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Hi everyone. I am new to the boards and have a car related question. I know there are a bunch of existing threads, but I haven’t really found what I am looking for. I also have a series of somewhat specific questions.

I am working on a research project in Xalapa and it looks like I will be staying here for well over a year. I am a graduate student and have a FM3 visa. In December when I go home for Christmas I am thinking of returning in my car, driving all the way down here from California.

Question 1: Although I know my CA driver’s license is valid, is it only valid for a certain time frame or would it be advisable to get a Mexican driver’s license?

Question 2: What is the actual process of ‘registering’ my car here in Mexico, and would I need to do it in the first town where I cross the border? Where? Do I only need to pass through customs?

Question 3: What would be the best border town to cross in? I heard that Matamoros would be a good crossing and safer than Ciudad Juarez.

Question 4: I would prefer getting Mexican license plates so that my car would stand out less, is this recommendable?

Thanks beforehand for the advice, sorry if this is very repetitive and has already been answered.
 

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Question 1: Although I know my CA driver’s license is valid, is it only valid for a certain time frame or would it be advisable to get a Mexican driver’s license?

Question 2: What is the actual process of ‘registering’ my car here in Mexico, and would I need to do it in the first town where I cross the border? Where? Do I only need to pass through customs?

Question 3: What would be the best border town to cross in? I heard that Matamoros would be a good crossing and safer than Ciudad Juarez.

Question 4: I would prefer getting Mexican license plates so that my car would stand out less, is this recommendable?
I got my licence renewed 5 months early this year by showing the DMV my FM3 and telling them I'd be in Mexico on the renewal date (Washington State)

You usually get your temporary import papers and sticker at KM21 but some crossings may have offices at the border. I always use TJ or Nogales. Be sure to get your FM3 stamped out and in.

You can't get Mexican plates without importing the car (costly). You would then need different insurance (costly). There are so many Calif plates in Mexico that that alone will not make you stand out.
 

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Welcome Allyo,
Sparks has answered most of your questions and I'm sure you will have no difficulties in Mexico. Any current driver's license is all you need, along with the registration/title of your car in your own name, matching the name on your license and major credit card for the temporary importation bond.
Yes, they are much more strict now about having your FM3 stamped in and out, so I'll double that recommendation. Also, if you should drive your car out of Mexico during your stay, and of course at the end, be very sure to have 'aduana' remove the 'importada temporal' sticker and give you a receipt to keep......forever. It is no longer economically practical to even attempt permanent importation of most vehicles to Mexico, so keep your present registration current in your home state and you will be just fine.
 
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