By: Rebekah Mullinix
Buying a vehicle in Mexico can be so exciting! They have different makes and models available that may not be available in your home country and the weather in Mexico may allow you to buy a different type of car like a convertible, that wasn’t feasible where you lived before. Buying a car is a similar process to buying one at home, you go to the dealership or private owner, negotiate a deal, and then you have your car. However, there are some things to watch out for.
Who can buy a car in Mexico?
Anyone! Anyone can buy a car in Mexico regardless of their immigration status. Anyone can go to a dealership or private owner and purchase a car.
Here’s the Catch:
Only citizens, permanent and temporary residents can REGISTER a car in their name. Meaning if you only have a tourist visa, you can still buy the car, but you will need to register it in someone else’s name that has the correct status.
You can still get insurance even if the car is not registered in your name and if you only have a tourist visa and want to purchase a car, you don’t have to register the car immediately. In Mexico, registration only occurs at the beginning of the year, so if you buy a car in February, you have almost a full year to find a trusting friend or get your immigration status changed.
Buying a New Vehicle in Mexico:
Buying a new vehicle in Mexico is similar to buying a car in your home country. You go to the dealership, you pick out the car you like, then you get to the paperwork. One thing to note is that dealerships are not in a hurry to transfer a car from another location. Meaning that the cars on the lot are what you have to choose from.
Buying a Used Vehicle in Mexico:
Buying a used vehicle in Mexico can be a little tricky. First, as with many things, Mexicans tend to keep things that work, so if they are selling a car beware that there may be something wrong with it. You absolutely must do your due diligence when buying a used car. Take it to a mechanic to get it checked out. Look over the vehicle yourself and be thorough. Used car dealers tend to be deceptive and will even lower the odometer ratings. Dealerships don’t offer guarantees like they might in your home country, once you pay for the car, it is yours, unless otherwise specified.
- You will need your passport, visa, proof of residence (such as a utility bill or rental agreement), and license.
- They will give you an invoice that you paid for the vehicle and the original title.
Something to note: the original title stays with the vehicle for its entire lifetime. The seller will sign over the title to you and you will keep that until you sell it. It is nearly impossible to get a new title, so do not lose it!
Check Your Documentation:
Be sure to check that everything on your documents matches the vehicle. Check that the seller is the owner of the vehicle, that the VIN number matches the vehicle, the plates are real, and no outstanding fees exist on the vehicle. In Mexico, there is an annual tax for the tags and registration on the vehicle. If it is not paid, the fees will add up over time and when you try to register the vehicle, you will be required to pay the back fees. You can look up the vehicle here or go to the registration office to see if there is an outstanding balance.
As are many things in Mexico, the best way to pay is in cash. Financing is becoming more popular in Mexico, but it’s not the dealers who won’t take the bank’s promissory note. It is the banks who do not want to give a loan for a vehicle because it is very difficult for them to repossess it if payments are not made.
Buying a vehicle in Mexico can be a really fun experience! Be sure to do research on the dealerships and the vehicles to make sure it is a reputable place. When buying any vehicle make sure you protect yourself by having the vehicle looked at by a mechanic and checking that all the paperwork is legitimate and accurate.
If you would prefer to import a vehicle you already have to Mexico, learn more here.
If you only need to temporarily bring your vehicle to Mexico, learn more here.