Are you planning to travel to Mexico? The land south of the border shares common bonds with the United States. Cross-border travel remains an important bedrock of both countries’ economic development. Traveling in Mexico can provide Americans with one of a kind cultural experiences.
But, to travel internationally, you have to make preparations to protect yourself. Preparation is especially important if you plan to drive across the international border. When you drive in Mexico, you expose your vehicle to risks that you may not encounter every day. Likewise, you face unique personal risks during your on-road excursions as well.
If you plan a road trip to Mexico, take the time to get ready beforehand. Doing so can improve your personal risks when you hit the pavement.
1. Get Your Car Ready
During any road trip, you will likely use your vehicle a lot more than normal. This could subject your vehicle to excessive strains it may not encounter every day. This might increase your risks for breakdowns. You don’t want this to happen anywhere, but not least in a foreign country where you may not be familiar with local services.
Before leaving on your trip, have your car serviced by a licensed mechanic. They can change your oil, rotate your tires and do other spot maintenance as needed. They may even be able to point out small problems to keep an eye on while you travel. Maintenance can increase your safety while also decreasing the chances that you experience damage not covered by car insurance.
2. Get Mexican Auto Insurance
Many drivers think that if they have active auto insurance, they have coverage for their trip. This is not true. Neither Mexico nor its federal states recognize American auto insurance policies. Furthermore, the Mexican government requires most drivers to carry auto insurance. Drivers without insurance in Mexico could face penalties, including jail time.
Therefore, it’s usually best to get a Mexican auto insurance policy to drive in that country. It is much safer than taking the risk of going without coverage. Multiple American agencies work with licensed Mexican insurers to issue policies to Americans. These policies usually have liability, collision and other coverage like U.S. policies. However, they meet Mexican insurance rules and design requirements.
3. Have Your Travel Documents in Order
Travel to Mexico is international travel. Therefore, most Americans will enter a country where they do not have citizenship. Therefore, they are foreign nationals. International travel requires verification that you have the permission to enter a country.
Therefore, make sure you carry with you documents related to your citizenship. American citizens usually should take along their passports and any visas required by the State Department or the Mexican government. Mexican citizens or dual citizens likely need different verification to cross the border.
Drivers, on the other hand, face unique hurdles as well. You may need to obtain certain special permission to bring your U.S. vehicle into Mexico. You might have to get a vehicle import visa, which you should keep in your car at all times.
Check with the State Department, the Mexican Embassy or another governmental organization to determine the documentation you need to enter Mexico.
4. Familiarize Yourself with Mexican Driving Practices
Though the U.S. and Mexico have similar characteristics, Mexico is still a foreign country. Driving laws, culture and even standard practices may vary considerably. For example, sometimes, Mexican driving authorities do not rigorously enforce traffic laws. This may lead to a higher risk for accidents. Other elements, such as a prevalence of left-hand road exits and turnarounds, may mean you encounter driving situations with which you are not familiar.
Before you head south, take the time to learn about what driving conditions you might expect. This can help you prepare to confront risks with care.
5. Know How to Stay Safe
Generally, Mexico provides safe driving conditions for foreign travelers. However, not all places in Mexico are safe, both for drivers and tourists in general. Therefore, drivers should always know how to avoid unsafe areas.
- Familiarize yourself with State Department recommendations for travel in Mexico. The U.S. and Mexico recommend that Americans avoid certain areas due to threats of civil trouble.
- Secure your personal belongings at all times. You should always keep your identification, insurance verification and other paperwork under lock.
- Keep an eye on your vehicle whenever you use it. Always lock the car, and never drive to areas where there is a high risk of car theft. It is always a good idea to keep your personal belongings out of sight in your car.
- Always keep aware of other drivers, and drive with extra caution. Remember, you may not be familiar with the area, so extra prudence is always advisable.
So, before you go, contact your auto insurance agent. They may be able to help you find a Mexican auto policy to protect you when you travel. Get strong coverage, then be careful to follow the rules of the road.
Need Mexican auto insurance? Call MexBound at (619) 535-8777 for a fast, free policy quote.