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Driving down from Southwest Missouri, wife, two dogs and a small trailer leaving on the first. Afraid I can only make about Austin first day. Second day I'll be about 4 hours to the border, plus whatever delay I have there and can maybe make another 4 hours before all will be ready to stop for the night, I'm thinking that should be about Saltillo. Does anyone have a good stop that might take a couple of gringos and a couple of labs that might also have some secure parking in that area? Thanks P.S. staying at Angel Flores Guesthouse 3rd night before pushing on to Barra de Navidad, understand its a great place to stay if your traveling with dogs. Thanks all, see ya soon..

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As an alternate, you can stay at the Travelodge in Pharr, TX, (just east of McAllen), arrive soon enough to check in, make a run to the border to get all your visas and car permit, and still have time for dinner. Then you can make the run to Lakeside in about 11 hours allowing for a couple extra doggie stops. Our new neighbors just did this and it worked great.

We always exit at Pharr. With all the new roads, you do not go through a town of any size until you reach the Lagos de Moreno ring road, which you will use with either route. The tolls are considerably less, the crossing people are very lenient and casual and getting the paperwork is very easy as usually you're the only ones there. The new toll road running from that crossing totally bypasses Reynosa.

Let me know if you want more details.

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We are the neighbors that Mainecoons mentioned. We did the drive from Pharr to Ajijic on a Sunday. We have a dog, but we weren't pulling a trailer. We arrived in Pharr on Saturday afternoon, so we went across the bridge and got our FMMs and the vehicle permit then. There was no one else there but the workers and we completed the process in 45 minutes. When we crossed the next morning at 7:00 a.m., there was absolutely no one else there going across. Mainecoons has good directions for this route. It was our first Mexico driving experience and, really, it was a piece of cake. Fine roads the entire way and not as many pesos for cuotas (toll roads) as the Laredo - Chapala route.

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I've gotten enough questions about this route so I'll post my directions here:

-------------

Here you go:

The Travelodge is pet friendly and easy to find on the internet. Costco is right behind it and a great place for your last gas fill up before you cross the border.

From the TravelLodge on Houston St., return to S. Cage street and turn south. This will take you directly to the Pharr Bridge. As you approach the Mexican point of entry, the trucks go off to the right, you stay towards the center and you'll make a minor jog at end of the bridge and be facing the immigration building on your right and the red/green lights practically in front of you. Pull through the front and park in front of the building. The entry doors are around on the left side of the building. The desk you go to for FMTs is on your right just past the bathrooms. The car permit (I believe) is either in front of you or to the left. Get the FMTs first then the car permit.

Leaving the bridge, you go through the red/green and head south over a bunch of metal topes and then an S curve a little to your left to put you on the road headed south. As you approch the Mexico 2 intersection you'll see a big and pretty new overhead green/white sign directing you straight ahead to Ciudad Victoria via Mex 97. Do that even though it feels strange at first. You'll pass an industrial area on your left, then go over a short rise that puts you on the bypass cuota. The toll is 7 pesos.

Just past the toll booth, you will go up on an overpass that currently dead ends (though you will see road construction in front of you) and take the ramp that will point you south on Mex. 97. This is the SECOND ramp and it is on top of the bridge, not before it.

Now you are going to follow 97 south all the way to 101 where it ends and you will bear to the right at that point onto the 101 towards Ciudad Victoria..

Just AFTER you go through Guemez (it is on your map), you are going to come to the Ciudad Victoria Bypass. It is signed clearly to San Luis Potosi and I believe to Tampico as well. Go over the overpass and exit right onto a sort of retorno that has you cross the road and backtrack to the exit onto the bypass. This will be very clear when you get there, it is all in the space of about a city block. A strange exit. You will end up headed southeast.

Now as I said before, you will go southeast on this road until you come to the exit onto Mexico 70 towards C. Victoria, at this corner is a very nice gas station and big restaurant and plenty of room to walk the dog, go to the bathroom, ect. Then take the exit ramp onto 70 west (also marked for San Luis Potosi), go a couple miles and you come to another overpass with a ramp before it directing you to exit 70 to go to San Luis Potosi. This road now will take you straight ahead to the Ciudad Victoria Corta which is shown on your map south of the Centro. You do not make any more turns for a long, long time now!

