Carta Poder: A Useful Tool to Get Things Done in Mexico

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

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). 

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.

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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. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

18 Comments on "Carta Poder: A Useful Tool to Get Things Done in Mexico"

  1. That is nice to know. I will have to check it out.

  2. This is the first I’ve heard of this. Thanks for sharing!

  3. thanks for this information, we have a friend/neighbor who helps us already but we’ve never had to do this paperwork.. But I’m glad I know in case we get asked.

  4. I went by the office where I was going to go to change my tags on my newly purchased car, and they gave me a copy of their preferred Carta Poder in Downtown Merida. Made that part easy . Good information. Thanks

  5. Paul, Good information. My only comment is that in most cases a Carta Poder works with the exception of allowing someone to act as your proxy on your behalf at a meeting of your condominium association if your property is held in a trust. In most cases the trust document requires you obtain a separate document allowing you to name an individual to act on your behalf and the trust holder.

  6. You two Rock, … Thanks !!!

  7. Great article! I was thinking the same thing about doing the paperwork in Aztec right before I read your comment 🙂 and like the comment about bi-lingual friends. Good info and amusing at the same time!

  8. Does this have to be notarized, or otherwise passed through a lawyer, or other official?

    • No, there is nothing else you have to do. It just proves to the person that you have permission to do the listed task on behalf of the person.

  9. frankie vaccaro | November 12, 2018 at 7:48 am | Reply

    Thank you, I live here in Cancun11 months a year and knew of the carta but not the details.

  10. Karyl Franklin | November 12, 2018 at 7:53 am | Reply

    Wow! This is great information. Thanks for sharing.

  11. “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.” I LOVE your sense of humor !

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