Make sure to have Mexican car insurance
There are some rumors that if you’re involved in an accident in Mexico you risk going to jail there. That is true, but having Mexican car insurance will help you avoid such a situation. You need to at least have a civil liability insurance, used to cover you in case you cause some injury or damage.
Although some American insurance policies will cover you for physical damage, you must check with your carrier first that your insurance does that. But to be safer, you should get a six-month Mexican policy that costs about $150.
For rental cars, there are three types of insurance: Supplemental Liability Insurance, Personal Accident Insurance, and Loss Damage Waiver. The last one can be covered by your credit card but contact your credit card company to be sure of that.
When discussing documents it’s also useful to know that you have to be at least 25 years of age to rent a car in Mexico, and you need a valid credit card. The driving license that you have from your home country is accepted in Mexico.
Inspect the rental car
You will have to go and pick up your car and when you do so, the rental agent will be there to inspect it for any damage or mark that it has on it.
It’s wise to take a closer look yourself, to see if there are any issues with the car prior to you driving it. Make sure everything works well, including the wipers and the headlights and talk to the rental agent if you notice something suspicious.
Also, you should know that the car should have a spare tire and a jack in the trunk. Some unfortunate travelers had the inconvenience of being forced to pay for some damage that they haven’t done to the car. That’s why you should know how the car looks and works from the start. Even consider taking pictures of it if necessary so you can have proof of how it looked before you started driving it.
Documents needed to cross the border
If you’re planning on taking your own car and passing the border between the U.S. and Mexico, you will need an ID and a Mexico tourist card. You can use a valid passport, a state-issued enhanced driver’s license, trusted traveler cards, military IDs or native American IDs.
The Mexico tourist card is a form in which you state that your stay in Mexico is for traveling purposes and you will be visiting the country for no more than 180 days. You fill it in at the border when you enter Mexico. They also attach a departure card to it and you will use that when going back to the U.S. You are expected to carry this card with you at all times while visiting.
What to do when crossing the border
When going from the U.S. to Mexico pay attention to the light above your lane. If it’s green you can go on, if it’s red you will be redirected to an area where you will be asked to park. You will then have a Mexican customs official ask you different questions to make sure your documents are fine and you’re not transporting something illegal. In some cases, he or she may search your car.
Crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S. is a similar process. A customs official will be standing on the side of the lane and will signal you to stop. He or she will then ask you about your documents and what you’re transporting. If you’re carrying nothing illegal you should have no worries. They will sometimes search your car.