New Rules Announced for Permanently Importing Used Cars into Mexico

September 17, 2014:
The Mexican Federal Government recently put on a push to stop illegal imports of American used cars into Mexico.   This new effort has taken several forms:
~ As of Sept. 1, 2014,   SAT has issued new rules for permanently importing used cars from the United States.   The biggest change is that the individual importing the used NAFTA car into Mexico must first prove that the car has been formally EXPORTED from the USA following US CBP laws.

This means that the US title on every used car permanently imported into Mexico must be first stamped “EXPORTED” by US CBP.     US Customs and Border Patrol have had this requirement on the books for over 20 years, but the rule has not been followed by most Americans who bring their cars into Mexico.   If you used a licensed Customs Broker to permanently import your car into Mexico, with a CBP check at the US-Mexico border, then they likely did the formal export.   We at Yucalandia have another article waiting for publication on how the process works with CBP, but need some final confirmatory details from CBP before publishing.

We here at Yucalandia have waited to post these Mexico’s new rules, until there was confirmation in public media:

The second prong of the Mexican Federal Government’s actions to stop the illegal importation of used American cars into Mexico involved charging 17 Customs Brokers at the US-Mexico border, along with some Mexican Judges, Magistrates,  Mexican Aduana border office managers, Aduana officers, et al.

As a result,   all permanent imports at the border have been suspended this past week, and there is no formal word yet on when they will begin again – this time following both US and Mexican laws.

Since the new laws for importing US cars into Mexico require having the  US title formally stamped “EXPORTED“,   and since the only way to get your US title stamped this way REQUIRE taking the car to a US CBP border station,   we really cannot see how “paper-only” imports can continue under these new laws.

We’ll report more details as they become available.
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For details on driving in Mexico, see our main article on importing cars 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

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100 Responses to New Rules Announced for Permanently Importing Used Cars into Mexico

  1. playaright says:

    Thanks so much for your diligence- I am sure sometimes it seems thankless- but I am saying “GRACIAS por su ayuda.

  2. Bob Stewart says:

    I am curious as to how the U.S. requirements would affect importing a Canadian licensed NAFTA car into Mexico ,which is driven from Canada through the States and into Mexico ?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Bob,
      Does Canada have any requirement to formally export your Canadian-titled car when the Canadian owner permanently imports the vehicle into a different country?

      If not, then Mexico should not apply US requirements onto Canadian vehicles, but all the details remain to be worked out.

  3. MeridaGOround says:

    This would seem to be an unlawful taking of property by Customs & Border Patrol. Why do I, as a US citizen, need permission to remove my possessions from USA? I bought the car, paid sales taxes on it, drove it here, and now I need US permission to re-locate it?

    • yucalandia says:

      You’re focusing too heavily on personal rights and liberties.

      Put on your security, public-safety, crime-fighter brown-shirt and armband (SA: “Safety Advocate”): CBP claims that they need to stop the 100,000 (?) or so cars stolen in the USA that are shuttled to Mexico. If CBP forces every American-titled car that is permanently imported to Mexico or Canada, to first undergo a CBP export process that check the car’s motor VIN, door VIN, etc against the various US stolen car databases, then they can help stop auto theft in the USA.

      It’s important to remember that big segments of American society value safety and security over personal liberty.

      BTW, I’ve misplaced my sarcasm/irony font key…

      • Frank says:

        I’m in the salvaged car business in Canada and if you Americans want to protect the world from all the crime of stolen vehicles. You may want to start with the ease of moving vehicles from state to state.

        Because I think this is where the majority of your stolen vehicles go.

    • Joel says:

      The shirt answer is, the car doesn’t belong to you, you only get to use it, the certificate of title is to the state. If you owned the vehicle you would have the mso.

  4. Jaco says:

    The “Export Declaration” process has been required at least from the 1950’s for ALL exported goods over a certain value from the US to Mexico or any other foreign country. I worked for a customs bróker in the 60’s and we used dozens of the forms everyday.

    Today, most of it is done by computer entry. In the automobile case, it requires the physical stamping of the title.

    The US does this for two main reasons. One, the most obvious, is that it does not want illegal goods to be exported, such as weapons. Secondly, it is statistical gathering used by economists.

