How to Drive Your US or Canadian-Plated Car in Mexico

  • For most areas in Mexico, if you plan on driving your foreign-plated car in Mexico, you must be a Temporal or married to a Temporal who owns the car.

In order to have your foreign-plated car legally in Mexico, you will need to have it be legal in every way in your country of origin (i.e., the US or Canada), and receive a permiso, or TIP.  You can get your permiso on-line; at some limited places in the US and Canada (usually across the hall from the Mexican consulate); or you can get one immediately upon crossing the border into Mexico.

The permiso will cost you several hundred dollars, which is used as a deposit against you selling your foreign-plated car in Mexico, which is not legal to do.  If you follow all the rules, you can get your deposit back upon driving your car out of Mexico, but this can sometimes be a bit problematic.

Your permiso is tied to your visa, so when your Temporal expires, so does your permiso.  If you drive your foreign-plated car in Mexico without a permiso, your car is in Mexico illegally, and can be confiscated.  In other words, don’t do it.

  • Make sure your car is completely legal in the US, including being up to date on paying your registration.
  • Run a CARFAX and see what comes up.  The reason you want to do this is because it is very likely that Banjercito will.  That’s how they will find out if you are paid up on your registration and if there is anything even remotely unusual about your title.
  • After getting your visa started in the US or Canada, if you can, get the TIP for your vehicle at a Banjercito in the US or online.
  • If you don’t get your TIP for your vehicle prior to crossing the border, that’s OK.  Just go to the proper Banjercito at the border.  (There is a list of them online.)