Need to Know

Before You Go!


You must have Mexican auto insurance to drive in Mexico or you can be thrown in jail. Mexico does not recognize US auto insurance (even if your policy provides coverage of up to 75 miles into Mexico). You must have at least a liability only Mexican auto insurance policy to legally drive in Mexico. You can get a free QUOTE from Vagabundos.

Rental Cars

Vagabundos does not cover rental cars. Some rental companies will allow you to take the car to Baja. Some will require you to get the Mexican auto insurance through them & others will permit you to get your own coverage. Check with your car rental company to be sure.

Vehicle Permit

This is only required if you will be driving into Mainland Mexico. You do not need vehicle permits if you are traveling to Sonora or Baja. Vehicle permits are US $52 and are valid for six months. This allows you multiple entries so you may take your vehicle in and out of Mexico as many times as you want within a six-month period. You must pay a deposit which will be refunded to you when you turn your permit in (before the expiration date). This permit MUST be turned in prior to your leaving Mexico.

The owner of the vehicle must be present, and you will need copies of the following information to obtain the Vehicle Permit.

  • Current registration or title
  • Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • FMM
  • Lease contract and lienholder letter (if necessary)
  • Cash or Credit Card for the permit and deposit

You must turn in the permit before leaving Mexico and before the permit expires. You must have your vehicle, vehicle permit and sticker to return the permit.

PLEASE NOTE: You cannot obtain a vehicle permit at the San Ysidro border crossing.

Financed Vehicles

If you are traveling into Baja, you do not need permission from your lien holder. If you are traveling into Mainland Mexico, Banjercito requires an official letter of permission giving you authorization to take the vehicle into Mexico. This may take several weeks to obtain so you should contact your lienholder far in advance of your trip. You will also need to make sure they don’t have any special requirements for traveling internationally. Some companies will not allow you to travel into Mexico for more than 30 days at a time.

What you can bring into Mexico

Tourists may bring their personal belongings and luggage into Mexico duty-free. You may also bring up to US $300 worth of merchandise per person. If traveling with family members you may combine this amount. Receipts or invoices are required to take advantage of this.

If you have more than US $300 worth of merchandise, you may declare it by driving through the declaration lane at the border crossing. You will need to fill out the proper documentation and pay a duty of 16% on the total amount. If you are bringing more than US $3000 worth of merchandise, you must use a Mexican customhouse broker.

You may bring up to three liters of liquor or beer and six liters of wine per adult.

You may not carry extra gasoline across the border. You may have an empty gas can, which may be filled once you cross.

Personal items you may bring into Mexico duty-free per person are: (must be items that you may reasonably use during the trip)

  • Baby gear, such as strollers, car seats, cribs, walkers, and their accessories.
  • Two cameras or camcorders and camera gear.
  • 12 rolls of film or videocassettes
  • Three cellphones or other wireless devices.
  • One GPS.
  • One electronic organizer.
  • One laptop, notebook, omni book or other portable computing device.
  • One portable copier or printer.
  • One CD burner
  • One portable overhead projector and its accessories.
  • One tent and other camping articles.
  • Two sets of personal sport gear.
  • Four fishing rods.
  • Three gliders with or without sails and their accessories.
  • Trophies and awards if you can carry them without any difficulty.
  • Two musical instruments and their accessories.
  • One hand tool set, including its case, a drill, pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, power cords, etc.
  • One pair of binoculars and one telescope.
  • Five laser disks, ten DVDs, thirty CDs, three software packs and five storing units for any electronic device.
  • Five toys, including collectables,
  • One videogame console and five videogames.
  • One blood pressure monitor and one blood glucose monitor (or one monitor for both purposes), reagents included; drugs and other psychotropic substances, including cannabis, in which case you must present the prescription, have the medical identification number or any other contact detail of your physician and exclusively bring the amount needed for your trip.
  • Valises, trunks, suitcases, or any other item needed to carry your personal belongings.
  • If you are over eighteen, ten packs of cigarettes, twenty-five cigars or two hundred grams of tobacco; three litres of alcoholic beverages and six litres of wine.
  • Wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, or any other assistive device for the elderly or disabled people.
  • One portable audio recorder, audio player or audio recorder and player (or two digital sound and
  • image recorders or players instead),
  • One portable DVD player
  • One set of portable speakers and its accessories.

You may also bring up to three dogs or cats and their accessories. You must present a zoo sanitary import certificate to the customs officials.

If you enter or leave Mexico, you must declare any sum of money equaling US$10,000 or more that you bring in cash, checks, money orders, other cashable documents, or a combination of them. Failing to declare carries a fine ranging from 20% to 40% of the exceeding amount. Failing to declare sums of US$30,000 or more is punishable by six months to six years of imprisonment and the amount being seized for the federal treasury if its lawful origin is not demonstrated. Should you not prove its lawful origin, you will be sentenced to a period of five to fifteen years of imprisonment and to one thousand to five thousand day-fines.


Minors traveling to Mexico must have a valid proof of citizenship (certified birth certificate). Children over the age of 2 must have an FMM tourist permit which also means they must have a valid passport or passport card. When flying within the U.S., or traveling internationally by land or sea, a child’s birth certificate will suffice most of the time. A notarized letter of consent will be required for children who travel without one or both of their parents or legal guardians. You may download and print a Child Travel Consent form online here.

Items not allowed in Mexico

  • Guns or ammunition. They are illegal in Mexico, and you will be put in jail for having one.
  • Pepper Spray
  • Lethal knives and machetes (anything over 8” is NOT allowed)
  • Live predator fish
  • Totoaba fish (fresh or frozen)
  • Turtle eggs
  • Poppy seeds or flour of poppy seeds
  • Marijuana, medical marijuana, marijuana products, marijuana seeds or spores or marijuana extracts.
  • Opium extract
  • Stamps or prints, displayed for their sale in envelopes or packages, containing illustrations that represent childhood in a degrading, violent, self-destructive, anti-social or ridiculous way (i.e. Garbage Pail Kids trading cards).
  • Thallium sulfate
  • Isodrin, Aldrin, Heptaclor, Drinox, Endrin, Mendrin, Nendrin, Hexadrin or Leptophos insecticides.
  • Heroin
  • Medication prepared with acetylmorphine or its derivatives
  • Loggerhead turtles or turtle skins
  • Goods that have been declared archaeological monuments by the Secretary of Public Education
  • Air compression spearguns are prohibited. Rubber band spearguns are permitted.