Northbound Insurance -Legally Driving a Mexican Car in the United States

If you’re one of the 50,000 drivers with Mexico registered cars who travel into the United States from Mexico, there are a number of rules and regulations you need to be aware of. Driving a Mexico plated car in the U.S. is legal, but only if your Mexican registered car is covered with the right insurance. Below you’ll find answers to the most common questions about driving a Mexican car in the United States.

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Driving a Mexican Registered Car in the United States

Can I Drive a Mexican-Registered Car in the United States?


According to U.S. federal law, a non-commercial Mexican registered car, van. light-duty truck or recreational vehicle (RV) can be operated in the U.S. for up to one year using Mexican license plates. During this time, the vehicle is exempt from U.S. vehicle emission and safety standards. The vehicle must be returned to Mexico within one year, and no exemptions or extensions are available.

Do I Need Extra Insurance on my Mexico Plated Car in the United States?

United States insurance laws vary from state-to-state, and every state bordering on Mexico requires minimum mandatory liability insurance for American and Mexico plated vehicles.

In Texas, drivers must have liability insurance that pays for costs related to the accidents they cause. The minimum coverage rates include at least $30,000 per victim for personal injuries, up to a $60,000 maximum. Drivers must also carry at least $25,000 in insurance to cover property damage. This is known as 30/60/25 coverage.

California law states that drivers must carry insurance that covers up to $15,000 for personal injury/death, $30,000 for injury/death to multiple victims, and at least $5,000 in property damage coverage.

Arizona car insurance laws require the same minimum coverage levels as California with one exception: to drive a Mexican car in Arizona, drivers must have a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability coverage, while the California minimum is $5,000.

In New Mexico, Mexico plated drivers must have liability insurance with at least $25,000 coverage for injury or death involving one victim, $50,000 for injury or death of two or more victims, and $10,000 for property damage.

Keep in mind that the insurance coverage mandated by law is exceptionally low, and that can leave drivers of Mexican registered cars liable for costs that exceed their insurance coverage. Most Mexican and American drivers opt to purchase extra liability coverage that protects them against civil lawsuits for costs related to property damage and personal injury.

How Should I Prepare to Drive My Mexican Registered Car in the U.S.?

Before crossing the border into the U.S., Mexican drivers should verify the current identification requirements by checking the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. To learn more about the rules, regulations, and insurance that’s needed to drive a Mexican car in the United States, contact our team of cross-border insurance experts at We make insuring your Mexico plated car for use in the U.S. or Canada easy and affordable.

Drivers should also make sure that their Mexican car is tuned up, safe and in good mechanical condition. This includes checking the headlights and signal lights, ensuring the windshield is free from damage, and that the tires and brakes are free from defects.

You should also make sure you have an inflated spare tire and jack, and emergency supplies such as a blanket, flashlight and battery-operated flares in case your car breaks down. Travelling with a smartphone that works in the U.S. is also a good idea so you can take photos and call for help if you’re involved in a crash.

Don’t take chances when it comes to driving a Mexican registered car in the U.S.A. – make sure you’re covered with the right insurance from

3 Responses to Northbound Insurance -Legally Driving a Mexican Car in the United States

  1. […] People who come from Mexico to Las Vegas with a car with Mexican plates (places) are also required to import their car to the U.S. If you have Mexican plates on a vehicle in the U.S., you have one year to import it into the country. You also must have northbound insurance on the vehicle that automatically adjusts to the State’s limits throughout the United States and Canada. Click here for more information on the Northbound Insurance program. […]

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