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How to Export US Salvage Cars to Mexico – Laws and Shipping?

By Mike Richards Updated: 01/31/2023 Posted: 10/16/2015

If you want to purchase a salvage car and export US salvage cars to Mexico, then there are quite a few things you need to understand. That’s because every country has their own laws and regulations about what can and cannot be imported from the United States. Read on this review if you are asking what you need to take your car to Mexico.

The rules in Mexico are quite complex and it may be difficult to navigate all the rules and bureaucratic requirements. These rules are also often subject to change, which makes it all the more difficult to make plans.

So, how to send a car to Mexico? Before we get into detail about this, we need to discuss what a salvage car is.

What Is a Salvage Car?

There are numerous ways a vehicle ends up as salvage. They must have sustained somewhere between 75% and 90% damage from such situations as:

  • Collisions
  • Hail Damage
  • Flooding
  • Vandalism

Additionally, in some situations, vehicle theft could warrant a salvage title. If the car was stolen and the insurance company replaced it for the owners, then the car is recovered, then it can be issued a salvage title for it to be sold again.

If a car has sustained that much damage, then the insurance company will determine it is cheaper to replace it for the owners to repair it. It will then get a salvage title.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the life for the car. There are car salvage auctions that specialize in selling these vehicles. That’s because it is possible to do some repairs to the car and then make it safe again. Then insurance companies will offer at least liability coverage.

If you use online car auctions and you want to purchase and export US salvage cars to Mexico, then there are rules you will need to follow.

Mexican Laws on Importing Vehicles

As we have mentioned before, the rules in Mexico regarding the importation of vehicles are complex and subject to change. Therefore, keep in mind that the following indications will only be able to give you a general idea of the process. Specific rules and procedures may change quickly and often. By the way, you should know how to legalize a car to take to Mexico and only after that prepare to export US salvage cars to Mexico.

It is advisable that you consult the Mexican authorities about how to export US salvage cars to Mexico before you try to import it. As an alternative, you can hire a company that has expert knowledge and experience in doing so.

The process can be handled at the border stations or online at the Banjercito website (read FAQ). This service can also be provided at one of the following Mexican consulates in the United States:

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Austin, Dallas, Dallas Fort Worth and Houston, Texas
  • Los Ángeles, San Bernardino and Sacramento, California
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Phoenix, Arizona

Cars for export

Temporary Importation

Vehicles can be imported into Mexico temporarily or permanently. You can import a vehicle temporarily if you are either a Mexican citizen living abroad, or a foreign citizen living temporarily in Mexico. Both groups will have to present proof of their migratory status. The former will have to produce a document from the foreign authorities stating that person is a resident of that foreign country. The latter will have to present a passport and a document from the Mexican government stating his or her status as a legal migrant.

The person who wants to import a car or motorcycle temporarily has to also provide proof of ownership. This can be a lease contract or another document that proves that person owns or has authorisation from the owner to use the vehicle. You’ll need to pay a deposit. The amount varies according to the age of the vehicle. This deposit is returned after the vehicle leaves the country. This requires getting a document from a border post as you leave the country.

The vehicle can stay in Mexico for 180 days, in the case of Mexican citizens living abroad. In the case of expatriates living in Mexico temporarily, the authorization is valid for as long as that person holds a temporary visa. When the temporary visa becomes a permanent visa, the vehicle has to be permanently imported to Mexico.

Further Reading

Definitive Importation

ship exporting

The Mexican Customs Agency, called Aduanas, has set forth rules about importing used vehicles definitively into the country. They are as follows:

  • You must fill out a definitive import permit and register it with the Mexican Customs Agency before the vehicle is allowed within the borders.
  • A person can only important two vehicles within a twelve-month span. Otherwise, they will need to register with the Secretary of the Economy as an importer.
  • Vehicles must be at least eight years old or older to export US salvage cars to Mexico.
  • Vehicles must be in reasonable working condition.
  • Cars must be safe for use on the road.

There are a few other rules. For example, passenger vehicles cannot hold more than 15 people. Also, trucks must weigh less than 7,056 fully loaded, the VIN number must correspond with manufacturer records.


Mexico does not allow the import of salvage vehicles for the intention of using parts, scrap, or junk. Also, cars cannot be in a non-repairable state. Finally, Mexico does not allow vehicles not eligible for highway use.

This, of course, is where things can get tricky. The laws in Mexico indicate that vehicles cannot be imported for salvage. Does that mean you cannot import a car with a salvage title into the country? Not necessarily.Your purpose has to be to repair the car in Mexico. Alternatively, you can obtain a rebuilt salvage title while the vehicle is still in the United States.

Car Transporter

If the vehicle has been deemed unusable and you are trying to sell it for parts, then you cannot import it into Mexico.

There is also a special procedure for importing classic cars, as long as they are at least 30 years old. You will need to take the vehicle to a border post and submit to an inspection by a border agent. It is advisable that you arrange this by prior appointment.

There are also special procedures for people who live in the border regions between Mexico and the United States, as well as special rules for the state of Sonora.

The duties charged by the Mexican authorities will vary widely. So, it is advisable to consult the authorities before importing the vehicle. Alternatively, using a specialized company will make the process much easier.

The Easy Way to Import

Getting a salvage car into Mexico requires a lot of work, as you can see. However, there is an easier way to do this: car auctions. You can find cheap cars for sale through online salvage auctions. And, if you choose the right online auction company, then you can save yourself a great deal of hassle too. When you work with one of these companies, the first thing you will do is choose a salvage vehicle and bid on it right from your computer.

If you win the auction, then you can begin the process of moving your vehicle to Mexico. Remember that your car has to be repairable even when it has a salvage title. So, be careful with the cars that you choose from the auction site. And, when you work with the right auction company, they will help you through the process of getting the vehicle into Mexico. That way, you don’t have to handle everything on your own. Rather, you will have expert help to export US salvage cars to Mexico.


If you are looking for cheap cars for sale, then an auction could be a great idea. You can purchase a salvage vehicle, import it to Mexico and then make any repairs needed to make it safe for use on the roads.

As with any country, importing a salvage car is not as simple as buying it and then putting it on a boat. Make sure you know what you will need to do in order to export US salvage cars to Mexico. You can then choose the right place to buy and ship it for a much easier process overall.

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