Every Vehicle Registered in Quintana Roo Gets New License Plates in 2020

On designated years, set three years apart, all of the registered vehicles in the state of Quintana Roo are required to get new license plates by March 31st. This is one of those years.

In case you’re wondering, that’s over 649,000 cars, trucks, RVs, motorcycles and mopeds.

Today I headed to Tulum while Linda was still sound asleep because I wanted to beat the crowds at the local tag agency, which is called Sefiplan. I arrived about 15 minutes before the office opened and removed the old license plates from my car.

I was happy to see that there was only one other person waiting outside. Several more arrived and lined up behind me before the doors actually opened promptly at 8 am.

The key to getting anything done at a government office in Mexico on your very first attempt is to come prepared. I had already prepaid online, so I skipped the cashier and went right to the woman issuing the new plates. She carefully reviewed the stack of documents that I handed her before throwing my old plates in a box behind her desk and handing me new ones.

The whole process took me less than 10 minutes but not everyone else there today was so lucky. A few people were sent away empty-handed because they were missing one or more pieces of paperwork.

One of those unlucky folks was a fellow expat who recognized me from this blog. She told me that she had actually checked the blog for an article with the requirements to get new license plates but she couldn’t find one. You can thank her for this post.

Requirements to Exchange License Plates

If your Spanish is decent, that graphic might be enough for you. If not, here are the things you need to bring along with you in English, along with some helpful tips thrown in:

1) Proof of Payment (Only if Prepaid)

If you prepay (online, bank or store), you’ll need to bring the proof of payment with you.For information about how to see what you owe and prepay, check out How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration.

UPDATE 1/10/20: I recommend that you pay at the Sefiplan office the day you get your plates. Some readers who prepaid were unable to get their plates because the payment didn’t show in Sefiplan’s system yet.

2) Original and Copy of INE or Passport

An INE is a Mexican Voter ID Card. If you don’t have one of those, be sure to bring your passport along with a legible copy of the personal information page.

3) Original and Copy of Driver’s License

This is a new requirement that was introduced this year. Better make copies of both sides, just in case.

4) Original and Copy of Proof of Address

A current CFE bill works best but only if it’s in the name of the actual person whose name appears on the registration. Otherwise, they may ask for some additional documentation. You folks who are renting should bring along a copy of the lease or similar document.

Insufficient proof of address is one of the primary reasons that people are turned away.

5) The Old License Plates and Registration (Tarjeta de Circulación)

I know you wanted to hang your old plates on the wall of your den, but they want those back. You’ll also have to turn in that small silver registration card. Hopefully you remember where you put it.

Special Circumstance: If the Vehicle is Registered to a Company Instead of an Individual

This won’t apply to most people reading this blog. If the vehicle is registered to a company, you’ll need to bring the original and copy of el Acta Constitutiva and/or poder notorial that contains the name of the legal representative.

Let’s Wrap This Up

If you’re getting new tags for your car/truck or SUV, you can expect to pay $1,246 pesos.

However, if you haven’t been paying your annual registration fees up till this point because you didn’t know you had to — which sounds odd, but is actually quite common in the expat community– be prepared to pay a lot more.

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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.

41 Comments on "Every Vehicle Registered in Quintana Roo Gets New License Plates in 2020"

  1. Did they give you a new circulation card also?

  2. Good write up Paul!

    I renewed ours last week in Puerto Morelos. We rent our house, and there wasn’t an issue using the CFE bill with the landlord’s name. I did not need to show a copy of our lease. But other offices may have different rules.

    Definitely needed the old Tarjeta de Circulación. I had a friend who lost his, so he had to go to police station and get a letter saying that he had no infractions, and then take that to the district attorney in order to file a lost/stolen report, so that he could get another paper to take back to sefiplan to get a replacement card, so that he could turn it in, in order to then get a new card. Crazy! Very Mexico!

    I think this is a blessing for the papeleria that makes copies right outside of Sefiplan – lots of people headed there to get extra copies.

