Requirements for driving to Mexico
To drive into Mexico from the U.S., you're required to bring the appropriate identification, a couple permits (depending on how far into Mexico you're going), and your proof of Mexico auto insurance. If your car is financed, you'll also need a letter of permission from your lender.
What documentation do I need to drive to Mexico?
Along with the essential steps facing anyone crossing an international border, here's what you need to drive your car into Mexico as a U.S. citizen, as advised by the U.S. State Department:
Your U.S. passport or U.S. passport card
If you don't have a U.S. passport, you should apply for one well in advance of your trip. As of November, 2023, the U.S. State Department has a posted routine processing time of seven to ten weeks, which doesn't include the time it takes to receive your application and then mail your passport to you.
Proper insurance for driving in Mexico
U.S. drivers need to buy a separate Mexico auto insurance policy while driving in Mexico. Your Mexico auto policy will provide you with liability coverage, the only coverage you're legally required to carry while in Mexico, but you should consider additional coverage for theft, collision, and more scenarios. Learn more about getting car insurance for a Mexico trip.
Your state-issued driver's license
Make sure your driver's license is valid and won't expire while you're traveling.
Your vehicle's proof of registration
You need a valid vehicle registration to enter Mexico. Ensure all information is up to date, such as your address, before going on your trip.
A temporary vehicle importation permit (except in the hassle-free zone)
To get your temporary vehicle permit, the Mexican government requires a deposit (they generally accept major credit cards), which is returned when the vehicle re-enters the United States. It can be obtained through Mexican government authority Banjercito online, at the border, or at certain Mexican consulates in the U.S. Nonrefundable permit fees are also required.
You don't need a temporary vehicle permit while traveling in the "hassle-free zone", or the Sonora free zone, which includes an approximately 12-mile (or 20 kilometer) wide area south of the Mexican border, the western half of Sonora, and the entirety of the Baja Peninsula, including Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur. However, you'll still need to get an entry permit from a National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración or INM) office after you cross the border into Mexico.
A letter of permission from your vehicle lender (if your car is financed)
Your lender may require you to notify them of any international travel you take with your financed vehicle. The letter of permission from your auto lender shows that you have permission to drive the car in Mexico, even though you don't own it outright. It also allows your lender to verify that you have the right insurance before you head over the border. Contact them prior to your trip and ask for a letter of permission stating that they've approved your travel with the vehicle.
A Mexico entry permit (Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM)
You can obtain an entry permit at a National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración or INM) office after crossing the border.