Driving in Mexico



Mexico is a big country and driving is an excellent way to move around and explore what it has to offer. With some preparation and a good look at road maps and road signs you could cruise along Mexican roads with ease.

Roads & Traffic Conditions

Most toll roads and expressways in the country are in good condition. However, out of the way roadways may not be in such good condition. As a rule, confine your driving to daylight hours. There are a number of main highways that go from the US border along the coasts while others from inland go south. Road signs and other directions are in Spanish.

Driving License

Check with your embassy or consulate to see if your national driving license or an international driving permit is accepted in Mexico. Those who are planning to use their own vehicles in the country will also need to procure a vehicle import permit. This is an important document and failure to possess it will attract a heavy fine and/or result in likely impounding of your vehicle. In addition to a vehicle import permit, you will need car insurance for which you will have to contact a Mexican auto insurance company or one that operates on an international level.


Always carry a good map to help you find your way. Here are some good resources for maps:

Carretaras Nacionales by Ediciones Independica, Guia Roji road atals for Mexico, Mexico Channel and Cochera Andina (an online resource which provides information about around 240 road routes and travel times in Mexico).

All major roadways have PEMEX gas stations at regular intervals. Once you leave toll roads and expressways, gas stations may be hard to come by and it is best to fill up on gas before you go far out.

Gasoline prices in Mexico are administered by the government and change every month.


As a foreigner, traffic rules in Mexico are likely to be confusing. Corruption among the police is common and tourists and expatriates may face abuse because they do not understand the rules nor do they speak Spanish.

Adhere to speed limits and look out for road signs, lest you violate a local law relating to speed limits. Speed limits are 40kph in the city, 80kph outside city limits and 100-110kph on highways. When entering a city, it is common to find speed bumps, where you have to drive very slowly.

In the rainy season, while driving in the mountains, landslides and falling rocks are common.

In Case of an Accident

Each town has its own emergency number to call in case of an accident. Look up the number or numbers relevant to the areas you usually drive and keep a list handy in your car at all times. In cities like Puerta Vallarta, all cars involved in accident are impounded (if there are injuries involved). Accounting is given to the person who is at fault and it is a process which could take months.