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Leaving and Re-entering Mexico with Car

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tranquilos
7/27/2018 12:40 EST

I entered Mexico as a tourist 4 months ago with my car which has Costa Rican title and plates. The car (and I) have a 180 day temporary permission to be in the country.

We have decided to relocate to Mexico and will be submitting the forms for temporary residency, but this can't happen until after the 180 day permission of my car expires (long story).

I know there are disadvantages to importing one's car into Mexico (tariffs, restrictions once one gains permanent residency, etc), but the alternative also is disadvantageous (drive back to Costa Rica which costs lots of time and also significant money, and now there's instability in Nicaragua).

My main question is this:
(1) Is it possible for me to drive back to the Mexico-Guatemala border before my 180 days run out and then re-enter Mexico with my car for another 180 days (after doing new tramite and paying deposit)? Or must I be outside of Mexico for a certain time before re-entering? This option would allow me to apply for residency and then import the car under my residency later in 2018.

Other question / issue:
(2) I have read that if the car is over 20 years old or if manufactured in Japan (VIN begins with "J") then one cannot import it as a permanent resident (and one must get rid of such a car when one becomes a permanent resident). In our case, it's not that likely that we'll be in Mexico for 4 years. So the question is: will I have the 20-year-old age restriction or manufactured-in-Japan restriction apply when I import the car as a temporary resident of Mexico?

Thanks very much for the help!

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RVGRINGO

From: Mexico
7/27/2018 13:08 EST

You may, as a tourist with the 180 day FMM tourist permit, temporarily import your personal vehicle, regardless of origin, as long as it is properly registered in its home jurisdiction, and insured for Mexico by a Mexican insurance company.
Permanent importation is a whole different story: The car must be of a certain age, and also must have been manufactured in a NAFTA country; ie. Mexico, USA, or Canada. It is also expensive and will require the use olf a customs broker. Generally, it takes a few days at the border to process, once the vehicle is approved. It will be formally exported from its previous country, and imported into Mexico. Then, there is a long and formal inspection process to register it in the Mexican state of your residence.
Frankly, I do not think it is worth the trouble or expense for most vehicles.
Could you sell it in Guatemala? Then you could buy another in Mexico. Both the age and origin restrictions are not in your favor. If you do not plan to stay too long in Mexico, you might consider remaining a Residente Temporal, and having the option to keep the foreign plated car for up to 4 years.

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tranquilos
7/27/2018 13:38 EST

Thanks for the great info RVGRINGO!

If I understand your response correctly,
(1) If I'm issued a new FMM tourist visa for 180 days, then I can bring my car in again for 180 days even though I was just in Mexico for 180 days.
(2) The Age / Country of Manufacturer limitations don't apply when bringing in a car under a temporary residency.

Thanks for your help!

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YellowTail
7/27/2018 14:05 EST

Here's a question for you. An RT arrives in Mexico with a US plated car and receives a TIP which is taped to the front window. If they live in an area that has emissions testing (say Mexico City) - do they have to have their vehicle tested over the 4 year period of their RT stay ?

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RVGRINGO

From: Mexico
7/27/2018 16:05 EST

Sure, if they want to avoid tickets. Other than that, it is a bit of a grey area, but the transitos are usually not up on the finer details of things. Hoy no Circula rules will also apply in CDMX.

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YellowTail
7/27/2018 17:41 EST

I apologize - I was baiting you. I suggest that if you drive a US plated vehicle into Mexico it should have a very recent emissions test. If you pull up to a Mexican testing station without it they will not test your car. So even if you come from someplace like Florida (where there are no longer testing) - you may consider having your car tested in say Texas - where they do still test.

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longtimelurker
7/27/2018 21:53 EST

You should be able to cancel and get a new TIP fairly easily. There are facilitators at the Santa Elena crossing with Belize that will help for a fee. Pretty sure the same type of help is available with at the Guatemala border.

Since your vehicle is titled in Costa Rica, NAFTA regulations do not apply. Export, J car, waiting periods and the like might not apply for your car. You should speak with a customs broker at the southern border about your specific car.

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RVGRINGO

From: Mexico
7/28/2018 12:05 EST

It is the origin of the vehicle's manufacture that is the operative qualification, not its current title. Individuals can only import NAFTA vehicles, as I understand the rules. However, the definitive answer would come from a customs broker, as mentioned above.
There remains the fact that a temporarily imported car must be removed from the country whenever the owner/importer leaves, and the Importada Temporal must be renewed at any change of INM status, etc. With an old vehicle, removal couls become a problem if it were to become inoperative.