  5. Vern Porter says:

    What about insurance? If I legalize a car at the border and it had insurance in Mexico as a US plated car before beginning the paperwork at the border and has not expired, will that still cover because the paper work is not complete until I go to the office in tepic and then to the office in La Penita to get the license plates. Or do I need to buy insurance for a Mexican registered car……Or another possible senerio. If I start the process to legalize a car at the border which insurance should I buy on a US vehicle because the paper work is not complete; insurance for a US plated car or insurance for Mexican registered cars? If the title is stamped exported that should change the answer..? What do the insurance companies say? thanks Vern

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Vern,
      The Mexican insurance companies have had no say, because this new rule was not implemented until just the beginning of this week. There is nothing I read in the new rules that would require a change in insurance company policies.

      As before, you would be best off having insurance coverage when you start driving in Mexico. That could mean arranging the insurance in advance, as we did, and we called the agent the day before we expected to enter Mexico and asked him to start coverage on that date. or You could get you insurance in the border town where you cross.

      Happy Trails,

      • Marie Ruth says:

        What are the rules for RVs for a USA person with resident permanent status in Mex??

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Marie,
        The last reports we read from PR’s with RV’s said that Aduana told them their 10-year RV permits were still good until the permit’s expiration date. After it expires … ???
        Happy Trails,

    • Dave Grundy says:

      Vern…I nationalized my vehicle last Oct. It had “tourist insurance coverage” since it had foreign plates. My insurance agent kept the “tourist” coverage on the vehicle from the time it was nationalized until the time I obtained Yucatan plates. Then she switched the coverage over to “Mexican vehicle” coverage. (I called her as soon as I installed the Yucatan plates, to make sure the correct coverage was in place before I drove home).

  6. BajaBarry says:

    By permanently importing, I assume it means the vehicle will then be registered in Mexico. In the past those of us in “free zones” (Baja for me) did not need to import and could drive a U.S. or Canadian plated vehicle. Then with the changes in immigration law/rules it seems that this has gotten murkier. I believe that a temporary resident, or a tourist, still is okay. But I am unsure what the current status is for those of us with permanent resident status. When I first got that status information on this site, and others, stated I was still okay to be driving my U.S. plated vehicle while in Mexico, but I have been seeing recent reports contradicting that. Can you clear it up for me? Thanks.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi B. Barry,
      We have not seen changes or updates published in the DOF, nor published in reliable Mexican press outlets, nor posted on major web-boards that address your question.

      The last formal letter we got 1 year ago from SAT/Aduana managers in DF said that Residente Permanentes fully allowed to drive their foreign-plated cars in the Free Zones with no permits required from Aduana, as long as:

      1. They only drive within the Free Zone(s);
      2. The driver has a valid driver’s license;
      3. The car has appropriate insurance; and
      4. The car has valid/current US or Canadian or Belizian plates, sticker, => current valid registration back in their home country.


      • BajaBarry says:

        Thank Steve – what I was hoping to hear.

      • Islandal says:

        Just to understand your answer. I am a canadian with residente permanente status living in Cancun. It would then be possible to ship my classic car with valid canadian plates and insurance by boat into progreso . Ship it to Cancun by truck and drive it only in the free zone of Quintana Roo . As long as I keep my canadian drivers license up to date and add mexican car insurance I wouldn’t need a permit or need to nationalize it even though I am a permanent resident. Would this work or am I reading this wrong?

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Islandal,
        Excellent questions.

        Your questions highlight the significant differences in rules between using sea-ports versus driving as you port of entry into Mexico.

        Seaport entries are far more complex, with much more rigorous rules than driving into Mexico.

        The Progreso Aduana will require that you get a permanent import pedimento before the car is allowed out of Customs. See our main article on importing cars at: Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico .

        The shipping lines and their seaport Customs Brokers also have their own specific rules – which are VERY DIFFERENT from land-border crossings.

        Because you are a Residente Permanente: The only way I can see to bring in the Canadian car with no Aduana permit, would be to ship it into Belize (??) and then drive into Q. Roo.

        … if you chose to drive in, there used to be a special transit permit for driving from the US-Mexico border to Belize or Guatemala. You could get that permit, drive from Texas to Belize, surrender the special transit permit at the Belize-Mexico border, and then drive back into Mexico from Belize using Q. Roo’s free zone status.