  3. Annais brindel | January 7, 2020 at 1:50 pm |

    In Cozumel we are having the tag office refusing to accept US driving license just Mexican license making the process very complicated

    • Thanks for sharing that info. If that trend continues through the state, I know a lot of people who won’t be able to renew their license plates.

  4. Carol A Lopes | January 7, 2020 at 2:00 pm |

    Is this true for all of Mexico? I live in San Miguel de Allende, and haven’t changed my plate in some years.

    • By federal law, the states are supposed to change plates every three years but some jurisdictions like Mexico State do it every five. Just like in the U.S., every state here creates their own traffic laws, license plates and procedures for the most part.

      If you haven’t seen any new styles of license plate rolling around, I’m sure you’re fine.

  5. Carol Watson | January 7, 2020 at 2:51 pm |

    Thanks Paul, so precise and clear. Knew this was necessary this year but lots of confusing and conflicting information out there. As usual you clarified the whole process. Thanks for all you and Linda do for us expats that are still new and just learning the ropes. So very appreciated. Hope 2020 brings you both everything you wish for!

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s always nice to hear that the information that we put out is helpful to people. 🙂

  6. Dave Buckerfield | January 7, 2020 at 4:20 pm |

    We live off the grid north of Xcalak – no CFE, no water bills etc so proof of address is a challenge. The original factura for the car has the address, the insurance has the address. I guess I will have to see what they want in Chetumal.

    • That will be a challenge. Good luck and if you don’t mind, let us all know what they ended up accepting.

  7. susan fordham | January 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm |

    This article is too ironic as I spent 4 1/2 hours at a New York Motor Vehicle office yesterday to renew my drivers license. I wasn’t even upgrading to the enhanced license because I have a valid passport, what a fiasco! Will be in Mexico in 16 day, may not return home….lol

    • 4 1/2 hours?! It sounds like they haven’t improved the efficiency of the New York DMV since I moved away from there back in 1989…lol.

  8. Lynda Lehmann | January 7, 2020 at 6:49 pm |

    Great info and so good to know! will pass it along to my family who have a car here. Mucho gracias Qroo Paul! 🙂

  9. Thanks for the info

  10. Hi Paul, car is registered in my name. CFE is in husbands name. We use Tulum office. Will they accept my California drivers license? Gracias

    • Our neighbors are in a similar situation. The car is registered in her name but the CFE bill is in his. When they originally registered the car, they wanted a copy of his passport and a signed letter from him, in Spanish, saying that she was his wife and resided in the same house. As far as the DL is concerned, they should accept it but no guarantees. I just learned that the Cozumel office requires a Mexican DL, although that isn’t specifically listed anywhere. I think someone at that office is interpreting it that way on their own. Good luck!

  11. Jesse L Duke | January 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm |

    Paul, I thought it was a great idea to go early the next day. Well, the internet there was down and/or very slow. After about 3 hours, of waiting and checking back, I gave up, knowing another day might be better. Always good to bring a good book just in case! -Jesse.

  12. Where in Tulum is the office located?

  13. Cindy Froats | January 8, 2020 at 6:15 pm |

    Hi Paul. Do you know if there are any discounts for Inapam?

    • I’m not sure. I didn’t see anything down at the SEFIPLAN office to indicate there was though.

  14. Allison Madsen | January 9, 2020 at 10:07 am |

    So Brad went today to Tulum to get tags and we had an issue – just for other folks here more info. If your dealer got your tags or you paid your last annual registration in a different city you need to go to that city to get new tags if you paid online. In our case we live in Tulum but we paid our renewal last year in Playa Del Carmen and because we paid online yesterday they said we have to go to Playa Del Carmen. If we didn’t pay online then we could have gotten the tags in Tulum.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. This is great info for those folks who want to change the office where they renew their plates/registration.

  15. Sitting in Tulum now. When you enter, a gentleman at a temporary table by the door checks your documents, and if everything checks out gives you two numbers… One for the cashier and one for the exchange line. So, you are in line depending on when you entered and even if you paid online you are behind everyone who came in before you, even those who need to pay. There is no time advantage to paying online.

