Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico

Over the years, there have been tons of repeated questions about driving cars into Mexico under Tourist Visas,  FM2’s,  FM3’s,  (and  soon FMM’s).    RollyBrook and others have lots of good stuff,  but here’s a Yucalandian view: . . . Happy Trails! (cont)
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The full article can be found at:
Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico
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Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry

Read-on MacDuff . . .

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21 Responses to Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico

  1. Cindy says:

    I jumped on Wikipedia and read the article, but it was a lot like walking through pudding: slow going and afterward I felt kinda dirty.

  2. Wes says:

    I am looking at driving down to Yucatan in Sept 2011 in a Chevy van that will be 10 years old in Sept. I will get an FMM for this trip – I plan on leaving the Canadian plated vehicle at our casa in Merida and return to Canada at the end of Sept. When I come back in Feb. 2012 I want to obtain an FM3 and then nationalize this 10 year old vehicle. Is it correct that I can leave the vehicle in Merida when I leave at the end of Sept and then nationalize it when I return in Feb. after I have my FM3??? We plan on spending the winters in Merida and think it would be easiest to renew an FM3 if it expires in the winter months. Any thoughts?? Thanks, Wes

    • yucalandia says:

      As a visitor under an FMM, your car can only stay in the country as long as your FMM is valid. When you leave Mexico, the FMM is cancelled, and the car should leave the country. If you want to leave the car here while you are out of the country, you need to get an FM3- No Inmigrante RENTISTA visa, bring the car in under a Temporary Import permit under your FM3 RENTISTA, and then keep the FM3 renewed to keep the car´s permit legitimate. I don´t think you can nationalize a car (Permanent Import permit) under an FMM. I think you have to have either an FM3 or FM2 to nationalize a vehicle.

      • ricardo says:


  3. John says:

    Again….I love your posts….thank you

    You are required to notify the Mexican Customs office IF YOU MADE A CASH DEPOSIT TO REGISTER YOUR CAR or if you made a credit card deposit after June 11, 2011. This notification (including copies of the vehicle permit and copies of the renewed Visa) can be made in writing and sent to:

    The question: What if you made a credit card deposit BEFORE June 11th????


    • yucalandia says:

      Based on reports from our local Aduana agents in Progreso, even with older credit card deposits, you are supposed to register every change in INM permit/visa status, and register every updated FM2/FM3 expiration date with every renewal. By filing your new INM permit expiration date, you ensure that Aduana’s database records are kept current, protecting your deposit, AND if the police pull you over, they can call Aduana and get the correct information about whether your car’s sticker is still current.
      Make sense? steve

  4. John says:



    The police last week impounded my car for a parking violation……i.e. don’t park with a yellow curb in Polanco. I had to pay a “large sum” to get it out beacuse the import permit had expired. But they didn’t want anything to do with the fact that I had a new visa. They wanted a new import decal or form with a stamp on it. Went to the delegation today where they register foreign autos…..the guy said he doesn’t do that and that I needed to go to Nuevo Laredo – where I crossed the border. So…I’ll go to the aduana tomorrow with the letter…..and see what happens. Meanwhile I’m leaving the car in the company’s parking lot and taking taxies……

    I’ll let you know what happens……meanwhile I’m open to any suggestions.


  5. John says:

    Followup on my situation. I went to the Aduana in Mexico City today and they said that my Visa “No Inmigrante” is the wronf visa to have a car here in Mexico. They said I need an FM3 – but my lawyer said that they don’t have FM3’s anymore……however, they said I needed to take the car back through Laredo…….never to return……is that how it is??????

    • yucalandia says:

      There seems to be a little confusion on several points:
      – “No Inmigrante” is the current official term for FM3’s. INM still uses the FM3 terminology (interchangeably with “No Inmigrante” status) on some of their websites, and INM personnel also talk about FM3’s and FM2’s (FM2 = “Inmigrante”:)

      – Within the general category of “No Inmigrante” there are various sub-categories: “No Inmigrante Rentista” (one who lives off of investment or pension income), “No Inmigrante Familar” (one who has been given immigration permission based on their being married or related to a Mexican Citizen), working FM3’s, etc etc etc. FM2’s (“Inmigrantes”) also have similar subcategories.

      – There is ONLY ONE sub-category of the “No Inmigrante” and “Inmigrante” permits that allow a foreigner to keep a foreign-plated car: “Caracteristica RENTISTA”.

