Overland Mexico Travel
Currency to display:
 Entering Mexico with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: December 2011
 Required Paperwork
The border with the United States of America and Mexico has a zone where you can drive your car without doing any of the paperwork listed below. This zone usually extends about 20km South, and includes all of Baja California. If you plan to go further into Mexico, you will have to complete the paperwork listed here.
- Passport of registered owner (original and 1 copy).
- Vehicle registration (original and 1 copy).
- Drivers license of registered owner (original and 1 copy).
- Mexico Tourist Card you received when you crossed the border, or crossed outside the special zone mentioned above (original and 1 copy)
 Process at border
(For people, see Mexico Visa and Passport requirements at the World Travel Guide)
- The owner of the vehicle gains entry at immigration (migración), including a stamp in their Passport and a Mexico Tourist Card (depending on which border you cross at, you may get this at the actual border, then proceed further until you are required to complete paperwork for the vehcile).
- The owner must show the new passport stamp and tourist card, drivers license and the original vehicle registration to customs (aduana).
- The owner is issued a temporary import permit for the vehicle.
Important: only the registered owner of the vehicle or spouse are allowed to drive the vehicle. If somebody else gets caught driving the vehicle, consider it donated to customs.
NOTE: You may encounter locals offering to help you with paperwork to get across the border. See Border Crossing Helpers for advice.
 Cost of entry
- $262.00 MXN per person for the tourist card. Maximum duration 180 Days
- $48.84 USD for the vehicle permit, maximum duration 180 days (often matched with tourist card). PLUS you must leave a deposit between $200.00 USD - $600.00 USD depending on age of vehicle. Better to pay in USD, but you can use your VISA card to pay and and leave the deposit.
An entry permit RVs is good for 10 years.
 Permitted length of stay
Unlimited, so long as the registered owner of the vehicle is legally allowed to remain in Mexico. Consider importing your vehicle as an RV, we were told that it can easily extend your vehicle import to a 10 year term, whereas your visa is the only limitation on your stay.
 Extension of stay
See below, as long as the owner / driver is legally in Mexico, so is the vehicle. If it is parked and nobody drives it, it's still legal. There is no expiration date for the temporary import of the vehicle, so there is also no extension.
 Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
The vehicle can stay as long as the owner and driver are legal in the country. If you park your car, leave the country and come back with a new tourist visa, you're free to drive on with your vehicle. There is no time limit for the vehicle to stay in the country.
 Exiting with a vehicle
- The registered owner presents the temporary import paper to customs.
- The registered owner is stamped out of Mexico at immigration.
NOTE: When leaving the country, you may be asked by immigration to pay a fee - this is bribery and you should not pay anything without getting an official receipt.
 Driving in Mexico
 Insurance requirements
Insurance is mandatory in Mexico, and you will have problems with the Police if you don't purchase it. You can buy it at the border, or many companies exist online that piggy-back on your insurance from the United States of America
 Cost of insurance
$135.00 USD for six months for a 4x4 from Mexico Auto Insurance.
$96.00 USD for six months for a 1987 4Runner from Sansborns Mexico Insurance including $14.00 USD "Legal Aid" upgrade.
 Where to purchase insurance
At the border or online
- One option to buy online ICI: http://www.mxici.com/CSAVI/Default.aspx
 Driving license
A license from anywhere in the world appears to be enough.
 Driving side of road
Right hand drive vehicles are permitted without problem.
 Mandatory items in vehicle
 General Road quality
Roads in Mexico vary greatly from very good toll roads, to horrendous gravel roads.
 Road signs
Road signs are common enough, and are generally good enough to rely on.
 Toll roads
Mexico has an ever-increasing network of very good quality toll roads, mostly in the North, and near major population centers. They are very expensive. Expect to pay around $10.00 USD every 50km.
 Vehicle Ferry between Baja and Mainland
Baja Ferries offers service from La Paz to either Mazatlan or Topolobampo. Ferries run every few days and take 6 to 8 hours to make the crossing, most run overnight. Dinner and breakfast included. A mid-size SUV with driver cost $2,000.00 MXN. Cabins ($975.00 MXN) and/or other passengers ($975.00 MXN) cost extra. Fees are from Dec 2011.
 Bribery in Mexico
Police bribery is very common in Mexico, and you will probably encounter it at some point. See the bribery tips page for advice.
Police checkpoints are very common in Mexico, especially in the North near the United States of America. There are two kinds:
- Military checkpoints: Where they are primarily concerned with the transport of illegal items. They may ask to see your Passport, and may perform and inspection of your vehicle.
- Police checkpoints: Here you will be asked to show your Passport, Vehicle registration, drivers license, the temporary import permit you were issued at the border and maybe your insurance. Depending on the circumstances, you may encounter bribery at these stops.
