Current Aduana Car Import Rules Made Obsolete by INM’s New Residency Categories

February 26, 2012 Update
There is a report out of San Miguel Allende (SMA) that the US Consul, Edward Clancy,  has spoken with the head of Aduana about the current issues of foreign-plated cars in Mexico owned by Americans using Temporary Import Permits (TIPs).     Mr. Clancy reports that he was told that there are no new Aduana laws at this time.     Further, Aduana has not set a date for releasing any new laws or new rules.

Finally, the SMA US Consul reports that the current official Aduana policy is:   If your car was legal before you changed to either the INM Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente cards,   then the head of Aduana says that your foreign-plated car and your Aduana TIP are still valid,   as long as you have a valid INM permit.

Hope this sets people’s minds at ease…
Happy Trails,

~    ~    ~       ~       ~       ~      ~
There have been tons of rumors, suppositions and misinformation flying around on expat forums and expat blogs about what people   think   are the current Aduana rules for temporarily imported foreign-plated cars, a.k.a “TIP” (Temporary Import Permit)  cars.

Here at Yucalandia,   we like facts supported by the official rules and laws.    Using that basis,   let’s evaluate what is written in the current law and official rules:
First:   There are no Aduana rules or law that specifically cover how to   issue or   renew   Permisos de Importación Temporal de Vehículos for foreigners with either Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente IMN residency permits. ~ Zip / Zero / Nada ~

In the absence of any published law or rules,   each local Aduana office has been doing what they think makes sense  –   likely as decided by their local director.  Fortunately, now, based on the Feb. 26, 2013 report by the US Consul in SMA, Edward Clancy:  The head of Aduana says that the current official Aduana policy is:   If your car was legal before you changed to either the INM Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente cards, then the head of Aduana says that your foreign-plated car and your Aduana TIP are   still   valid,    as long as you have a valid INM permit.

Second:    The information recently presented by a few local Aduana personnel at Nuevo Vallarta meeting was   NOT OFFICIAL ,  nor does it apply nationwide.     If we read their 2 powerpoint presentations carefully, we find a number of factual errors,   because they are  NOT  official nor legally-binding documents.     They are instead   just   informal   non-legal   presentations  to try to help the local gringos understand how   Nuevo Vallarta   agents are   temporarily choosing  to handle foreign-plate cars for gringos with the new INM Residency permits.   The Nuevo Vallarta powerpoint Aduana presentation was effectively JUST A SET of PROPOSALS , because there have been NO NEW OFFICIAL written policies or rules promulgated out of Aduana in D.F.

Local offices of Aduana are given broad discretion and wide latitude in how they apply policies. In the absence of any new national policy:     The Nuevo Vallarta Aduana personnel are fully allowed to apply overly stringent local policies,   while Puerto Vallarta Aduana personnel (who are approving some TIP extensions) are fully allowed to grant very liberal local policies.

Third: All gringos whose INM permits have not expired,   must really WAIT until there are formal policies/rules or a law written and approved by Aduana D.F.     The current Ley Aduanero uses   out-dated,   obsolete,  legal terminology   ( “No Inmigrante” or “FM3” and “Inmigrante” or “FM2” and “Inmigrado“) ~ so,  the old Aduana law terminology no longer fits the new INM residency permits and INM’s legal terminology.    This leaves Aduana’s local offices with NO clear detailed legal guidelines on vehicle Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) – so they are just  TEMPORARILY   making things up as they go.

Does Mexico Really Plan to Allow Residente Temporal and Permanente Residents to Only have Mexican Plated Cars?

Many gringos are trying to use individual local Adana personnel actions as evidence to make logical sense of the national policies of 2 very different and very separate Mex. Gob. agencies.   There is no official information on what Aduana has planned for us.   These problems were created by INM dramatically changing the numbers and kinds and names of residency permits   –   which made Aduana’s written rules   …   obsolete,   because there is Zip / Zero / Nada equivalency between the old INM FM2, FM3, & Inmigrado permits versus the new INM Residente Temporal & Residente Permanente permits.

INM has very different needs and different agendas than Aduana. There appears to be almost ZERO/zip/nada coordination between INM’s changing to new policies   (creating totally new immigration categories),   and Aduana.   The problems INM has caused  to existing Aduana policies, makes it clear that they did not coordinate policies with some intent to screw expats.    INM issued their new law in May 2011, and then issued totally new policies on Nov. 9, 2012.    In the meantime,  Aduana has issued ZERO/zip/nada official adjustments to Aduana policies to accommodate the new INM rules => no coordination => no evidence of any plan => no evidence of any intent.

Some gringos are imagining that Aduana is ” saying that the only cars they want legally in their country those cars that have a Mexican plate ” .   There is Zip/Zero/Nada official information to confirm this.

Really, we all must   wait   to see exactly what Aduana’s official national policy will be.

Aduana may allow our foreign-plated vehicles …  or they may  not…
In the meantime, we only have  various,   individual,   non-binding   proposals   being made by a  few  local Aduana offices.

History of How this Mess Evolved: INM’s FM3 and Aduana’s TIP program were originally created in response to a 1990’s Mex. Gob. effort to support the growth of maquiladoras/factories in Mexico to take advantage of NAFTA.    Aduana was told to create a permit that allowed American and Canadian manufacturing managers and experts to move to Mexico temporarily, and live and work in Mexico temporarilytemporarily bringing-in their foreign-plated cars.   The intent was a TIP with no final hard-and-fast expiration date, but instead to create a flexible permit for business men and experts to come to Mexico – work a while – and return back to Canada or the USA.

After the TIP was created, (and the FM3), lots of US and Canadian retirees decided to use these temporary-businessman programs for their own purposes:    coming into Mexico to live effectively as permanent residents – often with NO intent to permanently return to the USA or Canada – and certainly not intending to return their cars to the USA or Canada.    The gringo retirees did this by filing for temporary residency and temporary auto import permits in Mexico, even though their effective intent was to permanently leave the cars in Mexico.

The Mexican systems were not designed for how the Americans and Canadians used them. “Temporary” permits were intended to be  temporary,   for businessmen to come and go easily , but because the Mex. Gob. did not anticipate the gringo retirees’ unintended usages when writing the FM3 and TIP rules,   the rules were basically later used by gringo retirees as   loopholes   to avoid becoming permanent residents – and used by gringos as   loopholes   to avoid paying duties to bring in the cars for what they really use as permanent importation.

The facts?    Gringos wanted to bring their cars into Mexico and basically   not ever take them out,   without paying the import duties.    Pay Zero/Zip/Nada in import duties.     Pay Zero/Zip/Nada in annual permit fees.    Pay Zero/Zip/Nada in annual registration fees nor getting plates.     Pay Zero/Zip/Nada in taxes  –  all while liberally using the Mexican roads and services … all for free.    Free => A word gringos treasure..

Should we blame Mex. officials from later trying to clean up the mess of 10,000’s of gringos who came into Mexico and stayed here using their vehicles for  free,   free  from unrestricted by pesky registrations,  free  from even reasonable import duties,   free from getting new license plates, – all by simply using loop-holes in Mexican policy designed for truly temporary businessmen and manufacturing experts?

What are we left with now?:  Unfortunately, Mexican government policies change only very slowly,   and since INM policy changes made Aduana TIP policies obsolete:   Aduana is taking a while to try to formulate a new policy.   It is difficult to create a new policy where Canadians and Americans who really come here as permanent residents can be shifted to actually allow their cars to be here for long periods (effectively permanent imports) –  and   to stop scooting through the loophole of basically free temporary auto permits.

Canada and the US do not allow Mexicans to import their cars into Canada and the USA,  and keep them there for   free,   especially Mexicans who want to live there more than 6 months or a year.

I am left asking: Why should Mexico offer something that the USA and Canada   (and pretty much all other countries)   prohibit?

Why should individual Americans and Canadians in Mexico, expect much  free  services and  free  usage of the roads, and  expect more liberal treatment from the Mexican Gob.,  than they offer Mexicans who are guests in the USA and Canada?

Unfortunately,  all governments change their policies and rules over time – and the rest of us are left to figure out what to choose from the resulting options.

We have to wait until Aduana actually publishes something official.

Let’s all hope that Aduana comes out soon with official policies that work.
Happy Trails, steve

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

Read on, MacDuff.

95 Responses to Current Aduana Car Import Rules Made Obsolete by INM’s New Residency Categories

  1. Eric Chaffee says:

    Perhaps your readers remember Ross Perot’s famous campaign quote regarding NAFTA? — “that great sucking sound of jobs going south.” (I was not in favor of the treaty; and I do think he was right.) It would seem that it did transfer many jobs south, and just maybe the Mexican gov’t could transfer some good will back our way by letting those from north of the border bring ONE vehicle with them, and even sell it when they want to leave (or not); or trade it in on another vehicle if they want to upgrade. Would this be such a big deal?

