Do you need car insurance to cross the border?

You need car insurance to drive legally, so it goes without saying that you need car insurance to cross the border. If you’re crossing the border into Canada, your U.S. auto insurance policy will still apply. But if you’re traveling south, most car insurance companies won’t extend coverage to cross the border into Mexico. Some policies will cover the first 50 miles into Mexico, but you may want to start comparing international car insurance quotes to find the right auto insurance to cross the border with.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: Apr 15, 2022

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Things to know...

  • Border patrol requires that you have certain documents in order to cross the border
  • Car insurance is required for crossing the border into both Canada and Mexico
  • Canada and Mexico have their own separate rules regarding car insurance
  • You may need to purchase temporary international car insurance before driving into Mexico
  • Car insurance is important to protect you and your assets no matter what country you are in

To cross the border into Canada or Mexico, you need to produce certain travel documents. Even then, being allowed access into the country is up to the sole discretion of the border officials.

While proof of citizenship and identity are the most important documents you can have in your possession, there may be some other documents you need with you as well. Find out if you need to have car insurance in order to cross the border.

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Do I need car insurance for foreign travel?


Border patrol officials take very seriously who and what is coming in and out of the country, which is why they are always on the lookout for stolen vehicles.

You are required to have your vehicle registration with you at the time of crossing. This will help prove that you aren’t driving a stolen vehicle if the question arises.

While proof of insurance is not required to be shown, it is strongly recommended that you have it with you.

Both Canada and Mexico require that you have car insurance. Be prepared to pay a large fine if you are caught without it.

Besides the fact that car insurance is mandatory, there are other reasons to have insurance that are just as important.

Every time you get behind the wheel of the car, you are putting yourself at risk for an accident. You need the protection of a car insurance policy no matter what country you may be driving in.

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How does car insurance work for foreign travel?

Before you visit either Canada or Mexico, you need to educate yourself on car insurance for foreign travel.

If you are planning on visiting Canada for vacation, you should be protected under your existing U.S. car insurance policy.

However, before you go on your trip, contact your insurance provider to confirm your insurance coverage and to ensure you will be covered on your trip to Canada.

In the case of renting a car in Canada, your existing policy should apply, but some of your coverage may not carry over. This is why it is important to contact your insurance company and find out how you will be covered.

If you need more coverage, the rental company can provide you with basic insurance coverage.

When visiting Mexico, car insurance works a little differently. Your existing U.S. insurance policy won’t hold any weight at all in Mexico. In order to legally drive in Mexico, you must purchase temporary international car insurance.

How do I get international car insurance?


Obtaining international car insurance is easy. In fact, your current provider may be able to help you find an authorized company in Mexico that sells insurance.

You will need to provide the following to buy international insurance:

  • Make of your car
  • Model of your car
  • Year of your car
  • License plate number
  • Vin number
  • Current coverage details
  • Dates of travel
  • Locations of where you’ll be staying

It is also important to note if your vehicle is leased, financed or borrowed, you will need a notarized document from your lien holder or owner of the vehicle, giving you permission to enter into Mexico with the vehicle.

What kind of coverage do I need?


Just as each state has its own car insurance laws, so does Mexico. In order to comply with Mexico’s laws, you must obtain liability coverage at a minimum. Liability coverage will pay for:

  • any damages that you cause to another person’s property in an accident
  • any injuries to the other party that you are responsible for

There is always the option to purchase more coverage if you feel that you need it. You can also opt for collision and comprehensive to give you more protection.

A typical Mexican car insurance policy may include the following:

  • Civil liability insurance
  • Guaranteed legal and bond assistance
  • Travel assistance, which provides roadside and medical assistance, tourist information, and towing
  • Medical expense payments
  • Property damage
  • Theft coverage

In the case of an auto accident, Mexican authorities may take you into custody. Make sure that your insurance policy has enough coverage to at least post bond.

Shopping around for international insurance is important. You can easily get multiple quotes online for international insurance. By comparing multiple quotes, you can find the best coverage for the price. Always be sure that you are dealing with a reputable company.

If you are looking for car insurance for your next trip across the border, get your free online quote today. With the proper insurance coverage, you can sit back, relax and enjoy your vacation without worry.

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