Adventures in Bringing & Keeping Cars in Mexico

Nov. 18, 2013
Want a respite from our typical dry articles on Mexican Immigration law, and Aduana Law, normally chock-full-o’ internet website facts and dry citations of Mexican law? As a nice change of pace, we are happy to offer you the first hand story of a fine reader – who just (successfully?) went through the hoops of dealing with that wicked combination of older-but-much-loved TIP vehicle plus Residente Permanente …. With no further ado, here is one Yucatecan ex-pat’s story:

We came to Mexico to stay in the first part of October 2011. We drove on down to Yucatan and managed to make a lot of mistakes over the years.

This story is about just one of the errors we made, our car, a 2005 Dodge Caravan.2005 Dodge_Grand_Caravan

I made the silly assumption that once the car was 8 years old it would be easy to Nationalize.   Well, the first error was to not know all of the rules and fail to enter Mexico with an Emissions Certificate.

Next? I took the opportunity to become Residente Permanente but … delayed applying for the RP until my FM3 was about to expire.

At the same time I went to the local (Progreso) customs broker and inquired about Nationalizing the car.    He told me that he could not help me because ~ I did not have an Emissions Certificate, ~ the car had not been in Mexico for more than 5 years, ~ I did not have a current visa,  ~ and ~  my permission from Aduana to keep the car here … had expired.

It seemed to me to be little more than a bunch of “Catch-22” rules, but this is Mexico (TIM), and I am a guest, and I made the errors. Dog-the-Bounty-Hunter

Anyway, after driving the old car illegally for a period of time, we went and bought a new car from the Chevrolet dealer. We are happy with it.

The next issue: Disposal of the old car.
I thought about taking our plates off and running it out of oil, adding yet another roadside muerte out on the Carreatera, but mechanics in Mexico are geniuses and it would not surprise me if they had the thing delivering bread in Chelem within the week after I “disposed” of it. (“Plan A”)

So, I dropped that Plan A,   did some reading on the internet,   and instead decided to sell the car in Belize.    This meant going to SAT in Merida to get the “Returno Seguro” letter to take the orphaned car out of Mexico – making it legal for the first time in months.

Funny thing, that dang cure-all-that-ails permit specified that it was good for return only to my place of entry, Matamoros, MX, a 3 day, 1200 mile drive away.     I asked about taking the car out in Belize and was told that that was not possible under the R/S program. This was pretty frustrating.

We chose to drive to Belize anyway, with friends who are here on “Residente Temporal” status.    We were not stopped at any point (avoiding scrutiny of the Matamoros R/S permit), and discreetly entered the INM/Aduana area at the border with Belize at St. Elena.

Even though my old Temporary Import Permit (TIP) was long expired, the lady from Banjercito asked no questions aside from determining what we wanted to do. She issued the certificate that I had removed the car from Mexico, cancelled my old TIP, and processed the reimportation of the vehicle on a TIP for our friends.

The errors we made at the point of transfer included failure to have multiple copies of passports, visas and drivers licenses and also to have a copy of the title with the transfer portion filled in.   The generosity of a Mexican Federal employee resolved the situation for us.  border crossing


The other thing that nearly killed the deal ~ I did not have a razor blade to scrape the old sticker off the windshield.


Though I miss the van, it is nice to have the space in the driveway.

ps. We did not sign the title over to the new US expat-in-Yucatan owner until after Aduana had cancelled my old Temporary Import Permit.

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

Read-on MacDuff . . .

4 Responses to Adventures in Bringing & Keeping Cars in Mexico

  1. Pingback: Adventures in Bringing and Keeping Cars in Mexico | Surviving Yucatan

  2. Kirk A Moody says:

    Here is my mess and I don’t know what to do about it. I crossed the boarder with my 07′ FJ Cruiser in Nogales with a utility trailer. I received a permit for the car and trailer three years ago. At the time I had an FM3. Now I have Permanent Residence status. At present my car is in the US, the trailer is in Alamos, Sonora. I’m told that it is illegal to drive my car in Mexico with Calif. plates and Permanent Residence status. Since the car’s vin starts with J (Japan), I can’t import it. I want to keep the car and trailer and would like to be legal. Does anyone have any ideas, advise? I am willing to give up my Permanent Residence status but am told that that is impossible to do. I can get a letter from the Chief of Police in Alamos stating that the trailer is inoperable. Does anyone have any idea’s or advise? Thanks, Kirk

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Kirk,
      You might contact Sonia Diaz on ‘s forums. Sonia is advertising a money-back guarantee paper-only import process for 6 year old and older NAFTA and NON-NAFTA vehicles.
      ” SMAcoolist: Mon Dec 9, 2013 7:36 am (PST) . Posted by: soniangel32
      This week we received several pedimentos and facturas of cars we nationalized from as far away as Ixtapa and Manzanillo. All were done without the cars leaving their property and no driving to the border.

      Please note if you want to nationalize a non-NAFTA vehicle this is the last week to do so as after this week the cost will likely rule out doing so. A non-NAFTA vehicle is one made outside of North America and the VIN starts with a letter.

      Some pedimentos are slow and others are coming in 3 weeks. Hopefully, in the future they will all be faster.

      Happy Holidays

      cell: 044-415-106- 1499 ”

  3. Kirk A Moody says:

    Thank You Steve, I’ll check it out.

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