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How to Permanently Import a Used Vehicle to Mexico

Updated: Mar 23

For starters “permanently import”, means bringing your car here forever and getting Mexican license plates for it. This process is also known as "nationalizing" your vehicle. This blog post is a simplified version of all of the details but gives you the basics. To learn more about the details, click here.

The process of importation of cars into Mexico can vary depending on many factors:

  • The status of the importer – tourist, permanent/temporary resident, etc.

  • The state you live in or intend to use the car in

  • How long do you want to import the car for

  • The age and model of your car

  • The paperwork available for the car

Permanently Import Your Car to Mexico

For the permanent importation of a car, there is a legal requirement to hire a customs agent to assist with the procedure. The procedure is complicated. Requirements and custom duties will depend on the age, model, and paperwork available for your car. It is not possible to switch between temporary to permanent importation in Mexico. A temporarily imported car must be exported and reimported permanently. For further information on permanent importation, consult this article by Two Expats in Mexico.

Temporary Importation of Vehicles to Mexico

For temporary importation, the procedure is simpler. This option is available to temporary residents and tourists. Importers will need to acquire a TIP (temporary import permit) before entering Mexico. The TIP is then valid for the duration of the tourist visa (max. six months) or temporary residency (four years max.)

Obtain the TIP outside Mexico before importing the car. It costs around $50, and it can be purchased online, at Mexican consulates or at the banjercito office at the border crossing. Therefore, make sure your crossing has a banjercito office if needed, because not all do. Then you must also pay a deposit – the amount will depend on the age of the car.

The TIP must be given back at a banjercito office when exporting the car before the TIP expiry date. The same importer (or their spouse as proven with official documentation) must export the car. Consult the banjecito website here.

TIP Documentation

Necessary documentation for a TIP:

  • Mexican insurance for the duration of the importation

  • Passport

  • FMM tourist visa or temporary residency card

  • Photographic driver’s license (not Mexican)

  • Title and vehicle registration certificate issued outside Mexico in importer’s name – original and copy.

You don’t require a TIP if you intend to drive solely in the free zone, which comprises:

  • Baja California peninsula

  • State of Quintana Roo

  • Areas within 25 miles of Mexican land borders

  • A specific area in Sonora state

Any travel outside these limits requires a TIP.

If someone tells you that they have another way to get it done, make no mistake about it — it’s illegal and you risking more than just losing your car. This blog post is a simplified version of all of the details but gives you the basics Pat of Pats Plates is the expert and should be consulted regarding any details. To learn more about the details, click here.


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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