We crossed into Mexico from Laredo, TX early this morning. What a day! Here is my report for others who might be planning the same thing.
We crossed on Bridge #2, which is the end of I-35. We were pulling a trailer, but I made a mistake and got in the “Nothing to declare” line. They sent me back, and I had to make a u-turn on the bridge — pulling a trailer.
Lesson #1: Get in the right line. LOL. If you’re moving, that’s probably the one with stuff to declare.
This was my view, as we waited our turn:
They had us open the trailer, and they looked at our inventory. Ours was NOT a consulate-approved menaje de casa. (There was just no way the timing would have worked for us.) So we had to pay duty of $5000MX. I was fine with this.
We did not have to unpack the trailer. We didn’t have to take the dogs out of the car, and they waved off their paperwork. The guards were friendly people with little-to-no English. (A major goal is to learn Spanish while we’re here, and we’ve started, but we’re not ready for a conversation.)
Next we had to drive through Nuevo Laredo to get our visas stamped and the TIP for our car and trailer at Aduana.
Lesson #2: Know where you’re going.
The way is NOT marked, and it’s a bit convoluted. I used this page…
…but more importantly, I figured it out, turn by turn, on Google Maps the night before. (There’s one road that isn’t labeled on Google Maps as described on that page, but you can follow the instructions and see what they’re describing. That weird turn IS weird, but there’s an arrow, and other people will likely be turning there too. You’ll be fine.)
We stopped on the way and changed our money. We didn’t have to. There is a place to do that at Aduana.
Lesson #3: Aduana has a disorganized parking lot not made for trailers, and there are a TON of people and cars.
But it is incredibly well organized. You start in the line on the left end of the building, and simply go in order, whether you think you need to or not. One good thing is that only ONE person from the car needs to go in. (This was nice, because I could stay with the dogs and keep the A/C running.
Lesson #4: Know what paperwork you need, and have originals and copies of it.
We had… passports with visas, drivers licenses, marriage license, car title, trailer title, car registration, trailer registration, health certs for dogs, and Mexican car insurance.
If you don’t own your car or trailer outright, you’ll need a letter of permission from the bank or whatever that owns it.
Step 2 or 3 in the process at this building is copies. Even though we had copies of the above, we went through this line anyway, because we got paperwork in step 1 that needed copies.
Lesson #5: Make sure everything is correct before you leave.
If you have a residence visa, for example, you need a CANJE stamp, not a Tourista stamp. The person doing our TIP missed the trailer the first time through — I caught it, though, and we got it straightened out before we left.
After all this was done, we were ready to head toward San Miguel de Allende.
Lesson #6: There are several ways to get to wherever you’re going. Don’t panic.
The driving is pretty much like it is in the States. We had an on-board navigation system, and it DID work — but not all do. That said, by husband also used Waze on his phone, and he really helped me know what to expect.
We drove from Nuevo Laredo to Monterrey to Matejuala on the first day — sticking to the highways and toll roads. (Bring lots of money for tolls and gas.)
Lesson #7: There are fewer gas stations than I expected.
The lots are gravel with pot holes. There’s nowhere to park a trailer or potty your dogs. We actually didn’t stop (other than gas) until we got Matejuala. Poor puppies. There are no rest stops, per se.
Lesson #8: When you get gas, make sure they zero it out before they begin pumping. Give them no money before. Insist they zero it. Pay what it says in cash — count out the money you give them clearly.
The first gas station attendant tried to take advantage of us. No one else did.
Lesson #9: Pay attention to your driving!
The lanes are narrow, there are lots of trucks, there are lots of curvy steep climbs, and if there is something blocking a lane, they don’t post signs! Holy crap, we were almost on some things before we saw the flagger. Scared me a couple of times!
You are responsible for getting out of the way of faster cars. Stay aware and be considerate.
We are spending the night at the Las Palmas Midway Inn in Matejuala. Very easy to find and dog-friendly. I really love this little place!
This was a tough day — the toughest of the trip — but really nothing went wrong. It was just long and stressful. Patience and flexibility are the key.