We read up online a lot about buying and registering a car in Mexico as a tourist, and the outlook wasnt great from what we read online. It seemed that buying the car was easy but registering it to your own name without proof of address or FM3 was near impossible. However we managed it fine and successfully bought and registered our car within 4 days of arriving in Mexico. So here’s some info on how we did it, for anyone else looking to do the same, we bought our car in Mexico City so all info relates to our experiences there.

Where to buy a car in Mexico City

The car market in Mexico City has a huge range of cars from old to new and we found plenty of the type of car we were looking for (cheap, old, reliable). The car market is on every Saturday and Sunday (but I would advise going on the Sunday as there are so many more cars there), at this market they have tents where you can go and have a police check done on your car (see under buying the car below more info on this). This market is known as being a fairly reliable place to buy cars and was recommended to us buy lots of Mexicans as a better option than buying from a private seller, although I am sure that would work fine too!

The car market is called Tianguis del Auto, in an area called Perifico, here’s the map location
http://goo.gl/maps/yEeCb it’s about a 30 minute taxi or about a 1 hour train to Xomali station from the center of Mexico City.

Buying the car

Once you have found a car you’d like to buy the first thing is to check check and double check all the paperwork, not just that the paperwork is there but that it matches the car and that it is valid and hasn’t expired, we came across sellers who would tell you all the paperwork was there and up to date but when checked it wasn’t. You also obviously want to do some routine checks on the car as well like does is have a spare tyre and jack, what is the tread like on current types (if your looking for new tires try Tyre-Shopper.co.uk ), how many miles has the car done, etc!

Documents required:
Factura- The original invoice for the car
Tarjeta – a card which shows registration of the card, note that the date listed on the card under “fecha de expedition” is the date the card is valid from (not the expiration date) and the card is valid for 3 years from this date.
Tenencia- receipts showing that vehicle tax has been paid for the last 4 years. Make double sure there is one for each year and that the number listed on latest one is the same as the number listed one the shiny plastic tax sticker inside the windscreen of the car.
Sellers ID- a photo copy of the seller ID (we actually never needed this but lots of people have said they did and it’s useful to keep for record in case.

You must get all of these these documents or you might not be able to register the car to your name.

Checks required:
Then you must also complete a number of checks to verify that the car is not stolen etc this is a must in Mexico as if your car turns out to be stolen and you bought it without checking it is a criminal offense. (You can do this all at the tents in the car market as mentioned above for about 100-200 pesos, but I think you can also do it online by yourself).

You should also look for the VIN (sometimes called NIV) number on your car documents and check that it matches with the number on the car, the number is commonly displayed in these places: under the back seat, inside the bonnet, near the door catch on the drivers side, on the windshield on the drivers side. It could be in any one or more of these places or a variety of other places, the seller should be able to find it for your if you can’t see it in any of the places listed above.

Once you have all the documents and checks completed you can exchanged money, and drive away.


Signing the document for our beautiful VW Beetle!

Registering the car

So buying the car is the easy part, but not having any Proof of address, FM3 (proof of Mexican residences) or any Mexican ID registering it in our names was the hard part. You need to have the name on the Tarjeta changes to your own name, and this is what we had heard was incredibly hard as a tourist.

Luckily at the car market there was a guy who for a fee would help you register your car in your name. We paid him 1,200 pesos and after meeting us to try the local driving authority and having been told that there was no way we were getting it registered in our names he drove us out to town to another office where for a “special fee” we were able to register the car in our names no problem. He was a great trustworthy guy and very patient with our lack of Spanish. If you are buying a car at the Mexican car market I hugely suggest you use him, use my contact form to send me a message and I can give you his name and number and where he is located at the market. I’m confident that without him and his friends inside the driving authority we wouldn’t have got our car registered, so would highly recommend him.


Our new Tarjeta card registered to us! 

So 4 days after arriving in Mexico we were all set with a car bought and registered, we went for a gorgeous ’97 Beatle that we’ve named Bonnie you’ll be hearing lots more about her adventures from Mexico to Panama in the next few months!


Bonnie the Bonita Beetle!