FAQs About Driving To Mexico
Driving to Mexico is a fun adventure, however it is wise to be knowledgeable and prepared before crossing the border, especially for the first time. Tips to consider before hitting the road:
Do I need a special driver's license to drive in Mexico?
No. You may drive with your foreign driver's license into Mexico or an international driver's license.
I've never driven my car into Mexico, where do I start?
- Your finance company: Check your auto purchase contract to be sure your finance company allows the vehicle to leave the country, most do. If you are traveling to mainland Mexico, you may need a letter of permission from your finance company in order to obtain a Mexican vehicle import permit. Your finance company may also require Mexican insurance.
- About vehicle import permits: If you are only traveling to Baja, no permit is required. However, if you are traveling to mainland Mexico, you may need to get one. Permits may be obtained from some Mexican Consulates, online from Banjercito (the permit authorities), or at the border from Banjercito offices. Read more.
- Mexican insurance: Mexican insurance proves your financial responsibility (the legal requirement in some states) in case you are in an accident in Mexico. U.S. insurance does not. Why it is important to have Mexican auto insurance. Get an instant quote.
Doesn't My U.S. or Canadian Auto Insurance Policy Cover Me Into Mexico?
Many people are surprised to learn that their U.S. or Canadian auto insurance does NOT cover them when driving in Mexico. Although most U.S. insurance companies do not offer Mexican coverage, some U.S. companies may offer a very limited extension into Mexico (of specific coverages like damage and theft only or only a specific number of miles from the border.) It is important to keep in mind that, limited coverage or not, Mexican authorities will never recognize a U.S. or Canadian policy anyway. The bottom line is you still need at least a Mexican liability policy to prove your financial responsibility in case of an accident. The only other way to prove financial responsibility is with large sums of cash.
What do I need to know when talking to my U.S. insurance agent about whether I have any coverage into Mexico?
- Ask your U.S. insurance agent to give you the coverage details in writing. Sometimes these details are not adequate in explaining what coverage you may have in Mexico.
- Ask questions! Imagine you are in need of using their service in Mexico, how will you contact them? Do they send out an adjuster to help you with the required accident and police reports? Do they cover all your legal costs in Mexico?
- Even if your U.S. insurance agent says you are covered for some (or all risks as some erroneously believe) in Mexico, Mexican authorities still require at least a Mexican liability insurance policy or other form of financial responsibility. The U.S. policy is generally not a form of financial responsibility they are able to accept. Remember, it is not about what your U.S. insurance company says, it is about how things work in Mexico.
- Keep in mind your U.S. agent may not have any first hand experience with Mexican insurance. Therefore, they have a limited understanding. This is why Mexican insurance agents are an important source of first hand knowledge.
I'm considering renting a car to drive to Mexico. What are the pros and cons?
Sometimes travelers consider renting a vehicle instead of driving their own. Some do not want to put miles on their vehicle and others just prefer to keep their car at home. The cons to this are mainly about the cost. In addition to the rental car fee, some rental agencies charge large daily Mexican insurance rates that are more expensive than our daily rates. Another con may be that you are not aware of how well the vehicle has been maintained. A third con is some rental companies only allow you to drive the vehicle within the tourist corridors (a limited amount of miles into Mexico).
If I rent a car, will I be able to buy Mexican auto insurance from Baja Bound?
Maybe. If the rental agency does allow the vehicle into Mexico and does not offer Mexican insurance, we can cover the rental car. However, some rental agencies offer their own coverage. In that case we cannot sell you our coverage.
What other travel preps are a good idea to consider?
- Call your cell phone company to find out if your service extends into Mexico and how to use it. (How to dial home or within Mexico).
- Check your oil, fluids, and tires.
- If you are bringing a pet, read our helpful section about Traveling with Pets in Mexico.
What can I expect when driving across the border?
Most of the time, driving into Mexico is a snap. The border wait times overall are short, but may be longer during rush hour and sometimes more so on Friday evenings. If you only have personal items or items within your exemption, you do not need to declare anything. Read more about declaring items.
Mexican Customs authorities do not stop every vehicle crossing. Generally inspection is random. As each car pulls up to the border, it either receives a green light or a red light from the traffic signal. A red light means you must pull into secondary inspection which is generally quick too. They may look in your trunk and backseats. If you receive a green light, there is nothing to do except keep driving.
I've heard that some Mexican toll roads have a roadside assistance service and include insurance. Why do I need more insurance?
There are Mexican toll roads that include roadside assistance from the Green Angels with limited insurance coverage. However, the insurance provided has many exclusions, the main one being that it does not cover damages to your vehicle. Primarily, it is to pay others you may have caused damage to and to repair the road. The coverage does not cover you once you leave the toll road. Read more.