What Do You Need to Rent a Car in Mexico: Driving Your Way Through Mexico

You can listen to this article here:
November 29, 2023
7 min read

The Essentials of Car Rental in Mexico

When traveling to Mexico, renting a car can be a convenient and flexible option for exploring the country. Not only does it allow you to travel at your own pace, but it also gives you access to off-the-beaten-path destinations that may not be easily accessible by public transportation. However, there are several important things you need to know before renting a car in Mexico.

Overview of Car Rental in Mexico

Car rental is a thriving industry in Mexico, with numerous international and local rental companies operating across the country. You can rent cars at major airports, tourist destinations, and urban centers. The types of vehicles available for rent range from compact cars to SUVs and luxury vehicles.

The Importance of Understanding the Requirements for Renting a Car

Before renting a car in Mexico, it's crucial to understand the requirements set by rental companies. Knowing these requirements will not only help you avoid any surprises but also ensure that you have all the necessary documents and information needed for a hassle-free rental experience.

Some common requirements include driver's license, insurance coverage, credit card deposit, vehicle inspection criteria among others. In this article we will dive deeper into each requirement so that after reading this piece you will be well equipped to make an informed decision when planning your adventure across Mexico.

Find your next adventure in Mexico - explore our guide for insider tips and recommendations!

Driver's License and Age Requirements

Valid driver's license from home country or an international driver's permit (IDP)

If you plan on driving in Mexico, you must have a valid driver's license from your home country. However, it is recommended that you obtain an International Driver's Permit (IDP) before traveling to Mexico. Read more in our article discussing if you need an International Driver's Permit in Mexico.

The IDP serves as a translation of your home country's driver's license and can be useful if there are any language barriers during the car rental process. Most car rental companies will accept either a valid driver’s license from your home country or an IDP, but it is always best to check with the specific company beforehand.

Minimum age requirement for renting a car in Mexico

The minimum age for renting a car in Mexico can vary depending on the company and location you choose. Some companies may require you to be at least 21 years old, while others may have a minimum age requirement of 25 years old. 

Keep in mind that certain rental companies may also charge an additional fee for drivers who are either younger or older than a certain age. To avoid any unexpected fees or surprises upon arrival, it is important to check with your chosen rental company beforehand regarding their specific age requirements and policies.

Insurance Requirements

Insurance Coverage

Before renting a car in Mexico, it is important to understand the different types of insurance coverage offered by rental companies. Typically, there are three types of coverage: basic, limited, and full.

Types of Insurance Coverage Offered by Rental Companies

When it comes to insurance coverage for renting a car in Mexico, it's important to understand the different types available. The basic insurance coverage typically includes liability coverage for damages to other people's property and injuries they sustain if you cause an accident. However, this may not cover damages to the rental car itself.

Limited coverage, on the other hand, provides the same liability protection as basic insurance but also includes a collision damage waiver (CDW). The CDW covers damages to the rental car if you are involved in an accident.

If you opt for full coverage, it usually includes the CDW, as well as theft protection and personal accident insurance for you. However, it's crucial to read the fine print carefully, as some rental companies may exclude certain situations from their full coverage, such as driving under the influence or off-road driving. 

Understanding the specific terms and conditions of the insurance coverage is essential to ensure you have the necessary protection during your rental period.

Understanding Liability and Collision Damage Waivers

Liability insurance covers damages or injuries that you may cause to others while using the rented vehicle. It's important to note that Mexico requires drivers to carry liability insurance with a minimum limit set by law.

Collision damage waiver (CDW) protects you against financial responsibility for the cost of repair or replacement of a damaged or stolen vehicle. It should be noted that CDW is not technically an insurance policy but rather a waiver agreement between yourself and the rental company whereby they waive their right to collect funds from you in case an accident occurs.

Make sure you fully understand what types of insurance coverage are available from your chosen car rental company before signing any agreements. Consider what level of protection will give you peace of mind during your travels through Mexico.Also, make sure you read the terms and conditions of any insurance policy or waiver agreement carefully to avoid any potential surprises if something goes wrong.

Credit Card and Deposit Requirements

Credit card requirements for renting a car in Mexico

To rent a car in Mexico, you must have a valid credit card. Most car rental companies do not accept debit cards or cash payments.

The credit card must be in the name of the primary driver and have enough available funds to cover the deposit and other charges associated with the rental. Make sure to check with your credit card company before your trip to ensure that you have sufficient funds available and a travel notice to use in Mexico.

Amount of deposit required by rental companies

When renting a car in Mexico, it's important to know that car rental companies typically require a deposit for each vehicle. The amount of the deposit can vary based on factors such as the type of vehicle, rental duration, age, and driving record. This deposit is usually held on your credit card until you return the vehicle undamaged and comply with all rental terms and conditions.

Deposits can range from $200 to $1,500 USD or even more. To avoid any surprises when it's time to pay, make sure to check with your specific car rental company regarding their deposit requirements before agreeing to rent a vehicle. 

It's worth noting that some smaller car rental companies may not require a deposit at all, but it's always best to confirm this information ahead of time.

Additional Fees and Charges

Renting a car in Mexico can come with additional fees and charges that you may not expect. Here are some of the most common:

Airport Surcharges

If you're picking up your rental car at the airport, you may incur an airport surcharge. This is because rental companies often have to pay extra fees to operate at airports, and they pass the  costs on to their customers. The amount of the surcharge varies depending on the rental company and the airport.


