Although driving to Mexico and throughout the country is not difficult (once you know the correct procedures) many people prefer to fly in the first time and learn all the nuances and then they feel more comfortable driving the next time. Of course, we will be the first to tell you the best way to get all the accurate information and total peace of mind is to first take a "Focus A la Carte" program, after which you’ll feel very confident knowing you have all the information, knowledge and experience to handle most any situation, plus you’ll have our personal phone number to contact us should you run into trouble along the way. When you attend a Focus on Mexico Program you will receive your personal "Focus Driving Kit" which contains all kinds of information on ‘Bringing in your vehicle’ plus related topics: (Note! If you have already booked on our program and plan to drive down, please let us know and we can send you the kit in advance.)
Before Driving to Mexico...
...It is always best to prepare and have a check list of things to do before embarking on a long road trip. Focus helps you do this. Read 'What you can and cannot bring'.
Get a checkup before driving to Mexico...
- As with any long trip, you should have your car checked before driving to Mexico. You will probably want to replace filters, change fluids, make sure your tires are in good shape, and have your brakes checked. If you are driving a car that's not normally found in Mexico, it might be a good idea to check with the dealer on what spare parts you should carry.
- No matter what type of car you're driving to Mexico it doesn't hurt to carry extra fuses, spark plugs, filters, water & air hoses, fan belts, transmission & brake fluid, oil, a few basic tools, etc. If you drive a Nissan or Volkswagen, you have little to worry about - the country is full of them. Almost half of all cars in Mexico are Nissans or Volkswagens. The major American automakers are also well represented.
- Having told you all the above, you've probably never seen anything quite like a Mexican mechanic (or their shops). In general they are quite good, often better than the average mechanic from back home. They are incredibly inventive! If they don't have the part, and need it right away, they just simply make one. This is their approach with anything mechanical.
Gather documents before driving to Mexico...
Make sure you have all your necessary documents with you. Read 'Crossing the Border,' under Permit for your Vehicle.
Leased, rental or company vehicle?
Thinking about bringing in a leased, rental or company vehicle? Make sure you know all the rules and whether or not you need permission to cross the border with the vehicle.
Can you bring them in? Maybe…
Driving to Mexico with Leased or Rented Vehicles
- Many car rental companies in the United States/Canada have clauses in their contracts prohibiting drivers from traveling out of the country. When renting a vehicle in the United States or Canada, check with the company to see if your contract allows you to drive it into Mexico. You will also want to get written permission (notarized document) to show proof that they agree to your bringing the vehicle into Mexico.
- The same applies for leased vehicles. Essentially, with a leased vehicle, it is considered that the finance company is the owner of the vehicle you are buying under lease. Therefore it is important for you to get a notarized permission letter to allow you to bring the car into Mexico.
Driving to Mexico with a Company Vehicle
- When we first came to Mexico, we were driving our Motor Home and pulling our Saturn behind it. Both vehicles were in our company name. Not having anyone to ask ten years ago, we just showed up at the border expecting to cross. Whoops!
- We soon found out the rules and we were in luck. We needed to have a notarized letter from our own company, giving us permission to bring the vehicles in. That was easy! We had the company documents on board and our computer and scanner. I just whipped up a piece of letterhead, gave us permission and put on the company seal. A quick trip to the lawyer and we had it notarized. I scanned in the company documents proving who we were and printed them off. Then we were back to the border and crossing with no more problems.
- However, not many people travel with their company books and seal, let alone a computer and scanner. Best to know these rules in advance and come prepared. It’s always easy once you know how.