        Best of luck,

  7. sam kammeran says:

    WHAT about importing my car that has a “J”as th first letter in my vin?its a nissan , bought in chicago….. is this possible?

  8. chuck says:

    If i purchase a car in Mexico , does it have to have to be stamped by mexico to bring it to the u.s. Thanks CHUCK

  9. I just went through this process. Started on Saturday, August 30th and finished the process on Saturday, September 13th. Went through Laredo. It was a drag, but went today to get my license plates here in Zihuatanejo.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Chester,
      Good updates!
      With the SAT rule change starting Sept. 1, things are in flux. The Aduana offices in Nogales, Tijuana, and Mexicali have faced reorganization and temporary shut downs for processing permanent imports. Others report being swamped by people trying to get their import done before their office has to reform, (Juarez reportedly has a huge log-jamb of 1,000’s of applications.)

      As such, the situations at the border are very fluid right now, so be sure to check with your broker before making a trip to the border to permanently import a vehicle.

  10. Jaco says:

    This is off topic but our friends at Yolisto today took down a comment from CasiYucateco (apparently a long time contributor) on several recent criminal acts on foreigners in El Centro. Not that this is a surprise. Thought you would find it amusing…. It is censored in the local press as well, for the most part.

    • Dave Grundy says:

      Jaco…That comment and thread are still active on Yolisto. Nothing has been removed nor censored. And I believe it to be a well worded bit of advice about awareness.

  11. Steven says:

    Hey guys, thanks for the article! What about importing European cars into Mexico (older than 6 years) still almost impossible to do?



    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Steven,
      Short of using the UCD permit route, where you car is not actually permanently imported and you can only drive the UCD plated car in a few states, we know of no viable ways.

  12. Rachel says:

    What about cars that are already in Mexico and are not stamped. That have been left there and not returned to the states for years. What will happen if they drive in Mexico? Will they get stopped and be asked for proof? We know many people who have left cars down in Mexico for years and never applied for permanent residency.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Rachel,
      Was the car permanently imported into Mexico or here on a TIP (Temp Impt Permit)?

      If the car is here on a TIP, since Jun 2010, the car owner is required to report their annual renewal of the INM permit’s expiration date – and the owner gets a new Aduana letter every year with the INM renewal that authorizes the car TIP for another year.

      If the car is already in Mexico as a permanent import, with a valid Aduana pedimento, then they don’t need to do anything. If you drive the permanently imported car back into the USA, hope that CBP does not ask you to stop – if CBP figures out that your Mexican plated car was not formally exported from the USA, you’d owe them a $250 fine.

      • Rachel says:

        It is not permanent. They do renew the tourist visa but my understanding was a car could only be a certain age and if it was older they wer to remove it from Mexico

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Rachel,
        If they used tourist permits, then the car was illegal years ago if they did not take it out of Mexico every 6 months.

        Let’s hope that their circumstances were different from your descriptions, and that their car is still legal,

  13. Rachel says:

    That’s what I thought. Thanks

  14. Algis says:

    Steve, i sent my info on my VIN # and particulars to “sonisangel32@hotmail. but
    it was returned as “undeliverable ” i probably did not send to correct address….
    please advise

  15. Algis says:

    just found Sonia’s CORRECT E-mail spelling …

  16. You may be able to go to local DMV in your state or perhaps by email and have your car officially taken of DMV , that said car has been or is going to be exported

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Alfonso,
      Are you talking about US DMV’s? If so, then no, that is neither sufficient nor appropriate – similar to Mexico, where the State vehicle offices have no authority to handle Federal Aduana/SAT permanent imports.

      The US law governing exports of American-titled used cars is a Federal law, and only border CBP offices are equipped to do the legal export process.

      Good to hear from you!

  17. wreckless says:

    I wrote in a couple months ago that my friend in Puerto Aventuras saw an announcement in a newspaper in Chetumal that I could have my car nationalized for 2k US. Did not matter age etc. I sent him the money. This week I got to mexico and the car had new plates, matching window sticker, registration and official title documents. He tells me it can still be done but they now charge 3k.

  18. Linda Leonard says:

    So what does this mean for permanently importing a car for Canadians? We don’t have a “title” like in the US, for one thing. And how would we get a Canadian car stamped “exported from the US”?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Linda,
      Since the rule is for used cars that have American titles, it does not apply to Canadian vehicles.

