Options for Foreign-Plated “TIP” Car Owners in Mexico, esp for Permanent Residents

March 25, 2013
As we speak, Aduana DF is taking actions to get errant local Aduana offices to change their policies and issue extensions for Temporary Resident gringo’s TIP cars (Permiso de Importación Temporal de vehiculo => Temporary Import Permit – a.k.a TIP ). Kudos to all the Yucalandia readers and others who called Aduana DF and their Consuls and Ambassadors to get local Aduana offices to follow a single rational policy. Our efforts worked! Lic. Karen Villaseñor of Aduana de DF has been ordering errant local Aduana official to change their past mistaken policies and allow Residente Temporal card holders to renew their TIPs.   . . .  (see main article for Lic. Villaseñor’s contact information) . . .

While helpful for Residente Temporal gringos, the current official Aduana policy still leaves Residente Permanente card holders on the hook – making their TIPs invalid, and making the TIP cars illegal to drive in Mexico, unless you get a Safe Returns permit or permanently import the car.    If you have the new Residente Permanente card and a TIP car, then your options are  . . .  continue reading here .   . .

* * * * * * *
Full article can be read at:
Options for Foreign-Plated “TIP” Car Owners in Mexico, esp for Permanent Residents

* * * *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry

Read-on MacDuff . . .

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Options for Foreign-Plated “TIP” Car Owners in Mexico, esp for Permanent Residents

  1. Tony says:

    I realize that the situation is fluid and may and probably will change. But, what exactly is a Safe Returns permit and how do you go about getting one?

    • yucalandia says:

      Click on the link in the article. You apply with Aduana DF, and they send you a permit that gives you a 3-5 day window to drive the car out of Mexico, legally, no questions asked.

  2. Tom Lepisto says:

    I have a 2000 Lexus ES300, which was built in japan and was told I couldn’t get Mexican license plates for it. however, I have seen other Lexus vehicles with mexican plates on them. lexus has a factory that builds the RX300 in Canada. CAn I now get Mexican plates?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Tom,
      No, you are not allowed to import your J-car, with a temporary Import Permit under the current Ley Aduanera.

      There is a possible temporary loophole that Mexicans are using. There is a temporary Amparo (Mexican version of Temporary Restraining Orders) that supposedly allows Mexicans to import J-cars through Mexical and Tijuana, but there may be restrictions on whom is allowed, and for how much longer the Amparo will remain in place.

      The Amparo was designed for use by poor people in the border area, to temporarily lift the restrictions on importing cars, for ONAPAFFA members and other campesino organizations. As happens, rich people do appropriate programs for the poor to advance their personal interests. You can check with Customs brokers in Tijuana or Mexicali for details.

      There are also illegal imports done through bribery. We personally do not advocate using bribery. The program designed specifically for the poor may close out soon, and there is on partially confirmed report of a successful J-car import back in January, but the pedimento for that one is curiously not listed in the government database.

  3. Charles Beatty says:

    I am not going to comment as others probably are more informed then I am. Just giving a new decision so dont kill the messenger. Carlos Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2013 13:33:08 +0000 To: cbeatty55@msn.com

  4. Sarah says:

    Steve, your website is greatly informative and your comments generally insightful. However, your comment above regarding the Amparo possibility- “as happens, rich people do appropriate programs for the poor to advance their own personal interests” just perpetuates the myth that all foreigners here are rich. As evidenced by the fact that Aduana seems to think it is no big deal for all of us who are being forced into permanent status if we wish to remain in the country, to arrange for house and pet-sitting, close whatever businesses we may have, and instantly make expensive drives up north to remove our vehicles and then purchase a Mexican vehicle.
    Wealth is, of course, relative. I do not reside in a tar paper shack and live on beans and rice. However, I do not live in a gated community, have a barrage of maids and gardeners, a fancy new vehicle, or money to spend on restaurant meals and travel. I raised three children alone for 27 years on $1000CAN/month. All my cars were old beaters. The wreck of a house I bought for $27,000 in Canada 25 years ago and slowly fixed up with the help of friends, had to be sold in order for me to establish myself in Mexico. I work 40 hours a week to make ends meet. I do not have retirement income nor a retirement plan. The vehicle I brought in under my temporary residency a year and a half ago was sold to me by a friend for about half its actual value and I can ill afford to give it up and buy another.
    You say the Amparo was designed for use by “poor people in the border area” but I would argue that if these people can afford a car in the first place, and afford to import it, they are also not poor compared to the real poor people who cannot afford a vehicle at all.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Good good points.

      The issue of “who is entitled to what” has no absolute answers. During college years, my roomate and I were legally eligible for food stamps and Medicaid. Should we have gone on the dole? We chose not. Was that “right” or “wrong” ? I really don’t know. It felt like the best choice at the time.

