Mexico-Border Crossing Information

While many people may know Mexico best for its beach destinations of Cabo San Lucas, Cozumel, or Cancun, it has much more to offer. Gorgeous beaches in Baja California and the Pacific coast, the spectacular canyons of Barranca del Cobre, the reawakening ghost town of Real de Catorce in the Northern Central Highlands, thriving colonial era cities like Zacatecas, San Miguel Allende, ruins from Monte Alban, Palenque, Yaxchilan, and Tulum, culture and arts in Oaxaca and San Cristobal de la Casas, you could spend months traveling Mexico and leave knowing there's still much more to see.  Read more about border crossing here. 

Basic Facts

  • Population: 109 million 
  • Capital: Mexico City, one of the world's most populous cities
  • Fun fact: Mexico is a newly industrialized country

Border Crossing Information

Entry Requirements

Necessary documents

  • Passport
  • Vehicle Certificate of Title (commonly call a "title" which is proof of car ownership)
  • Vehicle Registration
  • Valid Drivers License
  • Proof of insurance that is valid in Mexico
  • An affidavit from any lien holders authorizing temporary importation (if you have a loan or lease on your vehicle)
  • You will need photocopies of all these documents to hand over to the Mexican consulate, which you can pay for at the border. Making multiple copies of your documents is a good idea, see more tips under Planning your Trip.

Costs

  • FMT: $22 American
  • Vehicle Import Permit $30´Permiso de Importancion Temporal de Vehiculos´
  • Deposit on valid credit card to ensure the car leaves the country or bond payment (see below)

Make sure to keep all papers and receipts associated with these transactions as they are all necessary to leave Mexico.

Overview: Temporary Vehicle Import Permit

Vehicle import permits can be purchased at the border, or beforehand at a consulate or online.

Getting your Vehicle Import Permit Online

Temporary vehicle import permits can be obtained on the internet at  Banjercito's website. After submitting the required information to the website, you will receive a pass code. After 24 hours and within 15 days of obtaining the pass code, visit any Banjercito location to obtain the permit document.

Getting your Vehicle Import Permit at a Mexican Consulate

Additionally, temporary vehicle import permits can be obtained for $35 American at Mexican consulates in the following cities in the United States: Albuquerque, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Chicago. Temporary vehicle import permits may be obtained at a Mexican consulate up to 6 months prior to the trip. When obtaining the permit at a Mexican consulate, you may choose the date when the permit goes into effect.

Getting your Vehicle Import Permit at the Border

Permits can also purchased after crossing the border into Mexico. Using the above necessary documents you can obtain your FMT and vehicle import permits at the Aduana (Mexican Customs). All necessary payment of fees for this process occur at the Banjercito, located within the Aduana or immigration building.

No permits are necessary as long as the car remains within the border zone (within 18 miles of the border). Otherwise, the vehicle requires a temporary vehicle import permit (permiso de importación temporal de vehículosas) and any individuals traveling with the car need tourist permits or FMT.

If the title or car registration has any names listed on it of persons who are not traveling with you, you will need to bring a notarized letter from those persons authorizing the trip. If any lien holder is listed such as a bank or leasing agency, you will also need an notarized letter from that bank or leasing agency authorizing the trip into Mexico. This can make bringing a leased or loaned vehicle into Mexico difficult.

You will need photocopies of all these documents to hand over to the Mexican consulate, which you can pay for at the border. Making multiple copies of your documents is a good idea, see more tips unde planning your trip.If your vehicle is leased or you purchased your car with a loan, you will need to get an affidavit from the bank or company you got your loan or lease from. For example, if you have a leased vehicle from Volkswagen, you will have "Volkswagen Credit" listed as an owner on your title. Without having permission from "Volkswagen Credit" you will not be allowed to enter.

If you plan to drive a rental car into Mexico, you need to ask the rental company if you are allowed to bring the car into Mexico. Rental companies that do allow you to drive into Mexico often require you to buy Mexican car insurance through them at a premium.

