Renewing/Extending a Temporary Import Permit for a Vehicle in Mérida/Progreso

Now that my immigration status is squared away for the next three years, it was time to do the same for my truck with customs (Aduana). I could not find any current information on doing this in Mérida/Progreso. One thing I had really hoped was that I could do the renewal/extension at the Mérida airport, but information a couple of years old said you couldn’t then. I really didn’t have time to waste today so going to Progreso felt like the safest bet. Finding opening hours was difficult, but once I ascertained that I was looking for the hours of operation for SAT Aduana Progreso, I knew what to Google and came up with a page that had them opening at 9AM.

Going to Progreso was going to be a pain since there are detours around the Periférico bridge that goes over the Progreso highway. I didn’t want to give myself a ton of extra time as I’m on a super tight schedule this week, but I also wanted to get there and back as soon as I could. So I left around 8:20 and arrived at the very end of the pier at precisely 9AM!

The detour going north was no big deal — take the service road to the first roundabout and turn around to take the service road in the other direction. I knew the best way to get through Progreso and to the entrance to the pier. So with traffic being surprisingly light, I made record time. At the entrance to the pier I only had to give them my driver’s license for ID (they do not accept a passport).

When I went last year, the customs lady made two packets out of all the paperwork I had brought and gave me one for my records. So I replicated that packet exactly today and had three copies just in case. The packet had:

  1. A letter to Customs asking them to renew/extend my temporary car import permit to match the date on my new residency card. This letter also has a list of the attachments to my request and my contact information. The customs lady today was the same as last year and like last year she told me my letter was perfect. So if anyone wants a TIP renewal letter for customs, I have a template for sale for 5USD. Contact me for more details;
  2. A copy of the official permit page that originally had the windshield holograma stuck on it;
  3. A copy of my passport ID page;
  4. A copy of my letter from immigration granting me my visa renewal (for good measure, I added to that the letter confirming my appointment for fingerprints as proof that there is no way I could have met Aduana deadlines had they asked me to wait until I have my new card);
  5. Proof of residency (I brought internet, water, and power and they wanted the power bill).

There, I was asked to fill out a form as a cover letter, which just needed my name and address. The customs lady filled out the rest, including the purpose for the packet.

That was it! She told me to come back this Thursday for my “resolution,” which I expect to be like last year, a letter confirming that my renewal/extension is in the queue and how to check the progress of it over the next few months. I really don’t have time this week for a second visit to Aduana, but needs must!

Like last year, I did the whole process in Spanish, but unlike last year, the last thing the lady said to me was, “Please come back Thursday.” Yes, like that. In English. So reports that Aduana on the pier in Progreso do not speak English and are unhelpful are false. Arrive with your paperwork in order, make an effort with the local language, and I’m sure you’ll have as easy and pleasant an experience as I did.

The drive home wasn’t quite as simple. The detour at the Periférico bridge was messier and I ended up zig zagging through my maze of a neighbourhood rather than trying to get back to Calle 60. I arrived without any wrong turns — a huge victory!

Once I know that the renewal/extension is granted, I’ll renew my truck insurance for another year and get the quote for the muffler and AC work since I’ll know for sure that I’ll have my truck here for three more years. About this time in 2020, I’ll be contacting an attorney specialising in vehicle temporary import permits to determine the best and most convenient way to get Moya out of Mexico legally that doesn’t involve driving her all the way back to Canada. Bringing a vehicle in Mexico is a huge pain and I wish I’d had the budget last year to have things shipped here while I flew and bought a new vehicle in Mexico, but things were what they were. I’ll figure it out when the time comes because I always figure “it” out when the time comes!

13 thoughts on “Renewing/Extending a Temporary Import Permit for a Vehicle in Mérida/Progreso

  1. I know you know this but you can turn the truck over to an approved wrecker/salvage yard in Mexico and they will dispose of it and give you legal documentation. Much easier and cheaper than driving back to Saskatchewan! LOL!

    • That was my first option, until I learned that here are only three such approved salvaged yards and they all right by the US border! If I’m going to go that far — more than halfway to Canada — might as well take it all the way home and let someone use it as a farm vehicle!

      What I’m really hoping is to find someone here on a temporal who wants an ugly but reliable truck. I’d then have a four-hour drive to the Belize border, export the truck, sell it to the expat, and then they could reimport it and drive us back. But the truck is going to be 19 years old, has over 250,000KM on it, and is a standard, so I’m not convinced that will work out.

      Mexicans are willing to pay me twice what the truck is worth in Canada (!) so it’s rather frustrating that I can’t just do that. I could buy an nice little city-friendly car for the offers I’ve gotten!

  2. Oh boy! That is not good news! Yes, people were offering cash for our old Honda all over Mexico as well. The rules are very stringent. I wonder what would happen to you if you just parked it on a side street and “forgot” to take the keys out of it?

    • Bad things. Remember, Aduana has the VIN attached to your name and your immigration status. As long as they have no record of that VIN legally exiting Mexico, you can be in big trouble and it can affect your legal status here.

      Even if the truck gets totalled or is undriveable, then it needs to be towed to the border.

      What doesn’t help is that the vehicle rules keeps changing and are not consistent within Mexico. It’s very hard to get accurate information, even from governmental website.

      A Mexican lady I trust says that I might actually be able to import my truck before I have to get it out. It’s apparently easier to import an old one than a newer one, but right now, no vehicles are being imported at all. But if that option opens up, it would leave me able to sell the truck here after I go through all the hoops.

      So this is why I want to consult legal counsel — find out what exactly are the penalties and options for my specific situation when the time comes.

  3. This may be a stupid question or you have already thought about this, but can someone you trust with either a US Passport or Canadian Passport with Visa fly down to Merida and drive the truck back across the Mexico/US border and US/Canadian borders? I know the truck’s paperwork is in your name, but there should be a way to handle that; maybe an attorney could answer that question. The resale value of even a basic truck is high in the US, and really, approximately 150,000 miles on a farm truck is not considered passed its prime. Trucks in the US hold their value well. If you could get it back to Canada, you could give someone power of attorney to sell it. Just thinking out loud.

    • That’s actually not a bad thought, but only the temporary importer (ie. me) can drive the truck in Mexico and then “unexport” it. I also could not sell it without complications in the US as I would have to import it there and the buyer would have to have it inspected and make certain modifications (like put in a speedometer in miles).

      At this juncture, I see three options:

      1) Drive the truck back to Canada,
      2) Drive the truck to Quintana Roo (next state over with a border on Belize) and export it, then do “something” with it (see below),
      3) Drive the truck to an accredited scrap yard.

      #2 is where I think a lawyer can advise me best. QR is a border state so vehicles do not need to be temporarily imported. Once I export and I’m registered as having taken the truck out of Mexico, can I just leave it on the side of the road with the keys in it? Can I sell it to an expat in QR who won’t have to deal with the hassle of reimporting? Once exported, could I have it scrapped in QR at a non-specialised yard? Could I sell it for parts?

      The rules for vehicles keep changing, so who knows what my options will be in three years!

      • I don’t know the exact details nor have I time until July to follow up. Remember Deb and John on the Isla. They are now living fulltime in Ajijic in a townhouse. Before leaving the Isla they sold their Canadian 5th wheel and truck with Mexican plates on it to an American named Dave. Dave left the RV at Tres Amigos and drove the Canadian owned but Mexican plated truck to the USA where he re plated it back to a US licensed plate. Until this year when he chanted to a Class A he drove that truck back and forth for a few years. I am happy to pass on his contact info if you wish to contact him about how he did it.

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