      The Mexican statute basically says that used cars permanently imported into Mexico must first follow the laws/rules for formal export from their home country. If Canada has no rules requiring exporting Canadian cars, when you take them out of Canada for import into the USA or Mexico, then you have no requirements.

      Does Canada have car export rules?

      • Linda Leonard says:

        Well that’s a really good question. Since I took my car out of Mexico to my Canadian home last year,and purchased a Mexican car here in Zihua, I don’t really need to know this, but others do. I will check on it and see what I can learn. Will report back.

  19. balfred palma says:

    bob stay in Canada your aflake

  20. adolfo jaimez says:

    when will it be the days to import Cars

    • yucalandia says:

      Hola Adolfo,
      We have not heard any fresh news in the past 2 weeks, when brokers said they hoped that Aduana would start processing import applications “soon”.

      It’s always best to check with the licensed Customs Broker at the border crossing that you intend to use – as they know the latest news and latest requirements for importing a vehicle.

  21. Heidi VR Yager says:

    We are wanting to drive down a Honda Pilot and leave it down in Oaxaca indefinitely at our home down there. It is a Japanese vehicle but it was made herein the USA; and the vin # does NOT begin with a J. Will we have any problems getting it nationalized? And is there anything we need to do here in the States before we take it across the border?
    Thank you so much for your help.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Heidi,
      The Mex. Gob. now requires that we use customs brokers to bring in our American-titled NAFTA cars. This means that you need to talk with a good licensed customs broker at the border crossing you intend to use, to find out how their process works.

      To be fully legal, you have to first have your US titled car exported from the USA by the official CBP procedure. If you do the export yourself, CBP holds your car for a minimum of 72 hours for background checks and vehicle inspection. CBP then cancels your US title. If you use a licensed customs broker to do the US export, then they file paperwork with CBP before you get to the border. CBP then checks out your vehicle’s background and your export application and approve you to bring the vehicle to their checkpoint. Since the major checks are already done, you can often get through the export process in less than ½ a day.

      When you enter Mexico, Aduana now requires that all US titles be formally cancelled (exported) by CBP.

      A few brokers are saying that they can currently only import 8-9 year old vehicles, but this should change (over time) to meet the current NAFTA policy allowing 4 year old and older vehicles. Recent quotes for the costs for importing a vehicle have been pretty steep/pricey – so many people find it easier to just buy a Mexican vehicle here.

      Best of luck, and come back and tell us how it went,

    • Vern porter says:

      If the VIN number begins with a 1 to 5 the import is ok… been thru this.. vern

      • yucalandia says:

        I suspect the “1 to 5” is too broad a generalization:
        VIN’s beginning with 1, 4, & 5 mean the vehicle was manufactured in the USA.

        Canadian vehicle’s begin with 2
        Mexican manufactured vehicles start with 3.

      • yucalandia says:

        If we check out the EPA’s rules on imports, it turns out that because Mexico has different emissions standards than the USA, the US-manufactured vehicles SOLD in Mexico do not necessarily have US-EPA approved emissions equipment.

        See EPA’s official document on this, “Auto Imports Fact Sheet” and jump to page 35:

        Note that the EPA cautions that not all US-manufactured vehicles meet US EPA standards:
        For a vehicle to be eligible for importation under this section, it must have an EPA emissions label in English language in the engine compartment …

        … or it must be accompanied by a letter from EPA or the US representative of the original equipment manufacturer that states that the vehicle was either manufactured to be a a US certified version or identical in all material respects to a US version.

        Does the Mexican-sold vehicle have either the US EPA sticker in English, or have the official EPA letter?

        Happy Trails,

  22. Rico says:

    I would like to bring our vehicle from Canada to our new home in La Paz, BCS. Keeping in mind Baja is a free zone with no import requirements and Canada has no export requirements, it seems like I should be able to simply drive it down there and continue using it as long as I keep my Canadian plates current and buy Mexican insurance. Am I missing something? What about emission testing in this case? We have only localized emission testing requirements here in Canada. For example, Vancouver BC requires “AirCare” certificates but that’s not where our car is registered. I wonder if I would have to get it tested somewhere? And what about the new requirement to obtain Residente Permanente after 4 years — does the car still have to be imported if you’re living and driving in Baja?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Rico,
      You are thinking clearly. As long as you keep your Canadian registration current, and keep Mexican insurance on it, you can operate your Canadian vehicle in Baja.

