Thursday, October 22, 2009

More information about driving from Guatemala to Texas

Someone emailed me through the blog about buying a car in Guatemala and driving it back to the States.  Never one to waste effort, I thought I'd post my response here in case it could be useful.  Of course, if someone needs more specifics, I'll be glad to help.

I haven't driven from Guatemala to Texas (yet) but I can tell you the route I took down from Texas.  Check out this post if you haven't already:

That post outlines in detail my route.

Based on the paperwork I've had to do to import my car to Guatemala, I would plan on spending a couple of weeks down here, maybe 3 to get the paperwork done.  Could be shorter than that, but it's hard to tell sometimes.  Let me know when/if you do that and I can get you the name of a tramitador who will do all the paperwork for you.

Check the car out well...I can give you the name of a mechanic if you decide to go for it...American who has lived down here for ages.  Great guy.  He won't charge you a whole lot to look at it...maybe nothing, if he thinks you'll give him future business. Of course, I can't guarantee that :)

You do not have to have insurance in Guatemala, but you can get it if it makes you feel better.

Driving through Mexico, I would contact Transmigrantes Mireya near McAllen, TX.  They have partners on the southern Mexican border and can help you with the process of driving through Mexico legally.  Of course, you can enter as a tourist, but you can't carry much in your car.  The number for Transmigrantes Mireya is

1479 S Rangerville Rd
Harlingen, TX 78552

That should be enough to get you started.  I can get you hooked up with some maps, etc, if/when you decide to make the trip.  Just let me know and I'll be glad to help.


  1. You don't have to have insurance, but if you're in a fender-bender and don't have it, the first step will be jail. The next step will be meeting with the prosecutor after a few weeks to determine how badly you want to get out of jail and get your car out of the impound lot. The final step will be how much you will pay the person who ran into you.

  2. Indeed, I meant to come back and clarify that it IS recommended to have it...just not absolutely required.

  3. Benjamin,

    There is also something else to consider in buying a car in Guat. and bringing it into the USA. You probably won't be able to. It is nearly impossible to impoort a car from ANY country due to EPA regs. I wanted to buy an Alfa Romeo in Monterrey, Mexico and could not get it back without a ton of trouble.

    If you get ready to come back, please contact me for some of my maps. I think they would save you a lot of bad directions AND show you some of the most interesting side-trips you will miss if you just get a Guia Roji map. My mission os to get people to appreciate Mexico, not just drive through it.

  4. Good point about the car, Mike...I think I mentioned that in my email, but it got lost in the editing for the post. Thanks for bringing it up.

  5. We have driven a car north once but a car that we have brought down and decided the taxes to import were to much so we took it back to the states and traded it for a truck that payed almost no taxes.

    Going north the main thing was police in MX harassing us to find drugs. In a post we got threatened to put the gas tank down. We stood our ground so they just let us go. We left Guatemala city at 5.00am got to Veracruz around 10 at night (had a nice dinner on a restaurant that is on a pier into the ocean- had pescado a la Veracruzana). Left Veracruz around 5.00am got to Matamoros (the border town) still with light since we were traveling during summer and we were gaining light. After the most awful experience with the INS we got through. Then I was not married to my American husband and I was not American so to them it looked liked a gringo trying to bring in his cleaning lady into the US, even though I had my Guatemalan passport stamped with entries to various countries and a 10 year tourist visa to the US. Thanks to the big ordeal we missed the Championship game between Utah Jazz and the Bulls.

    Any way good luck there are some pretty sight along the way, like the big bridge in Tampico and a big cement ball that marks the Tropic of Cancer.

  6. Thanks for your post, Guatemala Genes. You guys made that trip quick! I'd be interested in hearing more about your experience with the Mexican police - could be beneficial to other readers. If you aren't comfortable posting publicly, perhaps you could email me at benjamin.barnett at gmail dot com Hope to hear from you soon! BTW, I have you on my RSS reader, and I love all the Guatemalan holiday recipes you've been posting.