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Feb 15, 2017
Travel to Mexico
Arizonans are lucky to live so close to Mexico, an enchanting country that’s filled with diverse experiences for travelers.
Mexico boasts cultural festivals, heritage areas, colonial towns, pre-Colombian history such as Mayan and Aztec ruins, and much more. Mexico has many varied landscapes such as beaches, deserts, and rainforests, and is the fourth most bio-diverse place in the world. Tourists can take advantage of the great beaches, archeological zones, music, art, food, and cultural experiences.
Before you go, read on for our tips on staying safe while abroad, and make sure you also understand the rules and requirements for crossing the border.
Driving to Sonora by Car
Visitors to Sonora are able to drive directly to such cities as Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), Guaymas (San Carlos), Hermosillo, Kino Bay, Magdalena, and Santa Ana without obtaining a car permit and paying the federal vehicle registry fee. Motorists are required to have proof of US citizenship, a valid driver’s license, and vehicle registration.
For travelers going to all border cities, no immigration visa is required. Effective January 2011, if you are traveling to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) an FMM immigration visa is required. The FMM visa is available at the Lukeville-Sonoyta Port of Entry. If traveling beyond 21 kilometers south, an immigration permit is required. This can be obtained at the customs checkpoints by presenting a valid passport.
Immediately upon crossing the border, your car will go through a Mexican checkpoint – simply go over the speed bumps. Two signals will alert you on what to do next: you will either get a green light to pass through without inspection, or a red light, which means you will need to pull over to have your car and belongings inspected by a Mexican customs official.
Don’t be intimidated: these officers are simply checking to make sure that you aren’t bringing in items that are not allowed, or cannot be imported duty free.
Toll roads in Mexico are maintained by the government, and often have excellent traffic flow. If you plan on taking a toll road (there are warning signs), bring pesos with you. To help calculate how much it will cost for your vehicle to get from point a to point b, visit this website.
Mexican Car Insurance
Mexico only recognizes vehicle insurance issued by Mexican businesses. You can buy short-term coverage from roadside businesses on the way to Mexico (there are many in on-the-border cities), or in advance. More information is available at Visita Sonora.
If You Have an Auto Accident
If you have an auto accident, notify the authorities immediately by calling toll-free 01-800-440-3690. If you have a temporary importation permit for the vehicle, you must notify the nearest customs office about the accident, in writing, within five days. A notification or a copy of the accident report is required by the office. If your vehicle is stolen, report it to the police by dialing 066 from any phone in Sonora.
Roadside Assistance: The Green Angels
The Green Angels (Angeles Verdes), Mexico’s National Road Emergency Services, patrol fixed sections of major highways daily from dawn to sunset. The bilingual drivers, in green vehicles, provide mechanical assistance, towing, and first aid. Their services are free, but there is a charge for parts, fuel, and lubricants; tips are appreciated.
Dial 078 from any phone in Sonora to contact the Green Angels. If you are unable to contact them, pull off the road and lift the hood of your vehicle.
Illegal behaviors include: drinking in public; fighting; public nudity; disturbing the peace; possession and use of firearms or ammunition (guns are illegal in Mexico); possession, use or being under the influence of drugs; drunk driving; causing an auto accident during which someone is injured; and underage drinking (the legal drinking age in Mexico is 18). If you are arrested, call your country’s consulate as soon as possible.
For More Information
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Learn more about necessary documents and information on visiting Mexico from Arizona.