How to Keep Your US Plated Car Registered while Living at Lake Chapala Ajijic Mexico

February 17, 2010

South Dakota Registration Tips

1.Do Not Attempt to Register on the South Dakota Dept of MV website

2.But, go the web site addresses below and fill out, but do not submit the two forms (Appliction and Damage Disclosure)

3.Print out the completed forms .

4.4. Call Clay Count 1 – 605 677 7123 Have your exiting title in hand, the odometer reading (mileage). The color of the car, the address where the car will be garaged (Use the address of a friend or your Mail forward address)

  1. 5. Send the requested documents to Clay County (Original title, the two forms you completed and your check for registration) to  Clay County Treasurer, 211 W. Main St., Vermillion, SD 57069

Keep a copy of your original title before sending the original to Clay County.

Web addresses for forms to  fill out on line and then print out, but DO NOT SUMIT On Line

Application for Registration

Damage Disclosure Form

Again, Just fill it out, but DO NOT SUBMIT on line.

You’ll mail these completed printed forms to Clay County later. (see address above)

  • Bjorn & Ana Rosa Andersson

    We were just wondering what about people from Canada? How we can bring our car into Mexico?

  • Audrey

    I thought this would be an interresting subject, but please only one person talking at a time,,,,would you re-record this information or print it out so we could all understand it…..Thanks…………Audrey

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Bjorn and Anna Rosa, Good to hear from you via the comments section.

    The way that most Canadians bring their car in is just to drive it down. You can get Mexican car insurance from Greta Berg Parker Insurance (a local agency here at Lake Chapala) over the telephone and she accepts credit cards over the telephone.

    From the USA and I think Canada too you would call 011 52 376 765 4666. YOu can find out more about Greta in a Video Interview I did with her at this link

    You will have to obtain a car import sticker at the border ( in the USA you can do this at a Mexican Consulate… but not sure about Canada). You need a credit card (I don’t think a debit card will work) to pay the fee for this.

    The driver’s license, driver ID, name on car title, all must be for the same person.

    Sometimes people ask me about help actually driving from the USA or Canada to Lake Chapala.

    Depending upon my schedule I can sometimes be of help with this as well. Send me an e mail to Sid@ChapalaClub if this is something
    you would be interested in. Thanks for your question. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Audrey, I know it sounds a little complex. I’m working on perfecting my recording skills, but doubt a second go at it would improve it.

    Send me an e mail to and I’ll send you the steps in all written form. That way you can just follow the steps and check them off one at a time as you do them.

    Thanks for your comments. I’m sure given the complexity you’re not the only one who didn’t understand the explanation totally.

    So, I’ll prepare a short report to send to those who request it by e mailing me directly to rather than redoing it and sending it out to all our club members.

    All for now, Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • TW

    I see how you can keep your car registered in the states using the South Dakota licensing, but how do you keep your drivers license current as well?

    Obviously we’re talking about someone who is no longer living in the states enough to have a permanent address, so what state do you get the drivers license in, and how do you handle renewals, considering there are residency requirements and things like eye checks, and new photo IDs on the license itself?

    I’m curious about this since we’re strongly considering making the plunge to the expat lifestyle, and the Lake Chapala area really seems like the place we’d want to be.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi El Lobo, Thanks for your questions. First let me congratulate you for considering the expat lifestyle here at Lake Chapala Ajijic.

    I think most states now give 5 years or so on driver’s licenses so renewal will not be very often.

    Of course it varies from state to state. I have both a Texas and Jalisco, Mexico valid DL. I use a family member’s address in Texas, but could probably also use a mail forward service address I also have in Texas with a street address.

    Also a Mexican driver’s license it not hard to get and it too is good for 4 years at a time. A bonus is that your Mexican License is good ID in Mexico and if perchance you are stopped on traffic the officer is more likely to give you a break I think since it’s obvious you’re trying to fit in, to comply with the law etc.

    They like looking a document they’re familiar with in their language.

    Hope this helps. Keep you questions coming. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Bill

    I’m already in Mexico and would like to get my car registered in Texas for credit reasons. Does anyone know how I can proceed with this and no make a trip up there with my vehicle? I have a 1 ton truck with plates from Georgia (not sure if 1 ton trucks require inspection). The plates are currently suspended because I had canceled my car insurance in that state.

    Very appreciative if anyone could help. I also know people who live in Texas if this helps and can make the rip to the DMV if this helps.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    You would have to drive to Texas with your car, give the registrar a Texas address, provide the registrar with proof of Texas Vehicle Insurance. and get a Texas Safety Inspection.

    You should be able to do this in Webb County at Laredo if you can find a Webb County address to use.

    Handy Mail in San Antonio Tla. can rent you a mail box with a Webb County address.

    You may also have to get a Texas Drivers License.

    here’s a link to check for more/better info:

    Hope this helps. Sid

  • JM


    Thanks for the tip. What if I don’t have the title since the car is being financed? Is there a provision for this situation?

    Thanks again,


  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi JM, If the car is financed you must get a letter from the lien holder giving you permission to take your car into Mexico. Most lein holders are familiar with the process and have form letters.

    The letter should be notarized. You present the title in your name and the notarized letter from the lien holder as you enter Mexico and apply for your tourist visa and temporary car import windshield sticker.

    Hope this helps. Tu amigo, Sid

  • Henry

    Hi Sid,

    We are thinking of buying a car from Canadian friends of ours and then having it registered in South Dakota so that we can have insurance on it in Mexico. Do you think this will pose any different problems or can we simply follow the instructions you provide for a US plated car above?


  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Henry, Thanks for your comments.

    You can buy insurance on foreign plated cars here at Lake Chapala. Of course you should secure insurance for Mexico before arriving at the border.

    Be sure and follow the instructions for South Dakota plates as set out in the article here on

    Not sure of the process of changing from Canadian plates to US plates, but it should work if you follow the directions in the article.

    There are so many variables it’s hard to give the best advice without know all the variables.

    Things like lien holders if any, type of immigration documents, whose name is on the title, who will be driving, etc. etc.

    I hope this helps. If not send me a e mail to with all the details.

    Tu amigo, Sid

  • pvfrank .

    is there a similar procedure for PA? What about Inspections when the time is due? Thank you

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