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Driving to Alamos by Car or RV: Driving Hints and Entry Documentation Requirements

Highway Driving to Alamos, Sonora, Mexico from Tucson, Arizona, USA is easy on a four lane divided toll road. The drive is approximately 475 miles and takes about nine hours, including one hour to complete Mexican immigration.
  • Mexican Auto Insurance can be purchased in Nogales, Arizona from many sources including:
    Bob Acosta, San Xavier Mexico Insurance 888-327-1255
    Don Smith Auto Insurance 800-258-2268

  • After crossing the border you will travel to Km 21, where all the necessary paperwork to enter with your vehicle is processed. Be sure to have all the appropriate paperwork for ALL your vehicles, including ones being towed. Regulations change on short notice so you may want to stop in Nogales, AZ to purchase Mexican auto insurance and verify the documentation you will need.
    KM 21 stop for vehicles

  • Travelers going only as far as Guaymas/San Carlos on the toll road from Nogales do not need to get a vehicle permit or a tourist visa. For Alamos you must stop at the Km. 21 immigration office just south of the border to get your tourist visa and then at the Km. 102 office south of Guaymas near Empalme to get a $25USDollar Only Sonora permit for your vehicles OR have the 180 day temporary Vehicle Import Permit which you get at Km. 21. Be sure you have papers for ALL your vehicles, including ones being towed, as regulations can change on short notice..

  • Mexico has reciprocal visa agreements with the USA and Canada. You need your passport or your birth certificate in order to apply for a visa. Driver's licenses are not sufficient proof of citizenship. Get your visa before you proceed to apply for your car permit. There is a $185 peso per person fee for a 6 month multiple entry visa, if you stay in Mexico more than 72 hours. The fee (238 pesos, 2008) is paid at a bank at your designated destination. They will stamp your visa at the bank.

  • The SONORA ONLY vehicle permit is good for a single trip, but only in the state of Sonora and it is valid up to 180 days. You must enter and leave Mexico from Nogales Port of Entry at Km21. The difference between the SONORA ONLY and the temporary Vehicle Import Permit is that there is no need to post a bond and pay a fee.

  • The 180 day temporary Vehicle Import Permit (SAT) requires that the owner of the vehicle post a bond in exchange for a hologram sticker by using the ownerís credit card (only VISA, Master Card, American Express, or Dinerís Club); or buying a bond; or leaving a guarantee cash deposit. The simplest and least expensive method is to use your credit card. You will need to turn in your hologram sticker upon your departure, otherwise, the Mexican government will assume that you have illegally sold the car in Mexico and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

  • For either permit you will require: proof of ownership (vehicle title); the original vehicle registration; a valid driverís license; proof of citizenship (your passport); and a current Mexican Tourist Visa. You will need photocopies of all these.

  • If traveling with a pet, the U.S. Government requires a U.S. vet certificate (Form 77-043) and a rabies certificate valid within the last 6 months for returning dogs and cats.

  • It is best not to take firearms into Mexico unless you are on a pre-arranged hunting excursion, are very familiar with the laws and have the right permits.

  • It is best to change some money into Mexican currency, pesos, before you begin your journey south. You will receive a better exchange rate at the border than at the tollbooths or Pemex stations.

  • Hwy 15 is a four lane divided toll road all the way to the border between Sonora and Sinaloa. The speed limit outside of town is100 to 110kph about 60 to 65mph. Although the toll road is fenced, there are still cattle, goats, horses, and bicyclists on the road, so watch out. There are speed bumps along the route particularly on the outskirts of towns. These are called TOPES, so slow down whenever you see this sign.

  • There are 6 tollbooths between the border and Alamos. The tolls range from $22 pesos to $50 pesos each.

  • For detailed driving directions check out: Rim Journal


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