your American provider may be able to help you enroll.
A Mexican bike policy will contain many familiar elements of coverage. These might include things like liability and collision protection. However, they’ll align with Mexican insurance law.
Furthermore, coverage might contain unique elements of coverage. These might include legal coverage in case the police detain you after a wreck. This is a common practice in Mexico, so you might find that extra coverage beneficial. Other coverage might include payments to help you return home via air, and have your bike repaired in the U.S.
Don’t attempt to bike in Mexico without targeted motorcycle coverage. Ensure that your agent knows they will have to insure a bike, not a standard car. Your agent can likely make your policy active only for the duration of your trip abroad.
You’ll see a lot of similarities between Mexican and U.S. roads. However, you might encounter certain situations with which you are not readily familiar.
- Mexico operates toll highways, which often offer the most safety for U.S. drivers. The tolls are generally very affordable, but you need to carry cash.
- You might find local roads poorly maintained and lighted. Some also have a higher risk of highway crime. Nighttime driving is not a good idea in certain areas.
- Spanish is the language of most road signs. These might prove confusing.
- Many drivers ignore certain road rules. You'll need to use extra vigilance.
- Driving in cities might expose you to pedestrian traffic and a lack of parking.
- Left hand exits often appear more frequently in Mexico than in the U.S.
It’s a good idea as a foreign biker to take it slow and pay attention to your surroundings. It’s also often a good idea to rely on GPS or map navigation for support.
Personal and Vehicle Safety
You will travel in a place with which you are unfamiliar. That increases your risks of accidents, bike damage or personal injuries. You need to protect yourself and your bike during your trip.
- Always wear a helmet, pads, eye protection and other safety gear. Mexico has helmet laws in place. However, a lack of enforcement exists in some cases. Still, don’t put your safety on the line.
- Don’t use your bike recklessly. Treat it with the same, if not more care than you would back home. Keep it under lock and key whenever you park it.
- Have the bike serviced before and after your trip. Use care in selecting a mechanic if you need emergency maintenance while on your trip.
If you encounter problems at any time, don’t panic. Contact the police and your insurance provider. You can also contact the U.S. Embassy in Mexico for further help if the situation warrants. With a little preparation, you can make your biking adventure in Mexico a success.
Also Read: Driving to Mexico for the Holidays