When renting a car in Mexico, be aware that there will be taxes applied, typically around 16%. Remember to factor in this additional cost along with the base rental price and any other fees or charges.

Fuel Charges

When you rent a car in Mexico, it will come with a certain amount of fuel in the tank. You'll be expected to return the car with the same amount of fuel or pay a fee for refueling. This fee can be significantly higher than what you would pay at a gas station, so make sure to return the car with the same amount of fuel that you left with..

Before you rent a car, make sure you understand all of the fees and charges that may apply. Be sure to read your rental agreement carefully so there are no surprises when it's time to return the vehicle.

Vehicle Inspection and Return Requirements

Once you have rented a car in Mexico, it is important to inspect the vehicle before driving off the rental lot. Check the exterior for any damages, such as dents or scratches, and make sure to take note of them.

This will protect you from being charged for damages that were already there when you rented the car. It's also important to check the interior of the car, including the seats, dashboard, and floor mats.

Make sure everything is clean and in good condition. If there are any issues with cleanliness or damages, notify the rental company before leaving.

I would suggest doing a video as the attendant does the walk around and marks down on the sheet all the dings and scratches they found. This can be super helpful should they try to claim you did it.

Importance of inspecting the vehicle before driving off the lot

By thoroughly inspecting your rental car before driving off the lot in Mexico, you can avoid being charged for pre-existing damages or cleaning fees. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to renting a car.

Another reason why it's important to do a thorough inspection is that some parts of Mexico can have poor road conditions which could lead to accidents or incidents with your rental vehicle. Having pre-existing damage documented protects both sides.

Return requirements such as gas level, cleanliness and drop-off location

When returning your rental car in Mexico, make sure that it has a full gas tank as some rental companies may charge a premium if they need to fill up themselves. Additionally, ensure that all personal belongings are removed from inside the vehicle.

The cleanliness of your rented vehicle should also be taken into consideration upon return. Make sure that it is reasonably clean both inside and out so as not to incur cleaning fees.

Check with your rental company about their drop-off location policies; Some companies may require returning your vehicle only at certain locations while others may offer more flexibility. Knowing these policies ahead of time can help avoid potential issues when dropping off your rental car in Mexico.

Tips for Renting a Car in Mexico

Researching Rental Companies Ahead of Time

When renting a car in Mexico, it's crucial to do your homework beforehand. You want to ensure you're dealing with a reputable rental company that has positive reviews from previous customers. Take the time to check online reviews and forums to learn about other people's experiences with car rentals in Mexico. Look for companies that have convenient locations near your destination. Additionally, don't forget to compare prices as bigger companies may not always offer the most affordable options. By conducting thorough research, you can make an informed decision and have a better car rental experience in Mexico.

Understanding Traffic Laws and Road Conditions in Mexico

If you're used to driving in the United States or Canada, be prepared for some differences when driving in Mexico. In addition to the obvious fact that everything will be labeled in Spanish, there are also different traffic laws and road conditions to get used to.

For example, speed limits are often lower than what you might be used to, and there may be more speed bumps on local roads. They are even on main thoroughfares and highways, so be careful. Also, pay attention because they are not always marked! 

Additionally, Mexican drivers can be aggressive at times (especially in big cities), so you'll want to stay alert and drive defensively. In terms of road conditions, highways between major cities are generally well-maintained and easy-to-navigate, but local roads can be narrow and windy with steep drop-offs on either side.

Some rural roads may not even be paved at all! Always check your route ahead of time so you know what kind of terrain you'll encounter - this will help ensure that you rent an appropriate vehicle for your needs.

Overall, renting a car is a great way to explore all that Mexico has to give beyond just the tourist hotspots. With some preparation ahead of time and an understanding of what to expect on the road, you'll be able to hit the open highway with confidence and enjoy all the adventure that comes with exploring a new country by car!


Renting a car in Mexico can be an excellent way to explore the country and see all that it has to give. However, before you hit the road, there are a few things that you need to know.

First, make sure that you have a valid driver's license from your home country or an international driver's permit. Additionally, be aware of the minimum age requirements for renting a car in Mexico.

When it comes to insurance coverage, it is essential to understand the different types of coverage available and what they cover. Make sure you have adequate liability and collision damage waivers in place before hitting the road.

Credit card and deposit requirements can vary depending on which rental company you choose. It is crucial to research ahead of time and understand exactly what will be required of you financially.

Remember that vehicle inspection and return requirements are essential when renting a car in Mexico. Thoroughly inspect the vehicle for any pre-existing damages before driving off. When returning the car, ensure it has enough gas and is clean.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable car rental experience in Mexico!


Like what you're reading? Give us a share.

Written by:

I consider myself a world-travelling nomad and a foodie at heart. Born in Germany and raised in East Tennessee, my passion for exploration has taken me all over the planet - exploring unfamiliar lands and cultures is what truly inspires my soul!
I live outside of Doha and consider myself an inside expert on all things Qatar. I love exploring all the country has to offer and look forward to giving you valuable insights of where I call home!
7901 4th St N STE 300
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
+1 727 617 0007
Join my newsletter for travel tips and must-haves for working remotely.
Send it to Me
By joining you agree to with our Privacy Policy and provide consent to receive updates.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
© 2024 WorldWideyedWes. All right reserved.