What You Need to Know Before Buying A Car in Mexico

Buying a car in Mexico can be very convenient. Especially when you need to get to a specific place at a specific time such as a doctor’s appointment or the veterinarian since most public buses or taxis won’t allow dogs.

Having your own vehicle also gives you the flexibility to make grocery runs without having to rely on rideshares or public transportation any time of the day. For example, In places like Ajijic, taxis stop running after 8 pm. That’s why it’s incredibly convenient to have your own means of moving around.

Here are some things you should know before buying a car in Mexico:

  • Can a tourist buy a car in Mexico?
  • How to buy a new car in Mexico
  • How to buy a used car in Mexico
  • How to check the car is not reported stolen
  • Why you need a “Factura”
  • How to ask for proof of “Tenencia” and what it means
  • And why we recommend hiring a facilitator to take care of everything for you

Can You Legally Buy A Car in Mexico As A Foreigner?

First, we should discuss who can legally buy and register a car in Mexico. This is particularly important if you’re not yet a temporary or permanent resident.

To register a vehicle in Mexico, you’ll need a CURP. A CURP (Clave Unica de Registro de Poblacion) is a unique number given to residents and citizens of Mexico. Think of it as a social security number if you’re from The United States.

You cannot get a CURP as a tourist, and therefore can’t legally register a car in your name on a tourist visa.

If you’re not sure what a CURP is and how you can get one- we have the answers to that and other questions in our Mexico Relocation Course.

Where Do You Find Cars To Buy?

Buying A New Car

Buying a Used Car | Encompass

If you’re buying a brand new car, the car buying process is almost the same as in the U.S. or Canada. You go to a car dealership near you, find your perfect match, and agree on a price with the dealership. Done!

Notice I said ALMOST the same. The main difference is, the price you see listed for a car in a dealership in Mexico is NOT NEGOTIABLE. You cannot ask the finance manager to give you a lower price, and negotiating is out of the question. But this should give you peace of mind that you won’t get gringo-priced. You also won’t get the pushy salesman who does the whole “let me talk to my manager” dance.

While financing is possible in Mexico, it usually comes with high-interest rates that can really add up. Most dealerships that offer in-house financing will offer an expensive interest rate of up to 25%.

You read that right… 25% interest rate

Buying a Used Car

Publica la CCA precios de autos usados para septiembre 2020 | EL IMPARCIAL  | Noticias de México y el mundo

But what if you can’t afford a new car, or would rather get a used car simply because you found a good deal? There are a few sites that most locals use to find used cars all around the country. A few of them are:

Most of these websites promote used cars sold at dealerships near a geo-location where you are browsing. If you want to look for cars in a specific city, you’ll likely need to change the location on the site.

Keep in mind that when you reach out to whoever is posting a car for sale, that they’ll likely only speak Spanish. Also, keep in mind that some of these listings may have fake information. It’s the internet after all, and scams can happen. To avoid this, I’ve put together a list of reputable and honest car brokers in Mexico you can buy a used car from. They will do all the paperwork for you, register your vehicle, speak English, and some even offer their own in-house warranties.

If you’d like to get access to all of our recommended contacts throughout Mexico including car brokers, check out our Mexico Relocation Course.

Another way to find used cars in Mexico is by word of mouth. If you’re looking for a car that’s in good shape and in decent condition let people around you know or post it on various ex-pat groups. If there’s an offer out there that sounds enticing, you can agree to look at the car then.

However, we have also heard from people who were taken advantage of because they didn’t know what to look out for. The car buying process in Mexico can be a bit different. And if you don’t know how to check that you are doing so in a correct and legal way, you could end up losing some money.

You Found The Perfect Car.. What’s Next?

New Car

If you buy your perfect car at a dealership, they’ll handle all the paperwork for you! The dealer should give you

  • the invoice of payment or an official “factura
  • your proof of payment for taxes or “tenencia”
  • and your registration card or “tarjeta de circulacion

Used Car

If you’re going the used car route, you should always have the car checked by a mechanic first. If you don’t have a reputable mechanic you can work with you can always call a dealership around you and ask their recommendations for recommendations on reputable mechanics in the area.