    I specifically bought an older car two years ago to comply with the old rules. We drove it here last year as tourists. (This year we flew.) I would like to drive it here next year as an immigrant; but it appears that I can’t, because this Ford Windstar is more than ten years old, even though it is low miles, and in great shape. Why would I want to pay to import this vehicle which they effectively coerced me into buying? If old is unwelcome, maybe I should stay home. ~eric.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Eric,
      The problems of NAFTA swung both ways. The US farms experienced a bonanza of $4 billion a year of new corn subsidies every year: with NAFTA mandating that US farm corps must be allowed to sell their corn at prices well below market prices and well below production costs. Over time, the US taxpayers spent roughly a minimum $54 billion in taxpayer dollars to dump / force artificially cheap corn onto the Mexican markets. Estimates say that between 4 million and 7 million Mexicans were forced off of small farms, and became the core of the flood of illegal aliens north into the US labor markets – driving down US wages and wrecking job opportunities for Americans in construction and other markets… As rural Mexican farm-driven towns and local farm community economies collapsed under the heavy spending by US taxpayers, the US taxpayer-subsidized failed farms caused whole communities to dry up, and move north looking for work.

      Dislike the 12 million illegal aliens? Look to NAFTA and US taxpayer subsidies as the direct causes and effect.

      So, yes, NAFTA did make the movement of some manufacturing jobs to Mexico easier, but still, the US surrendered even larger millions of factory jobs to China, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea with ZERO of them caused by NAFTA. Reliable analysts say that the USA was going to lose those manufacturing jobs anyway, because of the difference between Chinese wages and US wages or the difference between Mexican wages and US wages, etc. , causing corporate execs to go for even bigger profits to boost their salaries. NAFTA just made it happen a little faster.

      So, certain sectors of the Mexican economy and different sectors in the US economy suffered as a result of NAFTA. For me, the unfair trade practices forced into NAFTA by US negotiators, like the forced US taxpayer-subsidized dumping of artificially low priced agricultural goods onto Mexico are the untold story of what really happened.

      Reality? I would bet that most Yucalandia readers think that Mexico is the one who exports food to the United States. Agriculture department numbers report the opposite: Mexico now imports 45% of her food, mostly from the USA, due to NAFTA – wrecking millions of Mexican family farms.

      The car thing is a danged nuisance. Governments really are not our friends.

      • Do I dislike “illegal aliens”? No, they pick our food, clean our hospitals and hotels and homes, and pay into our social security system, mostly without ever extracting any benefits.

        But I am deeply embarrassed by how our cheap exports have killed Mexican farms, and by our AgChem industry which has stolen indigenous seeds for patenting.

        As a person who often votes on the left, I never voted for Clinton, who gave us NAFTA, and took away the Glass-Steagal act which had tamed ruthless banksters since the depression of 1930’s. He and Larry Summers (along with Dick Cheney’s WMD’s) are guilty of choking our economy in the worst way, even though the blame falls mostly on GWBush (or Obama, depending on the color of your bias).

        But you’re right, Steve, governments are not our friends — which reminds me of the famous Pogo cartoon, observing: We have seen the enemy, and he is US!


  2. Steve,
    I think this is one of my favorite articles I have ever read on Yucalandia. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Do you know anyone who has had any luck with the “amparo” legalization that I read about? I am pretty skeptical of that, but if it works out it would be a great alternative for the gringos with TIP’d cars.


  3. Pingback: Rules for Temporary Import Permits Clarified by Steven Fry at Yucalandia » Jaltemba Jalapeño

  4. Bernard Wasow says:

    I have done exactly what Steve describes: I imported a car in 2005 with no intention ever to return it to the US and kept it here on my FM3. I would be happy to pay duty on it and nationalize it. I have inquired a number of times, trying to engage various agents. But my Nissan Maxima is too old, 1998, and it was made in Japan, so it cannot be nationalized. I do not want to buy a used car in Mexico because the topes and other hazards make me fearful of its condition. I have never in my life bought a new car. I do not want anything for free. Just “give me a route to legalization.”

  5. PJ says:

    I’m confused by the use of the term, Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) as it relates to anything other than an RV or a boat. Along Hwy 15D, at K21 and K98 (vehicle permitting stations, as well as INM stations in Sonora), you CANNOT get a TIP for a conventional car. It must be an RV or a boat.

    • yucalandia says:

      Sonora, like Baja, has a unique and special Aduana status, different than the rest of Mexico. In the rest of Mexico, gringos call Permisos de Importación Temporal (de vehículos): “Temporary Import Permits” = TIPs as a direct translation of the formal name of the Aduana permit for temporarily importing a vehicle.

      Local slang is fine, as long as we understand what the rest of the expats across Mexico call a “TIP”.
      A rose by any other name, …

      • PJ says:

        OK, so the TIPS that gringos refer to in states outside of Sonora and Baja are the same as officially importing a car into Mexico? Or are you referring to a third type of importation permit (****RV/boat TIP@ 50.00US for five years, ****permanent importation and a ****third type) ?

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi PJ (or do you prefer “Catfish”),
        The permit that gringos across Mexico refer to as “TIPs” are formally called Permisos de Importación Temporal (de vehiculos) by Aduana. Permisos de Importación Temporal (de vehiculos) directly translates as Temporary Import Permit. Temporarily importing a car is not the same as your question:
        OK, so the TIPS that gringos refer to in states outside of Sonora and Baja are the same as officially importing a car into Mexico?

        I think most people think “officially importing a car into Mexico” means to permanently import a car, processes which are officially called: “Importaciones Definitivas de Automóvilies“.

        You can read our article on < Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico to find extensive definitions of what Mexican Temporary Import Permits for Vehicles are, focusing on Advantages & Disadvantages of Permanent v Temporary Import Permits .
        Happy Trails,

  6. Hello friend, great article!
    I will post this in my fb. for my Yucateco friends.


  7. John says:

    I’m a bit confused about the car import rules. I thought that the ONLY way to bring a car into Mexico and be able to nationalize the vehicle is if the car IS 10 years old. Has this rule changed, or was I misinformed. I am planning to bring my 2004 van into the country this September as was hoping to be able to get MX plates in 2014.

    • yucalandia says:

      It has been legal to import 8,9, and 10 year old vehicles for the past few years (since July 2011).
      The rules may all be changing when Aduana issues the new rules.

  8. Jan says:

    Thanks for writing this… yes, the rumor mill is in full force, with people being éxperts’about something they HEARD and not read officially. We will keep watching for another post about this, as we have 2 American cars here, one 20 years old and one 8 years old.

  9. At the conference in Nuevo Vallarta they mentioned that we can now import ‘definitively’ cars six years young and older. is this factual even if some of the other elements there are/werenot?

    • yucalandia says:

      It would seem to be true at the Puerto Vallarta office, who made the presentation. They are the ones who have to approve the paperwork, so if they approve it, then it works. This is not necessarily true for other Aduana offices.

      • Bernard Wasow says:

        If one were to drive to Puerta Vallarta from Michoacán, would it be possible to import an old Nissan, made in Japan, and resident in Mexico for many years? This car has been reported to Aduana once, in 2005, on entering Mexico. My Residente Permanente process (and all my FM3s) were completed in Morelia.
        I have almost as little interest in driving to PV as in driving to Texas, but I would do it if that would settle the matter once and for all. If legalizing the car costs a couple thousand dollars, I am ready for that, too.
        Thanks for your opinion,

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Bernard,
        I was not at Puerto Vallarta Aduana presentation in Nuevo Vallarta, and I have no contacts in the Puerto Vallarta Aduana office. I would definitely contact them in Puerto Vallarta Aduana and get their approval, before you drive there.

        Your Japanese-made car really does NOT qualify for importation under the current published official rules, because it is not a NAFTA approved nor NAFTA country manufactured vehicle. This makes me very uncertain that somehow the Puerta Vallarta Aduana is now making some special exemption to the official rules. Does the Amparo that Tiocorp describes allow you a temporary window to do this? Tiocorp refuses to let any of the rest of us see the Amparo. There are no official Mex. Gob. web references or web postings of the Amparo.

        Really, contact the Aduana office in Puerto Vallarta first, and make sure they are approving these things and find out exactly what is needed to do this previously unauthorized thing.

        See the map of Aduana offices in our article – if you do not have the contact information for Puerto Vallarta:

  10. Johnene Deasy says:

    We have a 2001 vw bug (found out it was made in Mexico originally). We have called three Custom agents in Nogales re: permanent importation of our car. Each time we gave them our vin number along with the year of the car etc. Each time we were told “no problem” and the cost approx 900.00 USD
    . We are about to make a run to the border to do this. Are we being duped? From what we have read on several sites, the car must not be over 10 years old (our car is 11). I would also like to know any current information re: the additional costs in the respective state of residence. We live in Nayarit, but would be happy to get experiences from others in any state.Thank you for all the information you have provided. We appreciate your site.

    • yucalandia says:

      There is currently a special Amparo issued by some Mexican Federal Court that is temporarily allowing importation of previously disqualified vehicles into Mexico, but ONLY through the Tijuana Aduana port of entry (and one other un-named entry point = Nogales?). If you want to do this, you may want to do it quickly, since the Amparo could be cancelled at any point.

      Once -someone gets the Aduana approval document for permanent importation, they can take the car and document to any State in Mexico, and get it licensed. Hint: Since the Aduana rules are temporarily turned on their head by the INM changes, some local Aduana offices are taking liberties….? ps. What is the manufacture date of your VW?

