Driving in Mexico 2015-10-14T16:11:52+00:00



See separate articles on getting a Nayarit Driver’s License and Nationalising Your Vehicle – from foreign to Mexican plates.


mexico-flagWhen you drive across the border (or rarely, bring your car in by ship) you are deemed to be temporarily importing it, even though you are just coming for a few weeks vacation.

You can import only one vehicle in your name.  If you have a spouse, or of-age children,  each of them can register a car.  The car does not have to be in the name of the person registering it, but the actual owner must be present or you must have a letter of permission from the owner.

There is an exception to the one vehicle rule.  If you are driving an RV  motor home and towing a car, you will be allowed to register both in the same name; you no longer will need a second person to register the car.  You can also get a 10-year permit for the motor home, which gives you multiple entries and exits.  This new rule does not apply to pickup campers.

A trailer does not count as a vehicle, but you will need ownership papers.  The trailer will be listed on your vehicle permit which means that it must be taken out of the country when you take your car out.  You cannot sell it or leave it behind in México.

(If you have motorcycles, ATVs, and other types of single passenger vehicles being carried in your truck or being towed, these may be registered as part of the vehicle carrying/towing them.  There are restrictions.)

The permit you get is for the temporary importation of the vehicle.  You must remove the vehicle when you leave permanently.  You cannot sell it in México.  When you leave, stop at the car office at the border to hand in your permit.  Make sure you get a receipt for this.  They will also remove the  sticker from your windshield: they have to do it, NOT you.    Keep that receipt and bring it with you if you ever bring another car back to México.  If their computer had a glitch and says you still have a car in México, you will not be allowed to bring in another, and you will be in trouble for having a car in Mexico with an expired permit.  Show them the receipt if you have a problem.  When you surrender your permit is also where they action the credit back on to your card – it will take a few days to appear.

Generally people coming here cross the border at Nogales, as it is closer than the other points, so this information is based on that.  It is then a 21 kms drive to deal with importing your car.  Best to be there fairly early in the morning.  There are people there with photocopiers who know exactly the numbers of copies of which documents, should the requirements have changed from those detailed below.

At Nogales follow the signs for the trucks border crossing, it is less congested.  It is open from 6 am to 10 pm.



paperwork1.  Title  to prove ownership.  ( If the vehicle is not paid for, you must have a notarized letter from your lien-holder (bank, finance company, etc) granting you permission to bring the vehicle into México. There should be a copy of the title, or the VIN number should be included in the letter.  If the car is owned by someone else, or jointly owned by you and someone else, who is not with you, you will need a notarized letter from him/her granting you permission to bring the car into México; include the VIN in the letter.

2.   Drivers license:   must be valid

3.  Credit card or check/debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo, other cards are not accepted.  Must be non Mexican.   Must  be in the name of the person registering the car.  There will be a charge of approx.  US $27 made to your card for the permit.   If you don’t have a card, you can post a refundable (when you leave the country) cash bond in the region of  $400 – there is a sliding scale determined by the age of the vehicle.

4.  Passport: must be valid

5.  Mexican Immigration  card

6.  Two photocopies of the ownership and license as well as the picture pages of your passport and Immigration visa.

7.   Liability insurance is required in some states and not in others.  Don’t even think about driving without insurance.  In case of a liability dispute your vehicle can be impounded and you can be held in jail – for as long as it takes.

 The appropriate fee: USD $44 plus 16% IVA for cars, USD $45 plus IVA for motor homes.

Deposit:  Before 2000: $200; 2001 – 2006: $300; 2007 & newer: $400

Your deposit will be refunded when you take your vehicle back out of the country before the expiry date, and will be made using the same payment method, ie card or cash.  Once you exceed the expiry date, after 2 days your refundable deposit will have been lodged with the Treasury and you won’t see it again.

Once you get your licence, detach the rainbow sticker from the paper it comes with.  Keep that paper in the car!  Put your rainbow sticker on the windscreen where indicated.

You should always carry with you: Your Mexican Immigration visa; your import permit; your driving licence, and proof of insurance.


