Driving in Mexico with a US License

What You Need to Know

If you’re a US citizen planning on driving in Mexico, it’s important to be familiar with  Mexico’s driving rules and regulations of the country.

In this article, we’ll provide a summary of what you need to know before hitting the road in Mexico. So, whether you’re renting a car or borrowing someone else’s vehicle, read on for tips on how to stay safe while driving in Mexico!

Driving in Mexico With a US License

Driving through Mexico is an exciting prospect, especially if you’re the type of person to enjoy long hours on the road. However, if you don’t want your dream drive to become a nightmare, it’s crucial to be aware of the differences between driving in Mexico and the United States.

First of all, driving in Mexico with a US license is allowed, as is any other license written in English or Spanish. If not, you’re going to have to get an International Driver’s License.

Additionally, in Mexico, drivers must always carry proof of insurance. US car insurance is not valid in Mexico, so if you’re involved in an accident, you could be liable for damages. To avoid this, we recommend purchasing Mexican auto insurance before your trip.

It’s also important to know that traffic violations in Mexico are typically handled by on-the-spot fines rather than points added to your driver’s license. As a result, you’ll want to have cash on hand to pay any potential fines.

Lastly, remember that Mexico has different traffic laws than the United States. For example, in Mexico, it is illegal to turn right at a red light. Driving under the influence of alcohol is also taken much more seriously in Mexico, so it’s best to play it safe and avoid drinking before getting behind the wheel.

Documents You Need to Drive to Mexico

As a US citizen, driving in Mexico is relatively simple. All you need is your US driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. However, it’s always a good idea to have a passport on hand in case you’re stopped by Mexican authorities.

Here’s a checklist of other documents you need to have to drive in Mexico.

Legal Identification
As a US citizen driving in a foreign country, you need to have legal identification always on your person. This could be your passport, driver’s license, or other valid IDs.

Driver’s License or IDL
As mentioned, Mexico authorizes driver’s licenses as long as they are in English. If your license card is not written in English, you need to secure an international driver’s license before you can drive across the border.

Mexican Immigration Card
All foreign citizens or tourists who are staying for less than 180 days in Mexico are required to submit an Official Entry Immigration Form (or FMM).

You can fill up these forms online and print them yourself. Here are some of the things you’ll need:

  • Contact information (mobile and email)
  • Arrival flight information
  • Passport
  • Address or hotel information in Mexico

Proof of Registration
Just like in the US, you will need to carry around your vehicle’s registration in case you get pulled over.

Proof of Insurance
Liability insurance is mandatory in Mexico, so you need to ensure that you’re always carrying around your car’s insurance policy document. You should also keep in mind that your US insurance likely won’t be valid in Mexico – you need to get different Mexican car insurance for your travels.

Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit (TVIP)
Before you can drive beyond Mexico’s border area, you need to secure a permit called a TVIP.

This permit proves that you’re only driving in Mexico temporarily and that you’ll be taking your car out of the country when your trip is over.

The TVIP is valid for up to 180 days, and you can get it at the Mexican border or online before your trip.

To acquire a TVIP, you need the following documents.

  • Proof of American registration
  • Proof of car ownership
  • Affidavit authorizing temporary importation
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Proof of citizenship

Covid-19 Documents
Fortunately, Mexico is currently open to everyone. You don’t have to provide any additional pandemic-related requirements such as vaccination cards and the like.

However, the government still encourages the public to follow minimum health protocols and Health Travel Guidance, such as social distancing, masking, and hand sanitizing, to enjoy your stay fully.

Mexico Driving License Requirements

There are several instances where you might want to get a driver’s license in Mexico. You might have gotten into Mexico via plane and realized you left your US driver’s license at home. Maybe you intentionally didn’t bring it because you thought you wouldn’t need it.

Whatever the case, don’t worry – if you need to get your Mexico driving license, the process is easy and free.

Who Can Apply for a Driver’s License?
There are two main kinds of valid driver’s licenses that you can apply for in Mexico: Mexican driver’s license, or an International Driver’s Permit, also called an IDP or IDL.

If you already have a valid driver’s license, you can apply for an IDP, although you will need to show your physical driver’s license from your nation of origin.

Regardless, whether you’re applying for a driver’s license or an international driver’s license, the requirements are pretty much the same:

  • Government-issued driver’s license (for IDP)
  • Immigration card
  • Passport
  • Proof of address

How to Get a Mexican Driver’s License

Getting a Mexican driver’s license should be easy, even as a tourist driving in Mexico. Here’s the process for securing your Mexican driver’s license.

  1. Secure your documents. This refers to the requirements listed above. Make sure to have them all with you before proceeding to the next step.
  2. Proceed to the Driving License Center. Once you have all your documents ready, go ahead and approach the front desk of any Driving License Center in Mexico. They’ll check if you have everything you need and then assign you a number.
  3. Wait for your number to be called. Go to the counter indicated and present your documents there. You’ll be asked a few questions, which will most likely be in Spanish. If everything checks out, you can proceed to the next step.
  4. Get a medical exam. The medical center should be in the same facility as the office you submitted your papers to. You’ll undergo an eyesight check and a blood type test.
  5. Answer the written test. After the medical, you’ll have to complete a written test. The test will comprise ten questions, and you need to have at least eight correct answers. If you make more than two mistakes, you’ll have to retake the test after 15 days.
  6. Driving test. Once you’ve passed your written test, you will proceed to the driving test. You will make five maneuvers, which you should be able to do in three tries.
  7. Receive and pay for your documents. After the test, you will then go back inside to receive your papers and your license. You’ll have to pay the due amount first, though.

It bears repeating that the entire process will be in Spanish, and although some employees might be able to speak English, not everyone will cater to this request. If you don’t know how to speak Spanish, it’s best to bring a friend or a guide to act as a translator.

Mexican Auto Insurance With Magnum Insurance

As a tourist driving in Mexico, preparation is the key if you want a good road trip experience. After all, driving in Mexico is a great way to see the country and experience its culture. Just be sure to brush up on the local driving laws and regulations before setting out on your journey.

More importantly, don’t forget your Mexico insurance policy. Before you even cross the border, you should get a new Mexico tourist policy from a competent insurance provider such as Magnum Insurance.

Make your trip as smooth as possible with Mexican car insurance from Magnum Insurance. Call us for a free quote now!

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