      • Johnene Deasy says:

        Thank you Steve for your quick and informative response. We had planned on leaving tomorrow, but our craziness has taken over … We have decided to call Nogales Customs agent again in the morning to ask if the amparo program is in effect for our auto
        since it is a 2001 ( based on the 10th digit of the vin 1=2001). Are we missing something for the exact mfg. date?
        If I understand correctly, the car must be taken to the border for the tramite.
        Before making the trip, do you think we should contact the aduana’s office in PV?
        Thanks again, what a valuable resource you are. J

  11. Cay Osmon says:

    Bernard Wasow: “I would be happy to pay duty on it and nationalize it.”
    I’m with Bernard; I’m more than willing to pay to have it nationalized. Is there any way for us to let Aduana officials here know that? Sure, it may not make a difference, but if they gave us the option they’ll make some money on those of us willing to do that.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Cay,
      Excellent !
      I guess you could contact Aduana, in DF, and tell them.

      The only phone contact number we know is one to call if you have problems with your permit:

      From our Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico article at :
      “If you need to contact the Mexico City Aduana office, a dedicated reader further reports on June 28, 2012:
      “The guy to speak to now ( and as he himself said … when the govt’ comes in with the new President a lot of people might lose their jobs to croniism ) is ” ANDRES AGUILAR ” … who speaks good English and he can be reached at the same main Aduana number, then press 7,2,1,1 and ask for extension 49584 to reach him directly.
      Also if you run into blank looks at a regional Aduana Office ask them to call him and he will explain what they have to do.” ”

      or write them a letter, to the DF address listed in the same article.

      Happy Trails,

  12. mitch keenan says:

    Great Article! Thank you for researching, writing and answering comments!

  13. Philip says:

    I will be receiving a Permanent status very soon and would like nationalize my 97 Kawasaki motorcycle is this possible and do they treat Japan motos different than cars?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Philip,
      Don’t know about permanent imports of motorcycles – as they are not treated exactly as cars or pickups. The Aduana website’s FAQs says:

      “Inicio>Preguntas frecuentes
      7. ¿Se pueden importar motocicletas usadas?

      La importación definitiva de motocicletas se tramita por conducto de agente aduanal, a él corresponde clasificar la motocicleta en la fracción arancelaria adecuada y determinar el arancel aplicable, así como las regulaciones y las restricciones no arancelarias que se deben cumplir según el país de origen de la motocicleta, su cilindrada, la marca y el modelo.

      Todas las motos, cualquiera que sea su marca, se encuentran comprendidas en la partida 87.11 de la Tarifa de la Ley de los Impuestos Generales de Importación y de Exportación.

      Si importa dos o más motocicletas, deberá estar inscrito en el padrón de importadores.

      The bolded sections says it all: Contact your authorized customs broker to find out what is currently allowed (or prohibited) where you plan to enter. This especially important as there are several Aduana border crossings that currently have an Amparo governing what can be imported or not… Good brokers know how things work at their local crossings.

  14. Jacobo says:

    May I make a suggestion? I have lived in Mexico for 25 years and grew up on the border, Brownsville. My family was in the customs broker business on the border for over a 100 years. Why not just purchase a Mexican car? Just about every make and model in the world is available in Mexico and some are cheaper than in the States, like some of the VW models. As far as used cars, you will likely pay a premium but it is definitely worth the hassel and cost of nationalization or trying to figure the new law on TIPs. Why pay thousands to nationalize a car that likely will not have parts available in Mexico?

    • yucalandia says:

      AMEN !

      As we have noted in other articles: Even though we nationalized a 1996 Nissan Sentra (a NAFTA car) expecting it to be a dream to use in Mexico, instead, the brakes sold in Mexico are different, the Mexican clutch is different, the Mexican starter is different, the Mexican alternator is different. yada yada yada… On the other hand: Our ’96 Ranger (US drive train vs. Mexico’s Argentinian drive train) has been a dream here: no problems finding compatible: radiator, AC compressor, AC filter, starter, brakes nor amortiguadores. All have been exact matches…

      So, savvy readers can find good used cars here: Buying a Used Car (in Mexico)…

      • PJ says:

        OTOH, if you had a vehicle produced in the states, you might never have needed many of those parts produced in other countries. I find American alternators and radiators and AC compressors and tranny’s last at least 200k miles.

        You cant find brakes or shocks that fit that vehicle down here? They are no different. You need to find other sources of parts or you are being given the runaround. No base vehicle will have a different shock travel or disc size.

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Catfish,
        Both of our vehicles were made in the USA, with the Ford using some foreign parts. Re OTOH: I started workin with my daddy’s hillbilly mechanic when I was 9, and have professionally fixed cars part-time since then. I know about the problems of finding Mexican parts for US vehicles by getting greasy.

        The brake caliper housings on the US Sentra are definitely different than the Mexican calipers. We live in a city of 1 million people, and I have checked with 4 different very good chains of auto parts stores, and Don Francisco next door was an award winning teacher of auto mechanics at our local Techinical University – and none of us could find parts.

        I used one of the best auto electrical guys here in Merida to rebuild my Factory-built US Sentra alternator (failed at 120,000 miles) and he could not find parts. The US serpentine belt has 1 more/extra groove than the Mexican pulleys. The Mexican starter housing (failed at 130,000 miles) was definitely not made for the US Sentra bell housing.

        I know that you say that the brakes are not the same, but I really do not like grinding off 7 mm of extra steel on both guides on each pad – since the brake pads must glide smoothly to not drag or hang-up. There simply is no “OTOH” (no other hand) on these things. **

        Same issues with the TO bearing (“clutch release” bearing for the young-uns) and the fork – where the Mexican Sentras used different suppliers for all these parts.

        and yes, all of the parts you mention on our Ford, “alternators and radiators and AC compressors and tranny’s” lasted at least 200k miles, except for the Mitsubishi transmission. The Japanese transmission on our Ranger lost the synchros on 3’rd gear at 170,000 miles, but I was able to recover it with Bilstein’s magic copper-bead additive.

        And yes, our base-vehicle meat and potatoes US made Sentra did have different disk sizes on the front (the caliper does not lie). *grin* or *groan* ?

        And yes, the Mexican Ranger drive train does have Argentinian components, while the US Ranger has US and Japanese components…

        All the best,

        **This is like working on 1970’s – 1980’s Volvos: Did they use Borg and Beck or ATE or Lucas as their supplier for clutches or brake parts, on any given month of production? You have to tear it down to find out…

  15. gary says:

    Mr. Fry. For someone who seems to thrive on the ‘written and published rule’, which is a huge mistake in Mexico, your source of the opinion that automobiles were designed to accomodate daytripping businessmen on FM3s is conspicuously absent. It is also complete nonsense. Believe it or not, there was a time when Mexico was trying to attract retirees, RVers and immigrants. They knew that people wanted to drive their own vehicles – that was one of the unique attractions in the first place, easy access to the border. Also, at the time, if you remember, clean, low mileage used vehicles were in short supply as were new vehicles because of financing limitations. They could not (easily) reposess a financed vehicle until the reforms of 1996. So the government allowed the duty free importation of a vehicle – don’t try to sell it here though. A further incentive was to allow foreigners access to the worker’s medical insurance I.M.S.S. This access was originally meant to be for catastrophic use only. The only other country I have researched, Nicaraqua, continues to allow one car per person for general and non-commercial use.
    There are millions (government estimate -2 million) of U.S. plated vehicle in Mexico. I met a young fellow just yesterday who proudly showed me his 5 tonne gravel truck with California plates. He also showed me his classic cars and his brother’s Denali – all chocolate. He said driving into Guadalajar the police don’t care, but it is safer to have a current tag on the CA plates (which he somehow gets from the U.S.). I asked about insurance – he told me ‘you don’t need insurance in Mexico’ (!!!) So remember this the next time you have a impatient gravel truck on your tail. There are a lot bigger fish to fry than allowing comparitively wealthy foreigners to keep their beloved ‘escape pods’ and security cocoons.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Gary,
      I am sorry that this effort did not meet your standards. I note that in addition to your criticisms, you repeatedly put words into my mouth that do not exist: i.e. I never said or implied anything about “daytripping businessmen on FM3s“.

      You further imagine and write that there must be ” ‘written and published rule(s)‘ ” on these things. Sorry, there are no minutes of the meetings for these items. I am simply repeating the explanations told by men who were working as INM and Aduana managers at the time, and from abogados who were working with INM and Aduana at that time. Since I don’t have their personal permission to quote them, I simply relate what old-timers said – men who were contemporary experts on these things back in the 1990’s.

      You choose to mention a number of contemporaneous facts, but you supply no evidence to support your conclusions. Contemporaneous facts are not proof of intent, nor proof of concept. Here’s an example of how your flawed approach of quoting seemingly-related facts, reaches the wrong conclusions: Fact: I was a successful public health and environment business exec during the 1990’s. Fact: Many environmental business execs cheated-to-succeed during the 1990’s due to Clinton’s severe environmental budget cutbacks (up to 70% cuts at many US DOD and DOE and CERCLA sites). Fact: Our laboratory was successful, grew, and was modestly profitable, while over 60% of our contemporaneous competition disappeared. Following your approach: I must have cheated to be successful.

      A further false conclusion that could be drawn using your logic: Clinton must have cut US Federal environmental enforcement and environmental spending with the intention of putting American labs out of business and putting American scientists out of work.

      All of these conclusions are supported by facts, but none of them are true.

      You go on to further support your hypotheses by citing supporting evidence of current cheaters who drive “chocolates“. I seriously doubt that Aduana formulated their past policies to support the current cheaters whom you know.