      Remember the context of my earlier answer about rich people and their cars: The person who asked about how to import J-cars, was describing seeing very expensive models of J-cars with Mexican plates. I tend to characterize people who drive expensive cars as being “rich”, relative to the truly poor Mexican people who cannot afford to buy an expensive car, let alone to also pay $3,000 – $10,000 in import duties. J-car owners have never been assured of making their cars permanent.

      Consider a related example: Canadians and Americans are eligible to join the IMSS program for modest annual fees, or to go onto the free Seguro Popular program. Seguro Popular was designed for poor people who cannot afford medical care. Since there are finite $$ given annually to the Seguro Popular system, should the 4 million or so every year of new upcoming US retirees come to Mexico and get on Seguro Popular, just because they can?

      I am neither judge nor jury.

      I simply observe that:
      ~ When gringos sign for their Temporary Import Permits, they agreed contractually to take their car out of Mexico when they no longer have an Inmigrante Rentista or No Inmigrante immigration card.

      ~ At least a decade of Canadian and US gringo posts on the internet proclaim that they take great pride that Canadians and Americans follow laws and obey rules, and “we keep our commitments” – especially when comparing themselves to Mexicans: Read “The Oaxaca Advisor” and his followers if you doubt this. See Getting robbed in Mexico for opinions that gringos believe are “Must Read” essentials for Canadians and Americans in Mexico:

      …English, commonwealth, and North American traditions are based on a deep sense of personal (as opposed to family, or social) honor, of which honesty and respect for property are principal components. For most of us lying and stealing are simply wrong, and someone who steals or lies lacks honor and is not worthy of respect. It is often difficult for us to accept any other interpretation of events.

      These gringos go on to opine about how Mexicans basically have little or no honor, and “they” (Mexicans) believe/justify that lying, breaking agreements, and stealing are OK.

      Well, when it comes to “us” and “them” arguments, I believe that there is actually very little difference between the “us”‘s and the “them”‘s . Human nature is what it is.

      I simply offer a non-gringo opinion when I point out that Seguro Popular is designed for truly poor people, and that 10,000’s of gringos with TIPs do have the $$ to drive to the border – to keep their written agreements. ~ Many are choosing to do that. ~ Others are outraged that they cannot indefinitely keep their Temporary car in Mexico for free, for ever. (Yes, we had more than a few at our last $150 peso-a-plate men’s club breakfast who were publicly outraged that they would have to keep their contracted promise or possibly lose their car.)

      Do I judge you? No.

      Do we have a God-given Right to have and keep cars?
      I think car ownership is a privilege, and staying in Mexico is a privilege – making us guests here,

      unless we become citizens.

  5. Sarah says:

    Steve, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I have never felt “entitled” to keep my car in Mexico permanently and for free. However, I brought my car in on my no inmigrante status with the understanding that as long as I maintained that status, and notified Aduana of my prorrogas every year, which I have done, that my car could remain here legally. In the past, and when I brought in my vehicle, foreigners had the choice to move to permanente status if they desired and met the qualifications. If they were planning on doing that, they had ample time to remove their foreign-plated TIP vehicles. The issue here is that we are suddenly being forced to change our status if we wish to remain in Mexico. (One can say we should have informed ourselves of the new INM regulations, but nowhere in there do I read anything about us being forced to move to permanente after 4 years on temporal) I feel Aduana should make some provision to address this dilemma, which could include us paying a one-time fee for permission to keep our vehicles here, along with an annual fee equivalent to what Mexican plates cost so that we are contributing fairly to highway maintenance, etc. (Seems like a good deal for Mexico, more revenue, instead of us spending that $ to drive back north) Or at the very least, to give us an extension of 4-6 months on our TIPS to give us time to arrange our affairs so that we can leave. I have written these suggestions to Aduana.
    My “J” car is not “very expensive”. Was sold to me by a friend in Canada for $5000. And no, I do not have the $ to drive my car back to Canada. Driving it “to the border” is not an option, as I cannot sell it in the US either. I would have to make an 8 day drive back to Canada, and as I am a single 63-year-old woman with a back injury, this prospect borders on impossible.

