Taking US-Titled Vehicles Out of the USA into Mexico

Jan. 14, 2015


As of March 14, 2013:
All American cars imported into Mexico by everyone must be formally exported from the USA, using the CBP export process. This effort was expanded to try to stop car thieves from moving stolen cars or parts across the border.

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19 Responses to Taking US-Titled Vehicles Out of the USA into Mexico

  1. Suzanne says:

    Hello, I have asked the poster on Mexconnect to please provide the location of this document on the US government website. I do not dispute the information. I would like to know the origin of the document. Thank you

  2. MeridaGOround says:

    From the Census Bureau’s cute flyer: “This change became enforceable October 3, 2014.” Ah, perplexity. Our car was nationalized on paper last year, without permission from BIG DADDY and before learning that we were committing a crime. (“Gee, Dad, are we really a free and sovereign people who actually own our stuff?)

    We had hoped to take the car north again, on Mexican plates. But now I’m not so sure this is wise – especially as we would want to use the ferry, if it ever begins to operate. (I have some inside info from a family member of the operating firm, explaining the present delay. It causes me to remain hopeful of its appearance in the near term.) But the added scrutiny of traveling by sea would skew the odds of not having a permission slip to return to Mexico without obstruction by US border agents. Sad.

    • yucalandia says:

      True… We just don’t know how the US govt. is going to handle these issues…

      If “enforceable” by Oct. 2014 means that vehicles taken out of the USA since Oct. 2014 are the only ones who are liable to penalties, that would be very sweet for the people who imported their US vehicles into Mexico in past years.

  3. Chuck Friedman says:

    RE your post: “As of March 14, 2013:
    All American cars imported into Mexico by everyone must be formally exported from the USA, using the CBP export process. This effort was expanded to try to stop car thieves from moving stolen cars or parts across the border”…… Does this mean that the EFFECTIVE date of this regulation is March 14, 2013, and that vehicles brought into Mexico without the required “exportation” are OK?

    And, whether or not the reg is EFFECTIVE 3/13 (going forward) or is retroactive (affecting all imported vehicles), can you clarify if this reg impacts ALL U.S .vehicles—including those brought in under the old FM3 (current “residente temporale”) –or just vehices that have been nationalized……….

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Chuck,
      The rule as explained by CBP is that any US vehicle that is taken outside the USA for more than 365 consecutive days is supposed to be formally exported through the 3 day CBP process.

      The $64 Question: Will CBP go back and search to find US cars that went into Mexico in past years, or will they just use the latest data sent to them by Aduana about the latest imports (temporary and permanent)… ???

      messy – and as yet undefined/unanswered,

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Chuck,
      Good questions.

      We’re currently stuck with the difference between the current CBP law, the old CBP law, and the current realities of US enforcement of the law. The old CBP law from the 1990’s required formal exports of all US titled vehicles worth more than $2500 – (any vehicle taken into Mexico for more than 12 months) and the reality of how that law was generally not enforced for the past 20 years.

      The March 2013 CBP change further complicates things by now also requiring exports of vehicles less than $2500 in value too. US Customs decided to announce that they would start enforcing the law last fall (2014).

      Further, US Customs has made no public statements about their plans for US titled vehicles that were taken into Mexico in the past, without first exporting them from the USA.

      Next factors: As of last fall, Mexico started sharing electronic data on US titled cars that were being imported into Mexico with US Homeland Security/CBP. Mexico also agreed last fall to cooperate with Homeland Security/CBP … by requiring US-titles be formally cancelled by CBP, before Mexico Aduana would approve permanent imports of US titled vehicles.

      All of this cooperation and data sharing on new fresh imports started last fall – affecting recent imports/exports, but we don’t know how much data they have exchanged on old imports from the past 20 years – because all those old Mexican records were on paper – but seem to have been converted to computerized databases in the past 3 years.

      So, the US rules have been clarified and published publicly for both temporary and permanent imports since last fall, and the Mex. and US governments say they are sharing data on our US titled vehicles and movements, but that still leaves lots of things still up in the air,

  4. MeridaGOround says:

    UPDATE: we completed our paper transfer prior to expiration on January 31, 2014, of the Mexican amparo allowing such transfers. And we went thru a Yucatan state police checkpoint recently where we were told that our paperwork was ok (in Mexico).

  5. Chuck Friedman says:

    My prior post ia a bit confusing. What I should have said was: “Does this mean that the EFFECTIVE date of this regulation is March 14, 2013, and that vehicles brought into Mexico PRIOR TO THE MARCH, 14,2013 REGULATION without the required “exportation” are OK? “

  6. MeridaGOround says:

    OK-with-whom, Chuck? Sorry, that question is too slippery, and beyond my ability to answer. (But I was relieved to learn that my plates are good in Mexico.) I wish I had confidence regarding their validity in USA!

    But somebody who has actually crossed the border with a paper-imported vehicle might be able to speak to that. Anybody out there?

    • Chuck Friedman says:

      Again, sorry for the lack of clarity, and for the following rather verbose question(s).

      In 2011, I drove a US plated car into Mexico, and obtained the appropriate TIP papers. As an FM3 holder,( which is now “Residente Temporale”) there was (and is) no issue with the car remaining in Mexico as long as my status isn’t changed to “Residente Permanente.” (At least, that is my understanding of the Aduana regs: you can legally operate a foreign plated car in Mexico as long as you are NOT a Residente Permanente.) If you change your staus to Permanente, you must either nationalize the car, or remove it from Mexico. So, my first question–to anyone who might be able to address it–is: Do these “importation” regs apply to ALL U.S. vehicles brought into Mexico, or ONLY those vehicles that have been –or are going to be–nationalized?

