In order to start an epic road trip to Mexico you have to first cross the border. Crossing the border into Mexico can seem intimidating at first. There is a ton of paperwork to prepare in addition to fees, registrations, and potential language barriers to navigate. To help you prepare for your trip to Mexico, we share our experience crossing the border into Mexico, as well as a summary of the things you need when crossing the border into Mexico.
Paperwork needed for crossing the border into mexico
- Passport. If crossing the border into Mexico by vehicle you must have a valid passport book or passport card in addition to a valid drivers license.
- Mexico Vehicle Insurance. In order to RV or drive to Mexico in a vehicle, you must purchase special Mexican liability insurance. Mexico requires a minimum of $300,000 in liability coverage which can be purchased from a number of different Mexico insurance carriers. You can purchase full liability and collision coverage, or basic liability coverage for one or more vehicle for a period of 6 months or 12 months at a time. We used Mexpro, and paid around $300 for our RV and scooter since our American insurance covered comprehensive and collision still.
- Tourist Visa aka Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM). The FMM is your tourist visa. You can fill this out at the actual border crossing, or you can complete and pay for the form online prior to arrival. Either way, you will need to officially get your visa stamped whether you complete the form online before hand or not. The tourist visa is only as good as the number of days you specify on the visa, which at maximum, is 180 days.
- Vehicle Registration. They will request your vehicle’s registration and possibly its title, although they did not ask for the title in our personal experience.
- Cash or a credit card (Visa or Mastercard only) with the same name as the registered vehicle. This is needed to pay for the vehicle import permit, which for our scooter was $50 and for our RV/car was $400 US dollars. This is a refundable deposit that is returned to you upon exiting the country and returning the vehicle import permit.
The process of crossing the border into mexico
When you drive up to the gate a light will flash green or red indicating if further investigation of the vehicle is needed before registering or not. Based on our experience crossing the border into Mexico, especially if you are driving an RV, there is a good chance your vehicle will be flagged for further investigation.
Green means no further investigation, red of course means pull to the side for further investigation. This could entail officer’s walking through your RV or searching your vehicle, but in our case they simply scanned our RV in a huge X-Ray machine. They asked us to remove all of our tools and our pets, so have a pet carrier with you if you have animals.
*Important note, even if the light flashes green, you must go through the proper registration process if you are not a Mexican native. So just because it says “green” doesn’t mean you’re good to go.*
We then received a stamp for our FMM or tourist visa, which authorized us to enter the country. You can pay for the visa at the border crossing or before hand.
Next, we registered our vehicles getting the proper permits. The vehicle import permit is given in the form a sticker which should be placed on your front dash and returned upon exiting the country.
The entire process took us about 45 minutes per couple but could be more or less depending on the number of vehicles, your experience with the language, or wait time at the specific border crossing location. Once you cross you’ll likely get onto a toll road, so make sure you have plenty of pesos (at least $2,000) in order to pay the cash only tolls.
As you can see, crossing the border into Mexico doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. Knowing what to expect and what to have prepared is the best way to help the process go smoothly.
Liz & Dennis
We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!
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