Here’s what you will need if you plan to drive into Mexico for an extended stay. If you stay less than 7 days and you don’t plan to leave Baja, you won’t need a vehicle import permit.

Border Crossing Required Documents

  • Passports
  • U.S. Driver’s License
  • International Driver’s License
  • Car registration
  • Auto Liability Insurance, valid within Mexico covering up to $300,000 USD

What to get at the border

  • Tourist Card
  • Vehicle Import Permit

Auto Insurance

We purchased an auto insurance policy from Geico’s Mexican Insurance Department. Since our car isn’t worth much, we didn’t pay to insure our the value of our car. We opted for third party liability insurance that would cover our costs in the event of an accident.

Geico was less expensive than Sanborns, and would cover more costs. (For a 5 week trip, Sanborns would charge us $195 for $150,000 coverage, while Geico charged us $144 for $300,000 worth of coverage. )  I recommend calling both companies to compare quotes and coverage.

Tourist Card

When you cross the border, be sure to pull into secondary inspection to request a tourist card! All tourists are required to have one, even for the border zones. Mexican border officials will not stop you to ensure you obtain one, so make sure you are proactive.

Obtaining a Tourist Card After Crossing the Border

If you were like us, and drove straight through the border, you can obtain a Tourist Card in La Paz. We went to Baja PaperWorks, where they were able to obtain legitimate tourist cards through the Immigration Office in town. It took about 6 days (Thursday to Tuesday morning) and cost us about $88 dollars each.

Be sure to talk to Paperworks before going to the official immigration office and before beginning to apply for your vehicle import permit.

Vehicle Import Permit

Although vehicle import permits are not required for Baja California, you will need one if you plan on continuing into Mainland Mexico. You’ll need your Mexican Tourist Card to obtain a Vehicle Import Permit. We got our Vehicle Import Permit in La Paz.