So now you rejoin the 101 at the end of the Corta and you are going to drive a long way south. For some inexplicable reason, our Guia does not show the 101 going beyond Mexico 80 just south of Mguel Hildalgo. This is incorrect. When you come to this intersection, there is now an overpass which is signing you straight south for San Luis Potosi. Stay going straight, do not exit onto Mexico 80. Although it is a libre that will also take you over to Mex 57 it is a lousy, rough road clogged with trucks and it is longer. Go straight, pay the modest tolls and you wil save a half hour from this point. Nice bathrooms just past the first toll booth on your right.

The 101 ends and you bear to the right, passing through the second toll booth for a short stretch of toll road that takes you over to the 57. This is clearly signed towards San Luis Potosi. Not sure of the route number of this one but I think it is 75. NOTE--as you approach the cement plant exit a couple miles west on this stretch, slow down as we've seen speed traps here.

As noted previously, as you approach the 57, use the left lane to take the overpass ramp that puts you on the 57 south. As you approach San Luis Potosi, the libre into town is on your right, the cuota bypass is on your left. Go left. At the toll booth, get gas, walk the dog, hit the potties. You're getting close!

Now you are going to start following signs directing you to Guadalajara. You will exit the bypass back onto 57 on the south side of San Luis Potosi and go a very short distance before exiting to your right onto the Corta Cuota towards Villa Arriaga and Guadalajara. Remember to be on the alert for the speed trap in this first section!

As you come to the end of the Corta Cuota at Villa Arriaga, that is where you pick up the new toll road direct to Lagos de Moreno. You will go around a sort of elevated circle, the exit to the new road is on top of this circle. It may not be properly signed but if you look to your left you can easily see the new road. The toll is 90 pesos. If you miss this exit, turn around after you leave the circle and exit onto it from the right hand. You do NOT want to use the old road, it is a dangerous wreck with very bad pavement much of the way.

From there, everything should be obvious. As you exit the new road just on the edge of Lagos de Moreno, you will see a not so well marked sign directing you to go right to go to GDL. That is the Lagos bypass. A crappy road but far better than going through town. It loops around and as you are curving back towards Mex 80 on the far side of Lagos, you come to this somewhat confusing big intersection that requires you to cross and angle sort of to the left to stay on the bypass. Watch out fo this one the traffic from your hard left and soft right does NOT stop. Cross carefully. When you get back to 80, there's a grungy sign directing you to turn right off the bypass onto the GDL road. There's a big Pemex to your right on this corner and this is a very big intersection that most of the traffic will turn right at.

From there, it is Mex 80 to GDL. As you come up on the GDL toll road, be in your right lane.

You'll go about 28 klicks and come to a right hand exit for the cuota to GDL. Take it. Then follow signs to GDL airport and Chapala. The first section of this road is really congested, be very careful! There is a way to bypass all this but it is a bit tricky. Here, we all call it the GDL bypass. If you use it, here is how it works. BTW, you can see these roads on Google Maps.

BEFORE you come to the third toll booth on the GDL highway, there is an exit for Zapotlanejo. It is a LEFT HAND exit that is a bit tricky. Get in the left lane and exit to the left on a sort of retorno. IMMEDIATELY, you must cross the three lanes you see and get in the right lane to exit to Zapotlanejo. Go about a mile and a half, you'll pass a shopping area with its own exit, ignore this, take the SECOND exit. DO NOT MISS THIS EXIT, IT IS A PAIN IN THE BUTT TO GET TURNED AROUND. Now you will be paralleling the toll road. You will go through a small built up area with a couple of topes and a light, then the road opens up into four lane divided. You go quite a ways before coming to another built up area where there is a traffic light. Get into the RIGHT lane before the light, follow the exit just past it to Tepic and the airport. You go around a retorno where there is construction, just keep bearing to the LEFT until you have reversed direction. Take this road until you come to the end, you must go a short distance towards GDL before coming to an overhead retorno so stay in the right lane and take the retorno and now you'll be headed back south towards Chapala and the airport. Close to the mountains, the road splits, the right is signposted to Chapala, take that. As you approach town after going down the backside of the mountain, there is a sign pointing to Ajijic. If that is where you are going, take that. It brings you out between San Antonio and Ajijic with a WalMart right in front of you.

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We're crossing at Pharr in October. Thanks for the detailed instructions, Mainecoons. Some clarification?

We have our FM3s from last year (still valid for awhile yet), and we have had our car sticker sent to us in Canada. Do we still need to stop at the building at the border for paperwork before we do the red/green lights? We somehow managed to miss a step when crossing at Laredo last year, resulting in a bunch of legal red tape taking us through the winter to solve. We don't want to make a mistake again.