To drive legally anywhere in Mexico, you need to purchase insurance from a Mexican insurance agency. If you do not have proof of Mexican insurance, you may be held in jail until all claims are settled. Insurance can be arranged in advance, or purchased at the border. If you are staying for more than a month or two it is usually less expensive to purchase a full year of insurance. See the Your Vehicle page for more information.

If you do not have a credit card you will need to post a bond for the value of your vehicle. For newer cars, this will be around $400 USD.

Vehicle Insurance

To drive legally anywhere in Mexico, you need to purchase insurance from a Mexican insurance agency. If you do not have proof of Mexican insurance, you may be held in jail until all claims are settled. Insurance can be arranged in advance, or purchased at the border. If you are staying for more than a month or two it is usually less expensive to purchase a full year of insurance. See the planning your trip for more information.

Border Wait Times
Check out border wait times on the US Customs and Border Protection website.

Exit Requirements

Necessary documents

  • Passport
  • Vehicle Title
  • Mexican Vehicle Import Permit
  • Receipts ´Recibo Bancario de Pago de Contrabuciones, Productos y Aprovechamientos Federales´
  • Mexican tourist permit 'FMT'

Bajercito hours (in Mexico) M-F 8am-10 pm Sat 8am-5 pm Sun 9am-4pm
Canceling the Mexican Vehicle Import Permit and Tourist Permit:
After processing some information using your Vehicle Import Papers at the border, the aduana officer will inspect your car to make sure the VIN numbers on the car and documents match. The windshield vehicle import sticker will be removed, and the aduana officer should give you a receipt proving you canceled your vehicle import permission.
Returning the temporary vehicle import permit outside of Mexico
If the temporary vehicle import license is not returned at the border,  it must be sent along with the following documents to the address below:

  • Original temporary import license.
  • Copy of migratory form issued by the Mexican Ministry of the Interior or Mexican Consulate or Immigration Officers at the border.
  • Transit tag (hologram) that was adhered to windshield of vehicle.
  • Copy of a valid driver’s license or password (Please write your address, name and sign the document)
  • Original statement signed by owner requesting the cancellation of the permit. And detailing why the temporary vehicle import licence was not returned at the border.
  • Notarized letter confirming that the vehicle is outside Mexico.

To: Administracion Central de Informatica, Contabilidad y Glosa Secretaria de Hacienda y Credito Publico Av. Hidalgo No 77, Modulo IV, 1er nivel Col. Guerrero Mexico, DF CP 06300
Tel: 011 52 55 5802 2069; FAX 011 52 55 5802 1293
AT'N LIC PEDRO G. JIMENEZ JIMENEZ Information from Consulado General en Mexico

Individual Experiences

People's experiences vary depending on crowds at the border, corrupt or honest border officials, and rules can also change. People's individual experiences are included in the Mexico-Additional Border Crossing Information page .

Camping and Hotels

You will find many options for RV and tent camping in Mexico. If you plan to do a lot of camping, especially if you have an RV, you may find the Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping book useful. Most of the tourist destinations will have a selection of RV campgrounds with hookups.
Compiled here is are roadtripper reviewed hotels and campsites in Mexico

Tue, 12/13/2011 - 10:43

Just Crossed Tijuana

I just crossed (Dec 10, 2011) through Tijuana into Baja and got my PERMISO DE IMPORTATION DE VEHICULOS just inside the border. The Banjerito Bank has a nice fenced parking lot with security while you wait in line.... it cost me $48.84USD plus vehicle deposit. Lessons learned:
1) Get into the bank line up by no later than 08hrs – ie OPENING hour or you will be there for a long time.
2) Pay the fee and the deposit in US dollar bills. I am still not sure what exchange rate they charged me to use my VISA card (they debited my card in Mex Pesos). Now would a Mexican bank charge me extra to use my visa and then also use a goofy exchange rate??? Nah.
3) They only wanted to see the original vehicle registration. They wanted also:
a. Copy of registration
b. Copy of my tourist card
c. Copy of passport page
d. Didn’t care one bit for my Mexican insurance.
 

