On Obtaining a Mexican Driver’s License

I have been living here in Mexico for three years, and have been a permanent resident for two of those years. Because this is my permanent home, I figured that it is about time to obtain a Mexican driver’s license. About two weeks ago, a neighbor and I drove to the motor vehicle bureau, called the Secretaria de Movilidad. There, I asked a bunch of questions and left with a paper telling me what I needed to have in order to get that license.

Since I was already a licensed driver in the United States, I did not have to take the written test, but what I did need was my passport, a valid driver’s license, proof of where I live (such as my electric bill) and lab work showing my blood type. The proof of where I live must not be more than two months old.

Just as each state in the U.S. has its own license, so do each of the 31 states in Mexico. I live in the state of Colima, and our motor vehicle office is in the center of Colima City – a bit of a drive that I was not looking forward to making.

For those of you who have not read any of the posts which describe the village in which I live, let me say this:

Cofradía de Suchitlán is a rural village of about 1500 people. We have no post office, no bank, no ATM, no supermarket, no government office except for a small medical clinic and the small office of the mayor of Cofradía. It is the same with several surrounding villages. Therefore, I was very pleased when a car with a loudspeaker attached to its roof made its way through our streets yesterday announcing that people from the Secretaria de Movilidad would be here today to allow people to obtain or renew their licenses. They would begin at 9am at the cancha (sports court) within the village.

This being Mexico, I didn’t know if they would show up, if they would show up on time, or what would actually happen, but I didn’t want to take a chance, so I walked to the cancha at 8:15am and thankfully found only about a dozen people waiting.

Around the cancha was an ambulance, police and employees from the Secretaria setting up their equipment. The man in charge gave a speech telling us what was to take place and divided us up into two groups. I ended up being in the renewal group since I already had a license, even though it was from a different country.

He then gave each of us a ticket with a number on it, and I was number eleven. Eventually they called my number and I turned in my paperwork and I.D. and my Spanish was almost good enough, but for questions such as marital status, if I wanted to be an organ donor and who to call in case of emergency, it took me a few seconds to understand.

One thing that did concern me was for them to register my correct birthdate. In the U.S., numerical dates are written month-day-year. Here in Mexico they are written day-month-year, so I gave them my Mexican residency card first as opposed to my U.S. documents.

After that, I went to pay for the license. Yaayy – 50% off today so I only had to pay 380 pesos ($19.87 USD) instead of 760 pesos ($39.74 USD), and I didn’t even have to use my senior citizen discount I.D.

And as an aside, if you are looking anywhere that lists prices, the dollar/peso symbols are almost exactly alike with one exception. The peso sign is an “S” with one line through it, and the U.S. dollar sign has two lines through it. More than one gringo has almost had a heart attack seeing what they thought was an exorbitant price when they were actually looking at the price in pesos.

So the next step is being photographed and fingerprinted. The photograph went fine, but the fingerprinting (since this was my first Mexican license so my fingerprints weren’t in the system) was a bit of a problem. This is the rainy season, but today was bright and sunny, so the electronic machine was put in a cardboard box with a piece of cloth over it to hide some of the light. I eventually stopped counting how many times it took for the machine to capture all ten of my fingers satisfactorily, but ultimately we were successful, then I just waited for my name to be called and I had my brand new Mexican driver’s license issued by the State of Colima.

It’s good for four years and only took three hours from the time I arrived at the cancha until I was walking away with my prize in my hand. And I was number 11 in the line. I felt really sorry for those with higher numbers and hoped that they had eaten breakfast before they arrived, as I believe there were more than 50 people by the time I left.

So that was my adventure for today. Until next time…………….

The cancha of Cofradía on Driver’s License Day

4 thoughts on “On Obtaining a Mexican Driver’s License

  1. You should feel lucky that a drive by shooting, by the drug lords, didn’t happen. Sorry, just an attempt for a little humor for those of us north of the border who cannot fathom living in (or even visiting) Mexico again, due to the fear that is spread by the violence and crime we read or hear about in the news. I visited Nuevo Laredo back in the mid 1970s, when it was just a sleepy and peaceful Mexican village. Had a great time with my new bride (from la madre patria España) and my best friend (Mexican/American and his Spanish bride) . . . Now Nuevo Laredo is totally ruined by the drug cartel. I wish you a long and peaceful life south of the border. – Phil Robins – Oklahoma City


    1. My purpose in starting this blog in January 2016, when I moved here, was two-fold. First to inform travelers or potential ex-pats of situations that might arise which they had not anticipated – things such as my mother dying in the states while I was here and the hoops I had to jump through to send authorities notarized paperwork so my sister could take care of whatever needed to be done (since I was the oldest child, I was legally responsible to handle everything). The second reason was to counteract everything Trump was saying about Mexicans – that they were criminals, murderers, drug dealers, rapists “and some, I assume, are good people.” There is crime in probably every country on the planet. My area is relatively safe – I live in a tiny village in a rural state and can walk around during the night without a problem. Everyone knows everyone here. And actually, I feel safer here than going back to the states, even without the Corona virus. Before, it was just school shootings, shootings in movie theaters and some guy in a hotel in Las Vegas opening fire and shooting 500 people, killing dozens of them. With Corona, I am not traveling anywhere for the remainder of this year, and we’ll see what happens during the next flu season, if the Corona virus comes back. However, it is also election year, and I am seeing videos of armed, angry white guys in camo with weapons trying to storm the capitol building in Michigan and screaming into the faces of police officers. Some of the legislators were wearing bulletproof vests and were so scared they caved to the mob’s demands, even as medical experts said opening the state (which goes against the president’s directive) would keep the pandemic going. And Trump called them “good people” and suggested the governor talk with them, a mob with guns looking for a war. And now there’s a guy who was driving around with loaded weapons in his car looking for politicians or police to gun down, broadcasting it on Facebook. Some people called 911, but many others were cheering him on. Thanks, but I feel much safer right here, where we are sheltering in place, wearing masks, taking care of each other, and I don’t have to worry about angry armed mobs looking for people to murder and the president praising them when they are about armed insurrection/murdering police and politicians. We may have had some politicians murdered here, but no one is trying to start a civil war and our president isn’t praising armed mobs who want to storm the capitol and threaten politicians and police. Here is a link to the video about the man who wanted to assassinate police and politicians https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/4/28/1940542/-The-far-right-wants-to-make-its-shared-Boogaloo-fantasy-of-violent-civil-war-a-reality?detail=emaildksp and here is a video about the literacy project that we have here in our village, and one of the reasons that I decided to live here. The more children we educate, the more children grow up able to support their families and don’t have a reason to live in other countries in order to make enough of a living to survive. Our graduates have become doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, architects and many more types of professionals and I am very proud of the work we do and what our kids have become – and they stay here and help lift their families out of poverty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLmYawFOT_0&feature=emb_logo


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