Exchanging a Foreign Driving License

Information on who can exchange their driving license for a Mexican one, and the steps to follow if you have to exchange your license...

A foreign driving license is valid in Mexico and it is not obligatory for a foreign national to acquire a Mexican license while the foreign license remains valid. Obtaining a Mexican license is relatively simple and does not mean that the original license needs to be forfeited. Driving licenses in Mexico are issued in some states by the Department of Transport and Roads (Secretaría de Transporte et Viadidad), and in others by the Directorate General of Public Security and State Roads (Dirección General de Seguridad Pública y Vialidad). Rules and regulations vary from state to state as regards the age when it is legal to drive, the cost of the license, and the types of driving tests required.

Mexico has not ratified the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic from 1968 and it is not obliged to recognize the International Driving Permit. However, valid licenses from other countries are accepted in Mexico.

Foreigners who do not have a valid driving license need to go through the full process of applying for a Mexican license. This procedure varies from state to state. In some states there is no requirement to take a practical or theory test in order to obtain a national driving license, while in others, learner drivers have to take tests. Where theory tests are necessary, it may be possible to take the test in English.

Depending on the state where the application for the driving license is made, the following documents are generally required

  • Proof of identity
  • Valid visa proving residency status in Mexico - non-resident foreigners cannot obtain a Mexican driving license
  • Proof of address (recent utility bill, no more than three months old, or a bank statement)
  • Proof of payment of a fee

Validity and Renewals

Mexican driving licenses are valid for two to five years depending on the state issuing the license. Driver´s licenses will not be valid beyond the expiry date of Temporary Residency Cards. The driving license should be renewed thirty days before it expires. Anyone driving without a valid driving license will be fined.