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Drive car in USA with valid Mexican driving license?


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Question: Can I drive a car in USA with valid Mexican driving license?

Answer: A valid Mexican driver's license should allow you to drive within the United States for a certain amount of time as long as you are a visitor and not residing in the United States. To find out the length of time that qualifies you as a resident, and thus a need to obtain a US driver's license, you would need to check with each state's DMV since laws differ.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) gives good information what is required of US states regarding foreign licensed drivers. The WI DOT states that foreign motorists from any of the countries who are party to the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic (Geneva, 1949) or the Convention on the Regulation of Inter-American Motor Vehicle Traffic (Washington, D.C., 1943) who visit the United States as tourists can drive legally using their valid domestic driver's license for a period not to exceed one year from the date of arrival. They may drive either a personal or rental car.

Tourists from countries who are party to the Geneva Convention and the Regulation of Inter-American Motor Vehicle Traffic can also legally drive their own private cars bearing valid license plates/registration tags issued in their native country for a period not to exceed one year from their date of arrival.

Foreign tourists whose country is not among those that are party to the terms of either convention may be required to obtain a driver's license and secure license plates/registration tags upon arrival in the United States (U.S.).

Mexico is a member of the 1943 Convection and thus a driver's license from Mexico should be honored here in the USA as the agreement requires.

In addition to having a valid foreign driver's license, visitors are advised to carry an International Driving Permit obtained in their home country, as authorized by the 1943/1949 or 1968 conventions, or attach an English translation to their national driving license.

The International Driving Permit (IDP) is translated into the nine official languages of the United Nations, including English, and serves as a translation to be used in conjunction with the visitor's valid driver's license. It can be useful in emergencies, such as traffic violations or auto accidents, particularly when a foreign language is involved.

Keep in mind that the IDP alone does not authorize you to drive in this United States; it is your valid foreign license that does this. For example, the state of California notes on their DMV site that they do not recognize an International Driving Permit (also called an International Driver License, International License, etc) as a valid driver license. California does recognize a valid driver's license that is issued by a foreign jurisdiction (county, state, territory) of which the license holder is a resident (per CA Vehicle Code 12502).

So if you are a tourist coming to the US then your valid Mexican driver's license should be accepted. If you want to know about state specific laws and how long they will allow you to stay before considering you a resident and not a visitor and thus need to obtain a State license, contact the Department of Vehicles of that state.

Additionally, it is advised that you have liability insurance regardless of the state in which you are operating a vehicle.


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1 Responses to "Drive car in USA with valid Mexican driving license?"
  1. Anonymous

    My question answered quickly and seemly correctly. Great site.

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