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Tips for Expats Driving in Puebla

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Puebla.
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1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Puebla, like many parts of Mexico, can be a bit chaotic compared to what you might be used to. Traffic rules are often not strictly enforced, and local drivers can be aggressive. Be prepared for sudden lane changes, drivers not using signals, and pedestrians crossing the road unexpectedly. It’s important to stay alert and drive defensively.

2. Choosing the Right Car

Compact cars are recommended for driving in Puebla due to the narrow streets and heavy traffic. Smaller cars are easier to maneuver and park. Also, consider a car with good fuel efficiency as gas prices can be high.

3. Parking in Puebla

Finding parking in Puebla can be challenging, especially in the city center. Many people use paid parking lots or garages, which are generally safe and reasonably priced. Street parking is also available but be aware of any parking restrictions to avoid fines.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Mexico with an international driver’s license for up to 180 days. After that, you will need to obtain a Mexican driver’s license. It’s also a good idea to have your passport and immigration documents with you when driving.

5. Obtaining a Mexican Driver’s License

To get a Mexican driver’s license, you will need to go to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (Secretaría de Movilidad) with your passport, visa, proof of address, and a valid driver’s license from your home country. You will also need to pay a fee and pass a written test, which is usually in Spanish.

6. Road Conditions

Road conditions in Puebla can vary. Major highways and roads in the city are generally in good condition, but you may encounter potholes and other road hazards, especially on smaller streets and in rural areas. Be cautious when driving at night as roads are not always well lit.

7. Dealing with Police

If you are stopped by the police while driving, stay calm and polite. You may be asked to show your driver’s license, passport, and vehicle registration. Be aware that it’s illegal to bribe police officers in Mexico, and doing so can result in serious consequences.

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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