Also, to camillenparadise....would you please let us know the names of the 2 dog friendly places in Matehuala? We've stayed at Las Palmas, where once they allowed our dog, but do post otherwise. We'd like some alternatives if we can't get in there this trip.

Thanks. Perhaps one day we'll have this trip down, and will be able to provide advice rather than seek it.

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Another alternative if coming from Austin is to cross at Laredo/Nuevo Laredo or Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras and proceed through Saltillo to Concepcion del Oro, about another hour south on the road to Zacatecas. This is a newly widened road and is faster and cheaper than the route through Matehuala and San Luis Potosi. There is a small, secure hotel in Concepcion with an attached simple restaurant. I haven't traveled with dogs, but we had no problems staying there with a cat last year. If you'd like more details on this route, let me know.

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Mainecoons, sorry for the confusion. We actually tagged onto the OP's post with our question about stopping at the border. We have no trailer, just our car with hubby, myself and dog. We do have our FM3's and our sticker for attaching to the windshield. We just don't know if we need to stop at the immigration building you describe in your post to pick up any more documentation, or do we proceed to the red/green lights. As we noted, we didn't follow procedure last year, and it cost us.

Thanks again.

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Thanks Mainecoons & Kbleitch, got the directions, will let you know how it goes. Thanks to all for the other options, Pharr route breaks up much better for us time wise. Will let you know how it goes when its over. Steve & Wheezy

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One must always stop at INM when crossing the border. You'll fill out an FMM, no matter what visa you have.

Gee, RV, that is the most wrong thing I think I have ever seen you post. If one has, as we do, an FM2 (and it almost certainly applies to an FM3 as well), one just sails through without filling out anything. We just did it. Why would you say that one who has Inmigrado status needs to get a Tourist Visa? That is just not true and, at least up til last year, was illegal since it would place you in the position of having two different INM statuses in MX at the same time. Maybe you are trying to make a different point? You have thoroughly confused me on this one. When we crossed the border, the INM official looked at our FM2's and said in Spanish, Oh, you are immigrants. Are you working on citizenship? We said, Yes. He said, Great! Good luck! And we then passed through the green light and drove home to Lake Chapala. No paperwork whatsoever. And certainly not an FMM, my goodness.

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El Toro Furioso, unless I am misunderstanding the following boletín, everyone who enters Mexico, including mexican citizens and non-citizens with current FM3's/FM2's, must complete an FMM form. I think this may have changed when the form changed from the FMT (Formulario Migratorio Turista) to the FMM (Formulario Migratorio Multiple). On the FMM form, there is a place for extranjeros who have a FM3 or FM2 / no imigrante or imigrante visa to write in the number of their visa.

The "cut and paste" below discusses what temporary or permanent foreign residents must do to enter Mexico (see requisito #4). Additionally, at the bottom of this post I've placed the link to the PDF file that shows a muestra (sample) of the FMM. Note that box #10 asks for the foreign resident's FM2 or FM3 number.

26 (Quinta Sección) DIARIO OFICIAL Viernes 29 de enero de 2010

1.2 Extranjeros residentes temporales y permanentes en México

Aplicable a extranjeros residentes temporales y permanentes en México que se presentan en un

punto de internación aéreo, marítimo o terrestre para ingresar al país.

Requisitos

1) Proporcionar a la autoridad migratoria la información que se le requiera, en su caso y además

2) Pasaporte o documento de identidad y viaje, válidos para México y vigentes. En el caso de marinos,

libreta de mar válida.

3) FM3, FM2 o permiso de salida y regreso.

4) Llenar y entregar la FMM para efectos estadísticos. La autoridad migratoria procurará implementar un

sistema electrónico que permita recabar dicha información de manera electrónica.

Forma de presentación del trámite: Personal.

Plazo máximo para resolver el trámite: Inmediato.

Monto de los derechos: No aplica.

Vigencia del permiso: La señalada en la propia forma migratoria.

Lugar donde se puede presentar el trámite: En los puntos de internación al país.

Fundamento jurídico: Artículos 7 fracción II, 13, 14, 16, 22, 25, 27, 42, 48 y 62 de la LGP; 95, 104, 106 y 173 del RLGP.

Importante: ® En los casos que la Secretaría de Salud lo determine, se requerirá examen médico.