      If the regs apply to ALL vehicles brought in from the US (or Canada), my second question is: Do the regs use a March, 2013 date as the “start date” for requiring that a US vehicle be properly “exported” before bringing it into Mexico, or has this requirement been in effect “forever?” If so, does this mean that my vehicle (which was properly IMPORTED into Mexico in 2011) is now a “problem”–whatever that means—because it wasn’t “properly” EXPORTED from the US?

      And, going one step further, if my car was properly imported into Mexico in 2011 without being properly exported from the US, and is now a potential “problem,” what needs to be done to enable me to have a “legal” car in Mexico as a residente Temporale? Many thanx…………

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Chuck,
        What a messy messy situation for people who did their car exports/imports themselves.

        1. Temporary Import Permit cars must have their Aduana permit expiration dates updated every year, when the owner renews their FM3 (FM3 renewals from june 2010 – Nov. 2012) or renews their Residente Temporal (Nov 2012 – present).
        TIP holders who do not notify Aduana in-writing of their Residente Temporal’s new expiration date can have 3 problems:
        a. If stopped by the police, the car owner does not have any paperwork to show the police that their TIP is still valid. (Car owners who follow Aduana rules since 2010, will have a fresh new letter each year from Aduana verifying that their TIP is still valid – reporting the new expiration date.
        b. If they made a $$ deposit when they got their TIP, the deposit is forfeit without sending annual written notifications of the new expiration date. Banjercito confiscates all deposits 15 days after the official expiration date of the TIP.
        c. Aduana sometimes considers old TIPs “expired” for owners who never do the required annual notifications of their new INM visa expiration date – and if the car is stolen, Mexican insurance companies do not pay claims on TIP cars with expired TIPs – and Aduana still charges the TIP car owner 40% of the cars original value for having it stolen without formally surrendering the TIP – ouch…

        Next, the official Homeland Security US CBP policy since March 2013 is that ANY US-titled vehicle that has been outside the USA for more than 365 consecutive days must be formally exported by US CBP policies.

        When we take a vehicle into Mexico on a “temporary” basis, “temporary” really does not mean 3 or 5 or 10 or 15 years of having the car in Mexico in the eyes of either the US or the Mexican government. … ???

        People who used professional brokers to make the move into Mexico in the past found that the professionals did do the formal exports.

        It’s the DIY folks who did not learn US law who might have a problem.

        All the best,

  7. bobbybrown says:

    I’ve been reading these posts for over seven years and have a J car–my solution for me has become to just let my wife legalize it in PV–and me; a TR; to just stay out of it– a Mexican can legalize all day long !!– best thing I have become to realize is to just buy; what you can afford; a Mexican plated car and avoid all these Draconian games-( no car is worth the hassle–I must be getting old because the drama isn’t fun anymore—HA

  8. Joanne Botana says:

    I’ve been reading all these posts and have one question……….I am letting my TR expire Oct. 2015 and will reapply for a new TR. Therefore, I infer that I have to obtain a new sticker. My question is do I need to present the car physically at the border when I apply? Or, can I [or a representative] do it without the car actually being there.

    When I originally entered at the border, I missed stopping and getting a sticker. Later, everyone said I had to return to the border and get it. I went to Adauna In Mexico City and was told it was O.K. for me to FLY to the border and get my sticker [without actually having the car there]……which i did. I presented the paperwork inside, received my sticker and left unaccompanied. After flying back to Cuernavaca, I then put the sticker on the car. Is that still possible?


    • bobbybrown says:

      when I got my stickers on two cars eight years ago the stickers were just handed to me and I then walked back to my car to install them myself–so DF gave you correct advice–

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Joanne,
      The Aduana practices of the past truly were the Wild Wild West.

      Things have been changing though: Since those hedonistic (free-for-all do whatever they want) days, 17 Customs Agents and Brokers and Judges have been jailed for not following the rules. In just the last month, another 109 customs brokers have been booted out for committing over $40 million in fraudulent acts.

      Aduana and SAT have been cracking-down on the wild and wooly past variations from actually following the law – so the work-arounds and loopholes that people used in the past are closing.

      Every report we’ve seen from both good internet sources and from good attorneys say: When your TR expires, the TIP is no longer valid (risking denial of insurance protection if you get in an accident => up to $3 million in cash liability for the driver for every accidental death in an collision). That means with no valid TR, you are required by law – and required by the contract you signed – to take the car out of the country. With no TR, the law says you need to get a 5 business day Retorno Seguro permit (from SAT/Hacienda) to drive the vehicle out of Mexico.

      Details at:

      Once at the border, you use your new TR to get a new TIP for your foreign-plated car.

      For Joanna’s special case, for her previous TIP: Her car was inspected by Aduana/Banjercito personnel to verify her VIN – so, it made sense to allow her to go back and pick up the stickers – because all the other requirements had been met. Now, when her TR expires in October, she has to start/do the whole process again – which means Aduana/Banjercito personnel need to inspect/confirm the VIN again with an in-person inspection => a trip to the border.

      Happy Trails,

      • bobbybrown says:

        I’ve been in Mexico for eight years now and I don’t think an American care is worth the risk–it would take some shopping; but I think buying a Mexican car you can tolerate would be the way to go–I;m just tired of all the drama with cars–HA

  9. Joanne Botana says:

    I think you are all right. It sounds like a trip to the border either way–to get a new TIP or sell the car……..but, am I “taking my chances” by driving to the border without a valid sticker? Any advice?


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