 If you are a married or divorced lady with some documents showing your married name and others with your unmarried name, you will need documents proving that you are all these names.  Your marriage certificate is usually enough. 

 Your permit is for temporary use of your car in México.  The permit is good as long as your visa is valid, which for a Visitante (tourist)= 180 days.    After that time, you must return to the border to get a new one along with a new vehicle permit.


aduana-mexicoApproach the control point slowly.  If you get the green light, continue.  If you get the red light, pull over.  An officer will check your details and ask what you have in our vehicle.  Driving in, you are ONLY allowed $300 worth of new goods per person, and to be for your personal use, and you must declare if you have goods worth more than that.  (Flying in you can bring in $500 per person). You do not need to hire an agent provided the amount does not exceed USD $3,000.  You will need to show proof of values of items and pay a tax of 16%. Payment is made at the on site bank cashier, get a receipt, back to the official and get it stamped.  Keep your receipt.

Note the officer has the right to search your car and check.  He can make you unload everything if he chooses.  He has the power to confiscate your goods AND your car.  Be nice.

Under no circumstances should you offer a bribe to a Government officer or you will find yourself in even more trouble.

Note that you are allowed to bring in one laptop per person free of duty, with accessories, but duty (17%) is payable on a desk top computer & peripherals.

The full list of permitted items is on the government website: www.aduanas.gob.mx

When you cross the State border of Sonora – Sinaloa sometimes you will be waved over to show your vehicle import permit, he wants to see the sticker on the windshield and the paper part.


toll boothCheckpoints

Your first time encountering men in army fatigues toting machine guns can be scarey. Yes they could be looking for known criminals or suspicious persons, but for the most part it is all part of agricultural control, and they are fairly cursory.  They ask you “hay frutas?” (do you have any fruit?) and of course you say no, and get waved on.  You are also not allowed to bring in growing plants and seeds, fresh meat, dairy, chicken.  (It’s a long drive, you wouldn’t want to!).


There are LOTS of hotels as you travel, none are on the actual toll road, but they are easily accessible on the town roads in between the toll roads.  The best value for money for an overnight stop  are the “no tell motels” – where unfaithful husbands would  (still do!) dally with their senoritas.  They are on the outskirts of every town and are behind high walls.  There is no reception area, someone will direct you to your motel room, adjoining it is a garage for your car, totally secure with all your purchaes inside.  It used to be you could only have your room for a few hours and were unceremoniously asked to leave!  But now they acknowledge the long distance driving tourist and it’s yours for the night.   Very reasonably priced, and very clean, these are mostly cash payments.  The majority accept pets.  Some have on site restaurants or room service.  Best Western at Navajoa is pet friendly.  El Rancho, Northern Navajoa, right hand side south bound, is great value for money, with restaurant.

Pemex (Government gas stations)

Unlike years gone by, there are no shortage of these on the normal roads, and are at regular intervals on the toll highways.   Having said that, always keep a resonable amount of gas in your tank. They all have clean (mostly) washrooms, (take toilet paper with you just in case), and generally a food and drink shop.  There are no self service pumps.  Attendants will generally point out to you that the meter is reading zero.  They will also wash your windshield (and want to check your oil). A tip is expected – between 5 – 10 pesos for the gas and screen clean.


The 10c toll in the photo does not exist! You will want to use the highways to get you here in relative safety – your tolls pay for their maintenance. There is not much traffic on them. If you object to paying the tolls then by all means take the free (“libre”) road which goes through all the towns and villages. It comes complete with potholes, racing buses and taxis, pedestrians wandering aimlessly, wobbly cyclists, and darting children. That’s ok if you want to see a few Mexican pueblos, but if you’re eager to get here, then you’ll soon be eager to return to the highway and pay your cuota. The usual highway driving conditions apply, but use extra precautions, the official speed limit of 110 kms/hour is generally ignored.

