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Tips for Expats Driving in Mazatlan

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Mazatlan.
Tips for Expats Driving in Mazatlan

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Mazatlan, like many parts of Mexico, can be a bit chaotic compared to what you might be used to. Traffic rules are often loosely followed, and drivers can be aggressive. It’s important to stay alert and be prepared for unexpected maneuvers from other drivers.

2. Car Recommendation

A compact or mid-size car is recommended for driving in Mazatlan. The streets can be narrow and parking spaces are often tight. A smaller car will be easier to maneuver and park. Additionally, cars with higher ground clearance can be beneficial due to occasional poor road conditions or speed bumps.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Mazatlan can be challenging, especially in the city center and during peak tourist season. However, parking is generally not expensive. There are paid parking lots and garages available, as well as street parking. Always remember to park in designated areas to avoid fines.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Mexico using an international driver’s license. However, this is only valid for a temporary period, usually up to 6 months. After this period, you will need to obtain a Mexican driver’s license.

5. Obtaining a Mexican Driver’s License

To get a Mexican driver’s license, you will need to visit the local Department of Motor Vehicles (SecretarĂ­a de Transporte). You will need to provide proof of identity, proof of residence, and pay a fee. You may also be required to pass a written test and a driving test. It’s recommended to check the specific requirements in Mazatlan as they can vary by region.

6. Road Conditions

Road conditions in Mazatlan can vary. Major roads and highways are generally in good condition, but smaller streets and rural roads can be poorly maintained. Be prepared for potholes, speed bumps, and occasional flooding during the rainy season.

7. Safety Precautions

Always wear your seatbelt and avoid using your phone while driving. Be especially cautious at night, as street lighting can be poor and pedestrians or animals may be on the road. Also, be aware that driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited and heavily penalized.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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