8 Things You Need For Crossing the Mexican Border
Crossing the Mexican border can be a tense experience, especially if you’ve never done it before. From where to go, what to bring, and what not to bring it can be an overwhelming experience to prepare for. Luckily, this guide will share everything you need for a smooth trip crossing the Mexican border. Let’s get started!
Can I drive my vehicle to Mexico?
You can legally drive a car, motorcycle, or RV to Mexico if you have a valid driver’s license and passport. However, you will need certain forms and documentation to avoid potential issues. The forms and documents you need will vary depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving.
The border agent at the border crossing station will request to see your passport card or book when crossing. They may also request your vehicle registration or do an inspection of the car. However, it’s more likely that your vehicle registration and driver’s license will be reviewed in further detail at the Instituto Nacional de Migración (IMN) office which issues your visitors permit.
You can drive a rented vehicle into Mexico, but it will complicate the process. If you are going beyond the Free Trade Zone, you may need to register your vehicle for a temporary import permit (TIP). Which is both expensive and costly.
For that reason, it’s recommended you only drive your own vehicle into the country and have updated registration, title or vesting information, and the proper insurance before crossing the Mexican border.
Fortunately, a U.S. citizen cannot be denied entry at a border crossing station (#passportprivilege). However, you will likely undergo a secondary inspection and questioning if you do not have the proper and valid travel documents.
There are no rules or policies for how long the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can detain you for questioning. In some extreme cases, CBP could hold you for several hours, but these are extremely rare instances. However, don’t expect officials to be in a hurry or move fast in these types of situations. You’re causing the inconvenience by not having the proper documentation and following the proper protocols.
8 things you need for crossing the Mexico border
As you can see, it’s important to have the proper documentation and forms when crossing the Mexico border. You can save yourself a huge headache by simply having the right documents, forms, and information. So let’s look at what you should make sure to bring with you when crossing the Mexican border.
One of the most important documents you will need when crossing the Mexico border is a valid passport. When traveling by land or sea you can use a valid passport book or passport card.
Children under the age of 16 do not need a passport. Instead, they can show a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or other certificates of citizenship when re-entering the United States. However, anyone 16 and older will need a valid passport or passport card.
2. Driver’s license
If you plan to drive in Mexico, just like in the United States, you better have a valid driver’s license. Should you be involved in an accident or have an encounter with law enforcement, they expect you to present it. Even if you don’t plan on driving during your time in Mexico, it’s a good idea to have your driver’s license just in case.
3. Mexican auto insurance
If you’re driving your car in Mexico, you are required to have a minimum of $300,000 in special Mexican liability auto insurance for the vehicles you are driving. While you might think that your standard auto insurance policy will do the trick, but it won’t.
You must purchase Mexican auto insurance to protect yourself and others against any accidents, damages, or injuries they cause while driving in Mexico. The penalty and fine for driving in Mexico without this is extreme.
We recommend getting your insurance from Baja Bound. They offer great coverage rates and their policies can be for a few days or up to 6 months if need be.
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4. Official Entry Immigration Form (FMM)
Any tourists traveling to Mexico on a short-term visit that’s less than 180 days must fill out a Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM). This is the visitor’s card (sort of acts like a visa) allowing you to legally travel throughout the country. This form can be completed at the IMN office sometimes referred to as Banjercito.
You can save yourself time and stress by completing this form online in advance, printing the completed form and your paid receipt and bringing it into the IMN office for official stamp of approval. If preferred you can simply fill it out at the IMN office after crossing though.
Some border crossing stations will have the IMN office at the crossing station, minimizing your stops in getting your FMM approved. At others, the Banjercito or IMN office is about a 10 – 20 minute drive from the border crossing station. No one will stop you to remind you to stop there, it is your responsibility to get your permit approved.
Remember, traveling in Mexico without an approved FMM is illegal so make sure to add this as your first stop after crossing.
Plan ahead for crossing the Mexican border
The key to a smooth trip across the border is planning. You’re setting yourself up for a nightmare if you wait until the last minute to gather the necessary documents and forms. Save yourself the trouble and get forms and documents in order as soon as possible. You’ll be thankful when your border crossing is a breeze.
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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