The CUOTA (toll) booths are clearly marked and notify the amount of the toll just before you arrive. They accept PESOS ONLY, NOT DOLLARS. It is good to have some small denomination bills, to know how much you are due to pay, and to check your change. Keep your receipt until at least the next toll booth – if the highway causes damage to your vehicle through its disrepair, you will need the receipt to claim on their insurance.

NEVER DRIVE AT NIGHT.  It’s not the bandidos (they’ll mostly not have twin bandoliers across their chests but still be wearing black and looking like the elite police force anyway) – it’s the potholes and straying livestock that are the problem. Where the highway is under construction/having improvements, will be very difficult to differentiate between one or two lanes, the sudden changes of lanes, the unmarked edge of the road. And you will have had a long enough day anyway. Stop and relax for the night.  Try out one of those naughty motels!

Highway Assistance

The Green Angels (Los Angeles Verdes) are government paid bilingual crews that patrol the cuotas throughout México every day (but not at night) in green trucks clearly marked and carrying ID. They will provide mechanical assistance, first aid, basic supplies, gas, and towing. The services they provide are free, but there will be a charge for repair parts or fuel. Tipping is appreciated.

There are a few solar powered emergency call boxes, but you can also call them using the 3 digit “magic” number: 074 in some areas, or 078 (no other prefix necessary), or 01 800 841 0507.


Costs are in pesos. Toll booths (“cuotas”) do not accept US Dollars (or other currency).  The detailed cost below is for a car only, extra charges apply for towing. Distances are in kilometers between booths. Official speed limit is 110 kms/hour.

NOTE: Expect slower speeds/delays due to intermittent roadworks (creating new lanes) from Hermosillo South to the Sinaloa-Sonora border. WARNING!! Throughout this region existing lanes vary from two to one lane,change directions, and edges of roads unmarked – do not drive at night!


NOGALES    52 pesos

N Sta Ana: Magdalena de Kino 25 pesos   83 kms

Hermosillo     65 pesos   168 kms

N Guaymas    30 pesos   142 kms

N Cuidad Obregon: “Esperanza” 65 pesos   118 kms

N Navajoa: “Fundicion” 65 pesos   41 kms

S Navajoa: “Estacion Don” 65 pesos   46 kms


N Los Mochis: “Pte San Miguel” 66 pesos 131 kms

N Guasave: “Pte Sinaloa” 20 pesos   93 kms

S Guamuchil: “Brisas”   63 pesos   28 kms

N Culiacan: “Las Brisas”   63 pesos   97 kms

N Culiacan: “San Pedro” 28 pesos  05 kms

S Culiacan:  “Costa Rica” 124 pesos   17 kms

N Mazatlan: “Marmol”    109 pesos   153 kms

S Mazatlan:  “Vainillo”   41 pesos   43 kms

S Mazatlan:  “Rosario”   100 pesos      50 kms


S Acaponeta:  200 pesos     78 kms

San Blas: “Est Ruiz”   96 pesos     65 kms

N Tepic: “Trapichillo”   60 pesos   47 kms

Route is through part of Tepic suburb, drive with caution: suddenly you have to cope with junctions and pedestrians! The sign for Pueto Vallarta (alongside the sign for Guadalajara) is partially obscured – take the right hand fork. Route is over the mountain, lots of curves, slow moving trucks, lots of drivers overtaking at all the wrong places, in both directions!  No matter how many slow trucks you overtake – there will always be another ahead of you. This is the most frustrating part of the whole trip: so near yet so far away. So slow! But so dangerous! Drive with extreme caution – look at all the roadside crosses !

To Bucerias on Mexico 200: 155 kms

TOTAL NOGALES TO BUCERIAS:                 1,337 pesos         1,560 kms

The Government website names the cuotas differently, we feel name of town is easiest for reference, and includes a couple of cuotas that don’t exist just yet, and omits the new one at N Guasave. Be prepared for the addition of cuotas as the roads are improved.

This information correct as of 13 August 2015

The following has not been tested recently.    There is now major construction creating a new road from North of Tepic to San BlasAlternative driving route to avoid Tepic & going over the mountain:

South Bound from Mazatlan: Take 15D  When crossing from Sinaloa into Nayarit. Watch out for the sign called “Yago Exit” (about 55 km north of Tepic). Take this exit and present your last toll ticket so you don’t have to pay again. Drive for about 5 mins until you hit Highway 15 Libre (Pemex to your left).  Turn left to Hwy 15.

