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What To Know When Driving In Canada And Mexico

Being so close to the United States, Americans frequently travel by automobile to Canada and Mexico. Not only should you be aware of the differences in language, culture, safety and money, make sure you know the basic automobile regulations of the neighbors next door.

When driving to Canada make sure you are prepared. Although not as strict as traveling to Mexico or other countries, there are still some important things to know and do when driving across the border to Canada. Be sure all of your insurance is up to date, and perhaps purchase higher than the statutory limits allowed by your state. Safety and vehicle registration documentation should be passed, and current. Of course your driver’s license must be current. You and all your passengers should have appropriate identification and since 2009, a passport as well. Proof of auto insurance is required in Canada; your agent should be able to provide you with the appropriate insurance card to present at the border. If you or an individual in your vehicle has a criminal history, a special waiver may be needed to enter the country. Finally, Canadian traffic rules are pretty similar to the United States, but they use the metric system, and in certain parts signs may only be in French.

Mexico comes with some different challenges when driving across the border. Of course Spanish is the main language spoken in Mexico, although there may be some English road signs closer to the United States border. Not only is proper identification such as up to date, licenses, registrations, and passports required, Mexico has mandatory insurance requirements, and violation of these requirements is a criminal offense. Mexico is not a covered territory on a standard personal auto policy. If you are only entering Mexico for ten days or less, and only traveling within 25 miles of the United States border, a limited coverage Mexico endorsement can be attached to your auto policy. Even with this coverage there are several restrictions. Essentially any physical damage to the vehicle must be brought to the US for repair. Any lawsuits must also be filed in the US.  Finally, this auto endorsement is only excess coverage; local Mexican Auto Coverage must also be purchased. That being said, Mexican “tourist” automobile insurance must be purchased. If your own personal automobile agent cannot assist you in procuring this coverage, try to talk to a travel agent who is familiar with Mexican auto rules. One very significant factor to realize when driving in Mexico is that automobile accidents can be considered criminal offenses, in severe circumstances.  If death, severe injury or severe property damage are involved, the accident is put under criminal investigation.  If you can truly avoid it, it may be best to let the locals drive when in Mexico.  

Although you may live on the border or within 100 miles of Canada or Mexico, closeness does not mean you’re covered, be prepared when crossing the border.