Buying a Used Car in Mexico

Information on the paperwork and processes involved when buying and registering a used car in Mexico...

Used cars can be bought through dealerships, or via newspaper and Internet classified advertisements.

There are a number of online resources offering second-hand vehicles for sale (websites in Spanish):

The City of Mexico and the Procuraduría General de Justicia del DF (PGJDF) operate a “buy secure” (“Compra Segura”) program that allows buyers to confirm that a vehicle has not been stolen (website in Spanish). The process requires an appointment to inspect the vehicle, confirmation of the identities of buyers and sellers, and verification of legal ownership. People considering buying a used vehicle, or people planning to sell vehicles, are encouraged to access this service.

Documents Required

The seller must provide the following documents:

  • Original invoice for the vehicle (factura). This invoice must be presented however old the car is, and each previous owner should have signed the back of the factura when selling the vehicle
  • If the vehicle was imported legally (with Mexican plates), the original registration document must be presented instead of the invoice along with all import documents (Pedimento de Importación)
  • Proof of identity
  • Receipt proving payment of the vehicle tax (tenencia) for the last four years. Without this receipt, the new owner may be liable for any unpaid taxes

Transfer of Vehicle Ownership

The vehicle must be registered in the new owner’s name within 30 days at the local transport office. For example, in Mexico City, the buyer should go to the Secretaría de Mobilidad – SEMOVI).

The following documents are required, as well as photocopies, although this may vary from one state to another:

  • Transfer of ownership form
  • The original invoice (factura) and registration document (tarjeta de circulación)
  • Proof of identity. Foreigners may also have to provide proof of temporary or permanent residence; however, this varies from one government office to another
  • Proof of address, for example a utility bill, no more than three months old (comprobante de domicilio)
  • Driving license
  • Receipt of payment of vehicle tax (tenencia) for that tax year. If the vehicle is more than one year old, proof of payment for the previous four years is required
  • Documentation stating change of ownership of the vehicle

In some states and cities emissions testing is required before the transfer of ownership can take place.

The vehicle is also inspected by an official from the transport office, who checks that the VIN number corresponds with the paperwork.

It is advisable for the seller and buyer to go to the transport office together. Once all documents and copies have been presented, and any fees that may apply have been paid (depending on the state there may be a sales tax), the new owner receives the registration document (tarjeta de circulación). If the car was previously registered in another state, the buyer also receives new license plates, for which there is an additional fee.