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 cartapoder.com.
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
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).
Ever 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. Why not give them a carta poder so they can pick yours up too?
There’s certainly no reason why everyone has to waste their day standing in line.