Living in Mexico: Uses of a Carta Poder

Source: Q-Roo Paul

Many of our expat neighbors and friends divide their time between Mexico and their home country. That means that they may not be in Mexico when the time comes to get something done, like swapping out their old Mexican vehicle tags for new ones (required every three years in Quintana Roo).

In our community, there is usually someone willing to help out in exchange for a few beers.

If you’re planning on doing something that involves acting on someone else’s behalf at a government office or even a private business, you’re going to need a letter of authorization. This is called a carta poder in Spanish.

Letter of Authorization (Carta Poder)

Letters like these are very common in Mexico and you can find downloadable templates on websites like

At a minimum, the letter should contain the following:

  • The name of the institution or person to whom the letter is directed
  • Name of the person acting on your behalf
  • Date range that the letter is valid (always include an expiration date)
  • The purpose and scope of the permission (e.g. pick up documents)
  • Names and signatures of witnesses (most government agencies require two witnesses)
  • Copies of everyone’s identification, including the witnesses

Language Requirement

The letter of authorization needs to be in Spanish — although under federal law, any indigenous language spoken in Mexico (e.g. Mayan) will also be accepted at all government offices (Ley General De Derechos Lingüísticos De Los Pueblos Indígenas). 

Even since I learned about that law, I’ve been tempted to turn in some government paperwork in Mayan or Aztec just to see the expressions on the faces of the workers.

If you don’t speak Spanish, or one of the indigenous languages, I would recommend asking a bilingual friend to help you with the letter. If you don’t have any bilingual friends, you should really meet more people.

Uses for a Carta Poder

Armed with a carta poder, you can perform a wide range of tasks on another person’s behalf. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Turn utilities on or off, or make changes to the existing service
  • Pick up documents or items
  • Pay bills, fees or taxes

Let’s Wrap This Up

You can use a letter of authorization letter even if you don’t plan on being away.

For example, let’s say that your neighbor is planning on going down to get their new vehicle registration (tarjeta de circulación). Why not give them a carta poder so they can pick yours up too?

There is certainly no reason why everyone has to waste their day standing in line.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

13 Comments on "Living in Mexico: Uses of a Carta Poder"

  1. Question. I hope to spend time in Mexico from Nov,Dec through April each year once I retire. I may rent, not buy? I am thinking I will need a car. If this happens any suggestions on where I could park a car while I’m not there? I think renting one would be expensive for 5 months.

    • You need a temporary or permanent resident visa to buy a car. if you bring one in, you have to removed it when your tourist visa expires (6 months). If you do manage to get a car here, most people leave their car with other expats that own a house or condo with sufficient parking.

  2. Always helpful, and to the point. Thanks!

  3. Thanks Paul! This is very good to know…see you at SEFIPLAN…we could even go together!

  4. Charles Wilson | September 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm |

    We have one guy get plates for our whole building. It was a hassle this year because they didn’t have the plates. Took 3 trips.
    Thanks for your blog

    Chuck Wilson

    • That would be a great way to make some extra money. I should get plates for all my neighbors…lol.

  5. George & Gail Moffatt | September 18, 2017 at 7:56 pm |

    Hello Q- Roo Paul

    I’m confused about the vehicle tag thing required every 2 yrs???…what is that …we live in the state of Jalisco & own a Mexican Nissan …just confused as to what you mean? George & Gail

    • Hi George. I changed the article to specify that it is required in our state (and it’s every three years, that was my error). I’m not sure if it is required in your state. It is a huge mess when the time comes and the lines are very long. After a certain date, anyone with the old tag style can be fined.

  6. Another super helpful post Q-Paul. Thank you!

  7. I’m a Sefiplan expert now, having gotten my tags, lost my registration and then went thru the process to get a new one! two years from now I can pick up tags for you and Pam! Thanks again for a wonderful blog post.

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