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Information on bringing a personal-use school bus into Mexico is not easily obtained. Mexico has restrictions on new vehicles that can be obtained in Mexico in order to ensure the economic viability of their own industries. While older school buses are another matter, it is imperative that you be able to prove that the vehicle is for personal use via Mexican insurance and other means. School buses that have been converted for living can be classified as an RV and therefore can obtain a 10 year Temporary Import Permit (TIP), which is the easiest way to import a bus into Mexico.
If you plan to drive your RV or travel trailer beyond the Mexico "Free Zone" you will need to purchase a Mexico Vehicle Import Permit. The Mexico Free Zone, also known as the Liberated Zone, or Perimeter Zone or Free Trade Zone.
This is a customs designation only for that area located along the Mexican international land border that spans the area of the border to the first "interior" check point of the Mexican Customs authorities. This is generally about 20 to 26 kilometers in from the border towns.
There are exceptions such as the peninsula of Baja California and places like Puerto Peñasco where it runs to the ocean front along the main highways. A vehicle import permit for a designated RV is not needed for driving in any part of the Baja Peninsula or the Sonora free Zone. Drivers can obtain a “Sonora Only” vehicle import permit if you only plan to drive the RV in the Mexican State of Sonora.
Class A, B, C, and the RV portion of Fifth Wheels as well as the travel trailer portion of a tow-and-trailer setup can qualify for the 10-year RV permit. However, truck campers and the tow vehicles for travel trailers and 5ers don't qualify. As stated, these are good for 10 years and, for the qualified RV, this is the only thing offered as the six-month Temporary Vehicle Permit is no longer available for these RV's.
Despite any advice, official or unofficial, to the contrary, vehicle permits cannot be obtained at checkpoints in the interior of Mexico. They can however be obtained from Banjercito, the official Mexican issuing agency. The permit may be purchased online at the Banjercito website, at the border or at a Mexican consulate in the following cities:
It is recommended that one carry three copies of each of these documents:
These documents are needed when you travel to Mexico whether or not you purchase your RV or travel trailer import permit online or not.
For additional border information for U.S. and Canadian Citizens going to Mexico, visit: