Import Car Mexico: 6 Steps Needed to Import a Car from the US to Mexico

January 27, 2012

When trying to import a car to Mexico it is important that you follow all US import regulations and US import auto laws as well as those for Mexico. There are two different ways you can get a US car into Mexico, one being importing and another by using an FM3 visa. However importing a vehicle is normally the best option and is actually fairly easy.


  1. Choosing the Car: Over the past few years Mexico passed an interesting law that to import a car into the country it has to be exactly 10 years old. To qualify for importing the car has to be safe to use and in reasonable working condition. Passenger vehicles cannot carry more than 15 passengers. Pickups with a full load cannot exceed 7,056 pounds and the vehicle identification number has to correspond to a US car.
  2. Documentation: You will need the following documentation when visiting the Mexican customs agency, known as the Aduana. Take with you the registration documents, sales receipt with a description of the model, vehicle make, importer name and value. This receipt must be from the manufacturer or a distributor. You will need a certificate of origin document, import permit passport and several copies of your passport and a bill that is less than 3 months old that shows your name and address.
  3. Fees and Taxes to Import into Mexico: When you see the Mexican customs broker, then you will need to pay an import tax between $50 to $300, a document validation fee, new vehicle tax if applicable and the Mexican value added tax. You have to wait 72 hours after obtaining an export stamp from the US before you can bring the car into Mexico. If you enter before this period is up you will be fined $500.
  4. Where to Import: The only port where you can drive a car from the US to Mexico to import it is through the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. There is a special US export lane that will look at all your documentation and make sure everything is in order.
  5. Temporary Import Permit: If you are just travelling in Mexico, then you can get a temporary import permit. However, you do not need one to travel in the border zone, Puerto Penasco and Baja. This permit can be obtained at the border crossing and is good for 6 months. However you must have your car “checked out” before you leave the country and before the expiration date. This is very easy today as it is all computerized.
  6. Coming back to the US: If you want to bring the car back into the US, then you can do this duty free. However, any repairs or accessories that were done in Mexico will need to be declared. You will need proof of origin to be exempt from taxes. Your car also needs to meet all of the EPA standards as many cars older than 1976 will not comply. The US government has several documents that detail how to import and export a vehicle that can be very helpful.
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