the Mexico… Warmth, color and change of scenery! But what happens when you want cross the Mexican border with his vehicle? Campervan, Camping Car, 4×4, golf cart, What are the steps to take ? How long can I stay depending on the type of vehicle? After our experience of three crossings of this border (Tijuana, Ciudad Hidalgo, Tecate), we give you all the answers and the step-by-step process in this article.
To go to Mexico with your van, there are no particular steps to take before crossing the border except for insurance.
For that, we advise you to take it at least a week before. For what ? Because it will allow you on the one hand to compare the formulas and on the other hand to gather the necessary documents.
We passed three times Baja Bound Insurance. A broker located in the USA who insures all vehicles in Mexico, regardless of their country of origin, with several types of covers and even the optional towing. They can insure you for the day, the week, the month or the year… Convenient, in addition it is not very expensive even in all risks (yes, they also offer all-risk formulas…). For a vehicle over 25 years old it is better tohave expertise (it doesn't matter what country it was made in, they will convert to USD), so they can note the actual value of the vehicle on file.
Everything is done on line or in their office in San Diego. As we were passing by, we stopped to do the subscription the first time. They are really adorable and full of good advice so we can only recommend them!
By going through this affiliate link you will support our adventure, it does not change anything for you.
We always remember, although it is not mandatory, thetravel health insurance is very (very) highly recommended regardless of the country visited! (read the article about Joana's big fall in the middle of the Belize jungle here).
The health system and access to care being different, a little sore can quickly cost you dearly, not to mention if you have to be repatriated from Mexico, it's a short walk!
So don't skip it, accidents don't just happen to others. Not to mention an accident, a simple food poisoning can ruin your trip.
So be sure!
We have negotiated a automatic remittance of 5% at Chapka Assurance through this link (on the “Cap Aventure” contract) or by using the code ON THE WORLD
Whatever contract you choose, don't hesitate to go through this link to give us a little help.
Okay now that we've done the lesson well, let's get down to business
less serious 😉
Before crossing the border we recommend that you make the following photocopies:
- Vehicle papers (with address)
- Passport page with photo.
- Driver's license.
This being done, all you have to do is cross the border.
The first thing to know is that crossing the border itself is very easy, almost too much in this sense. A single passport verification (when there is a gatehouse) and generally a look in the van (rarely an X-ray) and welcome to Mexico…
Yes but no… you come back by land and you haven't yet your visa so do not carve the road!
You must voluntarily stop at the border post to do all the procedures.
The first step is to get your tourist visa, the base…
- First go to the “Migración Office” to fill in the “tourist card” (FMM), a small document with all your information: Last name, first name, Passport number, home address, on-site address (a campsite, hotel or other), etc…
- This being done towards the “Banjercito office” to pay visa fees, around 30$US per person. (sometimes the offices are the same depending on the border posts).
- Then return to the “Migración Office” where are you going stamp your passport and you give part of the “Tourist Card” also stamped (do not lose it during your stay!). The first step is done: you have your 6 month tourist visa for Mexico.
Once your visa is in your pocket, you can then make the temporary importation of the vehicle (TIP), to do this it is necessary return to “Banjercito”:
- You will then be asked vehicle papers (but not insurance), the passport with the corresponding name, your driving license, and the "tourist card". We need copies of all this. If you have done them before, so much the better if not, don't panic, there is usually a place to make photocopies not far away. If the customs officer is nice he will give them to you… (at least your tourist visa which you have just done 5 minutes before).
- With it all in his possession the agent will print a document which is very important to check carefully. This will serve as proof! Serial number, plate number, everything is noted. Sign it and then you will have to… pay again… 1078$M (or pesos) or approx. €50 minimum. At least, because there is a variant: see paragraph below for details depending on the type of vehicle.
- To finish, the agent will give you your import permit (TIP) (but since 2020 no more stickers to stick on your windshield), and you will receive a copy by email, both to keep well!
- If it is a car, 4X4 with removable cell, roof tent, etc.: The amount to be paid will then depend the year of the vehicle. The more recent it is, the more “expensive” it will be. But the payment includes several parts. There are fixed costs (the famous 50$), and another part, a provision, which you will be returned to the exit of the territory, (it would be around 200$ for us for example), which you have to pay by credit card (you will pay in US Dollars but the ticket will come out in Pesos so don't panic if you see marked 4800$ for example…). The vehicle's temporary import permit (TIP) is valid for 6 months.
- For a recreational vehicle (converted van, motorhome, RV, expedition truck): if your vehicle is considered a “Rolling House”, understand a rolling house, it will be valid for 10 years and you won't have to pay only fixed costs (no provision). If it is not noted on the vehicle papers (officially VASP on the gray card or "Recreational Vehicle" if you bought it in the USA or Canada), insist on having the vehicle inspected by a competent officer. Someone will then come and look inside your campervan and take some pictures of the interior, exterior and serial number. As long as there is a kitchen, a table and a bed, you would normally be given the 10-year temporary import permit. There will also be an additional document to complete where you will note all the equipment present in the vehicle.
– If you have a 10-year import license for the vehicle, nothing special, take any lane, an agent will collect your tourist visa and you will have (or not) a stamp.
– On the other hand if you have a temporary import permit of 6 months, you will have to take the right lane on the Mexican side, the one that allows you to return your license (TIP). The agent will verify that it is the correct vehicle. A few days later, you will see your provision return to your account directly from the bank card with which you paid at the entrance (if your card has expired in the meantime, don't panic, it works anyway).
Here you know everything! This may seem tedious but in reality not so much. At the entrance to the territory the complete operation takes about 30 minutes (a short hour if they have to come and take photos of the vehicle and do the additional paperwork).
- Know that if you are only going to explore Baja California or the Yucatan you will not need the temporary import permit (TIP) for your vehicle. On the other hand, don't forget to stop for your tourist visa.
- In the event of a police check you will have to take out the vehicle papers, your driving license + your international driving license (you have thought about it before, huh?! Otherwise take a look at our article here), your passport with your visa and the "tourist card", as well as the temporary importation paper. All that yes...
You thought of exploring only Baja California but finally you want to go further on Mainland Mexico? No problem, no need to go back to the border! There is an office near the La Paz ferry terminal that will allow you to import your vehicle before heading to the mainland.