When you cross the border you will be asked to identify yourself and you will be issued a visitors Visa, valid for six months. When you live Mexico, the United States immigration service will require you to present a valid US or Canadian Passport to re-enter.
You will have to make a deposit of 200 USD on your registered vehicle to encourage you to bring the car back with you. The customs agents prefer a major non-Mexican issued credit card. You can pay in cash but it must be in dollars. When you leave Mexico, your deposit will be cheerfully refunded. You should also purchase an insurance rider at the border to cover you in Mexico. Shop around on the internet and purchase when you cross. You must carry a valid driver’s license.
It is just as safe to drive on Mexico’s “major” highways as it is in the United States or Canada. If you are polite and can say “good morning, good afternoon, please & thank you” in Spanish , you will find that everyone you encounter will be more than gracious and try to help you even when you can’t converse in the national language. Mexican people are genuinely friendly by nature.
The “autopista” is Mexico’s version of the turnpike. It provides a limited access environment most of the way to Mazatlan except when going through towns and cities. There are few loops or bypasses. The speed limits on the Autopista range from 80Km (50mph) to 110Km (70mph). Stops signs are red and white octagons that say “Alto”. A handheld translator or book might come in handy. There are toll booths along the way to pay your “Cuota” and this stop can also give you a break from the journey because you’ll usually find rest rooms and snack bar. Having Mexican pesos to pay the toll is best. They always give you a “Nota” (receipt), but count your change.
Make sure you fill up your tank at reasonable intervals; in other words, half-full is a good idea until you get more acquainted with this route. “Pemex” gas stations (the only choice) are more abundant these days, but just to be safe remember to fill up when you are in a populated area. The choices in grade are Magna or Premium. Most passengers vehicles run fine on Magna (regular). Make sure the pump is set at “0” before the attendant starts pumping. It is best to have Mexican pesos available to pay and always ask for a “nota” and count your change. Some stations, not all, accept major Credit Cards. Gas prices in Mexico increase a couple of cents every month to keep up with inflation. There are no spikes in prices and you will find that the cost to fill your tank is now a lot lower here than it is at home.
If you get hungry or tired during the drive, your best bet for a good restaurant or a clean and comfortable Motel is in the cities along the route.
If you need help in an Emergency, SOS phones are place along the high way (dial 066). Federal Police and Green Angels will rescue you.
Most retirees who spend the winter in Mexico drive down, and has always been a wonderful experience, because the natural Mexican beauties along the way. Mazatlan Real Estate has captivated a lot of people and now they live the dream of owning their own piece of Paradise.