When driving into Mexico , you must stop at the 21-Kilometer checkpoint and obtain a tourist card (Visa). Go to the white building marked tourist permits. You will be asked to show your citizenship documents and fill out a visa form. Once you complete filling out the visa form and sign it, the immigration official will stamp it and you are ready to head south to San Carlos . Above all, remember that you're a guest in a foreign country and please be patient.
There are usually only two customs officials for tourist cards (visa) on duty at the checkpoint, so try and get there as early in the day as possible (the office opens at 6am). As the day goes on, the line WILL get longer--delays of up to an hour or longer at this station are not uncommon, so plan accordingly.
Lastly, do not transport guns or ammunition into Mexico . If you are caught with either, you will be jailed immediately and your vehicle confiscated. There are no exceptions. Mexico is a delightful country with warm people and rich traditions. Please remember that you are a welcome guest in a foreign land and act accordingly.
Mexican Auto Insurance
Mexican Auto-Insurance is a Requirement. Please do not risk it.
You will find Mexican auto insurance vendors on both sides of the border crossings. A better idea is to set up your insurance before you go. The following link allows you to buy your insurance online and print out your policy.
There are numerous Pemex gas stations along the way. Magna Sin is unleaded, and lleno (pronounced yay-no) means full It is sold in liters (3.78 liters = 1 gallon). Only cash is accepted and there is no self service. Most stations close by 10PM. Desert Divers recommends that you fill up in Nogales , on the U.S. side of the border, before you head south and then again in San Carlos before you head back north.
All roads from Tucson to San Carlos are 4-lane divided highways, and are generally in very good shape. What makes them unique is their dependence on toll funding rather than taxation to pay the development cost. So, you'll have to 'pay as you go'. There are currently three toll booths ( Nogales , Magdalena De Kino, and Hermosillo ) from the U.S./Mexican border to San Carlos . Have a handful of small bills available so you'll encounter no problems with making change.
If you do breakdown, Contact Sea Side Reservations and we will use every available resource to inure that you are taken care of. We understand that being in a foreign country can be a bit intimidating to many Americans. Please know that when you are our clients we are you agents while in Mexico . The highway is also patrolled by Los Angeles Verdes (The Green Angels). If your cell phone is not working, raise the hood of your vehicle and they will stop to help you out. These government-operated pickup trucks are driven by mechanics. They speak some English and charge only for parts or towing.
Traveling to Mexico Checklist
Proof of citizenship for each passenger.
Current vehicle registration.
Current driver's license.
Proof of current US vehicle insurance.
Mexican Auto Insurance.
Driving Map to San Carlos . An absolute must! Don't have one? Download and print one here.
Drinking Water and Traveling Snacks. You will be driving across the Sonoran desert and, although there are towns and service stations along the route, it's a good idea to pack some refreshments and snacks.
Mexico Road Signs
These are some important Road Signs that you should familiarize yourself with prior to driving in Mexico.