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7 tips for driving in Mexico from AAA Arizona

Posted: 4:53 AM, Nov 07, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-07 11:53:14Z

Not sure what to expect on your drive to Mexico? Consider this your road trip checklist. As a travel resource, AAA offers tips to ensure you’re well equipped for the journey.

  1. Get insurance before you go: Mexico auto insurance is required for all vehicles, including rentals. You can buy insurance at the border, or avoid the long lines by buying it in advance online at AAA.com . AAA members save 15 percent on policy purchases.
  2. Bring the right documents: Everyone in the car should have his or her passport card or book. Also make sure your driver’s license is up to date, and pack your vehicle insurance in the car with you. If you’re staying in Mexico for more than 72 hours or traveling more than 15 miles beyond the border, you’ll need to obtain an entry permit, or Forma Migratoria Multiple. You can get entry permits at the border immigration office. For more information on the process, or to fill out the permit form online, visit the  Mexican National Institute of Migration’s website .
  3. Prepare for lines: If you need to arrive at your destination at a specific time, it’s best to leave the day prior, as there’s no surefire way to predict how long you’ll have to wait at the border.
  4. Leasing or renting your vehicle? Did you know many lenders and rental car companies have clauses in their contracts that prohibit driving your leased or rented vehicle out of the country? Contact your lender to learn their policies and obtain a notarized letter of permission before your trip.
  5. Watch your speedometer and know the rules: Mexico’s traffic laws differ from ours, and you can be taken to jail for even minor traffic infractions. It’s illegal in Mexico to use a mobile device while driving, drive through a yellow light, or drive a vehicle without the owner inside.
  6. Know who to call in an emergency: If you need roadside assistance in Mexico, you can reach the Green Angels, or “Angeles Verdes,” by calling 078. These bilingual drivers offer medical first aid and help with vehicle repair.
  7. Take inventory of your souvenirs: When packing up the car take an inventory of who’s packed what, and consider keeping a list of the items (especially if you’re driving people you don’t know very well). All articles you’ve acquired in Mexico must be declared, but there’s an $800 exemption for gifts and personal articles, including one liter of alcoholic beverages per person over 21 every 30 days. Most fruits, including oranges and apples, are prohibited. Check out the  U.S. Customs and Border Protection site  for detailed information on prohibited and permissible items.

As a travel resource, AAA offers a variety of travel tips and information. Learn more at highroads.az.aaa.com .