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Old Jun 22, 08, 5:16 pm   #1
 
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Taking a rental car from the US into Mexico. Issues?

I'm getting a rental car for July 4th weekend, and it's likely that we'll be heading into Mexico during that time. I made a reservation with Budget@LAX, but they didn't ask where we were going, and I NEVER rent cars so I didn't bother to mention that we might head down south. Now people are saying that there are rules and regulations about taking a rental car into Mexico?

I have no car agency status, though my plat. AMEX gives me Hertz Gold membership; no idea if that means anything.

So what's the deal, FT? Should I call Budget? Cancel the reservation there and make one elsewhere? We're really going by the seat of our pants on this weekend, so I have no idea where we'll end up!
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Old Jun 22, 08, 5:28 pm   #2
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You absolutely should call now and ask. There is a very good possibility that they will tell you that the car is not allowed in Mexico.

On the chance that you are permitted to take your rental car into Mexico, you MUST have Mexico car insurance. Short-term policies can be purchased at the border. US auto insurance is null and void in Mexico!

It's been at least ten years since I took a rental car from SAN to Tijuana but I remember calling around until I found one rental company (it may have been Alamo) that permitted their cars in Mexico. They also charged for the Mexico insurance so I did not have to waste time at the border.

Last edited by MileageAddict; Jun 22, 08 at 5:35 pm.
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Old Jun 22, 08, 5:35 pm   #3
 
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Here's the info from Budget.com's web page under Customer Care, then Common Questions:

Traveling from the U.S. to Mexico
If you’re a U.S resident, you may drive a Budget car into Mexico only if you purchase Mexican Automobile Liability Insurance at the U.S. rental location. This insurance is available only at specific locations in Texas, Arizona and California. It is not available in Mexico. Foreign nationals who can’t establish legal permanent U.S. resident status or current valid visa status can’t purchase this insurance because Mexico prohibits such persons from driving a U.S. car in Mexico, making them subject to arrest and the car subject to seizure.

To be on the safe side.. call them and ask : 310-642-4500
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Old Jun 22, 08, 5:38 pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by dmills1956 View Post
Foreign nationals who can’t establish legal permanent U.S. resident status or current valid visa status can’t purchase this insurance because Mexico prohibits such persons from driving a U.S. car in Mexico, making them subject to arrest and the car subject to seizure.

To be on the safe side.. call them and ask : 310-642-4500
Yikes. We're both Canadian, so this might put a serious crimp into our vacation plans!
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Old Jun 22, 08, 11:23 pm   #5
 
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Yikes. We're both Canadian, so this might put a serious crimp into our vacation plans!
Here's an Idea: take the greyhound from LA, cross the border to Tijuana and Rent a car there. Choose a well known rental agency, and get good insurance.
It's actully cheaper to do this, even factoring the cost of the bus - a four day rental with National, around the 4th of july weekend, intermediate car, is $67 total.
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Old Jun 23, 08, 6:22 am   #6
 
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Originally Posted by thorthor View Post
Here's an Idea: take the greyhound from LA, cross the border to Tijuana and Rent a car there. Choose a well known rental agency, and get good insurance.
It's actully cheaper to do this, even factoring the cost of the bus - a four day rental with National, around the 4th of july weekend, intermediate car, is $67 total.
Or better still, don't drive into Mexico. Park at the Tijuana border and walk across. If you are going no further south than Rosarito Beach or Ensenada, it's a short bus or taxi ride (20 mins to Rosarito, 60-90 mins to Ensenada.)

If you are staying in Tijuana, you don't need a car.
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Old Jun 23, 08, 1:08 pm   #7
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For added info, let me move this to our Travel->Mexico forum. Ocn Vw 1K, Moderator, TravelBuzz.

(This thread, in this Mexico forum, drive to cabo san lucas has info about driving deep into Baja with a rental or one's own car.)

Last edited by Ocn Vw 1K; Jun 23, 08 at 1:14 pm.
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Old Jun 23, 08, 2:20 pm   #8
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An advantage of renting in Mexico is that you'll get a model sold in Mexico with Mexican plates so it won't scream "Tourist," especially if you leave the border areas where U.S. cars are relatively common (though far from the majority).
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Old Jun 23, 08, 6:22 pm   #9
 
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Thanks everyone! Our plans are still pretty nebulous, but I think we may just avoid Mexico on this trip, and plan for another excursion at another date!
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Old Sep 15, 12, 10:32 am   #10
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Taking a rental car into Mexico

Any tips? Ideas? Suggestions? Stories to share?

I've gotta go to Mexicali next month, but my company's travel agency, in its infinite wisdom, booked me flying in and out of San Diego, instead of MXL.

Thanks!
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Old Sep 15, 12, 11:24 am   #11
 
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Taking a rental car into Mexico

Yes with the Mexican insurance some rental agencies will allow it. If you are in an accident you may very well go to jail until they receive their money even with insurance. I'd say take bribe money with you but foreigners in rental cars make a nice target to police and criminals. Personally I'd have the flight changed.
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Old Sep 15, 12, 11:30 am   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkt View Post
Any tips? Ideas? Suggestions? Stories to share?

I've gotta go to Mexicali next month, but my company's travel agency, in its infinite wisdom, booked me flying in and out of San Diego, instead of MXL.

Thanks!
I would not do it. In fact, I would not attempt to drive in Mexico, not my own car and not a local rental vehicle either.

ADDED. If you're a AAA member, ask them for advice about the issues this raises. Note that most credit card rental car protection does not cover Mexico, not does the typical USA auto/home/umbrella policy.
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Old Sep 15, 12, 5:50 pm   #13
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My best advice: Check with the automobile rental companies for specifics, not FlyerTalk.

Some companies will allow you to drive within a limit of a certain number of miles (e.g 100 miles from the border); you and they will undoubtedly require Mexican automobile insurance to protect the vehicle and yourself - liability insurance, iirc, is now required for drivers in Mexico.

In Mexico, your insurance company is your bailor / guarantor - so it's important to use a reliable and reputable insurance company.

Options include a US rental car to Calexico and there, crossing the border and using a taxi if your business is uncomplicated; renting an automobile within Mexico after crossing the border (perhaps up at the Tijuana International Airport? Though the drive from "Tijuas" to Mexicali is not trivial at ~190 km).

I have driven in Mexico since the mid-1950s.
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Old Sep 15, 12, 6:54 pm   #14
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Car service. Do not drive in Mexico if you can possibly avoid it. You will wind up in jail for even a minor fender bender. A couple of hours is more than enough for a lifetime.

It may cost something to change the ticket, but it will cost a small fortune for the rental, the insurance rider and the wear and tear (on you).
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Old Sep 16, 12, 5:27 pm   #15
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Incorrect. If one has insurance, the insurance is the bail guarantor, and whilst the write-up and paperwork are nuisances, it would be quite irregular for one to wind up in jail.

Besides the OP has to go to Mexicali, which is in Mexico, regardless of whether he goes to SAN or TIJ (or even MXL if he needs to rent ca car to get around). But it may cost less to change the ticket than to rent a car and add the extras.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Car service. Do not drive in Mexico if you can possibly avoid it. You will wind up in jail for even a minor fender bender. A couple of hours is more than enough for a lifetime.

It may cost something to change the ticket, but it will cost a small fortune for the rental, the insurance rider and the wear and tear (on you).
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