You can also ask one of our recommended car facilitators in Mexico when you purchase the Mexico Relocation Course. They are usually well connected with the most reputable mechanics in town.

Things You Should Check on Used Cars

To be safe and avoid any scams, check the seller’s ID and verify that he/she is the owner of the car and that the name matches the title. To verify that the car isn’t stolen, you should check that the VIN number in the car matches the VIN number on the original receipt of payment aka the “factura“.

To check that the “factura” is an official or authentic invoice, you can check its authenticity on the Mexican treasury website.

If it’s authentic, you’ll get redirected to another window that will allow you to print this confirmation. However, if it’s fake, you’ll get a message letting you know the “factura” is not in their system.

Check for a “factura”

Check The Car Is Not Reported “Stolen”

And to make sure the car is not stolen, you can check this database to make sure it’s not reported stolen. (see image below) You’ll need to right-click and translate to English to fill it out.

Check to see the car has not been reported as “stolen”

Keep in mind that section 3 is the number on your blue tag. See the example below.

And Number 4 “Constancia de Inscripcion” is optional.

Constancia de inscripción Repuve - Chip REPUVE

Ask for Proof of Tenencia

The seller should also provide you with proof that the taxes or “tenencia” have been paid in previous years. If you decide to buy the car knowing that back taxes are owed on the car, you won’t be able to register the vehicle until the “tenencia” is fully paid off.

Using A Facilitator

You might find that buying and registering a used car in Mexico sounds a little daunting. Because let’s face it, not only is the process of buying a used car entirely in Spanish but sometimes asking for help with the whole process is a better use of your time. That is why I highly suggest hiring a facilitator or car broker.

A good car facilitator will check for:

  • The original invoice for the vehicle (factura). This invoice must be presented however old the car is, and each previous owner should have signed the back of the factura when selling the vehicle
  • If the vehicle was imported legally (with Mexican plates), the original registration document must be presented instead of the invoice along with all import documents (Pedimento de Importación)
  • Check the database in Mexico to see that the car has not been reported “Stolen”
  • Receipt proving payment of the vehicle tax (tenencia) for the last 3-4years. Without this receipt, the new owner may be liable for any unpaid taxes.

Facilitators and car brokers oftentimes have access to a fleet of used cars and know the ins and outs of registration in Mexico. If you hire one of our recommended car brokers or facilitators, they will handle the process of registration, taxes, and your license plates. In some cases, they can even help you get your driver’s license in the same transaction. They do this for an additional fee, but the money is well worth the convenience.

Don’t want to own a car in Mexico? Read our blog on ways to get around in Mexico without a car

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Michael Mcbride says

    Yes I’m interested in hiring a facilitators in helping buy a chevy tornado or motorcycle from a local sams club also help getting my Mexican drivers license.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Michael!
      I’d be glad to give you a list of our recommended car facilitators. To do so, you need to purchase our COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide https://mexicorelocationguide.com/guide/

  2. Rex Gordon says

    We have just bought a home in Playa Del Carmen. Do not have our residency but do have the Visa from the consulate to get the residency. I wanted to buy a car in Monterrey & drive with my dog to Playa & register the car in Playa is this possible?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Rex
      Congrats on buying a house in Playa.
      Although you may be able to drive down to Playa with your car from Monterrey, you may get into trouble if you are stopped and you don’t have proof that the car is registered in your name. It could be risky until you get to Playa del Carmen

  3. Kevin says

    Hello Mariana. I am a Mexican Permanent Resident and wonder whether I can buy a car in Mexico if I do not have a permanent Mexico address? I’m currently in the US and plan to buy a car when I arrive in Mexico. Thanks!

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Kevin
      That’s a great question. I do not know the answer to- I have always known that you need an address.
      I would suggest getting in touch with Pats Plates in Puerto Vallarta

      • RE Gregg says

        Hi
        I’m in PV And relocating permanently from the states, and I googled mapped Pats Plates but nothing is coming up. Is that an official name of a business

        • Mariana Lange says

          He may not be registered on Google maps because he doesn’t have a storefront. Yes- he is a legitimate business.

