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How To Import Your Foreign Plated Car in Mexico WITHOUT Spending a Fortune

Bringing your car to Mexico may be one of the most pressing questions you may ask yourself when researching your relocation. Thousands of cars drive across the border from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico each year. Many of them have a temporary import permit. But a lot of them stay past that permit’s expiration- making them illegal in Mexico.

So why not import it and legalize it?

Well, to legally import your car from the U.S. or Canada to Mexico the cost is around $2-$8k USD. And this amount is fully out of reach for a lot of people who don’t have the extra cash or are on a very tight budget, to begin with. So, naturally, a lot of expats moving to Mexico end up driving their foreign plates cars illegally in Mexico because they can’t afford a new one and can’t afford to import them.

And the current president of Mexico, AMLO, knows this. So in January 2022, he made an addition to the decree to the importation of cars that are “carros chocolate” (chocolate cars- the name given to foreign pated cars circulating around Mexico illegally. Comes from the word “chueco” which means not legal)

The current decree states that foreign plated cars in Mexico that are not registered in Mexico can get their Mexican license plates and be legally registered. The cost for this is only $2500 MXN (about $125 USD) – which is significantly less than the $3-$4k USD it would take traditionally to import your car.

But There Are Restrictions

To qualify for this program your car must already be in Mexico as of October 19, 2021. If you come to Mexico after this date you don’t qualify for this “amnesty”.

You can still import your car- which I’ll explain later in this post.

A few other eligibility requirements:

  • Your car has to be a 2016 model or older.
  • Your car must pass emissions and mechanical inspections- *varies by location
  • Nafta cars with a VIN Number starting in 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5
  • Be a Resident of Mexico or Mexican National
  • *There is An Option for Tourists*- I explain further down
  • Your car’s title- Cars with liens do not qualify
  • Cannot be flagged as a car associated with a crime in your home country
  • Cannot be flagged in the REPUVE System of stolen cars in Mexico
  • Only being offered in Sinaloa, Michoacan, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Durango, Tamaulipas
  • Only 1 vehicle can be legalized per person
  • Car can be any size car and up to a large truck with the capacity of up to 10 passengers and under 5 tons.
  • You can also import a motorcycle as long as it doesn’t have 3 or more wheels.
  • The program ends September 20, 2022- and there is no say if they will continue offering it after this date.

Most of the details can be found directly on the Mexican Government’s Website- see the PDF example below

Information Needed to Schedule An Appointment

The first thing you’ll need to consider is that if you plan to do this on your own you’ll first have to schedule an appointment online with the local REPUVE Office in the state that is offering this service. These are the centers by state that are currently offering this service

  • You’ll need your CURP
  • NIV – This is your VIN Number
  • Postal Code
  • Email address
  • Phone number in Mexico

Documents To Bring To Your Appointment

  • The title to your car or a factura if bought in Mexico
  • Photocopy of your VIN Number
  • ID- Mexican Passport or Residency Card
  • Utility bill not older than 3 months – should be in the state where you are processing
  • Completed and signed form- attesting that everything is true about the ownership of this car. Get the form here
  • Receipt showing you have paid SAT the $2500 MXN online and select the code 700163
  • Or you can pay at one of their trusted banks- Banorte, BBVA, HSBC, Citibanamex, Banco Azteca, Santander, Scotiabank, Banregio- get a receipt.
  • And printed copy of your appointment with REPUVE

How Long Can You Expect It To Take?

Hiring a facilitator will certainly shorten the process for you from 3-4 days to about 1-2 days. Mostly because they are doing these car procedures day in and day out so they know the steps to take and can ensure you don’t have to do so yourself.

Otherwise, if you plan to do it yourself you can expect it to take between 3-7 days. Depending on a few factors- if the SAT website is or is not working, or the bank has long lines you don’t wish to stand in, or the REPUVE Centers don’t have an appointment available until days from now are some of the reasons it can take longer for you to do it on your own.

If you need a facilitator recommendation, check out ourCOMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide– where we give you not only the steps to follow to bring your car to Mexico but also connect you with our recommended car facilitators that can help you with this special amnesty as well as other car matters like- TIP renewals, Car Registration on newly purchased vehicles, getting your driver’s license, and getting scheduling your car for the new emissions testing.

What If You’re A Tourist?

In short- Yes. But the procedure isn’t as easy as just showing up to a REPUVE appointment with your title in hand.

In most cases, you will need to have a “trusted Mexican National or Resident” who is willing to register the car in their name and then change the title to be in your name. A process that can only be done if you have someone you trust.

But there’s a solution if you don’t know anyone in Mexico you could trust with this. There are a few facilitators who have trusted employees that will title the car in their name, and then change the title ownership to your name. And yes, it can be done even as a tourist. Not all facilitators offer this service, and it’s important for you to do your due diligence so you can make sure no one steals your car.

Luckily, we have a recommendation in our online guide that has this problem figured out and a very efficient workaround. To get access to our online guide, you simply have to purchase our Mexico Relocation Guide.

What If You’re Planning to Bring Your Car to Mexico After October 2021?

If you’re reading this article, chances are you might not be in Mexico yet. After all, the post is written in 2022.

What can YOU do to bring your foreign plated car to Mexico? Well, there are a few options:

  • If you’re a temporary resident you have up to the amount on your residency card to bring a foreign-plated car to Mexico under the Temporary Import Permit. For new residents, this will initially be 1 year- at which point you will have to renew your temporary import permit.
  • If you’re a tourist or Mexican National you can bring a foreign plated car to Mexico for a period of up to 180 days.
  • And for Permanent Residents, you can bring a foreign car to Mexico for a period of up to 30 days. About enough time to drive your household goods to Mexico, move into your home, and drive back.

For many of you, the idea of having to pay $2-$8k USD to import your vehicle may seem really high. But depending on the type of vehicle you have it may actually be in your best interest to import it anyway. To import a car from the US or Canada to Mexico you can expect to pay about 10% of the KBB value of the car plus any customs broker fees.

But there are some benefits to importing your car regardless. Let me explain

Benefits Of Importing Your Car to Mexico

For starters, finding an affordable used car in Mexico will be far more challenging than paying $2-$8k USD. Even on the high end of that range, it’s very unlikely you will find a decent car in Mexico that is in good mechanical condition for under $5-$6,000 USD.

But some of you might not have the extra cash to import your car. This is why you have to really consider how you’ll get around in Mexico. Public transportation is great when you consider living near a town center or within close proximity of public transportation.

But if you have the money here are a few benefits of importing your car

  • The most obvious is you’ll legally be driving your car around in Mexico
  • You’ll have Mexican plates- I’ve mentioned before can help you not stick out
  • No need to drive vehicle 20+ hours to the border to renew TIP or as a PR
  • Be able to LEGALLY sell your vehicle in Mexico

Finding a good customs agent that can help you out is key. If you would like a recommendation and more detail on the car amnesty program of 2022, I suggest considering our Mexico Relocation Guide. Where you get instant access to the steps to follow and a directory of recommended customs brokers that can help you import your car to Mexico.

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.

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