What to Know When Driving in Mexico
While the process is relatively manageable, there are a few important things that you need to remember and prepare for before driving across the border into Mexico.
Carry Valid Identification
Gone are the days when the only thing you needed to cross the U.S.-Mexico border was your driver’s license. While you’ll still need a valid U.S. license to drive in Mexico, you also must have a passport, passport card or green card.
You need these documents not only to enter Mexico, but also when you come back to the United States. Frequent US-Mexico travelers should also consider obtaining a Global Entry card or Sentri pass to reduce the wait times at the border, which can last up to four hours.
Keep your official documents in a safe place while traveling, so you don’t lose them.
Stay Within the Free or Border Zone
American drivers who choose to cross the U.S.-Mexico border by car need to obtain a Vehicle Import Permit to drive in the country. Failure to do so may cost you a fine, or your vehicle may be confiscated by Mexican customs officials.
There are a few exceptions within the free zone (zona libre) where driving without this permit is allowed. You can drive your car without a Vehicle Import Permit within the entire Baja Peninsula or the Puerto Peñasco area in Sonora. You’re also allowed to drive up to 16 miles beyond the US-Mexico border.
However, if you plan on visiting relatives in areas other than the ones mentioned above, go online to the Mexican Air and Armed Forces website to obtain your Vehicle Temporary Import (VTI) permit.
Use the Toll Roads
Plan and prepare your road trip across the border ahead of time. Driving to Mexico and navigating its vast road system isn’t complicated, but it’s always safer to use the toll roads (carreteras de cuota).
Where are you going? How long will it take to get there? Look at the map and identify the toll roads before you embark on your journey. Knowing where you’re going gives you peace of mind and allows you to plan your nights before hitting the road.
Avoid driving once the sun goes down, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.
Obtain Tourist Auto Insurance
Some drivers disregard this last suggestion and assume their auto insurance will cover them. Whether you’re renting a car in Mexico or driving your own vehicle, you need to purchase an additional tourist auto insurance policy. If you have any questions about driving to Mexico and your coverage, call your agent.
Infinity Insurance can help you with your upcoming trip to our neighboring country. We offer coverage in Mexico through NFP, one of the leading partners of Mexican auto insurance in America. You can learn more about what the policy includes in the linked article, and find tips on how to protect yourself while traveling outside the U.S.
Call us at 1-800-INFINITY to learn more about your auto insurance needs for your next road trip.
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