Turn right to Hwy 54 to Villa Hidalgo (about 20 mins drive). Turn left on the Guadalupe Victoria junction. Follow signs to San Blas, Hwy 76.  When in San Blas turn left and follow signs to Puerto Vallarta, going through small towns  Ixtapa &  Zacualpan, arriving at Las Varas and  Hwy 200.


police car lightsBribes

Don’t do this!!  This is perhaps your first encounter with corruption and is pretty scarey – on a different scarey scale to the army checkpoints. He is holding your licence and he is in charge of this situation and he is telling you all sorts of things as to what could happen and how much it could cost.  It doesn’t actually matter if you were justifiably pulled over for speeding/using a cellphone while driving/no seat belt or whatever.  Best is to agree and state you want to pay the fine.  This means he will take your licence away and you have to go to the police station the next day to pay the fine in order to collect it.   The real fine is a LOT cheaper than anything he might be asking you for.  If you are travelling down, yes it means you will have to stay locally overnight in order to do this.

If you are here, it is only a minor irritation.  Do not hand over a copy, it must be the original.

NOTE: Nayarit Transito (certainly in Bucerias)  are very keen to make sure we are all law abiding residents.  You will get a ticket for all the usual driving law infringements, AND for parking on where the kerb is yellow (personal experience!).  Refreshingly they are not looking for a “propina” (tip) – you need to receive the ticket and go to the official office and pay the fine.

If you are stopped in Nayarit take the ticket to the Transito office in San Vicente. Drive inland from Mezcales, after about 4 kms on the left you will see a Coca Cola plant, get into the right hand lateral and turn right into a shopping plaza, Transito is at the end, upstairs. If you go the next day you can get the license back easily enough – with 50% discount! If you are stopped in Jalisco drive towards Marina Vallarta and turn left at the lights at the bullring. Continue on this road about 2 kms to the next set of lights and turn right – you are going to that 4 storey red brick Municipal building further on, on the right. Again, go the next day and also get a 50% discount. Sometimes the roadside officer will hand the Mexican license back to you, (he really doesn’t want to do the paperwork!) and let you off with the warning of “next time it will be a ticket”. Don’t be afraid – don’t pay the bribe!

See under “Practical Aspects” regarding parking tickets.

Licence Plates

If you come from a State where you don’t need a front licence plate you can be expected to be pulled over at some point and questioned.  In Mexico you need a plate on the front and on the back – and they must be the same.  If you have an ordinary licence plate and a vanity plate, the vanity plate has to go – while you are here.  Some people, in order to not have the empty front licence plate, have a good quality plastic copy made at a print store beforehand, and remember to remove it before actually crossing back NOTB.  It may not be strictly legal, but it does seem to prevent a lot of hassle.

Permitted Drivers of Your Foreign Plated Vehicle

According to Article 106 of the Customs Law your temporarily imported vehicle may be driven by our the owner, your spouse, your parents or your descendants, and another foreigner who has the same Immigration status as yourself.  It can also be driven by a Mexican so long as one of the authorised persons is in the vehicle.  In theory therefore, if the car mechanic decided to test that all was ok with a quick spin round the block and you were not with him … your car could be confiscated.

Paperwork To Keep In Your Car

Once you’ve arrived, just a copy of the paper import permit is sufficient, you do not want to lose this.

Your driving licence : See Nayarit Driver’s Licence on this site.

Your insurance policy

Copy of your Immigration status: you don’t want to lose the original.

Article 106

This article is an important part of the customs law and many people like to keep a copy of the relevant articles to help with any disputes with the Mexican police who are not always conversant with the customs laws (it’s a different department!)  Here’s copies to copy/paste and print and carry in the car, in Spanish and English:

Que Se Entiende Por Régimen De Importación Temporal
ARTICULO 106 de la Ley Aduanera
Se entiende por régimen de importación temporal, la entrada al país de mercancías para permanecer en el por tiempo limitado y con una finalidad especifica, siempre que retornen al extranjero en el mismo estado, por los siguientes plazos.

