On the surface this may seem like something of a very straightforward thread on the expat forum but in reality it has stirred up a hornet’s nest of potential problems, issues and liabilities. In essence the thread has been started by a couple in the US who are looking to acquire a vehicle in Mexico which is not available or legally accepted by the US authorities. While the vehicle in question is perfectly legal in Mexico, and many other countries around the world, the thread revolves around usage in the US and Mexico and registration in Mexico.
Some of the issues on the thread include:-
Actual purchase of a vehicle in Mexico
As you would expect when looking to acquire a vehicle in a foreign land, you need to be able to supply both immigration papers, to show you are a legal visitor, as well as residency papers to show that you actually live in the country. This would appear to be very straightforward in Mexico although there are some suggestions that it can take up to 4 hours to fully register a vehicle with the national authorities.
Interestingly nobody has brought up the subject of finance on the thread as there could be potential money laundering issues, depending upon where the money is coming from. In this particular instance everything seems fairly straightforward with a US couple looking to acquire a Mexican vehicle, registered the vehicle in Mexico and use it to travel up and down between the US and Mexico to their holiday home – the couple in question are residents of the US.
Potential added costs when buying a second-hand vehicle
When you are acquiring a second-hand vehicle in a foreign land, such as Mexico, it is vital that you ensure that you are actually dealing with the owner of the vehicle and there are no taxes, fines or other potential payments outstanding on the vehicle as you will be liable to these from the moment you actually purchase the vehicle and register it in your name.
There is a suggestion that you would be safer dealing with recognised garages and car dealers in Mexico where full services are available for both new and second-hand cars and they can take you through the process of registering your vehicle. This may seem like a fairly simple process, but it is very easy to be duped and end up with a potentially expensive vehicle.
When you register a vehicle in a foreign land you need to take out insurance in that country using the relevant paperwork issued on purchase. As long as you have a place of residence and the correct immigration paperwork in place there should be no issues with gaining full insurance cover as you would in your homeland. However, if you are looking to travel, as this couple are, between Mexico and the US there is the added requirement to ensure your vehicle is covered on US roads.
Interestingly, the vehicle in question on this post is not recognised in the US and it is not possible to register the vehicle in the US. As a consequence traditional insurance cover from US insurers would be difficult to say the least and there is a suggestion that simple liability cover would be required when using such a vehicle on US roads. While many of the posters on the thread suggest acquiring your US insurance while nearing the border between Mexico and the US, it may be simpler to obtain the relevant insurance cover from your Mexican insurer.
Servicing your vehicle
In this particular example the Mexican vehicle is not recognised in the US and it is therefore highly unlikely you will be able to obtain “spare parts” if repairs are required in the US. It is also highly unlikely that any garage in the US would agree to work on a vehicle which is effectively illegal in the country which could add substantially to the maintenance cost of your vehicle.
However, if the couple in question are regularly travelling between Mexico and the US this may not be a significant issue in this particular instance.
Attempting to import an illegal vehicle
There are a number of comments on the thread with regards to potentially acquiring a vehicle which is illegal in the US and bringing it into the US. Firstly, you would not be able to obtain traditional insurance cover for the vehicle from a US company and secondly it is highly likely that the police in your area would at some point realise you are out with your 30 day limit for retaining the vehicle in the country. The authorities would then be within their rights to ask you to remove the vehicle from your home country, which can not only be expensive but could potentially limit your use of the vehicle in the future.
No two markets are ever the same
As with many issues regarding travel overseas and holiday homes, no two markets are ever the same which is perfectly illustrated on this thread with regards to the car industry. Those looking to acquire vehicles which are effectively illegal in the US, in overseas markets and then import them into the US are taking a big chance and they could get into serious trouble with the authorities.
Unless you do your homework prior to looking overseas for vehicles, properties or any other potential purchases you put yourself at risk of breaking the law and potentially enormous charges.
Interestingly, what on the surface looks like a very simple and straightforward thread about acquiring a vehicle in Mexico and using it in the US has turned into much more. Many people may not be aware that there are significantly different regulations between different markets, even in the car industry, and there are many issues which need to be considered.
Unless you are fully aware of the laws and regulations in the country of purchase and your homeland, there is the potential to not only break the law but also encounter significant ongoing expenses. Those looking to take shortcuts are taking massive chances and could end up in serious trouble with the authorities.