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  • Writer's pictureNik Valcic

Buying a Car in Mexico

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

Looking to buy a car? Different rules apply to different states.

Pat of Pat's Plates provides an expert service on all things vehicular here in Jalisco and Nayarit says the following:

"°JALISCO and many other states require LEGAL RESIDENCY. °NAYARIT and some other states allow TOURISTS to buy cars as long as they can show proof of address. (NAYARIT recently required legal residency if the car is imported.) °Some other states are also more lenient like CDMX. The problem is CDMX requires regular smog checks and if you get caught by a Federale (now Guardia Nacional,) without proof, it can be a very expensive incident.)

Depending on the state, transfer of ownership can be relatively "simple" like Jalisco where an appointment is made and all documentation is brought in for verification and is stamped to relatively challenging like NAYARIT where there are typically 4 separate office visits that span many hours. There are states like CDMX, the state of Mexico, Michoacan et. al. where electronic copies can be sent in (via an agent) and the new registration is delivered via courier.

Notes: Fines can be levied for unregistered owners and dated sales ($310 pesos a month in Nayarit.)

Message us for a more detailed list of requirements. Pats Plates can also check your paperwork for free with the hope you will be so impressed, you will have them handle the transfer of ownership for you."

Car Shopping

Many soon-to-be expats start looking at possible new cars online before they move down. This is a great way to narrow down the options but it’s important that you’re looking at the manufacturer’s Mexican site because the available models and equipment options vary from country to country.

Here are a few of them to get you started:


Chevrolet México: http://www.chevrolet.com.mx/

Ford México: https://www.ford.mx/

Honda México: https://www.honda.mx/

Seat México: http://www.seat.mx/

Used Cars:

Reputable sellers are: Gecko m.facebook.com/GeckoSales/


One thing about the prices in Mexico is that by law, the displayed price must be the total amount to be paid to obtain the item, including all taxes, fees and commissions. This will make it easier for you to calculate the cost of a particular vehicle as you look through the sites above.

Some car manufacturers will list two different prices: one for credit (crédito) and one for cash (al contado). Registering a vehicle in Mexico is not considered part of the purchase and the responsibility of doing it falls on the buyer. That means that those fees are not included in the displayed prices.

The Art of Negotiation

In the U.S., very few prices are negotiable but the price of a new car is definitely the exception to the rule. Some people love the negotiation process, while others absolutely loathe it. If you’re in the latter group, you’ll be happy to hear that new car prices are generally non-negotiable in Mexico. In other words, the price is the price. There are always exceptions, such as negotiating a lower price for a model that was used as a demo. You can also ask them to throw in some free floor mats or services as an incentive not to go to another dealership.

Buying or selling a Used Car


There is a ton of it and unless you are experienced with this, we highly recommend you contact Pats Plates they will work directly with the dealer on your behalf to verify paperwork and availability in advance. www.fb.me/PatsPlatesPv

Must have documentation for registration: +The original factura (or a photocopy and the subsequent used vehicle factura(s) that follow. +Ideally the stamped receipts (Refrendos) for the previous 5 years of registration. + The title and import paper "pedimento" for imported vehicles.Factura

In the United States, each state issues vehicle titles to indicate the owner of a vehicle. It works very differently in Mexico where the proof of ownership is actually a special sales receipt (called a factura) issued by the dealership. The vehicle facturas are printed on security paper that is very similar to the type used for vehicle titles in the States. The seller transfers rights over to the buyer by signing the back of the factura and writing something like this:

Yo (sellers name) cedo la propiedad de este automóvil a (buyer’s name), como nuevo propietario de dicho vehículo.

(municipality), a 12 de febrero de 2021 — obviously change the date.


Here’s the translation for the first line: I (seller) concede the ownership of this vehicle to (buyer), as the new owner of said vehicle. Don’t take up too much space on the back of the factura because each time the vehicle is sold, you’ll have to repeat this step.

Tarjeta de circulación

This is a card similar to a registration in the States. This will be turned in with the old license plates by the seller.

Carta responsiva

You’ll need some type of sales agreement between the buyer and the seller. Some offices are stricter than others and may request something called a carta responsiva, a legal document that signs the vehicle over to the new owner. It is signed by the buyer, seller and two witnesses. You MUST include copies of everyone’s official identification — including the witnesses. Make sure the signatures match the ones on the identification provided or the form might not be accepted. You can download a PDF of one of these forms HERE.

Proof of payment of past registration fees and taxes

You’ll be required to show proof that all past taxes and fees have been paid. The last time I helped a neighbor transfer ownership of a vehicle, they asked for five years of records. If you don’t have proof for a particular year, you may be required to pay the taxes for that year.

Proof of address

This one is for the buyer. The preferred proof of address in Mexico is the electric bill, also known as a CFE bill. If someone else’s name is on it, they may ask you for something in writing from the person whose name appears on the bill along with a copy of their identification.

Copies, copies, and still more copies

Government offices in Mexico will not make copies for you, so make sure you bring copies (black and white) of every document and everyone’s identification (front and back). When copying the factura, the copy should be two-sided.

Tips to Make It All Go Smoothly

The buyer and the seller should go together

This is a big one. If a document needs to be redone or there are outstanding fines, fees or taxes on the vehicle, you can take care of those things fairly quickly if all of the parties are present.

Bring your own screwdriver

On one of our recent trips, borrowing a screwdriver to take off the old tags and put on the new ones turned out to be the most difficult part of the process. From now on, I always bring one along.

Bring the vehicle

Part of the registration process often includes physical verification of the vehicle identification number. Unlike many jurisdictions in the States, they just don’t take your word for it down here.

If this looks complicated, it's because it is. Your best bet especially for the first time is to contact Pats Plates. www.fb.me/PatsPlatesPv or patsplatespv@gmail.com


Ever wish your vacation lasted a few more weeks? What about years? We left the daily grind in California to live and work in Mexico and now help others do the same! From assistance with residency visas to property rentals and purchases to digital nomad networking, we are here to help people take that leap towards living in paradise. DM us your questions! Or follow us on Instagram for a peek at what it’s like to live the #mexicolife

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