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U.S. Citizen Driving Mexican Vehicle into U.S.?

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A few years ago, we drove my wife's Mexican plated car into Texas. They asked at the Laredo crossing whose car it was and I said it was hers. They asked where we lived (Texas) and said that a Green Card holder could not legally have a Mexican plated car in the US. I said that we were going to get my car from the repair shop in Mexico and would be bringing it back in 4 months. They let us pass.

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We are US citizens and, as residents of Mexico, also had a Jalisco plated car which we drove in the USA on visits in several states. No problem at all and no need for permits, fees or deposits. Never had any questions and only one cursory inspection.

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We have driven to Ga four times now....we were hassled at the Laredo border some years ago so now we now cross at Pharr. We were stopped in Alabama by two morons but they let us go when they accepted that we had every right to be there.

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I am a Canadian citizen and frequently drive Canadian, US and Mexican plated vehicles into Texas - mostly other people's vehicles. Never had any issues nor have been asked for any paperwork on the vehicles, just my passport.

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It is easier to drive a MX plated vehicle into the US than a US plated vehicle.

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Mexican plated cars are allowed into the USA for up to 1 year.

Issues? It is easy to get the minimum required liability insurance coverages, but can be challenging to find insurance coverage to pay for collision damages to your car.

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It is easier to drive a MX plated vehicle into the US than a US plated vehicle.

Great to know, hensley -- i was just about to ask this in yet another new topic of mine. Thanks!

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I can verify no problems with Jalisco plated vehicles at Laredo crossing. Multiple crossings in many different vehicles

Only once was I asked was it mine. I was driving a Mercedes convertible. I said no it belonged to a Tequila company, and it was on loan to me. I was not asked any more about the car, and I did not show them anything regarding the car..

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Twice we drove our new Jalisco plated car into McAllen, Texas. Both times we were in McAllen for four days and drove back to Mexico with no problems. Only lengthy stops were was US customs/immigration upon entering USA. Mexican customs waived us through once and asked a couple questions the second time. We drive very carefully and saw no need to buy US insurance. I am bot sure if our Mexican car insurance covers us in US border towns.

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Of course you can drive your Mexican plated car in the USA, but you do need insurance specifically for the USA, and it will probably be liability only, so keep on driving carefully. We drove ours in many US states.

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My AXA car insurance in Mexico includes a liability policy for travel to the US. I did have to ask the agent to make sure he provided the rider so I could print it and put it in the car. Unity covers the liability portion and it's the same form as you would receive when purchased for a US car traveling back to the States.

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Hello folks,

i would like to ask if you have any up to date information on this topic. I have a jalisco plated vehicle, that i would like to drive to Virginia. I have a dual citizenship mexico and usa, how long can i have the vehicle in the states? And should i try to register the car or just get a temporary permit? What about the insurance? 

I appreciate any information you give!!

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I was told that each state has it's own rules. And sadly I can not help you with your question.

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One year. Buy insurance. Don't sweat it.

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On 5/28/2015 at 4:31 PM, berkeleyboy said:

Twice we drove our new Jalisco plated car into McAllen, Texas. Both times we were in McAllen for four days and drove back to Mexico with no problems. Only lengthy stops were was US customs/immigration upon entering USA. Mexican customs waived us through once and asked a couple questions the second time. We drive very carefully and saw no need to buy US insurance. I am bot sure if our Mexican car insurance covers us in US border towns.

Not without a rider it doesn't, even for liability which is the only coverage you can get. If you were involved in any type of accident and were unable to prove you had liability coverage, chances are your car would have been towed and impounded  and your 4 day trip would have been for more days. If "driving carefully" is good enough in McAllen, why do you bother with car insurance at all?

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11 hours ago, AngusMactavish said:

One year. Buy insurance. Don't sweat it.

Good advice, you don't have to sweat getting in trouble for no liability coverage. However...you might get cold sweats at night worrying about your new car which itself would not be covered. Just make sure if you have an accident it's not your fault, and that the at fault driver does have liability coverage or you will be paying for any and all repairs to your car out of your pocket.  Drive defensively.

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Crossing the border is easy. Thousands of Mexican plated vehicles enter daily. In years I have only been asked once it it was my car. (it wasn't and I said so.. they didn't ask for any proof I had permission) Remember Immigration and customs are federal agencies. They can not enforce state laws. It is possible they could call a state trooper, but they really don't care so why bother...

You can use the vehicle in the USA for one year. Some Mexican insurance policies have US liability coverage. (Check your policy) If not you will need to buy liability coverage to be legal. 

You can not register the car in the USA unless it has the sticker of total US emission and safety requirements and you would need to post a bond because you don't have a title.  Unless you plan to return to live in the USA it would be a great waste of time & money.

I was stopped Texas last year for speeding. Officer saw my Jalisco drivers  license and didn't ask for anything else. Said "please drive slower...  have a nice day"

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On 7/20/2019 at 6:18 PM, johanson said:

I was told that each state has it's own rules. And sadly I can not help you with your question.

I don't *think* that your 'each state' comment is accurate. I believe it to be 'one year' throughout the US.

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Each State has its own rules regarding insurance - specifically the minimum required liability insurance. If you have a rider on your Mexican insurance policy for U.S. liability coverage you should be fine.

Each State "might" have specific rules on how long you can use your Mexican car but probably not a limit that will affect you. If you are going to be in the U.S. for many months it might be worth checking to be sure. For a shorter trip I wouldn't worry about it.

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As a tourist/visitor to the USA with your Mexican plated vehicle, you may drive it for 1 year. However, if you are also a resident in the USA, the state may hassle you.  I would not make the Mexican car obvious, in the same place for too long.  It will attract attention.  We once had a visit from a drug enforcement officer while we were visiting a relative for a few days. No problem, but we were noticed.

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On 7/20/2019 at 7:18 PM, johanson said:

I was told that each state has it's own rules. And sadly I can not help you with your question.

Isn't border crossing a federal jurisdiction?

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Yes a border crossing is a federal matter. But states have rules as well. When I was living in Seattle, WA and drove a Texas plated car to that state, I was told that in Washington State I could only have non WA plated car in WA for one month before I had to get a WA license plate (I had a Seattle WA address and was coming to Mexico for several months at a time)

I assume that other states have slightly different laws about maintaining  a vehicle that does not have that states' license plate on it.

I guess the best answer would be to ask an attorney.

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That 30 day requirement is common in many states, but if you are not a resident of that state, you have nothing to worry about.  The federal 1 year rule will apply.

If you have a Mexican residence visa, a Mexican driver's license, and a Mexican car, why would you show anything more than that?

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