  6. Sarah says:

    Steve, somewhere (I can’t find it now, there are a lot of threads on this issue) you mentioned that the TIP cars are legal until one signs for their new “permanente” card. As your info is always well researched, can you tell me where this info comes from? If my TIP permit says it expires in mid-April, and I don’t receive my “permanente card for 6-8 weeks after, on what basis would I argue if stopped, that it is still in effect until I receive my new “permanente” status?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Sarah,
      This area of Mexican Law and rules is currently a mess. There is no published information or published law specifically prohibiting Residente Permanente from having a TIP vehicle, but the law does specify that the Aduana permit is only valid during the term of his or her specific immigration status, including extensions, is maintained.
      17.1.- For this purpose an extension of the duration of the temporary import permit of the vehicle will be credited with an official document issued by the immigration authorities, without the required authorization of the customs authorities, in this case, the temporary import permit will remain valid even and when the importer has obtained the change in immigration status of No Inmigrante to Inmigrante Rentista, provided there is continuity in the immigration status.

      Since Permanente Residente card holders have NOT met the requirement for “continuity in (No Inmigrante nor Inmigrante) immigration status”, their Aduana TIP permit is no longer valid.

      17.- The deadline to return the vehicles [that] had been imported temporarily under immigration grades defined by law, this means the effect of immigration status, extensions, or endorsements …

      Since you are no longer either No Inmigrante or Inmigrante, this last clause kicks-in, and you are required by law to return the vehicle back outside of Mexico. See Articulo 106 Fracc. IV of the Ley Aduanera and the Aduana Manual de Operación para la Importación Temporal de Vehículos y Motocicletas: Sec. 17 17.1 & 17.4, for reference.

      There are some lawyers arguing that the government cannot take away a previously granted right, without passing an act of the Legislature. Other lawyers are arguing that there is no law or rule published that prohibits Residente Permanente from having TIP vehicles.

      So, decide for yourself. The published rules say the TIP holders must have valid Inmigrante or No Inmigrante INM permits, or they must take the vehicle out of the country. Do foreigners with Residente Permanente INM permits still have a valid Inmigrante or No Inmigrante permit?

      In any case, if you must drive, and you have a Residente Permanente card, we advise carrying a copy of Articulo 106 Fracc. IV with you in your car, and attempt to argue that you still have a valid INM permit. … or get a Retorno Seguro permit and head to the border???

  7. Deanna Hammersley says:

    I’ve read every bit of information on this subject and still don’t know what to do with our 1995 Jeep
    Grand Cherokee. The TIP number is no longer readable and the paperwork given to us the last time we crossed the border (from Guatemala) has no number on it. We’ve been told this would make it impossible to legally import the vehicle. It is still a good car which someone could use for possibly a long time and it seems a shame to just drag it to a junk yard. If you would be willing to try to sell it in Belize, we would like to talk to you about it. How do we contact you? Can’t find any way to do so on your website (?!).

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Deanna,
      I sent you an email.

      You could drive the vehicle to the Chetumal/Belize border, and get the TIP issue resolved – but it may take 4 – 6 hours of hanging around at Aduana there to get new paperwork re-issued.

      Fortunately, Banjercito can pull up your TIP number and TIP information using the passport number you used to initially apply for the TIP. At that point, I am not sure whether they simply issue you some letter documenting the old TIP, or if they have you surrender the old TIP, and then get a new one.

      • Peter says:

        Hello Steve,
        Thank you so much for this website which has really been of help to us U.S. expats. Recently my wife and I obtained our Residente Permanente cards; but we each have a U.S. car in our name and both cars are old enough to be legalized. Here are my questions:
        1. Is there any time limit as to when we can use the Retorno Seguro now that we have our
        Residente Permanente cards? I realize once we get the “permiso” we have 5 days to get the vehicle out of the country; but can we wait until a later date to take our cars out?
        2. We really don’t want to drive our cars to the Texas border (we live in Oaxaca) because of all the security issues up there. A friend who is a U.S. citizen is willing to drive our cars up there. Is that doable? If so, how?
        3. Our cars are insured by Qualitas and Ausa. You mentioned that they may not insure expired TIP cars driven by Residente Permanente card holders. How are we supposed to get our cars to the border without insurance? Have you heard of another means of insuring cars like ours?
        4. Have you heard of anyone being able to legalize their cars without taking them to the border? I’ve read your blog about it; but not sure if that’s really a valid way to do it. I know someone that sent their car papers and lot of money to a contact on the U.S. border and were promised legalization papers. It turns out their contact (who worked in Aduana) was arrested for trying to circumvent the law of driving to the border. The people will get their papers back; but may lose lots of money.

        Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope others will be helped, too.

        Peter in Oaxaca

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Peter,
        1. You can wait as long as you want to take your car to the border.
        One twist: If you wait more than 2 weeks after the previous expiration date of your last TIP or your last temporary resident (FM2/FM3) permit, then Banjercito’s computer automatically confiscates any $$ deposit you made.

