Your Car's Permit, Insurance,

 and a Few Rules


Last Update 13 December 2014


The following information applies only to mainland México.  The rules for Baja are different. Vehicle permits are not required in Baja.  Foreign license plates must be kept current in Baja.

Care and feeding of your car's permit:

The temporary import permit (TIP) which you got at the border is valid so long as your visa is valid -- with renewals for as long as you wish.  Look here to see the actual law that says your registration permit is valid so long as your visa is valid. Article 106  It also tells you who can drive your car. 

If you brought your vehicle into México after 11 June 2011, you were required to post a bond.  To preserve that bond, Aduana regulations require that you notify Aduana of any change in your visa status such as annual renewals or upgrades.  If you entered before that date, you are not required to notify Aduana. HOWEVER there have been reports of people being harassed by the police because they had not updated their status. To avoid this potential problem, Aduana has provided a note that you can print and have in your car to show the cop.

En razón de lo anterior y en virtud de que el permiso de importación temporal de vehiculos, fue tramitado antes del 11 de Junio de 2011, no se requiere la presentación del aviso que refiere la regal 4.2.7: 

A efecto de que no se haga efectiva la garantia otorgada en los terminus de la presente regal, dentro de los 15 días siguientes a aquél en que les hubiere sido otorgada la prórroga, ampliación, refrendo o cambio de calidad migratorio, se deberá presentero mediante escritor antes cualquier aduana del país o a la ACOA, un aviso en el que se haga constar dicha circunstancia, anexando copia del comprobante de dicho trámite y del permiso de importación del vehiculo.


Rough English translation: In view of the above, under the rules for temporary import permit for vehicle: Since this vehicle was processed before 11 June 2011, it dos not require the submission of the notice referred to in regal 4.2.7.


Aduana asks that everyone turn in the permit when driving out of México even though you are planning to return.  It is optional, but it is a very good idea  because if something happens to your car that you cannot return it to México, you will have a very big problem getting the dead car off the books. 

Be very sure to get a receipt showing that you turned in the permit, and bring it with you when you return in case the computer doesn't show that you turned in your TIP.

I have read so many sad stories from folks who did not turn in the TIP and then found themselves with a BIG problem because they could not return the car.  If you find yourself unable to return with the car, look here for instructions.

There is a procedure for temporary exits without turning in your permit. It's called Partial Return (Retorno Parcial).  Read about it here.  Note that some border Aduana offices say this permit is only for Mexican nationals who live abroad.

Notifying Aduana of Visa Changes

If you have posted a bond guaranteeing the removal of your vehicle, you must notify Aduana of any change in your visa status (renewal, upgrade, etc.) in order to preserve your bond.  This notification must be in the Aduana office no more than 15 working days after any change in your visa.  Since they do not work on Saturdays, this is effectively 3 weeks.  As soon as you are approved for your new visa card, file the vehicle papers with Aduana.  There are present reports of delays in the transmission of data from Aduana to Banjercito where the records actually reside.  Hence the admonition to visit Aduana as early as possible.

You must notify your local or area Aduana in person.  Furthermore, it must be done at an Aduana office that is equipped to process the information.  Unfortunately, not all Aduana offices are set up to deal with vehicle matters.  Since not all offices are set up to process car papers, it would seem wise to locate a participating office before the actual time of need. For some folks, this may mean considerable travel. This sure makes having a 'Mexican' car look even more attractive.

If there is no Aduana office convenient to you, you can mail the documents to the  Aduana headquarters in DF at this address.  Because of the tight time constraints and the typical slowness of the Mexican postal service, you probably should use an express carrier. Mailing to the national office is a desperation effort with no promise that it will work in a timely manner.  In other words -- not recommended.

Administración General de Aduanas
Administración Central de Planeación Aduanera
Av. Hidalgo No. 77, Módulo IV, primer piso
Col. Guerrero, Delegación Cuauhtemoc
Código Postal 06300, México, D.F.

Aduana will give you a letter documenting the current registration date and confirming that your car permit is still valid.  If your vehicle status is questions by the police, this letter and a copy of Article 106 will answer their questions.  Even if you are not required to notify Aduana because you brought your vehicle before 11 June 2011, it is still a good idea to get the update letter because there have been reports of police not understanding the fine points of the law.  I have read a number of reports from people who were hassled over this.

There is no charge to file this letter from Aduana.

The documents required:

1.  Copy of the temporary importation permit.

2.  You will be asked to fill out a form which you can get from the Aduana office or use this PDF file.  The PDF form has hover-over instruction in English which IE supports nicely; other browsers not so much.  You may want to download it and use Adobe Reader which will support the hover-over instructions.  Aduana TIP extension form.

3.  One of the following:  (This was among the changes included in Aduana's rule book dated Nov 2014.)

a)  a copy of your new card, front and back.  This may be the least attractive option because often there is a delay between the official renewal date and the time you actually receive the card.  This delay could seriously eat into the 15 days.

b)  the NUT which INM gave you when you turned in your application.  This option has a possible drawback.  The NUT only means you have turned in your renewal application; it does not signify that the application had been approved.  If there should be some problem with the papers submitted, the use of the NUT at Aduana might be premature and could cause problems.

c)  the notice to appear for fingerprinting which the INM office sent to you by e-mail.  This option has no drawbacks and is the earliest reliable document you can take to Aduana.  If the NUT does not appear on the e-mail, take the number with you.

Traffic LawsTraffic laws are a state matter, so they may not be exactly the same in every state.  Almost all states publish the laws online. Do a Google search for reglamento de circulación or reglamento de vialidad transito y transporte for your state.

Insurance in México:  Automobile labiality insurance is required in some, but not all states, nevertheless it is VERY important to have it.  I have devoted a separate page to this vital subject at Automobile Insurance

Insurance and registration back in the old country: Your car in México must have the license plates that were issued with your registration that you had when you arrived in México.  (Or new plates if you change your registration.)  From that time on, México has no interest in whether you keep that out-of-country registration up to date.  Likewise they don't care what you do with your non-Mexican insurance.  They are only interested in your plates for identification. Your "registration" in México is the permit you were issued at the border.

Unless you need to drive back to the old country from time to time, you can probably save a goodly sum by letting registration lapse and canceling the insurance. 

If you return to the old country to live, all insurance companies will charge you a penalty for being uninsured for some period of time.  Before you leave, talk with your insurance agent.  He may be able to offer you a non-operating or storage policy that will keep you on the rolls for only a few dollars per year.  Some of these holding policies also allow for short term re-activations when you want to return north for a visit.

There are some states (NY, FL, perhaps others) that will suspend your driver's license if you do not maintain insurance on your car.  This can cause you great problems if you want to drive in the USA at any time.  (Unless you get a Mexican driver's license; it is recognized in the USA just as your USA license is OK in México.  In those states you need to arrange non-operating registration and insurance to save you driver's license. Or you need to register your car in another state with easier rules.

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