      No emission testing needed in Mexico, unless you decide to try to permanently import the vehicle into Mexico – and that is currently a very difficult thing.

      • Rico says:

        For the benefit of others contemplating this, here is what I found out. The roadblock is back here in Canada, at least this is the case for B.C. (British Columbia) where we have a government monopoly on auto insurance. They (ICBC) say they will not insure vehicles that are outside their home area for the whole year – period. They say you have to license and insure your vehicle at the destination, which in this case is not possible because we are not yet residents and can’t get a Mexican drivers license. That also prevents us buying a Mexican registered car. So the whole idea of keeping our car for the next 4 years is a moot point, thanks to ICBC. It appears our only option is to take our car temporarily, buy a replacement down there as soon as we’re able, and return our other car back to Canada before its insurance expires. Other jurisdictions may have different experiences but this is our reality. Thanks for your insight Steve.

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Rico,
        Excellent points.

        The same thing happens for Colorado and Florida cars – with intertwined/interwoven requirements to have annual emissions tests, insurance, and registrations – if you’re missing one, the other 2 are prohibited – like a trifecta, you have to have all 3 to “win”.

        There are so many Americans with Residente Permanentes who have used-vehicles on expired TIPs on stuck inside Mexico, you likely could find a nice used US-titled car for a very fair price – to buy, take to the Mexican-Belize border or US border, cancel their TIP, and bring the vehicle in on your TIP – all without traveling to Canada. ???

        Where will you be in Mexico?

    • Allen says:

      I.C.B.C now has a policy that renews your registration only. You have to tell them that the vehicle is stored in Mexico year round. You can only do this for 12 months or more and you get a new sticker is issued. The will mail sticker to Canadian address.
      I did our this year.

  23. Trevor says:

    I am currently looking at purchasing a vehicle from a a lady who who is becoming permanate at the end of July 2015. We just went to the Mexican/Belize Border and we did not have an original and up to date copy of the registration in Canada (Where the vehicle was originally driven from to Mexico and Temporarily imported)). So we are looking at getting it renewed and adding insurance in Canada and having the new original copy couriered here so we can make it happen. My question is I have 2 and a half years left before becoming permanante….and this car is in good enough shape I too could sell at the Belize crossing in that time to another expat with temporary status…I see nothing on this topic. Any guidance would be appreciated as we have a short window to do this deal and don’t want to be stuck with a vehicle I can do nothing with at then end of the 2.5 years. Thanks for your site it is very helpful.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Trevor,
      The link you are looking for is listed at the end of the post above – directing you to our main article on importing cars into Mexico:

      For details on driving in Mexico, see our main article on importing cars at: ~ Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico ~ .

      As described in that article, one option is to drive the car only in Q. Roo with no import permit – but it must have current Canadian registration.

      That article has multiple comments notes from Residente Permanente expats who have taken their TIP (Temporary Import Permit) car/vehicle to Belize and either sold the vehicle there, or who went to the border with a qualified buyer – and they cancelled their TIP – and had the new owner either:
      ~ temporarily re-import the vehicle back into Mexico under a new TIP
      ~ keep the vehicle in Belize
      ~ if the new owner is a foreigner to Mexico, drive the vehicle back into Q. Roo – and keep it in Q.Roo, because Q. Roo is an official Free Zone (like Baja)… but the vehicle must have current valid registration from the home country.

      Either way: Your plan is solid, as long as you get current registration.

      • Trevor says:

        Okay Steve…just not sure if I explained myself properly. We will get and do the TIP once the new registration arrives next week.(for the current owner so we can make the transaction based on Banjercitos regulations).and no problem for 2 and a half years. But when I am about to become permanent in 2018 what options do I have to sell the vehicle? as I am living and working in the Yucatan full-time…it will have entered from the Belize side…so do I need to keep Canadian registration and insurance in order to sell in the future? Or are there people who would be able to purchase this vehicle and drive Q Roo? I heard of people buying cars in the free zone if needed and driving in that area only..any added advice would help alot..thanks again…

      • Trevor Porter says:

        I am not sure you received my reply…I may have not been as clear on the details as should be…our friend we are purchasing this vehicle brought it down in 2010 . and as explained in order to sell and have up to date registration forms to purchase and get the TIP at the Belize border are understood. The problem i am concerned about is in 2018when I become permanent what documents will I require if I want to sell to another resident temporal? Or are their other options like selling in the free zone between Belize and Mexico to someone? Thanks in advance Steve..

