My husband and I have been living in a rancho in the state of Guanajuato for three years. This February I received my Residente Temporal card (my husband is Mexican), and we were relieved that our car with its California plates would now be legal without having to return it to the border for a new permit. At the immigration office in Leon, we were told that the car went along with my residency status. But after a few months we wanted to be sure, (especially after reading stories in blogs and information boards!)so we returned to the office to ask how we could get a temporary permit for the car to go along with the residency.
They sent us to the aduana offices at Puerto Interior, near the Bajio airport. Our first visit was early in August. At the aduana it was all very official. We had to leave our id’s at a kiosk, and sign a large book at the entrance of a large, silent office. After waiting a few minutes a young man came out of a nearby glassed-in office gave us a form to fill out, and asked for the title of the car, my passport, the car registration and the most recent 6-month permit (the one from the border). We returned a few days later with the documents.
This time a young woman came to see us and told us we didn’t need anything! No form to fill out - nothing! The car automatically goes along with the residency, she said.
We thought Great! and left to celebrate. But then, just this Monday as we were driving my husband’s mother to a doctor visit in a nearby town, we were stopped by a Transito Estatal police (their vehicles look a lot like US Highway Patrol). He asked for my driver’s license and didn’t notice that it was expired (whew! we are still waiting for it to arrive). He asked for my green card and said that those documents were in order, but that our car permit sticker was expired. Of course we explained that we had been told at the aduana that the car was legal, along with my green card.
He becamse testy, and asked if we were suggesting that he didn’t know the importation regulations. He threatened to confiscate the car. After lengthy protests from us he returned my license and green card and let us go “in respect for my mother-in-law”, who is ninety-one years old.
Yesterday we returned to the Puerto Interior. We were determined to get SOMETHING -a letter, or anything to carry with us in case we were stopped again.
At the kiosk we left our ids again, and returned to the big silent office. And this time the same young man came to talk with us. He is, evidently, a lawyer. He repeated what the young woman had told us - the car is legal, and as long as my status does not change to Resident Permanente, the car is legal as well.
We explained what had happened, and he said that the state transit police do not have the authority to confiscate the car, and that only the aduana can do that (hmmm!). He would not give us a letter or a permit or any kind of proof. Finally he gave us a pamphlet from the SAT entitled Vehiculos/Vehicles - the one in Spanish, French and English that you can pick up at the border or other aduana places. He turned to a page and circled a couple of sentences in Spanish. It was the section headed Duration of Permit. It reads “For Foreigners”, “The duration of their immigration status, including extensions.”
The attorney told us not to let anyone confiscate the car (hah!) and that the car is legal without any other permit or document.
We walked out, dubiously shaking our heads, and as we left the area and got our documents back from the sympathetic man in the kiosk, he said, “And just now they brought in a trailer they confiscated.”