      You criticize people who you imagine are driven to “keep their beloved ‘escape pods’ and security cocoons“, while I recognize the realities of a system that has been out of economic balance: where many expats with TIPs have paid no duties nor taxes for years – while they use the Mexican roadways and services.

      I simply think that Aduana is trying to set up a system that makes better economic and better legal sense – creating a new system that fits today’s realities.

      They are not trying to create a system to punish people who you suppose want to “keep their beloved ‘escape pods’ and security cocoons“.

      Me? I choose to believe the reports of experts and professionals who were involved in the process at that time, rather than assembling timely but potentially unrelated facts to form hypothetical conclusions.

      Finally, why do you say that: following the ” ‘written and published rule(s)’ ” “ is a huge mistake in Mexico” ?

      Since you advocate that expats intentionally ignore and break Mexican rules and laws:
      Do you similarly cheer when illegal immigrants in the US and Canada break US & Canadian laws?

      I have only been coming to Mexico and living here on & off since 1985, but I have found things can work well when we follow the published rules, and also follow the local officials interpretations of those rules. So, yes, you are right: We have thrived while following the rules.

      Just what rules do you think we should all be breaking?

      To each his own.
      Happy Trails,

  16. gary says:

    Much of your reply is ‘dreamlandia’, not ‘yucalandia’. Mexican legal history is paved with broken rules. Have you ever read the latest Mexican Constitution. In your books this would be the supreme law of the land but in fact is routinely ignored and twisted with every administration.

    Why can’t you accept that Mexico would toss out incentives to attract well qualified immigrants and retirees? Mexico is having a hard enough time attracting tourists, air travel to Puerto Vallarta is down by 30% from 2008 – that’s 1 million missing tourists last year. Many retirees will tell you that they want a vehicle to drive out of here, with all their best ‘stuff’, if things get rough. And the failure of the Maquiladores was, and still is, that the U.S. managers had a very difficult time living in the Mexican border towns, especially those with families. They would often commute back to the U.S.A. Any Manager with any talent simply did not want to work there, and they could afford to work somewhere else.

    As far as gossiping Aduana, INM, and Abogados – you are going to get a different story from everyone of them – depending where they are working. I have found the ones working the Nortthern border, actually harbor a deep dislike for Americans and by proxy, Canadians. This is reciprocal by the way, U.S. officials giving Mexicans a hard time.

    Mexico’s former Ambassador to the U.S.A. admitted in a recent interview, that Mexico will not be able to establish ‘the rule of law’ until 2020. Until that time, I suggest you follow the rule of enlightened self interest, and be extremely vigilant in any matters involving ‘the law’ – because those individuals dealing with ‘the law’ are following their own self interests and their own agendas.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Gary,
      Much of your reply is ‘dreamlandia’, not ‘yucalandia’.
      What does it say when one party in a discussion is reduced to name-calling and junior highish juvenile insults?

      Have you ever read the latest Mexican Constitution.
      If you followed what I have written, versus making things up, and imagining things, creating fantasies, and name-calling, then you would know that I have read the Mexican constitution. It was the basis of my Yucatan Living article: “Mexican Constitution Changes Affecting Expats”.

      So, yes, I have read the Mexican Constitution, and published an article on it. And yes, Governments around the world sometimes ignore their constitutions and then later use them at their convenience. e.g. The US Constitution specifically protects the free exercise of religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ” , yet the US Congress and the Presidents broke this fairly clear rule for roughly 200 years. If this were not true, there would have been no need for a US Freedom of Religion law in 1978 (a.k.a. AIRFA).

      I find it naive that you think that governments universally follow their constitutions, and that it is somehow surprising and naive that you imagine that I believe that governments follow their constitutions.

      Why can’t you accept that Mexico would toss out incentives to attract well qualified immigrants and retirees?
      Again, you put word into my mouth that I never wrote.
      Sure, I know that Mexico has used incentives and continues to use them to attract qualified immigrants and retirees – I never said that I do not know about incentives. You simply misapply your knowledge of incentives as the main driver behind Aduana and INM policies.

      Re Incentives: Incentives are exactly how I qualified for free INM permits, as a officially valued Scientific Expert whose skills are formally used both in Public Health programs here and in Medical programs here.

      Why do you repeatedly imagine such false things?
      Why propose them as if they were facts?
      Why create fantasies in your mind about other people?

      As far as gossiping Aduana, INM, and Abogados…
      Again, your only refuge in this discussion seems to be to return to name-calling versus using pertinent facts.

      If you read carefully, I don’t think that former INM and Aduana managers who were explaining the origins of the current policies, should be labelled as “gossips“. Again, where are the facts to back up what you claim?

      Do you know these men?
      I have found them to be reliable and accurate in their past descriptions and past behaviors.

      Why denigrate people you have never met?

      Why denigrate qualified professionals who have done their jobs well for years?

      Your comments really do come off as small, petty, and baseless.

      Mexico’s former Ambassador to the U.S.A. admitted in a recent interview, that Mexico will not be able to establish ‘the rule of law’ until 2020.
      I understand that the Ambassador was actually referring to the Drug Wars. This distinction makes the Rule of Law issue a narrow one, and it shows that your point is a misrepresentation or a misdirection ploy.

      Does the USA follow the rule of law?
      In New Orleans? In Detroit? In Washington DC? In Chicago? In Louisiana? In New Mexico?
      ~ Look at the decades of government officials doing hard time in prison from just these locations.
      ~ Look at the decades of corruption in these places across the USA involving everything from real estate, to titles, to car registration, to theft of disaster relief funds, to sweetheart deals on major road projects driven by bribes, to building permits, to traffic stops, over a decade of multi-state bid rigging processes on interstate paving projects involving roughly 30 states, cigarette smuggling, and on and on and on…

      And if there were some near-universal Rule of Law in the USA, would there be police, Customs and Border Patrol, et al officials being regularly arrested for corruption over the past 3 decades?

      So, yes, I fully acknowledge that almost no countries in the world have strong uniform adherence to the Rule of Law, (outside of Germany and the Scandanavian countries), which makes your arguments ring hollow on this point. Accusing Mexico of something that is basically universally true across the planet, is hardly an indictment of the points I made.

      ~ Still, I choose to follow laws, because I believe that good laws help make things work, increase harmony in societies, and that citizens really do have to broadly follow the laws for societies to function well. e.g. If even 5% of a populace chose to break into and rob our stores on the same nights, repeatedly over several months, societies would collapse.

      Again, I notice that you did not explain why the rest of us should ignore laws and break rules.

      Again, I notice that you did not explain which laws and rules we should ignore and break.

      Again, I notice that you did not explain why you do not follow the law,
      nor did you tell us which laws and rules that you break.

      Why not own what you propose and claim ?

      Really, your points have been either
      unsupported by facts, or
      they misuse facts, or
      they devolve to name-calling, or
      you just make up stuff about what you imagine I believe, or
      you make up stuff imagining what I have done or not done => creating fantasies to support your beliefs.

      Me? I prefer reality and facts, and I rely on competent talented experts, versus making things up or distorting and misrepresenting things.

      Happy Trails,

      • gary says:

        You are spraying a lot of words around to say that you don’t know what is going to happen with car registrations in Mexico, and that you have no political connections in Mexico City who can give a hint as to what direction they are going.

        ~ Editor’s note: A string of false, insulting, and non-productive items have been deleted from this section of the Comment. ~

        All my dealings with both Aduana and INM so far have been lessons in incompetance – but you know, I kind of like that compared to the cold, hostile approach of U.S. I.C.E., or the passive aggressive style of Canadian border and customs

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Gary,
        I am going to have to ask you to stop writing insulting, denigrating, and juvenile things, or we will simply block all of your future comments. Civilized and constructive dialogue is welcomed at Yucalandia. Childish name-calling and personal insults are not welcome.

        Re part your latest comments:
        You are spraying a lot of words around to say that you don’t know what is going to happen with car registrations in Mexico, and that you have no political connections in Mexico City who can give a hint as to what direction they are going.

        Agreed, you are finally repeating what I wrote several times in the main article, though you say it insulting ways.

        No one knows the details of Aduana’s upcoming changes.
        We all have to wait until they publish the new policies.

        All my dealings with both Aduana and INM so far have been lessons in incompetance – but you know, I kind of like that compared to the cold, hostile approach of U.S. I.C.E., or the passive aggressive style of Canadian border and customs

        When we pair these declarations with your past insisting that expats should ignore or break Mexican Rules & Laws, it becomes clear that you choose hostile perceptions and hostile actions towards the world.

        We choose and advise constructive paths that are helpful to other expats.

        We have found our INM and Aduana personnel in Merida, Progreso, and Chetumal, to be almost universally competent, talented, and helpful. In working with about 50 different expats processing permits at INM and Aduana, the only instances we have seen go badly happened when the expats acted as pushy, arrogant, “ugly-American”, selfish children, demanding what they thought they deserved, and then turning hostile and aggressive when they did not get their way.

        We advise operating with the premise that we are guests in Mexico.

        If you find only incompetence, cold, hostile, or passive-aggressive styles from years of encounters with US, Canadian, and Mexican officials, then maybe they are not the problem?