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Trevor,
        The last foreigners (RT’s) we spoke with about getting TIPs at the Belize border did NOT say that a current registration from Canada was needed. They did their sale/purchase of the vehicle at the Belize border. The previous owner (w/ RP visa) cancelled their TIP, and the new owner (RT visa) got a new TIP.

        The issue/requirement on having current registration may have changed, esp. if you have been told otherwise.

        As described in our main article, you can sell the vehicle in Belize – as I have sold 2 (for other people) in the Free Zone.

        This little article describes cancelling an old TIP and getting a new one at the Belize crossing:

        The documents you would need to sell the vehicle in 2018 are the same ones the current seller gives you now: Title and registration – + a bill of sale is always helpful, describing the parties, the vehicle, the VIN, and the transaction.

        Happy trails,

      • Trevor Porter says:

        Thanks you have more information on where and how to sell a tip vehicle in the free zone once the TIP has been cancelled? Thanks so much for your help thus far..

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Trevor,
        Here are some excerpts from private emails we’ve sent to friends on this issue (see both parts):
        Coming into Chetumal, follow the signs directing you to Aduana Subteniente Lopez – Santa Helena crossing. As you exit Mexico, you will likely be be asked for your Visas and passport . The Visas are scanned and returned back to you. You can then enter Belize.

        To sell our vehicle. From the border, cross the bridge into the Belize Free Zone to look for a buyer. There is no organized place or system for car sales. We had heard of foreigners with U.S. or Canadian plates being approached by potential buyers, but that did not happen for us.

        With hundreds of shops in the Free Zone, we went into one and asked the owner if he was interested in purchasing a foreign van. He was not, but he knew someone who was. A phone call was made and we were directed to another business where we met our buyer. Negotiations began, we agreed upon a price and were paid in cash (Mexican Pesos).

        We had been advised not to accept Belize currency (because you often lose 3% to 5% when trying to get the Belize dollars changed into MXN pesos or US Dollars. There are three currencies used in the Free Zone. Living in Mexico we sold in Pesos.

        You simply sign over the vehicle to them, and if they request it you can write out a simple bill of sale in English documenting the name of the seller and the name of the buyer, the date, the VIN and make and model of the car, and the price.

        After you’ve made the sale and are vehicle-less, it’s very simple to either get a taxi to the border or to simply walk back across the border into Mexico. From the border take a taxi or local bus to Chetumal’s ADO Terminal Insurgentes Bus Station and you can purchase a ticket back to Merida for $392.00 pesos.

        We think it is important to know that there is no guarantee that your vehicle will sell in Belize. It is truly the luck of the draw. So be prepared to haggle over price, you may or may not get full Blue Book Value.

        We brought “flyers” of Kelly Blue Book pages, printed out with images of the kind of vehicle, that show the US price.


        from another email I sent to a friend:
        Details of car sales in Belize: They are basically private-party to private-party sales. The Free Zone is well within known shark-infested waters. (Lots of scammers and hucksters there… a place to keep a close eye on your wallet)

        The general past rule of thumb is that business owners in the Free Zone are willing to spend $2,000 to $4,000 US dollars on a used car. Obviously vans and trucks are worth more. It all comes down to if someone becomes all “hot and bothered” (excited) about your car.

        It is about a 5 hour drive there from Merida.
        If you have a legitimate Mexican permit to drive the car around Mexico, then you can drive into Belize and look for a buyer just over the border, and return to Mexico at will.

        In a weird twist, The state of Q.Roo is officially a Free Zone like Baja – so, if your car still has current license plates and current registration from the USA or Canada, a foreigner can drive his car back into Mexico and drive around Q. Roo WITH NO MEXICAN PERMIT…. Which means you can drive out of Mexico into Belize, and return back to Q. Roo Mexico using your USA or Canadian plates and valid current US registration….

