Car Registration in Mexico

It occurred to me that other people might like to hear about registering a car in Mexico.  So this is not so much a personal account as it is more informative. Well, OK, it is my personal account of what happened to us.
When traveling to Mexico in a car, you should register it.  At the same place where you get your six-month visa, you register your car.  It costs about $36 for a six-month permit.  That is, if you use a credit card to pay for it.  The credit card must be in the name of the person the car is registered to. If you don’t have a credit card, you may pay cash – $335 or so. You receive a holographic sticker for your windshield.
The car must be returned within the six-month period.  To the border.  No matter how far away you may be. An official told us that we could just bring the registration papers to the border, but that is evidently not true.  You must return the car to the border to cancel the permission, or to renew the permission. 
Each person may only get a temporary permission for one car.  This created a problem for us.  We brought our  PT Cruiser because we were moving here.  We brought it with us with some equipment in it.  We returned to California, and then we drove here in October in our Mercedes. The result was that we each had a car with a temporary permission. So when after we made our major move to our house in Mexico and returned to our house in California we planned to bring our big old Ford Econoline box van to Mexico as well, loaded with household goods.
When we tried to get a permit for it, we found that we really couldn’t get another temporary permit because we each already had one.
One option was to cancel one permit.  That was not possible because we did not have either car here.  The other option was to register the van permanently as a Mexican vehicle.
There are places on the US side of the border to register automobiles for Mexico.  We asked about doing that, and were told that our old van was just too odd – it din’t really fit into any of the regular categories for registration. So we came to the Mexican side to register it, and we arrived on the afternoon of December 31st.  We went to the car registration/visa place, but no one there could do it because of its oddness. 
We went to the visa/registration place but no one there could help us.  They sent us back to the border to register the van. The building there was closed. Chon asked a worker outside the building and he called someone on his radio.                                                                                                                                           
So here’s what happened:
* a youngish man showed up in his pickup and told us that it wouldn’t be possible to register the car that day, because it takes a while to get the paperwork done
* we followed him to a hotel, not too far from the border
* we gave him the registration information and the money required for the Mexican papers, and got a room
* the man gave us his phone number and left, saying that he would try very hard to get the papers by the next day, but since that day was New Year’s Eve, the offices would close at 2 p.m.
* on Friday he came and said that he would surely get the papers on Monday morning
* we waited Saturday
* we waited Sunday
* on Monday he came and said the papers weren’t ready, and paid for one night
* Tuesday he didn’t come, but on the phone he said that he’s 99% sure we will get the papers tomorrow. He also said that the money has been accepted, and there seems to be no obstacle to the registration
Now – you mqy wonder why it would be worth $1000 to register a funky, big, twenty-seven-year old truck in Mexico.
We think the truck is probably worth more in Mexico for its size and commercial possibilities.  Without Mexican papers it is worth very little.  Several people have been interested in buying our Mercedes, but got UNinterested when they found that does not have a Mexican registration. Mexico is no longer like the good/bad old days when you could get just about anything done if you knew the right people and had enough money.
It really does make sense that there could be no instant service for an undertaking like this. I have no idea what it would take in California to register a car from another country, but I’m sure the Motor Vehicle offices would not be open on the weekend. For some reason, I thought that we could get this done at the visa places, where you can get a temporary permit for your vehicle.  but this is another thing altogether that we need. For one thing, we need plates for the state of Guanajuato, and we are in Sonora.
Evidently we will receive a paper, temporary license plate to put in the window of the truck (saw one yesterday in the hotel parking lot).  I assume the permanent plates will come in the mail.

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