        If you have approached them with the same rudeness, insults, and denigration that you have consistently offered here, then maybe you have finally found the source of your problems?
        All the best,

  17. Pablo T says:

    The Secretaria de Hacienda has a web site that for me answers the key question of legality:
    Item 4:
    El plazo para retornar los vehículos, será el de la vigencia de la calidad migratoria, sus prórrogas, ampliaciones o refrendos otorgados a dichas calidades migratorias conforme a la ley de la materia.
    I translate this as follows:
    The deadline for returning the vehicle, will be the term of the immigration status, its extensions, extensions or endorsements granted to said migratory class under the appropriate law.
    It seems to me that “calidad migratoria” is broad enough to extend to ANY valid immigration status and would continue to apply under the new changes in immigration processes.
    The fact that qualifications and categories of migratory are different under the new immigration laws does not in my mind change the basic fact: if your immigration status (term) is valid, so is your car.
    It seems straightforward to me. What am I missing?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Pablo,
      If it were as simple as you describe, we would not have 4 different regional Aduana directors each using and applying 4 very different policies on renewing or sometimes denying renewals of Permisos de importación temporal de vehículos.

      e.g. The Puerto Vallarta Aduana office just made and published a powerpoint presentation that definitely does not follow what you prescribe and proscribe. See Aduana Proposal to Allow Existing Foreign-Plated “TIP” Cars to be Permanently Imported ?

      We really all do have to wait until Aduana DF publishes something official on this.

      • paulwhois says:

        Thanks for opening my eyes to this. I had no idea how far the confusion has gone. Those INM and SAT “proposals” are game-changing for many and hardly in the interests of Mexican tourism in the long run. To me, all this speaks to the need for a national group to represent the interests of Immigrants/Visitors to Mexico. I mean, $3000 a month to stay in Mexico? Somebody’s out to lunch on this one. A person can retire niecely on half of that. Latino’s have at least six or seven groups to represent them in the U.S. alone and Lord knows they need it with all the confusion up there, but not ONE group that represents immigrants to Mexico? Isn’t it time?

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Paul,
        Where does INM law say anything about $3,000 to stay in Mexico? You are quoting figures that do not exist in the law.

        One set of personal fiscal solvency requirements for Residente Temporal are about $1.900 USD in income per month, and the comparable requirements for Residente Permanente are about $2,400 of previous monthly income or previous monthly pension/SSI deposits. Many INM offices are cutting these values in half for people who own property here – making the effective limits at $950 a month or $1,200 a month… Property ownership and average annual savings can also be used to qualify.

        Since the actual effective monthly $$ requirements are 3X less than your proposed (false) $3,000, there seems to be no problem, except for people spreading false rumors.

        For the official rules, see:
        Financial Independence (Savings or Income) Requirements for Temporary Residency / Residente Temporal Applicants
        Financial Independence (Savings or Income) Requirements for Permanent Residency / Residente Permanente Applicants .

        … (There is) not ONE group that represents immigrants to Mexico? Isn’t it time?
        Really, immigrants have made themselves heard at the local, state, and federal levels of INM – which is exactly why the old INM rules were re-created into a new simpler and less demanding system that fast-tracks immigrants to permanent residency. …. And yes, Aduana is working on creating a new immigrant-friendly car import system, but they have not yet announced the details.

        Before lighting the torches and organizing protests: Consider that the US and Canada are far more abusive to their immigrants, making it far more difficult and far more expensive and far more time consuming for immigrants to get permanent residency, than Mexico’s easy, cheap, and relatively fast process. If you want fairness and justice, as a US citizen, you could write your US Congressman and Senators to change the harsh and onerous US systems. You might also note that the Mexican Constitution prohibits foreigners from any activities affecting the political affairs of Mexico:
        ~ “ Only Citizens of the Republic may take part in the political affairs of the country. ” ~
        Mexican Constitution Changes Affecting Expats

        Really, creating and passing out false rumors using incorrect information about Mexico just stirs up unnecessary anxiety. If the INM perceives that any of us are interfering in their affairs, then we become eligible for deportation.

        Agitate if you must, but agitate gently.
        Happy Trails,

  18. bobby brown says:

    Dear Steve-thank you for your article-it put me at ease– i’m a retiree living in Puerto Vallarta for six years now ;–my strategy now is to calm down and wait and see–my two cars are Toyotas with a J on the vin( 92 pickup & 2001 4 Runner)–they are staying with me till the bitter end-lol—i went to the meeting in Nuevo Vallarta and i thought it caused more comotion than good- Ms.Trainer was shocked there were over 700 people attending(all; i think; were American);can you imagine how many Canadians running around!??–the customs agents thought the whole issue with the cars was really funny–every response to a question about legalizing a car was a” NO”!!!!!!!–i got the impression that the Mexican Aduana was out to get us-i was very disappointed.=like get in your cars and drive north!!!!–i think it’s just gealousy!!–as Neuvo Vallarta is a high end enclave. Well; thanks again for your article–i will be vigilant—Bobby

  19. PJ says:

    OK, I’ll bite. Why am I suddenly “Catfish”? That one eludes me, too.

    • yucalandia says:


      with the darn cold and chest infection/bronquitis/pneumonia, I mis-read your name:
      I read pez-gato = catfish. With your nudge, I now see that it says pezgallo, which is ???

      my bad, steve

  20. paulwhois says:


    The “rumor” about $3000 qualification I for residency I posted in my last comment to you I got from an INM presentation from a link in your column titled “New Rules and Procedures for Immigration, Visiting, and Staying in Mexico.”

    New Rules and Procedures for Immigration, Visiting, and Staying in Mexico

    You posted a the following link: see Proof of Financial Independence for Residency Applicants: Proof of Financial Independence for Residency Applicants
    which on the 10th Slide clearly states $3000 monthly income for retired. I wouldn’t have posted it if you hadn’t directed me to it and if it didn’t have the INM logo all over it. If indeed it’s false, why are YOU putting it up there. I quote your sources, then you beat me up for spreading false rumors. What gives?

    Concerning groups in Mexico, there are many civil organizations in Mexico that represent the interests of local extrañeros, Amigos of Bucerias, for example, who have qualified to speak out as a civic organization without fear of deportation. I don’t see why a national organization representing the interest of foreigners couldn’t be formed along the same lines. In any case, I had in mind an advisory group that would exchange information, and make itself available when and if the authorities or media were amenable to our input, both here and the U.S. and Canada, not a raucous band of malcontents overturning cars and the like.

    Even if was I did post false rumors (are there TRUE rumors?), why the anger? Why not just correct the person and move on rather than castigate and alienate? Most of us groping about for the truth, just like you.

    Lighten up, amigo


    ~ Editor’s Note: This Comment has been edited to fix the broken links. ~

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Pablo,
      Lighten up, amigo.

      I totally agree.

      Thank you so much for pointing out the error in the unofficial INM presentation.

      Your proposal that I should “correct the person and move on rather than castigate and alienate” is 100% correct. For context: I have had a number of people writing nasty Personal Messages (PMs) to me, writing insults here on Yucalandia, and also on some Forums. There have also been a recent minor torrent of internet-rumors about both INM programs and Aduana’s programs that needs addressing, because it is causing a lot of unnecessary heartburn – hence this article. Finally, in the midst of 3 weeks of a wretched cold that infected my lungs, I made an error in tone of my reply to you, as I thought your reply was a part of the other personal attacks.

      I apologize for over-reacting, and I offer kudos for your civilized, thorough, and well-tempered replies.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Pablo,
      I need your help.

      I have triple checked the section for the Proof of Financial Independence for Residency Applicants button. I can find no link in that section nor in the article that goes to an INM presentation with a slide 10 saying that there is a $3,000 USD a month requirement.

      Can you please send us the exact link – web address – for where we refer to this document?

      Is it possible that you copied it from a different article or someone else’s website?

      Is it possible that you are quoting the highly flawed Puerto Vallarta INM powerpoint presentation, given at Nuevo Vallarta about 2 weeks ago? If so, I think I previously identified that this presentation was not official, not legally binding, had many errors, and was not approved by INM DF (that in legal terms, it was just an informal presentation to try to explain things to local gringos – therefore it was not an official source of information).


      Everything I read about financial requirements in our article and our INM links – the stuff that you cited (New Rules and Procedures for Immigration, Visiting, and Staying in Mexico ) describes only $1,900 a month or $2,400 a month to qualify using monthly income.

      • paulwhois says:


        My turn to apologize. I do have the downloaded PowerPoint file but apparently did NOT get it from your link as I previously thought. (That link incidently seems to be looping back on itself.) And yes, there’s a good chance I picked it off the Vallarta email, but cannot for the life of me locate it now. If you want to email me, I could attach the presentation, for what its worth, on the return.

        The more I look into this, the more I see what a awesome job you’ve done keeping track of all this, especially with so much contradictory information coming from all directions. Thanks for following through. I’ll get back to you if I can track it down.


      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Pablo,
        You are a gentleman and a scholar.
        Thank you for the kind words and recognition of our efforts at doing the details right.

        That dog-gone Nuevo Vallarta informal presentation by the local Puerto Vallarta Aduana & INM folk, keeps popping-up, and it really has caused a lot of needless heartburn for expats. Some private reports from expats who were in the meeting, describe the Aduana and INM personnel’s performance as confusing, unprofessional, and embarrassing – so it was a botched-job from start to finish.

        We have multiple copies of the presentations, so thank you for the kind offer of a copy.
        It really is so riddled with errors, that I am glad that you “lost” it.