  16. Allison Madsen | January 9, 2020 at 12:22 pm |

    Well another hurdle – playa del carmen wouldn’t give tags as payment was still processing, I guess when you pay online via credit card make sure posted on your credit card and not still pending before going. Payment receipt received via site but not posted yet. Will be making trip next week to pick up to be sure payment processed. I think next time we will just pay in person 🙂

  17. This is slightly off topic but it came up while discussing tag renewals with a friend today. Somewhere I thought I heard that if you are a Permanent Resident then you are required to have a Mexican drivers license.

    Is this correct?

  18. jeff r moyer | January 17, 2020 at 4:21 pm |

    Has anyone been successful without a recent CFE bill? If so, what worked?

    I have two issues. When I bought my place a couple of years ago, I signed the equivilent of a power of attorney to a solar company so they could do all of the paperwork required with CFE to get me a new solar “net” meter. They offered to also change the name on the account from the old owner to my name since they were going to be spending some time down at the CFE office to take care of all the solar paper work.

    Second issue: I have a stand alone unit with shared grounds type of condo. My meter is quite far from my house and in over 2 years of walking over around the 3,4,5,6th of the billing month and looking for it, I have 1 phisical bill I was able to find, apparantly they just throw it on the ground in front of my meter and I have only found it once (when I rented 2 other places before buying, I lost a few bills, but never this bad).

    I have access to the website for my account, I can log in and get my bills, print them and pay it at the office or Oxxo, all is well. Except I have had issues trying to use a print out of the bill instead of the orginal delivered bill for prof of address.

    Back to issue 1, I only got 1 bill with my name on it after the name on the account was changed by my proxy, then the next bill reverted back to the old owners name and it has been the old owners name ever since. OK, so as long as I go online, print the bill and pay it, CFE could care less whos name is on it.. What the heck CFE?

    So not only am I rarely able to even get my hands on a bill, it no longer has my name on it.

    I went to CFE office a few times first thing in the morning and pulled a number that looked like it was about a 4 hour wait and had to leave. I knew I should not have let this go…

    Using CFE bills as proof of anything still blows my mind. But there must be some way around this, some kind of notary letter or something?

    Side note maybe worth discussing, as far as I can tell, anyone who gets your CFE bill (picks it up blowing in the wind) and your service number can get access to your account online and all of your bulls with no further authentication.

  19. Heather Jacoby | January 23, 2020 at 6:27 pm |

    Thank you for this! I don’t suppose if you happen to know if the process is the exact same if you are needing to also switch the name of the owner? I bought a used motorbike and I have all of the documents to put it in my name AND I need to get new plates. Can I do this is in this same appointment do you think? Thank you!

  20. Hola Paul, I am out of the area for the next few months. Before reading your article, I had planned to ask my property manager to take care of my car registration and getting new plates. This doesn’t seem possible if one must show original passport and original driver’s license. I figure my best option is to prepay online in order to avoid late fees and then appear in person to get new plates when I return to Quintana Roo. Any thoughts on this?

    • The written requirements indicate tht you have to show an original but they aren’t asking for on in practice. Your property manager can probably get it done for you with a Carta Poder.

  21. Many thanks. Will give it a try.

  22. I went this morning (at 8) to register my car. Thanks to this blog it was quick, easy, and painless. I took my driver’s license (copy), passport (copy), CFE Bill (copy) and the Tarjeta de Circulacion Vehicular card. I paid 1247.00 pesos (like you said) and presto I was in and out in 12 minutes. But you have to go early because at 8 I was number 8 … however when I left they are giving out number 32. Thank you again Paul for all of your insight!

  23. I’ve handled the online payment without and issues. Is there a time limit on actually going and picking up the new plates?

  24. Will be going to Tulum to renew soon. Telmex bill in my name is that ok? Also thought you had to be residente permanente to register a car so is just pasport acceptable, and is it the Mexican visa page we need copied? Do we need to take pliers with us to remove plates? Is a California drivers license acceptable? Tried to get Mexican license they said they weren’t isuing, come back next week.

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