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How to Permanently Import a Used Vehicle to Mexico

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

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.

Here are the basics: You can bring in any car for up to 4 years under a Temporary residency (TR) card with a Temporary Import Permit (TIP). *Hoops, dogs, ponies and paperwork apply lol. Temporary residents can buy Mexican vehicles, new or used.

A 180 day FMM tourist can bring in any car for the same 180 day term. This is non extendable UNLESS the person goes to TR. Tourists CAN'T register a new or used Mexican plated vehicle in their name in JALISCO. *To get around this we regularly register the vehicle in the neighboring state of Nayarit with their passport and provide them a proof of address for registration purposes. **The exception is imported Mexican vehicles from the States and Canada.

Permanent residents can't drive foreign plated vehicles. They CAN register NEW or USED Mexican vehicles in their name in either JALISCO or NAYARIT.

You can PERMANENTLY IMPORT your vehicle from back home if it's NAFTA and 8-9 years old.

There are two designated areas in Mexico; Border Area and The Rest of Mexico. Outside of the designated border areas, the requirements are more strict and the import tax higher. Here are the requirements for the non Border Areas:

Types of Vehicles:

Vehicles with capacity for up to 15 passengers (cars, SUV, pickup, van) manufactured in North America. The first digit of the vehicle identification number (VIN) indicates where the vehicle was manufactured, it must be 1,2,3,4, or 5.

Age of Vehicles:

8-9 years old


If the vehicle is 8-9 years old, there will be a 10% import tax (arancel) on the value. If you have a certificate of origin (certificado de origen) the import tax is 0%.

16% value added tax (IVA)

0.8% derecho de trámite aduanal (DTA)

Agent’s fee (varies)

This is not one of those types of tasks that you can do yourself. By law, you have to hire a custom’s agent (called an agente aduanal) to handle the whole process for you. You should contact the agent 7-15 days prior to the date that you want to import the vehicle.

Just to be very clear: the only way that you can legally nationalize your car is through an agente aduanal. 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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