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Tips for Expats Driving in Merida

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

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Merida, can be a unique experience. The traffic can be heavy, especially during peak hours, and the driving style of locals might be different from what you’re used to. It’s common to see drivers not following traffic rules strictly. Therefore, it’s essential to be patient, alert, and defensive while driving.

2. Type of Car to Use

Compact cars are recommended for driving in Merida due to the narrow streets and limited parking spaces. However, if you plan to explore the outskirts or rural areas, an SUV might be more suitable due to the rough terrains.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Merida can be challenging, especially in the city center. However, there are several paid parking lots available. The cost of parking is relatively affordable compared to other major cities.

4. Using 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 six 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 transportation office (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes). You will need to provide your passport, visa, proof of address, and a valid driver’s license from your home country. You will also need to pass a written test in Spanish. It’s recommended to study the Mexican driving laws and signs before taking the test.

6. Be Aware of Topes

Topes, or speed bumps, are common in Merida and throughout Mexico. They are often unmarked and can be quite high, so it’s important to drive slowly and carefully to avoid damaging your car.

7. Car Insurance

It’s highly recommended to have car insurance while driving in Mexico. In fact, it’s mandatory to have at least third-party liability insurance. Make sure your insurance policy is valid in Mexico.

8. Be Prepared for Checkpoints

There are often police or military checkpoints on the roads in Mexico. Remain calm and cooperative if you are stopped. Usually, they will just check your documents and let you go.

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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