Fracción IV. Por el plazo que dure su calidad migratoria, incluyendo sus prórrogas, en los siguientes casos
a. Las de vehículos propiedad de extranjeros que se internen al país con calidad de inmigrantes rentistas o de no inmigrantes, excepto tratándose de refugiados y asilados políticos, siempre que se trate de un solo vehículo. Los vehículos que importen turistas y visitantes locales, incluso que no sean de su propiedad y se trate de un solo vehículo. Los vehículos podrán ser conducidos en territorio nacional por el importador, su cónyuge, sus ascendientes, descendientes o hermanos, aun cuando éstos no sean extranjeros, por un extranjero que tenga alguna de las calidades migratorias a que se refiere este inciso, o por un nacional, siempre que en este último caso, viaje a bordo del mismo cualquiera de las personas autoriza das para conducir el vehículo y podrán efectuar entradas y salidas múltiples. Los vehículos a que se refiere este inciso, deberán cumplir con los requisitos que señale el Reglamento. Inciso reformado DOF 30-12-1996, 31-12-1998, 01-01-2002.

b. Los menajes de casa de mercancía usada propiedad de distinguidos, estudiantes e inmigrantes, siempre y cuando cumplan con los requisitos que señale el Reglamento.
Aduana Manual de Operación para la Importación Temporal de Vehículos y Motocicletas:
“Articulo 17: Fracciónes 17.1 & 17.4,
17.- El plazo para retornar los vehiculos que hubieran sido importados temporalmente al amparo de las calidades migratorias señaladas en la ley, será el de la vigencia de la calidad migratoria, sus prórrogas, apliaciones o refrendos otorgados a dichas calidades migratorial conforme a Ley de la materia.

17.1.- Para estos efectos la prórroga de la vigencia del permiso de importación temporal del vehiculo se acreditará con el documento oficial que emita la autoridad migratoria, sin que se requira autorización de las autoridades aduaneras; en este caso, el permiso de importación temporal se mantendrá vigente aún y cuando el importador haya obtenido cambio en la calidad migratoria de no inmigrante a inmigrante rentista, siempre que exista continuidad en las calidades migratorias.

17.4.- En caso de que el trámite de importación temporal se haya efectuado mediante tarjeta bancaria, y la documentación esté completa, el responsable del CIITEV de la aduana que corresponda, procederá a informa al interesado que no es necesario la presentación de dicho aviso, en virtud de que su vehiculo se encuentra legal en el territorio nacional mientras continúe vigente su calidad migratoria, incluyendo sus prórrogas, ampliaciones o refrendos.”
Aduana Manual de Operación para la Importación Temporal de Vehículos y Motocicletas: “Articulo 17: Fracciónes 17.1 & 17.4


English copies of the Ley Aduanera Article 106 and

the Manual de Operación para la Importación Temporal de Vehículos y Motocicletas: Sec. 17: 17.1 & 17.4

Customs Law: Temporary Vehicle Importation Regulations

Ley Aduanera ARTICLE 106.

Temporary importation is understood as the entry of merchandise into the country, which will remain in it for a limited period of time and for a specific purpose, so long as it is returned abroad in the same condition. The former applies for the following term:

PART IV. For the term of his or her migratory status, including extensions, in the following cases: Vehicles owned by tourists, visitors, local visitors and distinguished visitors, students, and immigrants who are tenants, whenever said vehicles are their own, excepting tourists and local visitors. When the vehicles are not their own, requirements established within the regulations must be met. Such vehicles may be driven within the national territory by a foreigner –the importer holding one of the migratory status referred to in this paragraph, by his or hers spouse, parents or descendants, even when the latter are not foreigners: and by a Mexican as long as one of the persons authorized to drive the vehicle travels with him or her in the car.
Vehicles referred to in this section must meet the requirements pointed out in the regulations.

