As of March 2016, a new window for nationalizing foreign plated cars in Mexico has opened up through a legal “amparo” (injunction).
Every foreign plated vehicle once nationalized appears on REPUVE, a database of 33 million Mexican vehicles. If the nationalization process is done legally, a “factura” (fiscal receipt) is issued which is then used to register and plate your vehicle in the state in which you reside.
There is a new amparo this month, March 2016, with the ability to nationalize NAFTA and non-NAFTA vehicles 2011 and older. This includes classics, diesels, motorcycles, RV’s, trailers, cars and trucks. This is the only legal non-NAFTA vehicle process in all of Mexico.
If anyone offers to nationalize a vehicle and the process is to be completed within days and / or it includes state plates the process has a 100% chance of being illegal. If you want to check out such a process go and ask your local SAT / Aduana office if it is legal.
This is a totally legal process meeting all Mexican Customs requirements as defined by amparos (injunctions).
To begin a person emails their vehicle’s VIN#, current location in Mexico and original registration information. There is no control over the time it will take to finalize the nationalization process. This means the process can take some time.
Aduana (Mexican customs) is cautious as others have tried to fraudulently legalize cars that had been seized or cars that were not theirs or cars not even in Mexico. This is another reason for the process being slow. This will also mean Aduana requires a photo indicating your vehicle is in Mexico.
A VIN starting with a number is NAFTA made. A VIN starting with a letter is non-NAFTA. Both NAFTA and non-NAFTA made vehicles, Canadian or American registered, 2011 and older can be nationalized.
The cost of the nationalization process depends on the vehicle’s year, make and model. Newer luxury vehicles will have a higher importation cost. The cost includes all fees for nationalizing, including the cost to courier the factura (original receipt) and pedimento (customs import application) which are needed to register the vehicle locally.
No long distance driving is required. You save on stress, gasoline, tolls, accommodations, meals, finding a reputable broker, vehicle inspection, numerous forms etc. You also save in not having to obtain a Returno Seguro if you are a Permanent Resident. That document allows you 5 days to get your car to the border as otherwise for a Permanent Resident a foreign plated vehicle is illegal.
If you wish to remove your car permit from Aduana’s database, once the car is nationalized and you have state plates you may go to your nearest Aduana office. Take with you, two copies of: your pedimento, factura, the documents you obtained when you received your car permit, the documents you received from the state (Rentas) when you received your state plates and registration. You will not get back your deposit but you can then bring in another car on a TIP (Temporary Import Permit) if not a Permanent Resident. You are allowed to nationalize 5 cars.
To obtain your state plates registration you take your factura and pedimento plus whatever else the office wants to their local license office (Rentas). In some states you receive plates same day and others can take longer. In Guanajuato state it is a two-step process involving an initial visit to Rentas for an inspection and making an appointment. This can take 2 hours. You plates and registration will be ready in about an hour.
A little history… prior to September 2014 extensive fraud was discovered in the nationalizing process. Up to 50,000 cars a month were being nationalized. Most were for commercial operators and only a small percentage for individuals. Cars too new, cars which were Non-NAFTA, cars that had been stolen were being nationalized with the help of brokers, Aduana employees, judges, politicians, etc.
In September 2014, Aduana stopped all nationalizing. Since starting again in early summer 2015, some NAFTA made cars have been allowed to be nationalized at the border. When nationalizing at the border one first exports from the US through CBP (US Customs and Border Protection) to check if car not stolen, who is rightful owner and all documents truly represent car presented. Canada has no equivalent so Canadian cars at this time can not be nationalized at the border.