Gringos Guide To Driving Mexico, Central America & Costa Rica
Departing Mexico

Departing Mexico

Tell the border official that you will return to Mexico before your entry permit expires. Check your Mexican Entry Permit before leaving the country. Most are valid for six months.


Checking out of Mexico is easy. Present your paperwork to the guard at the guard station immediately before the border. You won’t miss the border. There is an iron gate blocking your entry into Guatemala. There are no signs. Hence, just look for the gate. This is a very informal border crossing compared to the others and is worth the extra couple of hours’ drive. 

When I arrived at the border, I was the only car crossing, with no lines and no hassles. The Mexican official will check your papers, ask you the usual questions, take a quick look through your possessions and then let you proceed.

Servico International de Fumigacion

Before leaving Mexico, the fumigation police spray your vehicle with a horrid-smelling chemical. Of course, there is a nominal service charge. You will need the fumigation certificate on the Guatemalan side of the border, don’t throw it away. After fumigation, which takes about 5 minutes, you are permitted to enter Guatemala.

Currency Exchange at Border

There are always several black market currency exchangers located at the borders. You can’t miss them because they are the only people holding large amounts of cash in plain view in Central America. You may exchange only enough to get you through the border and on to the next town, or you can exchange enough money for your whole trip. 

If your plan is to travel through Guatemala directly to Honduras or El Salvador, it is best to change a sufficient amount of money for the entire day. There is no need to spend time trying to find and exchange money to save a few dollars. The rates are usually lower at the border, but on the other hand, it’s a hassle-free exchange. Latin American banks complicate foreign money exchange, and most take their time exchanging Gringo money. Even though black market exchangers are illegal, officials won’t hassle you when you exchange money with the exchangers.

Special Directions

When you return to Mexico, several of the forms you used to originally enter Mexico can be used for your return trip. For example, the Tourist Card (FMT) and your vehicle security deposit allow multiple entries. These documents can be used for your return trip without getting new ones. If there is any doubt, check with the Mexican Consulate. You may purchase Mexican insurance for the return trip in Tapachula or online.

Next Section of Drive

Guatemala Border to Antigua or Guatemala City

Guatemala Border to Antigua or Guatemala City