        All the best,

  21. bobby brown says:

    Dear Steve-all i can say is that Mexico better wise up an realize WHO butters their bread and do the generous thing-i don’t mean to be arrogant but that’s just the way it is!

    All the best, Bobby Brown

  22. SigoTratando says:

    Nicely and realistically presented article.
    But these two paragraphs caused me some wonder:

    I am left asking: Why should Mexico offer something that the USA and Canada (and pretty much all other countries) prohibit?

    Why should individual Americans and Canadians in Mexico, expect much free services and free usage of the roads, and expect more liberal treatment from the Mexican Government, than they offer Mexicans who are guests in the USA and Canada?

    Why wouldn’t the fees we pay every single year cover usage of roads (besides what we pay on the cuota highways)?
    Those paragraphs seems like an tangentially related tu-quoque politico-emotional point that is left to the reader to puzzle out its implications to the topic. “pretty much all other countries” have different needs with different rules to match.

    The debate in the US over “immigration reform” and illegal immigrants wanting this or that right, which Mexican law (and “pretty much all other countries”) allow or don’t depending on the country. In Mexico, we are constitutionally forbidden to involve ourselves in the least way in anything political. To use your tu-quoque argument, then the US should impose the same law on legal aliens?

    I’m left asking: why shouldn’t Mexico do what it wants to, regardless of what “pretty much all other countries” are doing? If it wants to allow free temporary import status to foreign-plated cars, that makes Mexico progressive in my eyes.

    Those paragraphs smack of some sort of commentary, though I can’t put my finger on it. “Freeloader ex-pats” or something like that?

    Some possible implications for your “pretty much all other countries” interjection:
    (1) In considering what to do, Aduana should most rightly consider what other countries do.
    (2) Mexico shouldn’t allow free-loaders.
    (3) There’s money to be made on foreign-licensed cars.
    (4) Foreign cars are hazardous to Mexico’s environment and infrastructure and should be regulated.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Sigo,
      Fun questions !

      Why wouldn’t the fees we pay every single year cover usage of roads (besides what we pay on the cuota highways)?
      Those paragraphs seems like an tangentially related tu-quoque politico-emotional point that is left to the reader to puzzle out its implications to the topic. “pretty much all other countries” have different needs with different rules to match.

      Do you pay the annual tenencias or annual registration fees or annual vehicle ownership taxes to operate your foreign-plated car in Mexico?
      By my crude accounting, gringos with foreign-plated cars are dodging the import taxes (which Mexican car buyers pay in the initial purchase price) and they are dodging at least 3 kinds of fees/taxes that Mexicans pay. Most gringos also pay no income taxes and pay only paltry property taxes, so, just what taxes and fees do gringos pay that directly cover their usages of the public roads and streets? 3% IVA in many states is supposed to cover road construction and maintenance?

      The facts seem to show that Gringo drivers use the public roads, but pay no related fees nor taxes, while Mexicans pay at least 3 types of fees to pay for road maintenance and construction. Cuotas are another issue, and seem to form only a small part of the miles driven by typical expats living in Mexico.

      I’m left asking: why shouldn’t Mexico do what it wants to, regardless of what “pretty much all other countries” are doing? If it wants to allow free temporary import status to foreign-plated cars, that makes Mexico progressive in my eyes.

      I agree wholeheartedly.
      I simply note that gringos frequently want as much as they can get for free, they are very reluctant and many downright evade paying even reasonable duties, and they think that everything should be skewed to make their lives easy, cheap, and comfortable. I am a pay-as-I-go guy. I offer the comparison to the US and Canada to say that the gringos who dislike or criticize or whine about Mexican policies, should also compare Mexico to the realities of their home countries. I believe we should clean up our own homes first, long before sticking our noses into other countries business. Said another way: For those gringo foreigners who want to start advocacy groups for force reforms in Mexico, I advocate that they instead first write their Congressional Rep and Senators to first clean up the messes at home. In the simplest form of personal morality: Do unto others first, what you would have done to you.

      All the best,

      • David says:

        The issue of paying fees is two sided. I have no problem ( and I’m sure most ex-pats would agree ) with paying the same fees and road taxes and buying insurance etc. that Mexicans pay to use the roads here BUT I do not want to surrender my U.S, plates on my vehicle simply because it is almost impossible to buy U.S. insurance on a Mexican plated vehicle for the occasions when I return to the U.S. on vacation or whatever other reason.
        If they would allow me to buy Mexican plates but NOT have to surrender my U.S. plates, so that I could put them back on my vehicle while in the U.S. then I would have no problem with that.

  23. David says:

    Given the confusion about how Aduana is going to respond to the new types of residency formats, has anyone had any recent experience as to what happens to your TIP when you change your FM-3 to Residente Temporal or Residente Permanante.
    Our FM-3’s expire this coming April and we will most likely switch to Residente Temporal. We are contemplating availing ourselves of the ability to buy several years of Residente Temporal at one time ( probably 2 years paid in advance ). If you notify Aduana of your new status within the time period required by law and request an extension of your TIP to match your new Immigration status will they grant the extension for the same period of time as your new Residente Temporal.
    i.e. new Residente Temporal for two years ….. is the TIP also extended for two years.
    Would appreciate input from anyone who has done this within the past month or so

    • yucalandia says:

      The Aduana law is clear, to keep your deposit, you must apply for an extension of your TIP expiration date well before 15 days after the current expiration date (it takes Aduana time to approve the expiration date change – and it takes Aduana additional time to notify Bajercito – and Banjercito needs time to update their databases of the change).

      Since INM is almost universally taking more than 1 month to process even a renewal (Residente Temporal), then if you wait until after receiving your INM permit, then you definitely miss the time window for Aduana and Banjercito’s expiration dates on your TIP.

      Next, Note that each Aduana office is doing things differently: PV and Progreso Aduana offices are REJECTING all applications to extend TIPs. Aduana Queretaro is supposedly approving all applications, (regardless of Temporary or Permanent Residency). The Aduana hotline is telling a variety of stories: some operators saying yes to all, others saying no… Some say yes to all. Some operators say all Residente Temporal. Other operators say only Residente Temporal Rentistas.

      As we described in a comment on our most recent Yucalandia Update Post:
      You do have to apply for a prorroga with Aduana BEFORE your TIP expires: (from Mexconnect)
      “This is as explained regarding Aduana in Queretaro.

      My wife (a professional INM & Aduana facilitator) called Aduana 01-442-227-0100 ext 60113 (today: March 1, 2013) and spoke with Isabel Chavez. For those with Permanent Resident visa your car is legal since there are no new laws relative to Permanent Residents but you will have lost your deposit unless you have taken your car out of Mexico prior to the expiration date of your car permit.

      For those who are Temporary Residents you need to go to Aduana in Queretaro well before your visa expires.

      Start your INM process 30 days before it expires. Take a copy of your INM Temporary Resident visa application along with your passport, car title, the letter you submitted to INM (states your address, citizenship, passport number, how long you are applying for a visa), page with NUT number and name and also car permit you obtained when you entered Mexico. You ask for a prorroga to protect your deposit. It will be protected for the duration of your Temporary Resident visa be it 1, 2, 3 or 4 years. This information is then sent to Aduana in Mexico City.;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;page=last;#last

      Check with your Aduana office to see what their policy is … until Aduana DF finally issues some official updates, we have a mess of at least 4 different Aduana policies on TIPs. TIM: (This Is Mexico….)

      Contact Aduana DF and your Ambassador if you want a single uniform policy.

  24. bobby brown says:

    responding to David–charging these immigration fees is just another way to make money- TAXES–expats are not a burden but a huge asset! any freebies gained is not going to make any negative impacts.-as for confiscating your old plates? it’s just a show of power!-those plates will most likely just end up in the garbage! and not sent back to their state of origin–i’m looking foward to getting my permanent resident!–after 6 years of dealing with bueracrats ; and their Draconian rules; i’m DONE!—- bobby brown

  25. Dave says:

    Thanks for your answer Steve but there still seems to be some confusion. The referral site your post sent me to seems to say that if you are applying to renew a ” residente PERMANENTE ” status, then you cannot keep your vehicle in Mexico under a TIP. However it also seems to say that if you are renewing a “residente TEMPORAL ” status, then YES you CAN get your TIP extended to match the duration of your new ” residente temporal ” card.
    Is this how you are interpreting what the posts and Aduana are saying ??? ……. Although some aduana offices seem to be rejecting all requests for TIP extension.
    Next part of the confusion: quote: ” Start your INM process 30 days before it expires. Take a copy of your INM Temporary Resident visa application along with your passport, car title, the letter you submitted to INM (states your address, citizenship, passport number, how long you are applying for a visa), page with NUT number and name and also car permit you obtained when you entered Mexico. You ask for a prorroga to protect your deposit. It will be protected for the duration of your Temporary Resident visa be it 1, 2, 3 or 4 years. This information is then sent to Aduana in Mexico City. ”
    Question ……. Are you saying take the paperwork referenced to INM or to Aduana ? I never realized that you presented a prorroga to INM to protect your deposit and that ” they ” would forward same to Aduana in Mexico City.
    Do you mean that I should take the paperwork along with a copy of the new ” residente Temporal ”
    card to a local Aduana office and that “they” ( Aduana ) then forward same to Aduana Mexico City.?
    Final question ….. WHO actually issues you with a ” dated ” letter stating you have complied with the law and that your deposit is protected. …… The LOCAL Aduana office, or the Aduana office in Mexico City.
    From last years experience, my local Aduana office had no clue how to issue a letter and I wound up going to Mexico City Aduana to get my renewal letter.
    p.s. last year we got our ” residente temporal cards ” issued/renewed in 1 day ( one day ) at our local Tuxpan office.
    p.p.s. I’m not really concerned about the deposit because I am convinced that sometime down the road if I decide to return the vehicle to the U,S. permanently, There will be enough excuses as to where I will lose the deposit anyway.
    The MAIN CONCERN is to just get a document/letter from Aduana saying my TIP has been extended to match my new “Residente Temporal ” expiration date.
    Your clarification is appreciated


    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Dave,
      The section you quoted comes from John Garvin’s report about Aduana Queretaro. If you choose to contact Aduana Queretaro, and they agree to issue you an extension of your TIP expiration date, then Aduana Queretaro issues you the letter, and they also update the Aduana/Banjercito database.