Aduana Manual de Operación para la Importación Temporal de Vehículos y Motocicletas: Sec. 17 17.1 & 17.4
17.- The deadline to return the vehicles [that] had been imported temporarily under immigration grades defined by law, this means the effect of immigration status, extensions, or endorsements given to these qualities migratorial [types of immigration status] under the Act.

17.1.- For this purpose an extension of the duration of the temporary import permit of the vehicle will be credited with an official document issued by the immigration authorities, without the required authorization of the customs authorities, in this case, the temporary import permit will remain valid even and when the importer has obtained the change in immigration status of No Inmigrante to Inmigrante Rentista, provided there is continuity in the immigration status.

17.4 .- If the temporary importation procedure has been made by credit card, and the documentation is complete, the head of CIITEV of the customs office, shall inform the person concerned that it is not necessary to submit such notice, which is required for those with a cash deposit guarantee (referring to paragraphs 17.2 and 17.3], under as their vehicle is legal in the country while their immigration status remains in place, including extensions, extensions or endorsements.



On highways, see above, Green Angels.

In this area you can call a tow truck:

Bucerias: 298 0025 or Mezcales: 296 5878

If you are in downtown Pto Vallarta and want to be towed back here, check with the tow company – some companies are not allowed to cross the state line.  This company has the permits: 322 224 7974.  Check for an estimate first, it might be cheaper to take your mechanic to the stranded vehicle.

Road Signs

The pictorial ones are self evident, but there are a lot of warnings or informative signs using words. Go to any website to find them.  Speed restrictions are posted in kilometers.

Very graphic road signs are the crosses at the sides of the road, especially curves , sometimes you will see a complete family died there.  Very sad.  Make sure you don’t under estimate that curve.

Some junctions give priority to the traffic joining, not to the mainstream, specifically the large elongated one at Las Juntas.  Another type of scarey.

In Puerto Vallarta side streets you will see “uno y uno” , they have adopted the USA idea,  you approach the crossroads and the first one there goes first, then everyone takes it in turns, but this is more “he who dares wins”.  Making eye contact can help.


The slow moving truck ahead of you is a cause of much frustration.  You will be astounded at how many Mexicans overtake on blind curves, brows of hills,  or at the last minute when there is already someone overtaking coming straight for you.  There is also the confusion that a truck driver will use his left indicator so you would think he is going to turn left, or go around something in the road that you can’t see.  Not always so. Sometimes he’s being helpful and indicating that you can overtake him.  But then again… there is no way of knowing which is his intention.

And Undertaking: – yes, the impatient drivers will do this to you, probably having flashed and honked and almost joined you in the back of your car.  It’s always good for a smile after all his antics to find you are both at the same stop light!

Warning Lights

Yes they have them and they use them, mostly. In and around town here, watch out for the large truck moving along slowly, in the outside lane, watering the palms and plants in the central median. Sometimes there are flashing lights. Sometimes there is a police patrol car to alert you.

Turn Signals

Not used much.

Slow Down Tactics

  • “Topes”:

The speed bumps that extend across the traffic lane.(In England known as “sleeping policemen”).  Official ones might be painted yellow to give you a chance to see them.  Might.  Also you will come across individual’s/local neighbourhood’s heavy duty rope laid down on the street.

  • “Negative Bump”:

A ditch left behind after public utilities repairs, or just the local neighbourhood’s way as it is easier than making a tope.

  • Potholes:

Everywhere, especially during the rainy season.  Some are worse than others, try and gauge their depths before they are filled with water.

  • “Boyos”: “Reductores” :

Semi circular metal, singly or in double rows.  Will make your teeth rattle.


Not in all towns, but certainly exist here, they are very similar to American “frontage roads”, run parallel to the main road, but slightly slower traffic looking for shops or services.  You have to get into the lateral on your right in order to cross the highway left at the lights. Generally. This system works amazingly well, preventing traffic jams on the main road, but it means you will need to get into the lateral well in advance of the lights where you want to cross the highway.  Do so earlier rather than later as otherwise you will go past the lights and your desired left turn.  If there is no lateral, then stay on the highway and go into the designated left hand turn lane.

