Getting a Driver’s License in Tulum, Mexico

Readers often ask us about the requirements to obtain a Mexican driver’s license. That can be a difficult question to answer in general terms because the requirements change by jurisdiction.

Some jurisdictions require a written/practical test for new drivers; however, the majority do not. And even the ones that do will often give you a pass if you can present them with a valid foreign driver’s license.

Last week, Linda accompanied one of our expat friends down to the police station in Tulum to help her get a driver’s license. So, I figured that this was as good a time as any to write about the requirements in this area.

Requirements and Costs

One of the first things you learn when you move to Mexico is to bring your own copies of documents to government offices because they will not make them for you. They will simply smile and tell you to come back later with copies.

Here’s what our friend had to bring (originals and copies):

  • Proof of address (CFE bill is preferred)
  • Proof of legal presence in Mexico (temporary or permanent resident card for foreigners)
  • Passport
  • Foreign driver’s license (copy both sides)

On the list of requirements, they do have “proof of blood type”; however, they normally just take your word for it.

The cost for the license (automovilista) was $380 pesos, which is about $20 USD. The license is valid for two years.

Let’s Wrap This Up

If you don’t speak Spanish well, it’s a good idea to bring someone bilingual along with you.

That’s the role Linda was playing in all this. She accepted the job in exchange for two delicious cochinita pibil tacos from Taquería Honorio in Tulum. I told her that she should have held out for at least three.

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About the Author

Qroo 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.

22 Comments on "Getting a Driver’s License in Tulum, Mexico"

  1. Robi Smallwood | May 19, 2019 at 8:24 am |

    Here in Nayarit you need a doctor certificate if you are over 60

  2. Interesting about needing the proof of blood type. I never would have guessed that one. Do you know if the renewal after two years is automatic, meaning all you need is the old one and to pay the fee?

    • Qroo Paul | May 19, 2019 at 8:56 am |

      When we renewed, they asked for all the documentation again.

    • Dandrea Pratt | May 19, 2019 at 10:43 am |

      It appears easier there then in Merida. In Merida they require to have birth certificate, which means it must be apostilled and translated.

  3. Suzanne M Same | May 19, 2019 at 8:53 am |

    In SMA, I needed a doctor certificate (took 15 minutes) and blood test (done earlier). License good for 5 years. No tests but US Driver License needed. I took an expediter and was glad. Took 3 tries to find a doctor (who specifically does these) open in the morning and although the license procedure was easy it was all in Spanish and went much more smoothly with someone who had a relationship with the office.

  4. I got mine in Playa about 5 weeks ago, no test or anything they just handed it to me. I showed CFE bill, Residence card, copy of passport, they asked my blood type I did not need proof and no proof or copies of my drivers license from Canada. They asked if I needed the glasses I had on for driving, I said no as i do not and they handed me my new Mexican Drivers license :). Was very surprised, no test either driving of written.

  5. Kelly A. Maher | May 19, 2019 at 9:20 am |

    Hi Paul and Linda! Will they accept my American Red Cross card from the US showing my blood type?

    • Qroo Paul | May 19, 2019 at 12:50 pm |

      I’m sure they would. They seem a little slack when it comes to proving your blood type. They just take some people’s word for it. I guess they figure if they have an accident and get the wrong blood transfusion, that’s on them. 🙂

  6. Jill Diamond | May 19, 2019 at 9:45 am |

    If you’re over 60 you need a medical exam to prove you are healthy enough to drive! Also, a copy of your CURP…this is in Baja Sur so maybe a little different in Tulum….the license is good for 3 years and then you have to take all the documents once again to renew.

  7. Brian Keeling | May 19, 2019 at 10:16 am |

    I wonder if they have an upper age limit (I am 82), I would certainly need a doctors certificate, blind in my left eye, otherwise tickety boo, my Australian licence expired last October, I’m still in Chiang Mai at the moment, but hope to be in Merida mid July ..a 3 yr Aussie licence costs $140AUD…cheers bryan

  8. This is the first time I heard about the blood type. My neighbor lost her wallet with all credentials and I went with her to get a Drivers License in chetumal. She had to take a computer test and of course pay but no copies. She originally only had a foreign license.

  9. G. Scott Lyman | May 19, 2019 at 11:21 am |

    Thanks for this installment! My wife are here on a Residencia Temporal; we’re a year in to our planned four. We brought our Ca. plated car with us, and that’s turning into a bit of a mess, mostly due to CA. We’ve been given to understand driving our car with our CA licenses is no problem for the duration of our stay, but we’ve toyed with the idea of getting Mexican licenses and getting a local car (which is also a bit , ah, fraught. Long story short: is it necessary to have a Mexican license if you purchase (with the expectation of driving) a Mexican automobile?

  10. Bob Knight | May 19, 2019 at 12:18 pm |

    While renewing my DL on Isla Mujeres several times and each time having to provide a new blood test even through blood type never changes, the last time they used the blood type on my expiring license. Progress for sure. Additionally for a permanent resident renewal could be for 1 to 5 years at, of course, increased fees for each year.

  11. Thank you for this very informative (and right on time) blog. We just brought a car and I will be in need of Linda’s expertise in the very near future! You are always on time with your information!

  12. FredinMotul | May 19, 2019 at 7:39 pm |

    At the new office behind Siglio XXI in Merida, you can get a 5 year license as long as you have Permanent Resident Status. Of the two of us, Hubby went in looking confused. Showed his USA valid license and the supervisor had someone sit with him to “assist” him. She answered all the questions. No Driving Test. Out with a 5 year license in under an hour. The very next day, went in. Had all my copies and papers. Took the test by myself. Had to do the Driving Test with parallel parking that I hate, but got it all done in about 2 hours time. Depends, I suppose, on who is there . Easy renewals at the kiosks.

  13. John Ramm | May 20, 2019 at 9:52 am |

    Hi Paul – you and Linda continue to astound with all the stuff you manage to get done! Having said that, Where’s the book! LOL!
    My two year Nayarit license is up for renewal this November. I’ll be 75 by then, so we’ll see what happens this time around. Last time it was pay, sit in front of the desktop’s webcam, and bingo- ten minutes of them cutting and pasting, and here’s the license! My license picture is fading a little more each day, so if it were a five-year license it would be blank in the photo area by then!
    Thanks for all you do!

  14. In Guaymas, Sonora, the paperwork required is basically the same.
    We went first to the police station to complete the paperwork and pay for the documents.
    Next we were required to go to a doctor for a physical – we were directed to the local Red Cross. The physician was not in, so we did a little shopping and then returned. He did a very preliminary exam, and completed the forms. We paid for the service.
    And finally we went to the government building to submit our papers. They also wanted to see a copy of our mirage license (perhaps because we have different last names – who knows – it’s Mexico). Note – anytime you’re applying for anything, take along your entire file with all your docs and copies – you never know what they’ll ask for. We paid the fee, got photos taken on the spot, and were issued our drivers licenses before we left. One very full day, but worth the effort.

  15. Donna tafuri | June 27, 2019 at 4:53 pm |

    I have a feeling we are going to owe you lots of dinners! How do i find out if i need a physical for being over 60 for tulum?

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