Tue, 12/20/2011 - 11:42

Crossed Tijuana 11/5/11

We crossed November 5th, a Sunday, at around 8:30am. There were a few folks in front of us at the banjercito but we were through everything in a bit over an hour. Crossing early on a Sunday seems to be best for avoiding the lines we've heard about elsewhere.

Finding the banjercito was the hardest part, according to Google Maps the coordinates are: Latitude: 32°32'24.19"N Longitude: 117° 1'54.76"W - roughly it's behind the McDonalds you see off to the right after you cross the border. There are signs once you turn off the main road that say something along the lines of "temporary vehicle imports" except in Spanish obviously.

The vehicle import permit cost us $48, paid with a credit card. And they put a hold on $200 on our card for our car (a '97 4Runner). Tourist cards were $20 each.

The process went like this:

  1. Drive through the border
  2. Clear Mexican customs (red light, green light)
  3. Find the Banjercito / Migración office
  4. Go to the Migración office and fill out the tourist card paper.
  5. Go to the bank and pay the tourist card fee. The bank and Banjercito are the same place at this border.
  6. Go back to the Migración office with your receipt and get a stamp on your tourist card.
  7. Go to the copy shop next to Migración and make copies of your vehicle permit and the vehicle owner’s passport, tourist card and green card (if applicable).
  8. Go back to the Banjercito line. Give them the official copies and originals of vehicle and driver IDs. Pay the vehicle import fee. Give them a credit card for the vehicle deposit.
  9. Affix the registration sticker to your car.
Wed, 08/21/2013 - 16:35

Mexico: Ciudad Juárez Border

USA-Mexico Santa Teresa border: Crossed 26/8/12.

Border is about 15 miles west of the main El Paso/Ciudad Juárez border, its much quieter and alows only car traffic, compared to the insanley pedestrian and truck busy main Juarez border. First got insurance (mandatory in Mexico) at Palms Mexico Insurance, Paisano Office near central El Paso, took 20 mins. There's another one out near Santa Teresa. Got it for 21 days cost USD$113.46. If you leave Mexico earlier than the insurance goes for, you can apparently get credited back the money at their other offices near the other USA, Guatemala or Belize borders. Also exchanged USD for Mexican pesos in downtown El Paso (for a pretty good rate) to get me a fair way into Mexico without having to hit up an ATM. The nearest gas station to the border is at the interstate turn off to Santa Teresa if you want to get as far as you can into Mexico.

Exit USA:

No exit stamp required from USA side I was told, as they only deal with the green slips which they staple in passports at land border crossings. They apparently have no electronic connection to immigration at airports (I originally flew into LA and was given the 3 month tourist visa stamped in my passport).

Enter Mexico:

Border was very chilled out. They first had a quick search of my bike (don't bring a gun as many of the signs suggest). Went to Mexican immigration for entry stamp, no charge. Next to Aduana (vehicle entry) in same office to get temporary vehicle import paper and sticker for 45 pesos or USD$3.50. The guy told me not to put it on the windscreen in case it was "souvenired" and keep it safe. You also have to pay a refundable deposit to the Mexican government for your bike of 5830 pesos or USD$449, so you don't leave the bike in Mexico. If you pay cash you get cash back when you exit Mexico the same goes with a credit card refund. Next, copies are needed of all the paperwork, there's a copy guy in the same building cost 26 pesos or USD$2.00. Then you're good to go. Whole process took about 30 mins. If you're edgy about the border region, I was advised to take the toll roads which are supposedly patrolled more by police. They are also well kept and don't go through towns which really can slow you down. Although you don't want to spend your whole journey on boring toll roads. There's plenty of PEMEX gas stations along the way. You'll need a bunch of pesos too for the toll roads, I paid 85 pesos or USD$6.50 from the border to Chihuahua, where I stayed the first night. There's secure garaged hotels/motels in town.

cheers

Dom Harris

Tue, 11/12/2013 - 21:01

Update November 12, 2013

The prices seem to have changed. I crossed over in Tecate today (12/11/13) and it was $25USD for the FMT and $49USD + $200USD deposit for the Temp Vehicle Permit.

