Mar 15, 2012, 3:32 PM
Post #1 of 7
I live in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México. On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, in Nogales, México I nationalized my 2004 Honda Odyssey. In order to nationalize a USA or Canadian vehicle present Mexican law requires that the vehicle be at least 8 years old and its VIN must start with a number and not a letter. Beginning with a number indicates the vehicle was made in the USA or Canada. If the VIN begins with a letter, that indicates it was made elsewhere and cannot be imported into and nationalized in México even if the owner purchased the vehicle from a dealer in the USA or Canada.
Importing and Nationalizing a USA or Canadian Vehicle
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I wanted to nationalize the Honda for a couple of reasons. I have not returned to Illinois in some time. Illinois requires an emissions test in order to keep the registration up to date. I obtained a 2 year exemption. Then one year I was in Phoenix/Scottsdale AZ at the Mayo Clinic and Hospital and Illinois accepted the Arizona emissions test. Then I got another exemption. Now, I would have to return to Phoenix to get a test to satisfy Illinois.
The other reason for nationalization is the fact I have a Mexican helper/driver who, under Mexican law, cannot drive the Honda without the gringo owner in the car. Otherwise, the car could be confiscated by Aduana (Mexican customs).
The importation or conversion has to be done at a border town. To own a Mexican car one has to have a Mexican drivers license, which I do have. A vehicle that is 8 years old can be nationalized. By the way, Aduana (customs) is on a fiscal year beginning November 1, so my 2004 Honda was "eight years old customwise" last Nov 1, 2011 when I could have nationalized it.
The customs agent met us at 9 a.m. We went to Km 21 to cancel the 2004 permit. Then the agent directed us through an incredible maze of streets behind the vehicle crossing area just before the border. At the first place a young woman went over all the details and then affixed a brand new type of sticker to the windshield ($40 USD worth!) that must stay in the car. If the windshield is broken, I am supposed to stick it to a piece of paper and keep it in the glove compartment.
Then through the maze the agent directed us to the final customs office where I had to show my Mexican drivers license, sign a form, and receive the last rubber stamp. And that was it.....all in about 40 minutes. I was given a paper with which I can go directly to Tránsito here in Mazatlán to get the Sinaloa plates for the Honda.
By the way, last weekend I emailed the agent with attachments: copies of the Illinois title, my no inmigrante visa, my driver’s license, the permit to import the car in 2004 (thanks to a tip from Lin Doan and Bernardo Pérez). So, the agent filled out all the forms ahead of time.
We really lucked out in finding a customs agent, Óscar Angulo, who was bright, personable and effective (cell: 631-99-9-5024 email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Our cost was $1,540.00 (varies with make and model, I guess) for the "conversion" plus whatever the plates cost (and of course, the cost of going to a border town which is the only place this can be done). Mexican Customs wants the payment in US Dollars not Mexican Pesos....which I found very odd.
The agent, Óscar, said the process is different in Mexicali and Tijuana, and now more expensive than Nogales. I have no personal knowledge of that, but somehow it does not surprise me that Government agencies might handle things differently in other venues.
There have been rumors that in order to import and nationalize the owner must be a Mexican citizen. That is not so. I am not a Mexican citizen, and I am here on a no inmigrante visa.
There is also a rumor that one has to present evidence of passing a current emissions test from California, Arizona, or some other state. That certainly was not the case with the Honda Odyssey, and I believe it is just a rumor and nothing more.