      What is your local Aduana office’s policies on renewing/extending TIP expiration dates for the new Residente Temporal and Residente Permanente INM cards?

  26. Dave says:

    Don’t know yet what the Aduana in Tuxpan’s policies are. Last year they knew ” nothing ” and as stated in my last post we would up having to go to Mexicvo City to get it done.
    Was trying to see what others have experienced with the TIP extensions against a ” Residente Temporal ” card.
    Unless someone else replies with the answer then we’ll have to wait and see what happens when we try in April.
    You would think that Tuxpan being a big oil port and ship repair facility, that they would be up to date on new rules but last year they acted just plain dumb.

  27. Christine says:

    Steve, I finally decided to move on changing from a Tourist visa (with my Banjercito on my old truck ) to a RT. I consulted an immigration attny and asked if I could just take the bus up to Laredo to the Mexican Consulate there, with my bank statements and get my temp visa doc. to start the process to the permanent RT down here in San Miguel. The attny said yes, I could do that, and did not have to take the truck up, that I could take it to the Adeuna in Queretaro to make the change in status once I got the RT. So, I bought a bus ticket and am set up to boarder etc.
    Meanwhile I asked a known facilitator down here about the process so that I could hire her to help me when I got back. She told me I COULD NOT go without the truck and dealing with the Banjercito/change of visa problem at the border. So, I have two written, conflicting opinions about this. I’m not a happy camper. It seems like the immigration attny is correct, but also that the facilitator here, who is know to everyone and generally approved of, should know.
    I also asked the facilitator what would happen if I go up and get the the temp visa without the truck. She has not answered. Do you know? If the consequence is only that I lose my Banjercito fee, that’s a cheap fix compared to driving an old truck the 800 miles to the border in this heat, and having to go through Neuvo Laredo. Thanks for any info you can give.

  28. Good article. I will be going through some of these issues
    as well..

  29. The ongoing saga of your US car in Mexico. I have been in touch with Aduana and was told the following as it relates to me. I am now Residente Permanente, therefore cannot have a TIP car. However, because I live in Quintana Roo, which is considered a “Free Zone”, I may drive my US car without a permit as long as I stay in Q Roo. If I choose to drive outside Q Roo (Mexico), I must nationalize the vehicle. The below is a copy and paste from the email.

    Wed 7/31/2
    Good morning Mr. Spiegel,
    Thanks for contact us.
    Effectively, Quintana Roo is considered a Free Zone, so as long as you won’t drive out of there you won’t have any problems. On the other hand, you cannot request for a new temporary import permit because of your stay condition (Residente Permanente is not allow to have a foreign car here in Mexico). If you want to drive out of Quintana Roo, we recommend you to consider nationalizing your car. I let you some information bellow:

    Final Importation
    You need to get in contact with a customs broker, he is the one in charge to make the final import of any car, he will classify the Id of the car, make the import request, identify regulations, restrictions, and taxes of the foreign trade.
    You can find one in the Confederación de Asociaciones de Agentes Aduanales de la República Mexicana (CAAAREM), the telephone number is: 01 (55) 33 00 75 00, in Mexico, D.F., and the website is:
    Another option is to contact with the Confederación Latinoamericana de Agentes Aduanales (CLAA) in its website:,mx, the telephone number is: 01 (800) 702 04 22.
    We extend you an invitation to visit the Customs General Administration website:, where you can find more information about customs and foreign trade.

    I hope this information can clear your mind.
    Best regards.
    For more information please call the following toll-free numbers:

    • In Mexico 01 800 4636 728 7-2-2-1-1 options.
    • From the U.S. and Canada 1 877 4488728 7-2-2-1-1 options.


  30. Dave says:

    Questions: What makes the ” whole ” state of Quintana Roo so special that the whole state is considered a free zone ?
    I was under the impression that ” under no circumstances ” were you allowed to permanently import a Japanese (J) car into Mexico if you have Residente Pemanente
    If you are willing to go through the process and speak Spanish proficiently, ” why ” do you need to use a customs broker to import a car ? …… Is this something similar to only ” Notarios ” can process land sales and purchases or is it just job protection for the brokers ?
    We do NOT live in Quintana Roo and are seriously considering surrendering our Residente Temporal when they expire and NOT getting Residencia Permanente …. but rather switching back to Tourist status every six months to allow us to keep our Japanese (J) car. Its a, p.i.t.a.but we have no desire to spend another $10K buying a different car just to satisfy a rule, that if not applied Mexico wide, is discriminatory.
    Now … if there has developed a way around this then we may reconsider, but again we do NOT live in Quintana Roo
    Advice ?

  31. I recently found out that Q Roo was considered a “Free Zone” and have absolutely no idea why. It was confirmed to me though, via email, by Aduana as well as via phone call. This is the first I have heard that you could nationalize a car whose vin began with a “J”. My brother-in-law removed his Lexus from Nayarit back to Arizona. As to the use of Brokers,….I have always questioned that rule, beginning with getting my car and 26 boxes of clothing, computers, etc. out of the warehouse at Puerto Morelos. They insisted I use a broker and the trucking company of their choice, even though I could have moved everything in my SUV and my friend’s pick-up. Also, I was not allowed to be present when they went through my boxes. Regarding the mandatory use of brokers for cars………………sadly, that’s just the way it is.

  32. Dave says:

    Steve …. what’s your take on this Quintana Roo thing ??

  33. If you are addressing Rabbi Steve, you got me. If you were looking for Moderator Steve, re-post. I have gotten e-mails and have spoken twice with Aduana, not heresay. I must take both Aduana sources at their word. Q Roo is treated as a Free Zone. What it means re cars, as I understand it;
    (1) A tourista, 180 days still gets T.I.P. and can drive in Mexico
    (2) A Residente Temporal (non working) gets a T.I.P. for a year and can drive in Mexico
    (3) A Residente Permanente living in Quintana Roo has two choices;
    (A) No permit and can drive only in Q Roo, and no Mexican citizen can drive the car.
    US Tag must be current, US Drivers License must stay current, Mexican Insurance.
    (B) Nationalize the car and drive in Mexico, anywhere

    A few other details, but that is how I understand it, and how I am planning to deal with it. Right
    now, I must drive to Chetumal and cancel existing TIP, even though it is expired. I may just leave it at that and rent a car should I want to travel around the country.

  34. Dave says:

    So it still boils down to a (J) car cannot be imported into anywhere except Q.R.
    Still doesn’t answer the question …. what’s different about Q.R.that they warrant special status.
    Normally a free zone is just an area around a port or an airport that allows you to do business tax free. There has to be more to this than meets the eye.
    Steve the moderator …. what’s your take

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Dave,
      You’re sniffing around the right spots.

      Baja California, and part of Sonora, and Quintana Roo are all designated as special “free zones” by the Federal Gob, to try to increase trade and grow the economy. They thus are also “free zones” as far as operating foreign vehicles, immigration visas, and some trade items. That means you can drive a foreign car inside a Free Zone, without having an Aduana permit, but that car may not be driven out of the “free zone” – so, it cannot legally cross the border into another state.

      Further note on the Q. Roo Free Zone: Unfortunately, some local transito police in Q. Roo do not agree with (or do or don’t know) the Aduana regs – and they try to demand payments from some drivers of foreign plated cars without valid TIPs…
      Happy Motoring,

  35. I now carry with me the two emails from Aduana in English and Spanish with their return email address and Logo. I also have the phone numbers provided to me by Aduana for additional information. Also in my portfolio, copies of my Passport, Res Perm Card, my wife’s Passport, her Perm Res Card, our marriage license, the lease on our condo in Playa, a Telmex receipt, title, registration, Mexican car insurance and more.

  36. Now I question the following. My car came to Mexico from Florida by barge into Puerto Morelos. It came directly into the Q. Roo Free Zone. Why did I have to go through all the paperwork, put up $400, and other misc fees, etc., etc., etc. to get a TIP if it wasn’t even necessary? Why was I not given the choice to be able to drive around the country or stay in Q Roo? It seems the articles and books for gringos address those driving into Mexico, not those of us shipping our vehicles. Hyde Shipping also never mentioned this situation. Oh well…………….

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Rabbi Spiegel,
      Good question.

