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Drive to Mexico with just a drivers license?
May 9, 2008 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Can I drive in and out of Mexico with just my drivers license? I'm visiting a friend in California and we thought we might drive down to Mexico for the day. However, I have heard that the entry/exit rules have changed this year and you can no longer make the trip with just your drivers license. Is this true? Has anyone tried this in the last month or so? Are they adamant about this or is it strongly suggested but not required? If I manage to get into Mexico with only my DL will I be able to get back out?
posted by eas98 to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
 
Travel by land or sea
Those traveling by land or sea must present two forms of valid identification such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate and a driver's license or other identification issued by a state or official agency. These travelers will not be required to present a passport until June 1, 2009, and there is a PASS card (Passport card) in the works that will be credit-card sized and cost less than a passport, which will allow travel in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.


(reference)
posted by sharkfu at 8:40 AM on May 9, 2008


The official US government word on the subject.
posted by mikeh at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2008


I drove into Mexico in early March from Arizona and was asked for my passport for the first time since I started travelling there regularly about a year and a half ago (My parents own a condo there. I'm not a drug mule.)
I think the new rules went into effect January 1st. A friend who was travelling with me had only her New York driver's license and the officers didn't give her a hard time but YMMV. They did remind her of the new rules, though.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 8:47 AM on May 9, 2008


Am I correct that U.S. auto insurance policies are not valid in Mexico?
posted by gimonca at 9:04 AM on May 9, 2008


Get a passport. No reason not to.

And your car insurance is almost certainly not valid there. Stop at the border and get a policy that covers you during your trip. It will run you (if I remember correctly) like $30.
posted by charlesv at 9:11 AM on May 9, 2008


In response to sharkfu:

I appreciate the response. As I said, all I have with me is my drivers license however. I don't have two forms of identification. I'm aware that the new requirements state two forms of ID, I just need to understand if they are currently enforcing that. I'd prefer not to make the three hour drive just to be turned around at the border.
posted by eas98 at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2008


@gimonca:

I have a passport...in Miami. I am in California. I have no way to get my passport or any other form of identification in the next few hours..thus the question.
posted by eas98 at 9:15 AM on May 9, 2008


Can I drive in and out of Mexico with just my drivers license?

Not anymore, according to the State Department's WHTI.

Today, you can cross the land border between the US and Mexico with your Drivers License and birth certificate.
posted by toxic at 9:15 AM on May 9, 2008


Am I correct that U.S. auto insurance policies are not valid in Mexico?

Yes. If you're worried that something will happen. You can buy Mexican auto insurance at any number of places on the way to the border ... and it's cheap.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2008


Ugh...Put a comma between that second and third statement.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:30 AM on May 9, 2008


eas98: "In response to sharkfu:

I appreciate the response. As I said, all I have with me is my drivers license however. I don't have two forms of identification. I'm aware that the new requirements state two forms of ID, I just need to understand if they are currently enforcing that. I'd prefer not to make the three hour drive just to be turned around at the border.
"

My personal experience post-9/11 for travel and security is that the requirements are the requirements and there's very little wiggle room or lenience on these matters. You might be able to get across the border into Mexico, but do you really want to risk being stranded there?

I wouldn't risk it. And I still wouldn't risk it even if someone random on the internet said they happened to get a customs agent that cut them some slack.
posted by sharkfu at 11:24 AM on May 9, 2008


How do I put this... Do you "look" American in the whitebread sense? If you do, they'll let you in after asking you an extended set of questions to verify you're a citizen, scold you for not following the rules, and give you a sheet spelling out the new rules. It will also be helpful that you have a non-California license as it will help your case of "not knowing" about it. A white guy I know did this a few weeks ago. A Latino -- a US-born dude of Mexican heritage - friend got asked a lot more questions but was let back in. From what I understand the new law does not allow the Border Patrol guys to actually refuse your entry into the United States over land from Canada or Mexico. It says right on the sheet that not having the birth certificate (or passport) will delay your entry into the US. If you have a "foreign" accent or look "foreign" you'll have a longer delay than a white guy from St.Paul.

It should also be said the same rules apply if you park on the California side and walk into Mexico and back.
posted by birdherder at 11:33 AM on May 9, 2008


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