Mexico Is Putting a Tracking Device on Every Vehicle

Passive RFID Chip (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

Last week, I was talking to a fellow expat about the car he had just purchased in Mexico and he asked me about the blue sticker in the front windshield. I told him that it was a passive RFID tag that allows the police to verify the vehicle’s information and locate it in the event that it’s ever stolen.

That last part seemed to make him a little uncomfortable. “Are you telling me that the Mexican government has a tracking device on my car?” He asked.

“Yep,” I answered. Then I went back to sipping my Pacífico and staring out at the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. I’m a man of few words when I’m in my happy place.

That brief conversation at a beach bar was the inspiration for today’s article. I promise to go into a little more detail than I did that day at the beach.

National Vehicle Registry

Mexico has a national vehicle registry called Registro Público Vehicular (REPUVE) and every vehicle titled in Mexico is required to be entered into the system. The data entry process is still underway and the majority of the vehicles in the country still haven’t been entered. Newer vehicles are put into the system by the manufacturer or distributor prior to being sold.

Once a vehicle is entered into the REPUVE system, a blue sticker containing an RFID tag is affixed to the windshield. Whenever the vehicle passes near an RFID reader, the vehicle’s information is recorded. In the even that the car is stolen, the police are immediately alerted.

Fixed RFID readers are placed along roadways and some police cars are equipped with portable readers.

RFID Technology

RFID is short for Radio Frequency Identification and it shouldn’t be confused with GPS tracking systems. An RFID system only records the item’s location when it’s in the vicinity of the reader.

RFID technology is widely used in passports, driver licenses, toll passes and credit cards. Private companies also use them to track assets and deliveries. Face it, this technology is already all around us.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Once the program is fully implemented, this will give the Mexican police a tremendous investigative tool. Although the reported intended purpose is to combat auto theft, the data gathered could prove invaluable in a wide range of investigations.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario to show how the technology could be used in other investigations:

The police respond to a shooting in progress at a local bar. As the first units arrive, dozens of cars are leaving and the scene is chaotic. One of the responding units is equipped with an RFID reader that has been collecting data from all of the vehicles within range. Once the scene is under control, officers use the data to locate potential witnesses and identify the suspects involved.

One more:

A woman is reported missing by her family. A check of the database shows that her vehicle went past a reader north of town a couple of hours before. Police use the information to focus their search on that highway and find her broken down out of cell phone range. 

I think you get the idea. Anything that makes the police more effective, makes us all safer.

The process to place RFID stickers on every vehicle in Mexico has been a slow one; however, every vehicle will eventually have one.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) is a former lieutenant from the Polk County Sheriff's Office in Florida. During his 25-year career, he received numerous commendations to include two of the agency's top honors: a Meritorious Service Medal and a Medal of Valor. In 2015, Paul retired and moved to Mexico with his wife. He now spends his days enjoying the Riviera Maya and blogging from the beach.

22 Comments on "Mexico Is Putting a Tracking Device on Every Vehicle"

  1. Interesting!

  2. Are foreign-plated vehicles also tagged?

  3. After thinking about it this probably applies to vehicles registered in Mexico? If we brought our vehicle into Mexico for the 4 years on a temporary visa and a TIP the tag wouldn’t apply?

  4. I’d seen some mention about this last year. I think there were very few places to do this and an extension until December (last year) was given. But until you wrote about this, I had totally forgotten about it.

  5. Thanks for the information, Paul!

  6. Those are some of the good points, but what about some corrupt cops gathering info on a good looking woman and finding out all about where she lives, etc.? That goes on in the U.S. by just running the plates and trouble follows.

    • The tracking chip won’t be much help to those cops. If they want to know about a particualr woman, they can check the tags or just stop her. The RFID tag is only useful when you want to know where a particular vehicle is or was.

  7. Javier Macías | April 16, 2017 at 11:59 pm | Reply

    Once in a while, at least in Mexico city, you get to watch in the TV news, how a stolen car gets identified by these devices and the city cameras can follow the car while the police is able to reach the stolen car and start a chase the most american style! Of course privacy should be a very important issue, but your wife doesn’t get an email with pictures of her car being driven by her husband at particular areas of the city at particular hours…. Of course with a legal order for an investigation, I’m pretty sure the authorities could use and reveal that data. I haven’t heard or read or known of scandals about misuse of this technology so far but who knows! Saludos!! Nice article!

  8. It is trivial to disable/remove these tags. It is not for tracking criminals. It is for tracking cattle/sheeple. The VIP also has this RFID chip in it. [f the police]

    • It’s definitely not a perfect system but have found several articles where police located stolen cars because of it.

      • If it’s a good idea, it need not be forced (law). If RFID tags can benefit an individual, then let people of their own choice decide to use them. Anything that is not voluntary, where the state forces an individual to do something with his property by violence or the threat of violence (kidnapping[arrest], fines[theft]) is wrong and I can’t support them, no matter how “good” the result seems to be. It emanates from a position of violence and servitude, which is always wrong, where the state presumes to own you and or your property.

  9. Yes why wouldn’t everyone just remove them…

    • Because the good people like the protection against auto theft etc. Criminals can always remove the stickers, tags, VIN numbers etc, but then the vehicle would stand out. Mexico has recovered hundreds of stolen vehicles utilizing the technology so far.

  10. You carry similar divices in your wallet

  11. Pierre Morin | April 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Reply

    Where and when do we get these tags? We just our new plates and I don’t beleive that it was included then.

  12. James Downes | April 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Reply

    Why wouldn’t the criminal that steals the car simply scrape this off or stick it on some other car?

    • It’s just an extra level of protection. The criminal could also removed their tags, change the VIN and even paint the car. Immediately after a car is stolen, those things do not normally occur and that’s when the the technology is most useful. Also, a vehicle without a sticker or some “remnants” of a sticker still left on the windshield, will stand out as possibly stolen when going through one of the many police filters.

Leave a Reply