Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Importing a Car to Baja

For penance for my lack of recent posts I thought I would tackle this bear of a question. Reader beware - it is complicated and fairly confusing, especially as things most likely will be changing once again in the new year (January, 2009). Here goes...

Baja is a Free Trade Zone. You do not need a permit or to post a bond when entering the Peninsula by car. When entering the mainland these items are needed, but Baja is exempt from the regulations. If you need detailed information on importing a car to the mainland, please read Question #2 on this page: Viva La Baja! Questions & Answers.

Not having to post a bond or acquire a permit is great for those taking trips, staying for a few months, etc. but what about those folks who move permanently and want to import their U.S. vehicle so as to register as a Mexican car and therefore not have to maintain current vehicle registration and license from the U.S.? Therein lies the rub, so to speak.

As of March 2nd, 2008 the Mexican government excluded all vehicles for import other than year 1998 models. Calderon may turn back this regulation and allow imports again of vehicles 10 years and older via NAFTA original agreement but no one can say that will happen for sure. NAFTA agreement is scheduled to go into effect in the new year (January, 2009). Here is what NAFTA delineates:

"Only vehicles 10 years and older will be allowed in initially. Those age restrictions will gradually be reduced until 2019, when the used-car market will be completely open."

So maybe after the first of the year vehicles other than solely 1998 models will be available for import as older models are allowed back in - but there is no guarantee, Calderon can do as he chooses... 2019 may see an open market or may not.

Next blog entry: How to maintain car registration in the U.S. when living in Baja.

Molly, author of Viva La Baja! Relocation Guide to the Baja California Peninsula, available to order at

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