® El No Inmigrante que se encuentre ausente del país al vencimiento de su forma migratoria podrá, a su regreso, solicitar la prórroga o revalidación que corresponda, para lo cual tendrá un plazo de treinta días a partir de su reinternación, siempre y cuando no se exceda en los plazos de ausencia que señala su propia característica migratoria o de sesenta días contados a partir de su vencimiento cuando no tenga señalado plazo de ausencia.

® Si la documentación del Inmigrante no se encontrara vigente, se le permitirá a éste su ingreso al país, para tramitar su refrendo o, en su caso, solicitar en un plazo no mayor de treinta días, su regularización migratoria.

Link to pdf of the FMM and accompanying info: portal.sre.gob.mx/corea/pdf/FMM.pdf

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El Toro, the FMM form we fill out and hand in when entering/exiting by car is not a Tourist Visa, FMT, and does not cost anything. It is the same form you pick up at the immigration window and fill out and hand in when you are flying out. We get the form, fill out both sides and hand it to the immigration officer. He completes it, keeps half and gives us back the other half. We then take that along with our flight information to the airline counter.

We do the same thing when exiting and re-entering by car. HOWEVER, on the first time in, I am not certain with the FM3 that this is strictly necessary, since it appears to be for the purpose of documenting the time out of country, which doesn't really apply to FM3 holders since there is no limit. We didn't use to do this with our FM3s when driving in and out but started doing so since at least technically, it appears to be required by law. We pick up extra forms at immigration at the airport so that we have the forms already filled out and ready to hand in when we arrive at the border to save time.

On return, we hand in the other part of the form along with the passport. The guy keeps the second part at that time.

It is interesting that when this form first came out, the guys at the Pharr crossing were a little puzzled by it. Lately though, they process it quickly.

Theoretically, these guys should have stubs since they should have filed the FMM when they exited the last time on their FM3s. I'd say if they don't have stubs and already have their FM3s and car permit, they probably don't need or want to stop coming in. That assumes that there is no further validation of the car permit required at the border. Otherwise, most definitely as, if they reach KM 19 without that in order they will be sent back to the border station.

It's easy to see how/why people get confused about the FMM form. It's simple once you're here and traveling back out on round trips. You do it, hand the full form in at the border, get half back, carry that with your FMs and Passport, and hand the remaining half back in on your return.

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El Toro: You may be digging yourself a hole, violating your 'Inmigrante' travel restrictions, which are tracked by the use of the FMM when you leave and re-enter Mexico. If violations, or even confusion occur, you could jeapardise your future status as 'Inmigrado' or 'cuididano'.

As others have also noted, you are required to use the FMM when crossing the border. Please don't depend upon border agents to know these requirements; usually, they don't.

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ok, I'm absolutely convinced now that we need to stop at the Pharr border and fill out an FMM, quoting our FM3 numbers on the form before proceeding.

A couple more questions: First, If border guards don't always know about this rule, where do we get the form to fill out? I believe I'm right and this form needs to be filled out, and one half taken (we keep the stub for our return trip) at the border crossing?

Second, am I right that we need to stop 19k in to show the originals of the documents we faxed to Banjercito to obtain our car sticker, and to have someone there place it on our car? Do we need to do anything else there? (We have our Mexican car insurance set up already.)

Sorry to keep asking for details, but we don't want to get burned again. Last year's trip resulted in lots of legal work and money to get us sorted out because we didn't follow proper procedure.

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They will have the FMM at the bridge immigration office, as you come off the bridge per my directions. Take the originals of the documents you faxed to Banjercito with you when you go in the office in case they want to see them.

Have them check and validate your car permit as needed and install your sticker there. At KM 19, they'll just check your car permit against your VIN number. This should be a very quick stop.

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When we came down in April 2009 the Hotel American Express in Saltillo was very nice and welcomed our two dogs happily. It was the cheapest and nicest hotel that we stayed in all the way down from the land of ice and snow. Just checking it looks like it is now the Holiday Inn Ramos Arizpe http://www.ahg.com.mx/ so that pet policy may have changed.

Good luck.

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I will be leaviing from San Antonio on the day of crossing at Pharr. This makes too long a day to drive straight.thru Anyone know of a reasonable stopping place that takes dogs. Checked out La Quinta in San Luis Potosi, but they are quite a ways into town and also pricy. Stayed at Zar a couple of times but their website now is very explicit "NO Mascotas". Any Suggestions Hotel or Notell?

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On our way out of Mexico earlier this month, we stopped at the American Business Hotel in Saltillo. We had no pets but my brother-in-law and his wife stayed there with their black lab. We made it to San Antonio, Texas the next day, with no problems.

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