--that State Department Site is enough to make anyone NOT want to travel in Mexico----so here are some of the basics.
1. Mexico is NOT a dangerous place to travel. Just ask the thousands of snowbirds who are there every year.
A. Most border cities you do not want to stay-in and the big cities are subject to crime the same as in any big city anywhere.
B. Just don't leave your common sense at the border.
C. If you have a problem, such as a break-down, the Mexican people are great at stopping to help.
D. Do not drive at night because of possible road conditions and livestock on the road, but there are not banditos lurking around every corner in the dark seeking out gringos driving at night.
E. Try to cross at the smaller border crossings---they are much easier and less crowded.
2. You need a tourist visa, --- unless you are going to be there for less than 72 hours in the northern part of Baja, or the Northern part of the state of Sonora.
A. The visa costs around $28.00 now, and is good for 180 days (Be sure the immigration official puts in 180 days. It is good for multiple entry unless you fly home, then they collect it. The visa can be obtained at the immigration offices at the border---you obtain the visa and then pay at Banercito---a special bank that is at the border. You can also obtain the visa at a Mexican Consulate or at places like the Baja Discover Club, but you will still need to have it stamped by immigration at the border.
B. To get the visa, you will need proof of citizenship and a photo ID. The easiest thing is a drivers license
and a passport---besides, the US is going to start requiring a passport for re-entry by Jan, 2007 (That date keeps changing) However, you can one following with your photo ID:
Original or certified birth certificate
Consular Report of Birth Abroad
Certificate of Citizenship
Valid types of photo ID:
Canadians may present the Canadian ID Card
3. Temporary Vehicle Permit -- (Not required for all of Baja nor for the Northern Part of the state of Sonora) This is obtained at the border at the Banjercito and you will need,
A. Your registration
for your tow vehicle and your trailer, and we usually carry a copy of our "Pink Slip" the title
. The only time we needed the original title
was going into Guatemala.
B. If your registration
, like in California, shows that there is a lien holder, you will need a letter from the lien holder giving you permission to travel in Mexico. This can be a problem with some banks, but not all. On other forums there have been great discussions regarding this---some states don't show a lien holder, and I understand that that is also true for Canada??? In that case, just don't mention a lien holder.
C. You also need the originals and copies of your driver's license
, tourist visa, and a credit card. We always have copies ready, because sometimes they charge for copies, or the copy machine is broken.
D. This will cost you about $30---they charge your credit card. Again, be sure you get 180 days.
E. They will give you papers and a sticker you put in your windshield---you must return this when you leave Mexico.
4. Insurance----there are some US insurance companies that cover a small part of Mexico, but most do not. You MUST obtain Mexican insurance for ANYWHERE in Mexico
A. If you are only going for a few days, you can buy insurance near the border from many places, like Sanborns, or Oscar Padillas. They charge according to the value of your car and your trailer---you name the value.
B. If you are going for an extended time period, you are better off to obtain insurance for 6 months or a year.
C. Our favorite place for insurance is through the Baja Discover Club in San Diego. www.bajadiscover.com
. You can obtain the insurance on line---yes, there is a membership fee. Example of cost and coverage. For our Tundra and our Casita
, it cost us about $335.00 for one year for all of Baja and the northern states of the Mainland. But when we extended it to include all of Mexico, it was a little over $700.00. Remember, we stated the value. Also, this policy says that within that year, you will not be in Mexico any more than 90 days---but as they will tell you, who is counting. Many snowbirds use this and are there for months!
5. If you have a dog, technically you are supposed to have a health certificate. The only time we have been asked for one was returning to Mexico from Guatemala. But, DO carry all shot records for the US. Again, you probably will not be asked, but have them just in case.
6. If you are taking a trailer, the "Bible" for Mexico is the Camping in Mexico book written by Frank and Teri Church---they also have a separate one for Baja. But, be prepared that things in Mexico can change---be flexible.
7. Buy a travel guide like the Lonely Planet series --- full of places to see, and basic history and culture and some very basic Spanish phrases. Learn a few words, the Mexican people are so polite and love it when you try to speak just a little of their language----it is a very polite culture---por favor (please) and gracias are most important.
8. While there are some "fancy" beach RV parks, do not take your same expectations with you.
9. If you avoid all street vendors, you will miss out on some of the best and cheapest food. Follow the locals and see where they eat.
Opps, this has gone beyond border requirements. But as always, I am more than happy to answer any questions I can about travel in Mexico----It is a great place to travel. If you have not been, and you have questions, please e-mail me. No, I don't work for the Mexican government tourist agency, but maybe I should.
On edit---DON'T even think about taking a gun into Mexico---they are very serious about that. Also, don't fear the army stops. They are a bunch of kids for the most part, and we just have fun with them. They love our little "bravo" dog Maggie, who barks and growls at them. They may want to look in the trailer, but it is more curiosity than anything. Being polite, and a smile are all you need.
A beautiful camping spot in Baja and the culture of the mainland