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tranquilos
8/6/2018 13:47 EST

Thanks for all the replies. I went through the process last week and wanted to leave the details here in case others have the same question in the future.

First, once I cancelled my 180-day visa and 180-car permiso, I needed to cross into Guatemala in order to get a stamp on my passport, but not for my car. When Banjercito was to process the new TIP permiso for my car, they did not require any info from Guatemala. I therefore left my car on the Mexico side of the border while I walked across the river to Guatemala.

I got stamped into and out of Guatemala all at once, and returned to the Mexico side. There was no issue that I had just left Mexico when renewing my car. As others said, the length of time that I could bring my car in was dependent on how long I could stay myself. So I got a 180-day tourist visa from immigration, and then did the car tramite for 180 days as well for $59 USD, plus the $200 USD deposit, as my car is older than the year 2000.

The people at Mexican immigration was very helpful. I did not use any facilitators, as I find they rip my off and I am fluent in Spanish.

Thanks again to everyone for their replies!

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RVGRINGO

From: Mexico
8/6/2018 15:24 EST

The Problem: You left Mexico, as a tourist, without your car. Once you stepped outside of Mexico, your original FMM tourist permit became void, and so did the legality of your car, which was in Mexico illegally, without you. Remember, INM and Aduana do not coordinate or communicate.
Now, you are back in Mexico, again as a tourist, but you are now driving an illegal car, and probably are no longer insured, since your car must be in Mexico legally to have insurance coverage.
This can go on forever....until you have an accident. Then all the chickens will come home to roost.....while you roost in jail. Be careful !!!!
Drive your car out of Mexico, being sure to have Banjercito (Aduana) remove the sticker and return your deposit. Also, turn in your FMM. Spend another day or two outside of Mexico, then return. You will get a new Importada Temporal for your car, ans a new FMM for yourself and all will be well again.

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longtimelurker
8/6/2018 18:25 EST

RV, wrong again.

He was never illegal. You don't need a TIP in the border zone. He has a new TIP. If you know what you are doing you do not have to leave Mexico to get a new FMM or TIP, just be at the border to complete paperwork.

You post like people are going to get "drawn and quartered" if they don't obey the rules the way you believe they are.

How about posting about things you have experienced.

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tranquilos
8/6/2018 23:15 EST

Ok. Here's what happened with more detail.

My 180-day personal visa (FMM issued by migración) and the 180-day permission to drive my foreign car in Mexico (Permiso de Importación Temporal de Vehículos, issued by Banjercito on behalf of SAT) were both close to expiring.

I drove to the Mexico-Guatemala border where I entered. I surrendered my FMM and cancelled out my car Permiso. During the process, I asked the fellow working for Banjercito if I needed to leave with my car to Guatemala when I got my passport stamped by them. He said yes. Then I asked him if when I returned in a few hours if they would require any paperwork or rubber stamps from Guatemala in order to renew my car permiso. He said no. So I said would there be any problem if I simply left my vehicle in the parking lot of the Mexican side of the border. He said that he personally did not, but that I could run into problems if I were delayed and the border closed. However, that was 5 hours away, so I decided to leave it on the Mexican side. It should be noted that the border area is not "having my car in Mexico while I'm not there," as many people whose cars are parked there are in the process of getting car permisos, and therefore don't have them yet.

I walked to the Guatemalan side and got my passport stamped "entered" and then I got it stamped "exited" and no one ever mentioned any car.

I walked back to the Mexican side, got my 180 day FMM associated with my passport, and immediately got the car permiso for the same 180 days.

On my 9-hour drive back to my house, I was stopped at about 15 security checks. Some were run by the Aduana, some by the Federal Police, some by Migración/INM, and some by the Army. At about 8 of those stops, they looked over my new FMM and new car permiso and said that everything looked to be in order. I'm pretty sure I'm legal.

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tranquilos
8/7/2018 00:46 EST

RV,
Thanks for your input. There are several steps and I can see how my post might have been confusing. I appreciate your concern and help.

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RVGRINGO

From: Mexico
8/7/2018 11:57 EST

Thanks for your updated post with the more complete details. Yes, you did everything correctly and are now legal.
Your first post did sound like you had left the car in Mexico (without taking it out on paper, and re-entering it, on paper, with Banjercito. Doing that with the car in the border parking lot was OK.

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