Sidelight: This article describes how things work with Aduana & Banjericito at the Belize-Mexico border outside Chetumal. If you want more general information about Temporarily Importing vehicles using a Temporary Import Permit (TIP), or permanently importing vehicles, or driving issues in Mexico, please see our main article on Driving in Mexico at:
Continuing with this Article:
We spent yesterday afternoon (June 22, 2012) discussing issues about Mexican visa and temporary import permits with 2 different INM border agents, 3 different Aduana officials (including 30 minutes with a supervisor) and with 2 Banjercito personnel and a Banjercito supervisor at the Chetumal / Belize border: Subteniente Lopez / Santa Elena border crossing.
Drive to Chetumal, exit at the Subteniente Lopez / Santa Helena / Belize border exit from the highway before you get to Chetumal city. Follow signs to the Santa Elena (Helena)/Subteniente López crossing. At the border crossing, go just a little past (50 feet?) the little INM office at the border and make a U-turn into the Banjercito/Aduana parking lot on your left. There are only about 5 parking spaces, so it’s not a big lot. Don’t cross the bridge.
Banjercito employees start the process of canceling your TIP, using your passport, vehicle registration/title, and TIP document. They take a foto of your vehicle VIN and they remove the TIP sticker, and cancel the TIP.
You then have the choices of:
~ Drive back into Q. Roo, and keep the foreign-plated vehicle in Q, Roo, because it is a Free Zone. (need to maintain current US/Canadian plates & registration though)
~ Drive into Belize’s Free Zone of Corazol and sell the vehicle to some business owner/manager there.
~ Sell the vehicle to a foreigner who has R. Temporal visa, and they get their own TIP.
~ Walk/stroll into the Free Zone of Corazol for some truly duty-free shopping – at prices far far below the airport Duty Free shops. Liquor can be especially cheap.
Here are summaries of the key points from our border visit with Aduana, INM, and Banjerctio:
~ The Banjercito officials were very emphatic about encouraging people with Temporary Import Permits for vehicles, that they start updating their INM permits process as early as possible (30 days before the expiration date), and they said to notify Aduana in person, in writing, of the extension of the car permit expiration date by AT LEAST a week before the expiration date, and 2 weeks if possible. (This means notifying Aduana of the new expiration date at least 22 days before the official date reported on Aduana websites.) . . .
They said that the system between Aduana and Banjercito for updating expiration dates is not always working rapidly, and the STRONGLY ENCOURAGED notifying Aduana in person with an official letter long before official “15 days after the issuance date” of the renewed INM permit.
~ Talking with the Banjercito supervisor, and directly watching her enter the car permit information for a lost paper copy of a permit (still had a valid sticker and current FM2 – and I had a clear view to read all of the Banjercito computer data entry screens and search results), they clearly use our passport numbers to track our temporary import permits. The supervisor typed in the owner’s passport number, and all of the key data regarding him and his permit and his vehicle popped up.
~ Even with an intact sticker, valid FM2, official TIP permit number & VIN etc printed out from their system, and the Banjercito personnel confirming the VIN and validity of the TIP ~ they required that the owner abandon (apply to cancel) the old existing TIP (because of the loss of the paper copy of the permit). After cancelling the existing TIP, Aduana and Banjercito required a fresh $400 deposit (previous deposit was forfeited because he was beyond the 15 day grace period after receiving his new FM2 – lost even though the prior deposit was made back in 2008).
~ Even though gringos report that they must physically leave Mexico to renew an FMM, we got 1 adult and 1 teenager new FMMs, (surrendering their old FM2s) at the small INM office on the Mexico side of the border, without leaving Mexico and with no overnight stay in Belize.
~ All of the info in this post fits what we have reported in past Yucalandia articles, so, we were pleased to travel to the Belize border with the friend to act as translator & facilitator – giving multiple chances to confirm in person in detailed discussions of some contested items regarding INM, Aduana, and Banjercito procedures – by asking supervisors of each gob. org. specific questions, repeated several times with slightly different wording each time, to confirm that we understood.
If you’d enjoy reading more details on getting a Mexican Visa, Importing a Car, or the Care and Feeding of Your TIP (Temporary Import Permit), then check out these articles:
Moving to Mexico: FMM, FM2, or FM3?
Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico
New Requirements for Bringing Foreign-Plated Cars into Mexico: Banjercito Rules
~ After 4 years of occasional traffic stops, and multiple checks at police and military retens in Mexico, for the first time ever, the owner of the vehicle was asked to show his paper copy of the Temporary Import Permit. This happened today at the Q. Roo – Yucatan intrastate border near Dziuche. (We did not offer him the permit, he asked for it immediately after seeing the Texas plates on the van.) The Aduana agent at the state border checked the paper permit information against the new sticker and the VIN, and waved us through…. We mention this because he said that we must have documentation of the TIPs new expiration date, and the paper copy of the TIP, and the sticker in place, all with us in the vehicle, or the vehicle could be confiscated. The owner grinned, because this was the first time in 4 years that he was completely legal – as of just yesterday afternoon.
~ Consequences of trying to use the mail to register a new TIP permit expiration date:
The Banjercito computer program automatically confiscates the deposits 15 days after the permit’s “old” expiration date. If the expat waits until the end of their FM2 or FM3 permit’s expiration date to start renewing their INM permit, and INM takes 2 weeks to process the renewal, then there really is no time left for expats to use the mail to deliver a letter on-time to Aduana in Mexico City before Banjercito confiscates the deposit.
This means that it does not seem possible to use the mail to effectively make the systems work.
Is it better to do things in ways-that-work, or is it better insist that we are “right” about some theoretical legal point? (See perspectives below about theory vs. practice).
~ ALL of the agents and supervisors we talked with at Santa Helena – Subteniente López, Q. Roo border crossing treated us WONDERFULLY. INM, Aduana, and Banjercito agents were helpful, prompt, patient, very friendly, and very professional. (thrifty, brave, clean & reverent?) Every single one provided detailed precise easy-to-follow information of exactly what we needed.
We actually arrived a bit late (4:50 PM) at the Banjercito office at the border in the town of Santa Helena, as they officially close at 5:00 PM. It was already 5:00 PM when we finished the Q&A session with them about the car permit stuff, and they could have simply gone home for the day.
Instead, the Banjercito supervisor told us exactly which Aduana office to go to (upstairs), whom to see, and she offered to stay late to print out the proof of the old TIP permit to submit to Aduana, and then to process the new Banjercito permit, so we would not have to wait in the long lines the following morning.
The Aduana personnel were also very helpful: personally drafting and printing the special request letter we needed to cancel the old lost permit, plus Aduana’s personnel made multiple foto-copies (of driver’s license front and back, etc) for us to give to Banjercito. In the meantime, while Aduana was doing their entries and paperwork, the Banjercito took fotos of the VIN, removed the sticker, and pre-prepared ALL their paperwork, (anticipating Aduana’s approvals), so they were completely ready to finalize the Banjercito processes immediately after Aduana finished their parts.
Even though the Banjercito window was officially closed, they kept a side-door open for us, and gave us lots of TLC.
Due to people staying late and going-above-and-beyond, we walked straight from Aduana to the side-door of Banjercito with our new papers, where we simply gave Banjercito a credit card ~ bing, bang, boom ~ the process was done smoothly with no waiting in lines. We were back on the road by 5:45.
KUDOS to ALL of them !
~ Maybe a little honey really does go a lot further than vinegar…? ~
(Sweet-talk & polite deferential respectful behavior vs. accusations, pressuring, dumping-frustration, and attempts at bullying ???) We consistently choose and seek ways to pull-the-levers, twist the knobs, & push-the-buttons to get our pellets and avoid the shocks.
~ According to the Chetumal, Quintana Roo Banjercito office** supervisor: Once the deposit has been confiscated, she said they really cannot refund it. She said that Banjercito has NOT been receiving rapid/timely updates from Aduana of expat’s permit’s new expiration dates, so she emphasized that it is the car owner’s responsibility to file their notice of the new expiration dates with Aduana in-person at least a week before the annual expiration date to make the systems work.
** The Chetumal, Quintana Roo Banjercito, INM, and Aduana offices we used were actually the border offices at the Subteniente López crossing on the Mexican side of the crossing between into the Free Zone of Corozal, Belize.
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Disclaimer: This information is not meant as legal advice. It is for educational and informational purposes only. Government policies vary between States and offices, and Mexican Government officials have broad discretion in how they individually enforce policies, so, your personal experiences may vary. See a professional for advice on important issues.
If you like this article, check out our main article on Driving in Mexico & Importing Cars into Mexico at:
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Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
Steven M. Fry
Read on, MacDuff!