 Traveling with pets
As with all borders in Central America, be ready for bribery if you have a pet.
According to travelers in 2012, you need: 
- A Health Certificate for the animal in Spanish (updated at least every four months)
- A vaccination record (the European Pet Passport works well)
You might not be asked for either one, but you should have them ready.
 Gas and Diesel price in Mexico
Last updated: November 2009
Currency and unit to display:
|Regular|| $10.07 MXN per Liter Updated: July 2012|
|Super (90)||€0.90 EUR per Liter  (from 2011)|
|Normal Diesel||$0.60 USD per Liter|
|Diesel (low sulfur)||??|
- Price Information: International Gas / Petrol / Diesel prices - Mexico
 Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
Gasoline is common, typically not more than around 200km from station to station.
 Gas and Diesel Quality
Accepted to be generally good quality. Sulfur content of diesel is unknown.
 Safety and Security Considerations
 Driving at night
Driving at night is not recommended.
- Homemade speed bumps (called topes) are extremely hard to see, very common, and almost always very severe. Hitting one in the dark at 80km/h is likely.
- Poor road quality means potholes, washouts and other hazards are common.
- Dangerous driving such as tailgating, overtaking around blind corners and excessive speeding are common.
- There can be many objects on and around the road that are nearly impossible to see at night, such as livestock, people, slow moving carts, cars with no lights, etc.
 Vehicle parking
Parking on the street during the day is usually OK. Find a secure parking lot overnight and in big cities. Price unknown.
 Special driving considerations
For people driving South through the Americas, Mexico is their first introduction to driving and road conditions in Latin America. See Pan American Highway Driving Considerations for general advice.
 Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for Mexico - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
 Camping in Mexico
Camping is popular in Mexico, with both locals and foreigners driving South from United States of America. Roadside camping is difficult due to the high population density, abundant roadside fences and security considerations.
 Camping guide books
The [Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping] is the definitive list of campsites in Mexico. Information includes detailled maps, GPS co-ordinates, and descriptions of campground facilities.
 Drinking water
Tap water in Mexico is not safe to drink. Bottled water can be bought, and stores selling purified drinking water are common. A 20 liter container costs around $14.00 MXN to fill.
 Paper maps
- The Mexico Road Atlas (aka the Guia Roji) is the road map to have for Mexico. It includes: toll booths and toll fees, places to stay and places to eat, gas stations, auto mechanics, medical services, rest areas, public telephones, border crossings and maps of Belize and Guatemala. It can be bought at gas stations within Mexico for around $20.00 USD. It is updated yearly, and is in Spanish.
- The Baja Almanac is very good for anyone spending extensive time in Baja California.
 GPS Maps of Mexico
- Open Street Map: Appears to have good coverage.
- Garmin: Apparently no map of Mexico.
- TomTom: lists coverage as "street network, with detailed coverage of 70 cities". 
http://www.gpstravelmaps.com/index.php has maps of Mexico and many more countries. Not complete coverage of all the roads for the maps of Belize and Guatemala I used 2010, but constantly updating.
 GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in Mexico
- Mexico Campgrounds and Hotels | Life Remotely - a very detailed list of campgrounds and hotels in Mexico, with GPS co-ords.
- Camping Sites: Mexico - Detailed list of campsites and propane filling with description, directions and GPS co-ordinates. Some at hotels (lists facilities and price), some roadside and free.
- Central America Camping Locations - List of campsites, with basic directions and GPS co-ordinates. Mostly free sites.
 Special Overland Travel interests
 Travel Guide Books
- Mexico Travel Information and Travel Guide - Lonely Planet
- Frommer's Mexico
- Don't Go There. It's Not Safe. You'll Die. And other more rational advice for Overlanding Mexico and Central America Free e-book created by overlanders in 2012 with useful information on overlanding in general and specifics to Mexico.
 Vehicle Maintenance
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
 Local Garages
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Antonio Macoteca Cel. 984 801 0645. For engines, transmissions and other mechanical stuff.
 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in Mexico
No limitations, as long as you have a mailing address in Mexico for the registration of the vehicle.
Not a problem, as long as you sell the vehicle to a foreigner. The seller has to go with the buyer to a customs office and take the vehicle out of his documents and the buyer has to import the vehicle with his documents.
- ↑ Baja Ferries
- ↑ Ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan | Life Remotely
- ↑ Central American Borders and dogs
- ↑ International Gas / Petrol / Diesel prices - Mexico
- ↑ fuel price - anybody ? - The HUBB
- ↑ OpenStreetMap Mexico
- ↑ TomTom Map availability
- How-To-Guide for Motorcycling in Mexico - an excellent guide for everything you need to know about motorcycling in Mexico