I'm going to Cabo San Lucas soon and would like to rent a car for a few days while I'm there with my friends. I have a US driving license which is presumably accepted down there, but my friend has a German license. Is an IDP required to rent a car in Mexico if your license is not from Canada or the US?

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    I can't answer for renting a car in Mexico as I've never done it. But I've never been asked for an IDP here, my New Zealand license has always been accepted - by police, military, immigration, Federales, insurance companies etc. I did have an IDP, but never used it, not even once, so let it expire and never bothered with renewing it. I think it's unlikely you'll be asked for one at a rental car company.
    – Midavalo
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


I have paid for an IDL, and nobody ever wanted to see it; not in Mexico, not in the US, not in Canada, not in Russia, not in India. If they even know what it is, they decline to accept it, and ask for my "normal driver's license" (which is a German one, btw)

Rental car companies are having hundreds of international customers every day, and they are quite familiar with your national driver's license, even if you would come from a small and unknown country, if not, they will make do [it is much more important to have a credit card...]

So unless your driver's license is in a non-latin alphabet, save the money for an IDL.

Edit: yes, the official government recommendation is to have an IDL. I am just a random guy on the internet; but my recommendation based on experience is to save the money for it.

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    It is not just the rental companies that require IDLs, it is also the police if you are in an accident. And the official rules may be that without the right IDL you are considered to drive without a license. Paying for an IDL is the cheaper option.
    – Willeke
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 7:51
  • @Willeke Police in Mexico don't ask for IDP, and won't look at it if you offer it. They will ask for a license, be surprised if you look Caucasian and don't hand them a US license, and possibly will ask for an FMM (although even this is unlikely, unless it's specifically an INM checkpoint).
    – Midavalo
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 17:56
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    @Willeke It is only wrong advice if there are rental car agencies in some country that require it. Are there? Perhaps if 1 or 2 countries do require it, then this answer is correct except for those 1 or 2 countries
    – Midavalo
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 18:02
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    @Willeke surely someone would know if IDP/IDL is actually required, given that millions of tourists drive around in Mexico and at least a few hundred of them get into accidents every year?
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 18:28
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    As the government only 'recommends' it (see citation at the other answer) it is obviously not required. this is identical for other countries.
    – Aganju
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 18:47

The German Embassy recommends having a International Drivers Permit (IDP) for driving in Mexico.

It also warns that the Tourist Card FMM is not always stamped upon entry from the USA. But since ID's are often checked inside Mexico, to make sure that it is stamped propery before continuing on into Mexico.

Der Internationale Führerschein wird empfohlen und ist nur in Verbindung mit dem nationalen deutschen Führerschein gültig.

driver's license
The international driver's license is recommended and is valid only in conjunction with the national German driver's license.

Touristenkarte FMM
Ein- und Ausreise über die USA
Bei der Einreise auf dem Landweg über die USA kann es vorkommen, dass Touristenkarten nicht abgestempelt werden. In diesem Fall muss dies, z. B. gegen Vorlage des Bustickets, beim Instituto Nacional de Migración des Grenzortes nachgeholt werden, dies ist z.B. in Tijuana auch im INM-Büro im Flughafen möglich.

Tourist Card FMM
Entry and exit via the USA
When entering the country via the US, it may happen that tourist cards are not stamped. In this case, this must, for example, on presentation of the bus ticket, be made at the Instituto Nacional de Migración the border town, this is e.g. in Tijuana also in the INM office in the airport possible.

Bei Personenkontrollen wird nicht nur der Ausweis verlangt, sondern auch die mexikanische Aufenthaltserlaubnis (Touristenkarte FMM, bzw. Langzeitaufenthaltstitel FM 2/3). Ausländer sollten ihre mexikanische Aufenthaltserlaubnis jederzeit, zumindest als Kopie, bei sich führen (s.o.). Andernfalls besteht das Risiko, von der Einwanderungsbehörde in Gewahrsam genommen und ggf. abgeschoben zu werden.

ID required
In the case of identity checks, not only the ID card is required, but also the Mexican residence permit (tourist card FMM or long-term residence permit FM 2/3). Foreigners should carry their Mexican residence permit at any time [all times], at least as a copy (see above). Otherwise, there is a risk of being detained by the Immigration Department and possibly deported.


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    So is this a 'yes' or a 'no' answer to the posted question? What does it mean that an IDP is recommended? Which disadvantages would a driver face just having the German driver's license and not an IDP? Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 15:48
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    There are millions of tourists driving around in Mexico every year. Surely people know by now if Mexican police checks for IDP? :)
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 16:10
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    If driving without an IDP 'could lead to charges of driving without a valid driver's license', an IDP would be required and not merely recommended. I have noticed these odd 'recommendations' in German travel advisories before without finding a sufficient explanation of what is actually ment. Basically, an IDP will either be required or not. There does not seem to be any reasonable explanation why it should be 'recommended'. Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 16:15
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    No sorry, it is absolutely not clear and you are refusing to answer my questions and ignoring my objections. It should be obvious, but neither German authorities, nor a Dutch automobile club are authorative sources for Mexican legal requirements and in this case, they don't even come with a clear statement. Both sources btw issue IDPs, so they will have a monetary benefit from every tourist jumping onto the 'recommendation' and have an IDP issued. May that be the reason for the recommendation? Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 17:31
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    @MarkJohnson Yet again, your comment is completely irrelevant with regard to my objections against your answer. Why can't you answer and/or keep to my questions and objections instead of with every comment invent and address new issues completely irrelevant for the discussion? I would also appreciate if you write my name correctly when tagging me, so that I am notified about your comments. Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 19:27

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