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Auto and Truck Buying, Selling, Importation and licensing Info

4-21-07 SELLING VEHICLES IN BAJA - There are a lot of notices to sell vehicles here and around los Cabos all the time. We were advised at a business meeting in Cabo san Lucas about six months ago by a government official that it is a federal offense to sell a vehicle in Mexico that has not already been properly imported to Mexico. Also that having someone here do it instead of importing at the border is not legal; although many people do it hoping not to get caught. Beware if you sell a car to someone and it is still in your name, foreign or Mexican, if they kill someone with your car you could be in big trouble.

Also there are insurance issues as the name of the registered owner needs to be on the insurance policy, and if the car is in an accident or stolen, the registered owner has to sign documents, and it could create a problem to track down the person from whom you bought the vehicle and send documents back and forth for signing.

Someone told me the other day that if you have non-Mexican plates that you can still drive the car even if the plates are expired until the end of the year that is on the plates. That is not correct. You may not get stopped until the end of they year, but the date of expiration of the plates is the date the plates expire, everywhere, period. The best suggestion was to take the vehicle back to your country of origin and register it there in your name, or drive up to the border and import it in your name. Cathie smith insurance agent cathiesmith ( -at-) (Courtesy of Baja Pony Express)

3-20-07 DMV REGISTRATION ANSWER - Ok the other day I went to the DMV in San Pedro CA to clear all this up. When you register the address of your vehicle as Todos Santos, Mexico you are exempt from smog inspections, their computer does this automatically. However California wants to see proof of Mexican insurance with your Mexican address on it and you must be listed on it as a resident of Mexico, not a tourist if you want California to waive proof of insurance. They let me read their internal manual. It is called Registration Manual and the part you want is chapter 26. Those are the facts, now for the editorial: I don't think that California has a right to demand that you be insured in Mexico. I think that this policy was put into effect by the insurance lobby and if any of you has any connections in Sacramento you should complain long and loud about this policy. Peace and Love Carl - Carl march

You can obtain DMV waivers for both California's insurance and smog requirements if your Mexican residence is far enough South of the US border area to qualify.

First, you must change your California residence address for your vehicle to your Mexican residence address. This is kept in the DMV files while your mailing address is shown on the registration card. Please note the important difference between "residence" address and "mailing" address. You need to change the residence address to Mexico, NOT your mailing address.

Obtain DMV Form 256 - Statement of Facts. Fill it out stating that the vehicle is in Mexico and include evidence of a Mexican auto insurance policy listing your Mexican residence address. This satisfies the California registration requirement for insurance.

If your California mailing address is in a biennial smog permit area, a Mexican residence address will waive the smog check requirements.

Mexican addresses near the US border may or may not qualify if the DMV suspects your request is being made just to avoid the smog requirement. The determination of whether you are close enough to the US border that you might frequently cross back and forth is entirely subjective.

None of this information is in a simple form you can pick up at the DMV. It is drawn from internal DMV policy memos and instructions. Don't expect DMV employees, especially those in Northern California, to be aware of these policies. You may need to press them to refer to their internal policy manuals on this issue. - Lorraine Torres

Registration - I registered my truck "Off Road" for $16.00. In doing so, I agreed that I would not park, drive, or otherwise use my vehicle on any public roads. Naturally, if I were to drive the vehicle back into the U.S., I would be required to get a valid registration. - Ed Henry

California Vehicle Licensing Issues- In response to the Erlandson's questions about Ca vehicles. Yes, now if you have a registered car in Ca without US insurance you will receive from the DMV a "Notice of Intent to Suspend". The way to deal with this is to file a DMV form called "AFFIDAVIT OF NON-USE". (This is not the same as another similar form called Planned Non-Operation). You have to send or Fax the Affidavit of Non Use to the address of this program which is State of California DMV, P.O. Box 997405, Sacramento, CA 95899-7405.

Strangely enough, my local DMV would not accept the form from me as a walk in because this is a different state program (The Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program). The affidavit waives your requirement to have auto insurance. But if you drive back the the States you must cancel this Affidavit of Non use and get temporary US insurance. I think you can just call them for the cancellation. Russell and Leslie - Russell Sutter

More on California Vehicle Licensing Issues - After finally achieving some success with our California vehicle here in baja, and the annual "smog waiver" problem. We are pleased to report, that thanks to all the helpful BPE postings on the subject they finally "get it". Now, an even bigger issue has raised its ugly head with these very same people. We presently have two vehicles at our house in LB, which we have Mexican insurance on, they are both still registered in Calif, and we just do the smog waiver drill every two years. We just arrived back in the bay area last week, and discovered in our 50# of mail........two warnings, and two "official" "Suspension of Registration"s. We had been gone for six months and couldn't have acted on these until now, but the bottom line is.....The new law effective 1/07 regarding mandatory auto insurance/financial responsibility, allows dmv to talk to insurance company computers, with the end result being this letter being sent out if it is found no insurance on record.. To get re-instated, you must send proof of insurance and a $14 fine.