        2. Your friend certainly can take your car to the border, (for sale or for someone with a temporary resident visa to re-import using their own TIP). Get the Retorno Seguro permit, give the friend a well crafted Carta de Poder (Power of Attorney). Describe the person as your agent, fully authorizing them to drive the car, specify dates, specify if they are authorized to sell the car, specify your name and their name as on passports, specify the make, model, year, and VIN of the car, specify the TIP ID number. Close the letter by stating that everything you have said above is the truth… Sign the letter, include your address and contact information, yada, yada, yada….. There is a very reliable fellow “Playaboy”/Barry who does this professsionally out of … Chapala?

        3. When you have a Retorno Seguro permit, your car is legal to drive during the 5 business day life of the permit. As a vehicle that is fully legal, then your insurance coverage works!

        4. There are people who are doing paper-only imports, where you give your car papers to a “pro”, who then does some mysterious machinations, ting-ting, bang-bang, pop-pop: out pops an official Aduana pedimento for your car, official state registration and license plates (like Tamaulipas plates or Estado de Mexico plates), and it the permanent importation data is all officially logged into the Aduana and Banjercito VIN and pedimento databases… Are these services legit? There is one broker out of Chetumal doing this, who has lots of gringos saying they are happy with the Tamaulipas plates. What do those gringos do when then out-of-state plates expire ??? ??? ???

        You are thinking clearly and asking good good questions,

  8. Peter says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly. I really appreciate it. You really know your stuff!!! 🙂 It can get complicated living here; but we love Oaxaca. Great food, awesome climate (I’m from Houston so anything’s an improvement) and the people are so hospitable. What about the legalization of cars at the Guadalajara airport? Do people report that it’s working for them there?

    Greetings from Oaxaca,


    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Peter,
      EXCELLENT POINT about Guadalajara airport…

      There were a number of first hand expat reports of successful permanent imports using customs brokers at the airport and Guad. airport Aduana of 6 year old and older cars(?). These reports were being made a month ago. Does this system still work??? The seaport offices also do legit permanent imports, but they only handle 8 and 9 year old models, and you must find a licensed Customs broker who is willing to handle the seaport import route.

      There is also a fellow out of SMA who is working the UCD angle, but he has made repeated substantive factual errors in both what he does and in his advice this past year, so, I am very hesitant to give his unique process any positive or negative referrals???

      Sidelight: I have some new dental crowns installed that are too large (too wide) that have shifted my teeth on that side, and my jaw and head hurrrrrrt.
      (leaving me far short of being the sharpest knife in the drawer – *grin*)

  9. Peter says:

    Hey Steve,
    I hope you start feeling better. Thanks for the info on Guad airport. What does “UCD” mean? Thanks,
    Peter in Oaxaca

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Peter,
      I don’t know exactly what UCD is.

      It seems to be a worker’s union effort to get around the costs of importing vehicles, where campesinos in a Mexican state band together to issue their own license plates, but the campesino organizations are powerful enough that some governors support them – and the Federal police may be afraid to challenge them – where bands of campesinos show up and protest if one of their members is jailed – and get wide coverage on the 10:00 O’clock news and lurid coverage in the press. Will the campesinos show up to protest if a gringo goes to jail using their plates in a different state??? Here’ an explanation from http://www.zihuatanejo.net/tablero/thread/57390.html:

      UCD is an association of campesinos who combine efforts to improve conditions and advocating for farmers etc, buy seeds, farming, irrigation, home improvements, making less expensive foreign vehicles legal, government liaison / support for their causes, etc. UCD or similar organizations can be found in most states in Mexico. They also have approval to nationalize cars just as they do in several states including Chihuahua and Oaxaca, etc. and now in Guanajuato. UCD is similar to the farmers’ cooperatives in Canada.

      I have been working for months with UCD to be able to provide this service. They have asked me to be their sole representative for this area. The head of UCD for Guanajuato state is my contact. In the past he worked for several years in a senior position with Aduana. ”

      UCD has been granted approval by the Governor of Guanajuato state to nationalize vehicles in this manner in cooperation with Aduana. A registered broker is the person who submits all documents to Aduana and it is done at Mexicali. This is the same as other nationalizing processes such as at the Guadalajara airport. You do not have to leave the place where you live and costs are several thousand pesos less. Once the documents are returned in approximately a month you can register your vehicle anywhere in Mexico.

      Note: This is one of the few and maybe the only remaining virtual nationalizing process. This is not permanent and can end at any time. So far we are hoping it continues to at least November so we can nationalize our 2008 SUV.” …


      If you get UCD plates from Oaxaca’s organized campesinos – and you stay out of Guadalajara and out of Mexico City – maybe they work fine???

      These ad hoc, do-it-yourself licensing organizations are outside my wheelhouse…


      • Peter says:

        We have UCD here, too. I’ve heard they take your money and your vehicle never gets truly legalized. Thanks for getting back to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.