  4. Luis says

    Thanks for this guide. I have a question, What is the best way to send the money to Mexico to pay for the car I want to buy? I tried one of those mobile apps that can send money to a contact in Mexico but it seems it doesnt work when you want to send money to a company, in this case the car dealer. Will it cause paying any taxes if I send this money to MX?

    • Mariana Lange says

      You could do a few things
      Buy it with a credit card if the dealer allows it.
      Or the dealer should have a bank account where you can transfer the money to with an app like wise.com

      Otherwise, you could send the money to a bank in Mexico through something like Western Union.
      The dealer should help you with this process though.

      • Luis says

        Thank You Mariana,
        I think using wise to transfer the money to the dealer is the best option. I was thinking to send it to my account in Mexico(I’m Mexican btw but work in US) and then transfer to the car dealer but since I’m not sure that I will have to pay taxes because of the deposit on my account in Mexico I think is better to transfer directly to the car dealer. Do you agree?

  5. Martin says

    Hi Mariana
    Thanks for this valuable information.
    We are going to Merida, but I just realized that there are more options in other states. Is it advisable to buy the car in an another state and have it transported? Or can I also drive myself or can it be too risky in some places? Lastly, is there a way to buy cars and have them shipped to Mexico (I am from Europe)?
    Thank you.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Martin,
      We always highly recommend buying your car in Mexico instead of trying to import it from Europe or anywhere else. For starters, importing will cost 3k USD and up. And not all cars can be imported.
      If you want to buy a car in Mexico you can drive it without a problem between states. Just make sure you have the proper auto insurance and that you have registered the vehicle in your name.
      If you need help with auto insurance, check out our recommended insurance brokers https://mexicorelocationguide.com/mexico-kb/recommended-auto-insurance-brokers/

  6. Tony says

    Hi. We are annual Canadian snowbirds who own a house in Mexico on only tourist Visas in the Los Cabos area and have been corresponding with a sales manager at a local dealership there about buying a used car. He tells us he can register the car in my name despite only having a tourist Visa and there is an extra fee for that. He also says that annual registration renewal will not be a problem since the car will be registered to my name already. He says to just come in with our Canadian driver’s license, passports, tourist Visas, and proof of address (electric bill). They also don’t take payment by credit card so he says the process will be to do a bank transfer and return to pick up the car in 5 days. All the paperwork, insurance and registration card/title will be done and ready to go for us when we pick up the car.

    Does this sound ok to you or is something here illegal that could cause us trouble in the future? What exactly is the process for registration renewal and would our lack of a CURP be picked up at that point? What are the risks of buying a used car this way? Could this be a scam of some kind where we do the bank transfer and never get the car?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!!!

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Tony!
      Sounds like you could really use the help of an expert car broker that does this on a regular basis and can help you ensure you are following the right steps.
      If you need my recommendations, they are included in our COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide
      mexicorelocationguide.com/guide/

      I detail the steps to follow when buying a used car and also give you my network of contacts you can work with if you need extra help.

  7. Mark Whitworth says

    Hi Mariana,
    We are residents (temporary) and have just got our three year extension. We live in Patzcuaro, Michoacan. We bought a car eleven months ago. This was done in Morelia. The Patzcuaro traffic office refused to register the car, saying temporary residents were not permitted to do so. Instead, we used the Morelia office and, with the help of an agent, were successful. In Janaury, Michoacan insisted everyone get new plates. We paid in full for these in January and changed the address on our registration online. Due to the massive backlog, we finally got an appointment at the Patzcuaro office to pick up our plates last week. Once again, they have said they will not deal with tempoary residents and we have no right to register a car. This means they will not issue our new plates. We have not got a clue where to go next on this one. It seems so obviously wrong. Are you able to comment? Many thanks, Mark

    • Mariana Lange says

      I would highly recommend talking with Pats Plates [email protected]
      He will know what you can do and also has people in Michoacán who can help you out.
      He’s a great resource for this kind of problem

      • Mark Whitworth says

        Thank you, Mariana.

        • Mariana Lange says

          My pleasure Mark

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