The fun really began once we called the 800 number and attempted to explain our Mexican situation to a real person (I have talked to six different people including two supervisors and "their" supervisor). NO ONE is on the same page, lots of finger pointing, etc but, the important impact on all of us in this situation is the following........ They will not accept any Mexican insurance policy, unless it is a "Mexican resident" policy (only valid for coverage of residents of Mexico with the registered owner address being in Mexico" this is the good part.......this can only be a "National policy and only one company is acceptable as a underwriter. (can't remember the name?) They would not accept our GE Seguros policy presently in effect.

So, we had a choice given to us of either reinstating our Calif insurance to get the suspension lifted, and in turn get a new registration, sticker, etc....or, import the vehicle, get Mexican plates, insurance, etc Has anyone else had this problem upon returning home?........any ideas, suggestions, would be appreciated. Russ y Marylu Erlandson (Courtesy, Baja Pony Express)

SMOG CHECK INFO - If somebody needs the recipe to renew DMV registration for a car staying in BCS, I have copies of the DMV 's laws - Catherine Chambaret, chambaretcat ( -a t- ), 612 111 7311

I had a car down there and found out too late that if your vehicle is over 1,000 miles from California and certify that on a form you submit to the DMV that the Smog Check is waived. I didn't know about this and drove my car back home thinking I had to get a smog check. Hope this helps you. Joe, bajajoes ( -a t- )

CAR PERMITS - This article from the Arizona Star describes how car permits can be obtained online. (Courtesy Baja Pony Express)

MORE ON SMOG EXEMPTIONS - Many Californians don't realize that there is also a smog inspection exemption for owners that can prove they have driven their vehicles into Baja Sur. There is an actual "minimum miles from the border" clause to avoid exempting all the trans-border commuters in TJ, but the exemption does exist and most of the DMV agents in the San Diego area are familiar with it. Due to the rather high cost to import and then maintain current plates on Mexican cars, I prefer buying in California and maintaining registry there. Of course it helps if you are regularly going back north to take care of things like this. To avoid long lines in San Diego area DMV offices, I usually use the DMV office in Ventura, where they are not as familiar with this exemption. They usually have to look it up in a huge book of CA vehicle code. You will have to fill out a statement of facts and show some proof of domicile in Baja Sur. If anyone can quote me the actual chapter and verse for this California law I would appreciate it (the people at the counter always refuse to tell me the actual number)! It sure would be nice if the Mexican vehicles had a smog inspection program, however! - Jim Elfers

COLORADO CAR REGISTRATIONS - Great news for everyone who has cars registered in Colorado and has to worry about emission testing every year. The Government has just released the news that as of January 1, 2007 the counties of El Paso, Larimer and Weld will no longer be required to have emission testing done. - Kathy Gordon

We just renewed our truck under the same circumstances. We had to go to the DMV site and download a form stating that the car is out of state. We were then told at DMV that this would not work because Mexico was exempt, but I wrote a letter stating that we were told over the phone that it was OK due to the distance. Here is a copy of the letter I sent them and we now have our sticker. I hope this helps To whom it may concern, I am sending this letter along with the attached forms that I downloaded per DMV's advise in renewing my registration. I am living in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, which is approximately 1200 miles from Los Angeles County, where my car is registered. My parents received my registration notice in late December which stated I needed a smog check. I had just returned to Todos Santos from Los Angeles in the beginning of December. My fiancé needed to go to have a tooth pulled, so I called DMV to find out if I could get my car registered without getting a smog check, as I was not planning on driving up to the states for quite a while unless I needed to for the smog check. The woman I spoke to said to download the forms which I filled out and sent with my fiancé. She took them to the DMV in Hawthorne and they stated that I needed a Smog Check because Mexico and Nevada are except. The DMV in Hawthorne said that she should send the forms to the Sacramento office certified mail, and that the Sacramento office may take care of the registration. Needless to say my fiancé and I where very upset, since I would have driven her up instead of her flying up. I am hoping that since my fiancé has paid the registration fee that I will not be penalized, and that you can take care of the registration until I can get back up to Los Angeles to get my car smog checked. Thank you for your time and help in this matter. Sincerely, Sherri Neil, srneil ( -a t- )

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