On that note patience is a virtue. Get slip to pay for FMT at Immigration, exit immigration and pay for FMT. Go back to Immigration fill out FMT form (because this can only be done after you have paid...right...). Photocopy passport, FMT, vehicle registration. Go back to bank outside. Sign a few forms - make sure they input your vehicle info correctly (I would have gladly done it myself but I think they input it directly onto their computers and print them out for you to sign). They seem to have had problems finding their way around my Canadian registration, fair enough, i guess they mostly get US registrations.

Anyway, only took 45 mins - an hour of mind-numbing bureaucracy (could have been worse). I'm pretty sure this process could have easily been simplified into two steps (1.fill out all nessesary forms 2. pay) but I wouldn't be suprised if the system was set up to make it inconvenient (goverments around the world seem to love doing things like that).

Long story short, made it to Ensanada today and super excited to be continuing on south. Vamos!

Mon, 12/16/2013 - 14:01

As of November 2013 - NO temporary vehicle permits in Tijuana

I'm not sure if things have changed in the past month, but when we entered from the US in Mexico through Tijuana we were not able to obtain the temporary vehicle permit. We had to drive 20 minutes or so east near the Otay border crossing, and there was a real hole-in-the-wall office that we got our permit at. Our spanish wasn't great and our maps were terrible so not the best experience overall.. Check in advance to see if this has changed at the Tijuana crossing, or if not seriously consider getting the permit online.

 

Fri, 10/09/2015 - 14:48

temporary import permit TIP

You need a vehicle temporary import permit ONLY if you are going to the mainland a certain number of miles south of the US border (can't remember exactly how far south this is). If you enter AND STAY in Baja, you do not need a permit. Last year, the TIP was $400 USD. Not sure what it will be this year. They will put it on your credit card; then when you leave Mexico, you can get a  credit of the TIP at a Banercito. Note that not all crossing locations have a Banercito, but you can usually find one not too far away. Happy travels!

Fri, 10/21/2016 - 14:03

Border Crossing

Just crossed at Tijuana with my KLR650.

Process was very smooth. You show up and go and get your tourist card, fill it out. Then take it to the Banjercito where you pay $22us. Then you take the form and the reciept back to the immigration desk who then stamp the form. After this youve legally entered mexico but your vehicle hasnt. You then go bank to Banjercito with your documents. I only needed my bikes registration papers and my passport, nothing more. They didnt care for my insurance, licence, title/bill of sale. Nothing. The guy behind the desk was super nice, spoke English about as good as my Spanish so we were sorted. I paid the deposit $400us with Mastercard, he gave me the import papers and windscreen sticker, we had a little joke around and the expense of a couple of US citizens for fun. Then i was on my way in what Id call a great border crossing experience.

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 10:22

Laredo/Nuevo Laredo Border Crossing

We decided to drive down from Montreal, Canada to visit my sister in Playa del Carmen for four months. 

We paid 390 pesos for the tourist visa. The Vehicle permit was 1236.44 pesos and the deposit was 8360 pesos. 

Although we read somewhere that the Banjercito only opened at 8 am, it was already open when we got there at 6 am on December 26, 2016. It was a pretty smooth process except that they told me I didn't need to get my passport stamped because they don't like to "create barriers". Needless to say, I got it anyway to avoid headaches on the way back. 

We documented the process in a youtube video that you can check out here at 0:55 seconds into the video: https://youtu.be/O-mg3zN2Qlw