Welcome to Baja Online Realty Blog Sign in | Help

Importing and Registering Your Car in Baja

Importing and Registering Your Car in Baja Mexican temporary license platesEffective January 1, 2009 there have been significant changes to the import fees assessed on cars being imported into Mexico. Tarrif increases from 300-500% were put into effect for cars being imported for sale. This has profoundly affected the hundreds of used car dealers throughout Baja, who purchase cars in the US and bring them to Mexico for resale. Depending on the car this can add thousands of pesos to the purchase price of a used or new car. This new tarrif does not affect personal vehicals being imported. it may however raise the resale value of your already imported car, due to the rise in the price asked by dealers. If you are going to spend a majority of your time in Mexico and are going to be bringing a vehicle into Baja it may be to your benefit to import the vehicle, get Mexican plates, Mexican insurance and a Mexican driver license. Technically, just as in the U.S. if the vehicle remains in the country more than 30 days, you are required to license it in Mexico. This is universally under-enforced, so should not be a reason to import and license the car. You can then also legally sell the car in Mexico. I checked with the Tranisto folks when going through this process myself. If you have a Mexican license you can not legally operate a US registered vehicle, whether it is registered to you or not. If you have a US license you are only allowed to operate a Mexican plated vehicle registered to a car rental company. The later is not regularly enforced. If you hold a FM2 immigration document any vehicle registered to you should be plated in Mexico and you should hold a Mexican driver license. This is not required of FM3 or tourist card visitors, as only FM2 is considered a ‘permanent resident’. Getting a Mexican Drivers License The process for a driver license is pretty simple and took me less than 1 hour. Transito (Transit Police) is located in La Paz at the corner of Mexico and Oaxaca, one block west of Jalisco. They have assistants positioned at the entrances. Walking in the door and looking confused was all that it took to have a sorta-English speaking assistant walk me through the process. Baja Driver LicenseOk, so what paperwork do you need to bring with you? With a current foreign license you do not need to take a written examination. This is important, as if you do not have a valid license you must take a written exam and, unlike the US, it only comes in one flavor – espanol. You also need a coprabante. A coprabante is a water or electric bill, less than two months old, mailed to the address you wish to register to. It must match the address on your immigration documents or, if you are a citizen, your voter card. You must therefore, also present your current immigration papers. Two photocopies of these three documents (if you have done any business with the Mexican government you will find this is standard) are required. You can get them done very reasonably on the spot in a separate line. Cost of the license is $432 pesos and is valid for 3 years. Importing Your Vehicle The first step in registering your vehicle in Mexico if it is of foreign origin is the importation. Importation is based on 23% of the wholesale value of the vehicle to be imported. The car must be at least five years old and not more than 20 years old. The former is to protect the Mexican car dealers and the later to prevent all of the US junk cars from ending up in Mexico. A handling charge for the agent handling the transaction is then in addition to the importation fee. Shop around for this one. Some agents are no more than agents for other agents and the fee will vary as much as 100%. I didn’t shop around and I got burned for what I estimate to be another $300. The car must be in the US or there is an additional fee, I was told an additional 50% of the fee. Make sure your car is empty. If it has an exterior spare tire, you might want to remove it. You deliver your car to the agent and the agent delivers it to Aduana, the tax people. You will be separated from your car from 4-10 days, depending on when you deliver it and their workload. You are required to present the original title, your Mexican drivers license and a current US registration. There are also agents in La Paz and Cabo San Lucas which can import the car for you on certain conditions. I was told my VIN number began with a letter, rather than a number and therefore must be imported in Tijuana. They want your car completely empty so there is no question of valuables disappearing while in their possession. One key piece of information of which I was not informed in advance, was that you receive your imported car in a parking lot in Tijuana after the transaction. I then had to drive back across the border to pick up the items I had purchased in California before driving south. If you have a business in Mexico, provide your RFC number to the importer so the factura for the taxable amount is issued with your information on it. The cost for importing my 2000 Honda CRV was a tax amount of $6800 pesos or $511USD. The agent fees were double, $350 to the processing agent and $350 to the agent’s agent. With a little time to shop around this can be trimmed significantly. You should receive a new two page green Mexican ‘title’ and a factura indicating the import fee paid. In transit, you post a copy of the green title in the interior upper left corner of the rear window. This is valid for 15 days. Getting Mexican License Plates This was a little more time consuming than the drivers license. Again, you need the originals and two copies of both sides of your Mexican drivers license, the import fee factura, the green title and a coprabante. Again, there was a helpful person at Transito to walk me through the process. First were the fees for the La Paz district. This amounted to $390 pesos. As I understood it, this is based again, on the net value of the vehicle. For this you receive a sexy little 2”x3” sticker for your interior upper right windshield. Then the vehicle must be inspected to see that the VIN number being registered matches the paperwork. They also check your Mexican license to be sure you don’t have any outstanding infractions, wants or warrants. Then you go pay for the ‘placas’ or license plates. This came to $754 pesos. You then present this small mountain of paperwork to the final window, where they hand you a small plastic card with a claim number and ask you to return, in my case, one hour. In your absence all this information is entered into the system and when you return your temporary plates and another little sticker for the upper right of your windshield. I was told to return the end of January for my permanent plates. You are advised to make copies of the temp plates and laminate them or post them inside the windows, front and rear. The whole process took about 3.5hrs and cost $1144 pesos or about $85. Your vehicle is now registered in Baja. It is NOT nationalized and if you wish to drive to the mainland you are required to pay additional fees which can be for a short term trip or for the year. The car is now legal in Baja, you can sell it and the fees you paid may be recoupable in the resale value of the car. It will also help you avoid the infraction know as DWG – Driving While Gringo!
Published Friday, March 9, 2012 2:04 PM by Zinnia Q.


No Comments
Anonymous comments are disabled