        Most of the business owners in the Free Zone speak some (Belizian) English (mon’) and Spanish – so, you troll for buyers by popping into shops, and asking if the owner or manager is interested in buying a good vehicle…

        There are car dealers who buy used vehicles inside Belize – and re-sell them, but I have not yet formally driven into Belize – or into the city of Corazol – instead I and the people I know have just been selling the vehicles in the Free Zone to business owners.

        Hope this helps,

  24. Amanda says:

    Hi, do you know if after importing a car into Mexico it can be then sold and re-imported into the US by an American citizen?
    Thank you!

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Amanda,
      Yes, as long as the US EPA compliant emissions controls and US DOT compliant safety features have not been modified or removed, then yes it is eligible to be taken back into the USA.

      Example: If a Mexican mechanic removed the catalytic converter, then the car would have to be re-instated back into its original emissions conditions before the car were allowed back into the USA.
      Happy Trails,

  25. Merlenna Higby says:

    What about this scenario. We are US citizens, Americans living in Mexico. We nationalized our US car here, and then bought a car here from a dealership and it has Mexican plates. Can we take that car back to California with us when we move back to the US? Or do we have to sell the car here in Mexico? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Merlenna,
      You can take both Mexican-plated cars back to the USA for up to 365 days.

      The one you bought here in Mexico would be very difficult and expensive $$ to convert it to meet US emissions and safety standards, to be allowed in the USA permanently.

      Re The car you brought FROM the USA:
      ~ Did you cancel the USA title?

      If you still have the USA title, and if you have not modified the emissions or safety devices, then you can take it back into the USA – and re-register it in the USA. (Though if you have a California title, California may charge you for the years that you did not buy California registration.)

      If you cancelled the USA title, then you have to stop at CBP at the border, and get them to re-certify that you can bring the car back into the USA.

      Happy trails,

  26. Merlenna Higby says:

    Hi I have a question, but I posted it and it isn’t appearing on this site. What’s going on?

    • yucalandia says:

      Our web-hosting company (WordPress) automatically blocks new users from spamming their accounts, so all new posters have to be personally approved before they are posted publicly,

  27. Hello, the previous comments have been most informative. Thank you. Would the same rules / regulations and procedures apply to someone selling used car parts and trucks from Canada to Mexico? I have checked with government agencies here and the information has proven to be superficial at best. Regards, Roger

  28. Marie Ruth Pierce says:

    Hi from Marie Ruth, How long does it take at the Mexicali Aduana to nationalize a 1981 vehicle. What documents besides title and registration, insurance. would be needed? I am permanent residente in Nayarit. Thanks.

  29. Jose herrera says:

    Can u tell me iff its posible to legalised a 2007 town country ..lx ..and how much will cost me.?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi José,
      As of 2 months ago, at the border & sea ports, Aduana was only allowing permanent imports of 8 & 9 year old NAFTA manufactured vehicles at the border, for between $3,000 – $4.000 USD. (so your Town & Country seems to qualify)

      “Legalizing” is a murky, poorly defined term, that some people use to mean permanent import (importación definitiva), while other people use it as a term to describe getting (possibly illegal) Estado de Mexico plates (or other state plates), without getting a pedimento from Aduana … possibly leaving you in limbo if the gob. cracks down on them …


  30. Jay says:

    I was wondering if you have any information concerning the importation of trailers. We are permanent residents and plan on being here one more year, at that time I will need to have a trailer in order to take our stuff back. Is it possible to nationalize a trailer?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Jay,
      I understand, ‘yes’ … but you’ll need to talk with the licensed customs broker who would do the import. Since the changes 18 months ago to permanent imports, we have not read any reports on how it is done nor how it works.

      • Roger Naimool says:

        Thanks for the important information.
        Any idea how this will affect Mexican scrap metal market?


  31. proficionado says:

    Why not just buy a vehicle in Mexico with due diligence bypassing the headaches from both ends?

  32. Pingback: Rules For Selling Used Cars | Sanchhay

  33. Cliff du Fresne says:

    Hi Steve,
    I will be importing my Canadian car into Mexico this November (virus willing).
    Do you recommend both my wife and I to be on title, or just one of us?
    Also, do Canadians need to get an export permit from the Canadian government like the US?

    Thanks, Cliff

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