      So, I think you may have misunderstood both the Aduana agents and your attorney. FM3 is older terminology, but it is still in use at many Aduana’s offices.

      Finally: Check your FM3 (“No Inmigrante”) card – and see what subcategory (“Caracteristica “) of “No Inmigrante” permission you have. This is printed underneath “Caracteristica” on your card. If it does not say “Rentista”, then you are not allowed to have a foreign plated vehicle here, and the vehicle should be taken to the border to keep it from being confiscated. You can use the “Safe Returns” program to return to the border. Driving the vehicle without a valid Aduana windshield sticker puts you at risk of having the car permanently confiscated.

      If your “No Inmigrante” card does not say “Rentista” under “Caracteristica”, and you had a foreign-plated car imported here when you applied for your “No Inmigrante” status,, then whoever advised you about getting your “No Inmigrante”/FM3 gave you less-than-helpful advice.

      What type of FM3/”No Inmigrante” do you have?

  6. John says:


    Thanks again! It says Visitante. Looks like I’m headed for the border one of these coming weekends. With the Safe Returns program will they still hit me on the credit card for letting the tourist permit lapse? And what if I cancel the card? Just thinking…..

    • yucalandia says:

      Thanks for the update. I don’t know how the Aduana personnel currently enforce things with old-deposit-system expired permits, when the rubber meets the road of taking a vehicle out of the country. In the past, many ex-pats used credit cards to secure the deposit, with CC’s that have expired while the car has been in Mexico, and they reported no ill effects when they had Aduana remove their expired stickers. Under your Temporary Import permit, you agreed to take the car outside of Mexico before the permit expired or forfeit the deposit, so, it seems they could charge you the deposit. Wish the news were better. Still, be sure to stop and have Aduana/Banjercito personnel remove the old expired sticker from the windshield, to clear your Aduana record for having a foreign vehicle in the country.

  7. Ron Russell says:

    Hi Steve, my lady picked up her brand new (and first) FM3-No Inmigrante Rentista visa today at INM in Manzanillo.

    We then went into Aduanas in MZO with all the paperwork to extend her car permission. It is US plated.

    Got the deposit stamped for new FM3 so deposit is registered and extended for another year.

    BUT nothing was done with the permit. Permit still has old date, nothing to show permit has been extended. Is this correct?

    If stopped just show them Article 106 as you suggested earlier?

    Thanks for any advice.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Ron,
      You wrote: “Got the deposit stamped for new FM3 so deposit is registered and extended for another year.
      That covers you with Aduana and provides a link to keeping the police happy:
      Also carry the “stamped deposit” in the car that shows that the new expiration date has been extended for another year.

  8. gerry laughton says:

    Hola I am a Permanent Resident in mexico.question, I want to bring a vehicle down to mexico with canadian plates an import this vehicle,all ok.Im asking can i drive this vehicle in mexico with my permanent imm card with these plates on car.Or do i need special permit to drive to jalisco.Thank you.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi gerry,
      Please read the sections above about import requirements… must be a NAFTA vehicle, only limited years being allowed now (8-9), must use a customs broker.

      Contact a customs broker at the border for current details… costs are reported at $3000 to $4000 a vehicle.


      • gerry laughton says:

        Steve thanks for reply…but i am still concerned not about vehicle but am i allowed to drive this vehicle to jalisco from boarder,with a permandent resident status with canadian plates on it an in my name…

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi gerry,
        As I wrote above you have to nationalize/import the vehicle into the country, to be allowed to drive it here as a Residente Permanente.

        Contact a Customs Broker about their requirements, if you want to drive the car here.


  9. Meir Gershenson says:

    Hi Steve.
    I submitted my car (2010 Chevy Silverado) paper paper work with payment to Sonya over a year and a half ago. The car is still in in limbo. I am giving up. Do you have any update, or a recommended broker?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hello Meir,
      Currently, as for the last 2 years, the only legitimate way to permanently import a car is at the US-Mexico border, for 8 & 9 yr old NAFTA vehicles … in person.

      Sonia has operated several different schemes, that all ultimately have failed, except for her campesino-plates scheme which has worked temporarily for driving in just one or 2 states.

      Are you looking for contacts w/ licensed customs brokers at the US border?

      • Meir Gershenson says:

        I plan to buy used car till I can legitimize this car, unless I will be able to register this car legitimately, hopefully within a year.

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