I live in California. The car has valid Mexican plates. I am a US citizen and only have the US drivers license.

Will I have a problem crossing it back into Mexico?

  • 1
    Is it your car? They much more likely to care about where the registered owner is and why you're driving it if the owner isn't with you.
    – mkennedy
    Sep 8, 2023 at 2:33
  • 1
    No you shouldn't have any issues at all, unlikely to even be asked. Do remember that when travelling to another country you should carry a valid passport
    – Midavalo
    Sep 8, 2023 at 4:26
  • @mkennedy it’s my cousins car all registration is under his name I’ll have a letter of permission from him to me notarized will that be all I need ? Sep 8, 2023 at 7:55
  • I'd be more interested in making sure the insurance for the car is valid while you are driving it (both in the US and in Mexico) than anything else.
    – BowlOfRed
    Sep 9, 2023 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


I assume you would be driving across via one of the San Diego border crossings. In my experience you're unlikely to be asked about the car.

Most of the time you can drive through the border without even being stopped - no passport check, no customs check, they rely on you to stop if there's a reason you need to.

There are Guardia Nacional personnel that will flag down some vehicles for further inspection. Usually this is a customs stop where they will search your car - typically they'll open the trunk and look in a bag or two if you have them. Less frequently would they do a full search of the vehicle, but it does happen. They may ask where you're going and how long for, but it's unlikely you'd be asked about the vehicle itself. In over 200 crossings at San Ysidro or Otay Mesa (the two San Diego to Tijuana border crossing points), both in US and Mexico plated vehicles, we've been stopped only a handful of times and have never been asked about the vehicle or who owns it etc. None of vehicles I have owned myself.

Now to be clear - they can ask you, so it would certainly be wiser to have documentation to show them if they do ask, however there's unlikely to be any problem - they're more interested about what is in the car than the car itself.

As an aside, do remember that Mexico is a foreign country (unless you're also a Mexican national) and foreigners should carry a valid passport or travel document when in a foreign country. A US driver license is not a travel document.

  • Also it may be difficult to get back into the US with just a driver’s license.
    – jcaron
    Sep 8, 2023 at 16:04

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