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Foreigners Registering a Vehicle in Mexico

There is a lot of advice out there about foreigners buying a vehicle in Mexico, including stories about tourists purchasing and registering cars in their name or registering the vehicle in a Mexican Nationals name. Neither of these options is a secure choice and may put your vehicle at risk.

“Vehicles should only be registered by foreigners holding a residence visa”

You should obtain a Temporary or Permanent Visa before buying and registering a vehicle as you will be required to provide a CURP number at some point, which you receive from having a Resident Visa.

In other incidents you may hear of the car dealer providing tourists with a generic RFC in order to make the sale, again we recommend you complete your immigration process and receive a valid CURP so then after you can request an RFC. Depending on the State the CURP should only be assigned through your residency and issued by INM Instituto Nacional de Migración, in person or online or by Registro Civil.  In Playa del Carmen INM issues the CURP.

If you are in the market for a used car and find one you are interested in buying be sure the seller can provide the original factura (receipt) of the car, you will need this receipt in order to register the car. If the seller does not have the original receipt, you should move on and find a different vehicle.

The seller should provide tax receipts for previous years if the seller does not have them you would have to go to the licensing center and pay for a print out of all the past receipts and pay the balance owed.

Preparing to Purchase and Register a Vehicle:

  • Make sure the vehicle is not recorded as stolen by entering the vehicle’s information into this government website; https://www.repuve.gob.mx/repuve
  • Get recommendations for a reliable mechanic to inspect the car before you agree to purchase it, it is very inexpensive and can save you a lot of grief down the road.
  • The original invoice of the vehicle with the names and signatures of the previous owners written on the back, attaching a copy of their identification.
  • Check the VIN and the registration to ensure it matches.  
  • Ask for proof that the seller has authority to sell the vehicle.
  • Tax receipts from previous years when the Tenencia was in effect, if the tax is outstanding, you will need to pay it before registering the vehicle.
  • Before you pay for the car, the seller should attend the Registration office with you to do the transfer of ownership. The Playa del Carmen office is located at 15th Ave., at 1st Street Sur.
  • Bring original and copy of your passport, residence visa,
  • Proof of address, a utility bill, title deed, or rental contract.
  • CURP Clave Única de Registro de Población (Unique Population Registry Code).
  • Buy insurance; it is mandatory to have liability insurance for your vehicle. Choose a policy which includes a bail bond and legal representation in the case of an accident and injury. If you are in a serious accident you will be detained, be sure to purchase insurance from a broker who is available if you need assistance.
  • It is essential to consider that the vehicle registration tax is annual, and the change of license plates is made every 3 years, depending on the year of change of plates, the payment must be made.

Buying a new car at the dealer may be a less complicated option, with the benefits of a new car warranty, guaranteed to be free of liens and some car dealers have been known to do the registration for you for a fee.

If you are interested in learning more about the residency process in Mexico or are ready to apply for your Mexican residency, please contact Mexlaw’s Immigration Services Department today: contact@mexlaw.com