Parking tickets

Further to “Dealing with the Police” above.

If you ignored the yellow paint on the kerbstone – put there for a reason – you can expect to have your licence plate removed – especially in Sayulita.  You then need to find the station to pay the fine to get them back – and not at weekends.  If there is a police officer there he might suggest it is easier to pay the fine to him and he will release your plates.  Here we go again –  it’s a bribe, “mordida”.  What he is suggesting will be far more than the actual fine.  Play the Mexican Stand Off game and ask for an official ticket.  Be polite!  In Bucerias with the new regime, take the ticket and pay officially.

Buses and Taxis

Yes they believe they own the road and drive accordingly.  Bus drivers  are manic as they race to the bus stops to get the passengers before their rivals (& to keep the bus fares as their salary) – and you are in their way.  Be advised they and the taxis have very powerful unions behind them.

Everyone has a local driving encounter experience…  you are in Mexico.

If you are in an accident, never move the vehicles to be considerate to prevent traffic jams, leave them right there.  Hopefully nobody is seriously injured.  Call your insurer/adjuster.  Do not admit liability.  Do not lose your temper.  You could end up in a holding cell pending liability agreement, likewise your vehicle could be impounded (at a daily charge pus all the costs).  And going off the scale for scarey – Mexicans are not obligated to have insurance.

Traffic Lights

Lovely invention but not all drivers believe in them.  A flashing amber is a challenge to get through it.  Look all around you before proceeding.  Sometimes a policeman is directing traffic even though the lights are working perfectly normally.  Obey his directions, not the lights!  Only fairly scarey.

Driving Laws

All pretty much the same, but mostly not enforced – although you might be more visible with your NOTB plates.  You are not allowed to drink and drive at the same time, or to be over the limit; nor to drive and talk on your cellphone; nor to not have a seatbelt on; nor to not to have a motorbike helmet on, etc. Wake up!  Mexico is not the lawless Wild West anymore !

With grateful acknowledgement for assistance with the facts to Yucalandia and Rollybrook (deceased, but in our thanks for ever).

Information correct as at 13 August 2015.  If you encounter differently, please: Contact Us

Disclaimer: This information is not meant as legal advice. It is for educational and informational purposes only. Government policies vary between States and offices, and Mexican Government officials have broad discretion in how they individually enforce policies, so, your personal experiences may vary. See a professional for advice on important issues.





Here’s some road signs with their meanings:




Landslide Area


Fresh Asphalt






Winding road




Railroad Crossing


“Estacionamiento” Parking allowed


Stay in right lane

CIRCLE WITH 2 CARS WITH superimposed “X”

Don’t pass


Keep right


Cross roads.


Pedestrian crossing.






Green sign to downtown




Traffic direction. Usually meaning one way but not always


Keep the highway clean


Dim your lights


Usually with an arrow for the direction, it means at all times


Toll road




Reduce your speed


Dangerous intersection





FIN DE (whatever)

End of (whatever)


Use engine brakes (for heavy trucks)




Loose gravel.


Keep your distance


Men/machines working.


Customs inspection.


Freeway, not a toll road.


Slow down.


Don’t cross the center line.


 “Don’t leave stones on the pavement.” Mexican drivers build cairns of rocks in the lane to alert approaching vehicles that a car cannot be moved from the right of way.


This is not a high speed highway.

NO HAY PASORoad closed NO MALTRATE LOS SENALESDon’t mistreat the signs NO MANEJA CANSADODon’t drive when tired NO REBASE CON RAYA CONTINUADo not pass with solid line in roadway


No “U” turn


Obey the signs


Bus stop


Full stop


Nearing a town




Narrow bridge


Temporary bridge


Military check point


Slippery in rain and fog


Federal inspection


Stop lights


If you drink don’t drive


Stay in one lane


Lane in repair


Traffic, usually with an arrow


One by one at crossroads


One lane traffic ahead


Use your seatbelt


Dip or fjord




Have a safe trip