      For a start, Mexico’s sea ports have different rules than land border crossings. I understand that Importers/Customs Brokers using sea ports are required to get TIPs for vehicles, because the sea port rules force them to, otherwise, Aduana does not release the car. Weird and illogical, but I understand it is a quirk of the law. In a similar quirky vein, Aduana at the border allows permanent imports of 6 year old and older cars, while sea port Aduana rules only allow 8 and 9 year old cars … ???
      Go figure, *grin*

  37. So I’ve been watching this discussion unsure whether or not I should opine on the subject, but I can’t keep quiet any longer:

    I am really not sure that the information that you guys are spreading here is correct. I don’t think that the State of Quintana Roo is legally exempted from requiring a temporary import permit for vehicles. I could be wrong, but I as an attorney in Quintana Roo who specializes in helping foreigners do business here I’ll say this: I cannot find any legally binding document (published by the government and with force of law) that would indicate that an import permit is not necessary in the State of Quintana Roo.

    I can find evidence in the law that would indicate that Quintana Roo IS NOT “free zone”: Article 136 of the customs law defines the zone border area as 20km from the border and anywhere that the Government determines, but further into the law, in Art. 137-BIS, it talks about allowing Permanent Import of vehicles into the Border region, limiting this to Northern Border States — furthermore, the Permenant Import of vehicles is a formal procedure and not just bringing your car without a sticker.

    The other, more experienced based proof that leads me to believe Quintana Roo is not a free zone is that I have on a couple of different occasions now gone to spring people from the Federal Police Station because their cars have been confiscated for not having proper permits and they are being held for “contrabanding”, a crime that is equivalent to tax fraud.

    That all said, as we know the rules here are ever changing and I could be wrong at this point in time, but I cannot find any evidence to that effect. If anyone can find any legislation to support the claims that QRoo is a free zone please let me know about it.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Solomon,
      Drilling into the history: Pres. Echeverria made Q Roo a Free Zone in 1972. This status was further elaborated in the Jul. 1, 1980 DOF publishing of a decreto presidential ( ) …

      In the crudest of analogies, the 20 km rule from the border does not apply to the special zone in Sonora, nor Baja Caifornia, nor California Sur, so, I understand that Q. Roo’s free zone designation falls under the “whole state” type of designation that Baja California y California Sur enjoy. (? though I have not dug out a specific reference)

      One SAT page related to the Free Zone issue, has clearly called out Q. Roo as a Free Zone for several years – in the same category as Baja California and California Sur. Here is an example of a SAT page referencing Q Roo as a state similar to the Californias and parts of Sonora – areas with special rules and special Aduana priviledges:
      Franja y región fronterizas

      Franja fronteriza norte
      Es el territorio comprendido entre la línea divisoria internacional del norte del país y la línea paralela a una distancia de 20 kilómetros hacia el interior del país en el tramo comprendido entre el límite de la región parcial del estado de Sonora y el golfo de México, así como el municipio fronterizo de Cananea, Sonora.

      Región fronteriza
      Los estados de Baja California, Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo y la región parcial de Sonora; la franja fronteriza sur colindante con Guatemala y los municipios de Caborca, Sonora, Comitán de Domínguez, Chiapas, y Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. ”

      Having cited these few references, I do not consider the matter closed – because what happens on the ground with actual Aduana offices (like at Subteniente López) or with police really trump web-references when dealing with Mex. Gob. officials face-to-face.

  38. Good morning Solomon and thank you. Certainly you have far more experience in the matter at hand and I truly hope I don’t have to call you to spring me. I didn’t say Q. Roo was exempt from requiring permits for cars for all. I was told by Aduana that Touristas (180 days) needed a TIP as well as Residente Temporal Non Lucrativa. They said that a Residente Permanente, however, did not need a permit as long as the vehicle did not leave Q Roo, and also that the driver must be a foreigner, not a Mexican citizen. Also, the foreign plates (registration) and foreign driver’s license must be current. I hope Aduana did not mislead me. They told me that my major problem right now is that I must formally cancel my outdated TIP which is not automatically canceled by being outdated, and I must go to Chetumal to do so, as it cannot be done at Banjercito Cancun.
    I would be happy to forward the email from Aduana to you, if you like. It would be wonderful for everyone to have the same, and accurate, information on this and all matters involving a move to Mexico.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Rabbi,
      Yes, I will send you an email.

      We were told by Aduana personnel in Subteniente López – including a supervisor – that if we cancelled/surrendered the TIP – and then drove out of Mexico, they said we could NOT return using a Residente Permanente – combined with Q. Roo as a Free Zone . I asked twice, because I was not confident that we could sell the car in just 1 day inside the Corozal Duty-Free zone, and I hoped to use Q. Roo’s Free Zone status to return to Mexico, if the car did not sell. Aduana said “No”. I asked a second time – restating the question in a different way. … “No”

      Me? I like the answer you got much better,

  39. Just curious and perhaps a little hopeful…
    Rabbi Stephen Spiegel, am assuming by now you might have gone to Chetumal to cancel your TIP? Also, when you cancelled your TIP did you get your deposit back? I believe you said your TIP was expired. I am assuming the answer is “No”, but one can always hope! 🙂 Gracias!

  40. You know the old saying about “ass u me”! I have not been using the vehicle and have not gone to Chetumal yet. I hope to this month. I do not expect a refund, and will be very pleasantly surprised if it does happen. I’m thinking a $400 donation was made. I will report, though.

  41. bobbybrown says:

    test-had sign in problems

  42. Myra King says:

    I was told by a broker in Progreso that we can not import permenatly a 2003 truck into Mx. It has to be a 2005 or 2006. He said I could temp. import but what happens at the end of 4 years.

    I was also told I could not apply for a permenant visa. I guess I am losing out all around.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Myra,
      The seaport Aduana offices have more narrow restrictions for importing vehicles. NAFTA vehicles older than 5 years are eligible to import at the borders. Seaports only allow 8 & 9 year old NAFTA vehicles. You could contact Sr. Uc and get a quotation for the costs of getting your vehicle imported, using a paper-only process (no trip to the border required). Sr. Uc has quoted $20,000 – $30,000 pesos for most vehicle permanent imports, including (Tamaulipas? or Estado de Mexico?) state license plates, taxes, and registration.

  43. How do I contact Sr. Uc? Also, of the 20 to 30 (approx. $1500 to $2400 USD) what is the distribution? How much is going to government agencies and what is the fee?

  44. Ron says:

    Illegal Vehicles Impounded. Aduana in co-operation with State Police this week, April 25, 2016, reportedly seized and impounded illegal vehicles in Manzanillo Colima. At roadside check points, drivers were asked to exit their vehicles and take with them only what was in their possession. They were not allowed to remove anything else from the vehicle, including paperwork from the glove box. The vehicles were trucked to an Aduana compound.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hey Ron,
      Great information.

      We’ve forwarded your good post to some national forums to find out if there are any other places in Mexico having the same issue of foreign plated cars with invalid TIPs being confiscated.

      Any word on this from other locales in Mexico?


  45. Fernando says:

    Have a old car that’s been in Mexico San Luis potosin. It’s been there more than twenty years. The permit its non existent Its needs a lot of repairs how do I get to fix it and bring it back to USA without any problems.

    • yucalandia says:


      Find a good mechanic, get $$ estimates to find out if the repairs are worth more than the value of the car. Make the choice to pay to have it repaired(?).

      Get insurance that still gives full protection if the car has no legal permit to drive it. and inquire if they can give full insurance protection if you have a Retorno Seguro permit.

      Order a Retorno Seguro permit from Aduana, Mexico City. Expect 6 – 8 weeks for them to send you permit to drive it out of Mexico (valid for 5 business days = 1 week).

      Re “bring it back to USA without any problems.”
      Drive safely, avoid accidents, avoid goats & horses on the road
      (who escaped their tethers),
      pray the doesn’t break down on the way back to the USA,
      bring enough cash to get it fixed or towed.

  46. Jen says:

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for all the helpful info. I read through much trying to find an update (if there is one) to a Residente Permanente/TIP question. If someone entered Mexico and got a TIP before the immigration changes, are they able to keep the TIP once they are RP? We heard the following from a Mexican insurance company on this matter which has brought up confusion. We called Banjercito and they said that no RPs are allowed to continue with the TIP at all. Thanks for your comments. Here is what was mentioned from the insurance company that we are questioning:

    “This issue has caused many Expats to make wrong decisions, like importing their vehicles permanently without need. In fact, a foreign plated vehicle is still legal in Mexico for a Residente Permanente:

    a) If the vehicle was imported temporarily under a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) prior to the Mexican Federal Customs Law changes of December 8, 2013 AND ,

    b) If the Importer (The person named on the TIP) held an FM3 or FM2 Immigration Status on December 8, 2013.

    Any vehicle imported temporarily after that date is subject to the new law, and the extension of the Temporary Import Permit is effective only for Temporary Residents, not for Permanent Residents.”

    • yucalandia says:

      As described in our main article on cars in Mexico ( ), there is NO WAY to legally keep & operate your TIP car, once you have an RP visa.

      The quote you offer about RP’s and TIP cars simply has no basis in fact or law.

      If you live in a free zone, and do not drive outside the free zone, then foreigners are free to keep their foreign plated cars (as long as it has current registration back home) … so Q.Roo and Baja California, and Baja California Sur foreigners are allowed to have foreign plated cars, regardless of visa type.

      Happy Trails,

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