Terri A. Spears
This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Mexican government policies vary between states and offices. Mexican Government officials have broad discretion in how they individually enforce policies, so your personal experiences may vary.
As more and more foreign visitors decide to establish a seasonal residence in Mexico, the need for personal transportation has become more important. Many long term residents opt to purchase a Mexican vehicle to use during their stay and leave it here while they are NOTB. Mexican federal law recognizes a valid foreign driver’s license in order to operate a vehicle in Mexico; unfortunately, not every municipal officer interprets the law the same way. Then the insurance companies add another layer of interpretation to the issue of operating a Mexican titled vehicle with a foreign country driver’s license and many international, non-Spanish speaking people are applying for Mexican driver’s licenses. While somewhat intimidating due to the language barrier, the process is no more difficult than getting a license in your home country.
Where you go matters: When I first wanted to get a Mexican driver’s license nine years ago, I went to Tepic with a bilingual interpreter. The transito official very firmly refused to allow someone to read the written driver’s test to me. I hightailed it out of that office- there is no way I can comprehend Spanish directions or questions on my own. Returning to Jaltemba Bay, I asked other expat friends how they went about getting a Mexican driver’s license. All said they went to the Mezcales transito office.
I also did a search on line and learned that the gringo enclave at Lake Chapalla, Jalisco, raved about how simple it was getting a driver’s license. Since I was going to Guadalajara for something else, I thought I’d try a Jalisco transito office- but it wasn’t in the gringo part of town. Same problem: the transito officer said no interpreter allowed; I offered a mordido (cash gift-bribe) to try to expedite the matter-nope. I was determined to succeed so I finally drove to Mezcale- tada! No problem, no bribe, walked out with a license!
Transito Location: Finding the Nayarit Transito office in Mezcales- the municipality south of Bucerias proper- is easy. The office is on the north bound lateral street above the Pacifico bus stop and ticket sales office in Mezcales. The Pacifico stop is four businesses from the San Juan de Abajo intersection with a traffic signal. The bus stop/office is on the right side of the lateral street running parallel to highway 200. So, if you are coming from Jaltemba Bay you must be on the oceanside lateral facing south in the left turn lane. (See diagram.) Essentially you will make a U turn at the main intersection to get onto the opposite lateral at the intersection. Next, take a right turn at the first small street and there is a parking lot behind the Transito office. The official name of the second floor office is Delagation de Transito Estantal Mezcales.
What to Bring: You will need to bring the original and one Xerox copy of the following official documents: 1. Your valid Mexican visa. No tourista visas allowed. 2. Proof of your residence: CFE electric or TELMEX phone bill- it needs to be the most recent one. If you rent its ok that the utility is not in your name. 3. A copy of your valid passport page with the photograph. 4. Your valid /current driver’s license. In Mezcales, you will not be required to take the written driver’s test or behind the wheel test if your license is not expired. If your license is expired or it is your first one, you will be tested. If you are age 60 or over, you need to bring a letter from a doctor that you are physically capable of driving, and listing your blood type. Salud Popular (next to the Coca cola distribution center in La Penita) will do a mini physical exam and supply the form for between $50-$100 mxn. Since I have a local regular doctor, I simply had her write the letter. I pre made all of the required copies and had them in hand to turn in but the Bucerias office will make copies (for a minimal charge) if you need them.
The staff will ask what type of license you want, take your copies, take your photo, take your thumb print and give you a receipt to take to the cashier across the room. For a standard 3 year driving license (automovilist) the present cost is $639 peso. If you are driving a pickup, taxi, or another type of vehicle, it is a different category of license and a different amount. After paying at the cashier (caja) you show the paid receipt and are handed your license! Although it was crowded each time that I have gone to that office, it still took less than an hour to complete my application/renewal.
The Mezcales office is open Monday through Friday 9 am until 2:00 pm. Remember that Mezcales is on Jalisco time (one hour different.) Dust off your Spanish pronunciation and go get your ‘licencia’. You’ll be finished in time to have lunch and shop before heading back to Jaltemba Bay.