Guanajuato Mexico North America

How to Get a Mexican Driver’s License as an Expat in Guanajuato, Mexico — By Jennifer Shipp

John and I have U.S. driver’s licenses, but because we moved here before Lydian turned 18, she didn’t have a “valid” Mexican driver’s license that she could use here. So last week, we made it our mission to figure out how to get a new Mexico driver’s license in Mexico, or at least here in Guanajuato. Below is a summary of the experience which was easy and painless (except for the blood draw):

  1. Lydian went to the Red Cross which is right across the street from a big grocery store called the Commercial Mexicana. She went to the front window and asked if they could take a blood sample for her licencia para conducir. The man behind the window directed her to a different counter inside the building.
  2. At the second counter, Lydian once again told the woman what she wanted. She needed to find out her blood type so that she could get her driver’s license. The woman knew exactly what Lydian was asking for and gave Lydi a short form to fill out with her basic information on it. Then, the woman behind the counter picked up a vial, put Lydian’s name and info on it and tore out the form, giving Lydian one side of it so that she could later come and redeem her blood sample results.
  3. Lydian had her blood drawn. The woman who took her blood told Lydi that she could return between 2:00 and 7:00 PM for the results.
  4. We returned around 5:00 PM and Lydian got her blood type in an envelope. She then went to the front desk to ask about getting a short health evaluation for her driver’s license. The man directed her to the consultorio office just inside the building.
  5. We waited in line very briefly to get into see the doctor who had Lydian do a quick eye exam specifically for getting a Mexican drivers license and then he asked her some health-related questions. He filled out a form and then handed it to her to take to the Transito del Estado in Yerbabuena (a neighborhood/city on the outskirts of Guanajuato).
  6. The next day, Lydian and I took the doctor’s form, her old driver’s license, a passport, her temporary residency permit, about $900 MXN (depending on the type of license you’re applying for), and the paper with her blood type typed on it to the Transito del Estado, a set of buildings located at the second right turn and up a hill after the Chevrolet in Yerbabuena (if you were traveling toward Guanajuato centro).
  7. The building where she got her license is located near the front of the complex and it’s on the left-hand side when you drive in. We went to the left-most window to ask about getting her driver’s license. Everyone there was really friendly and helpful. Lydian gave the man her various documents and forms of identification. He told her she needed copies of her passport, old US driver’s license (which she couldn’t use before she was 18 and not after either because it was invalid after our change of residency from Nebraska to the US), and her temporary residency permit.
  8. We went to a little restaurant located within the Transito del Estado complex right next door to get the copies. The man inside was super-friendly and really excited to practice his two words that he spoke in English. We made the copies on a giant machine located right beside a family eating tacos. They looked at us suspiciously. (The copies cost 5 pesos)
  9. We returned to the driver’s license building and gave the man behind the leftmost window the copies. Then, we waited for about 45 minutes to an hour to have Lydian’s photo taken for her Mexican driver’s license.
  10. The photo was taken at the window that was furthest to the right with a woman who had a machine that printed the driver’s license right there.
  11. The actual license was handed over to the woman in the middle window who then took Lydian’s payment for a 5-year Mexican drivers license (Type A) that would allow her to drive a car, a van, or a truck.

Lydian didn’t have to take a written or a driving test because she had a US driver’s license. She didn’t have to hand in this license though. She got to keep it.

I would guess that the process may vary somewhat from city to city in Mexico, but this is the process that we went through in Guanajuato capital. The man behind the counter told Lydian that he appreciated her Spanish skills and that a lot of people get upset when they come to the counter from San Miguel expecting to speak English to the people working in these government buildings. She thanked him for the compliment (both of us knowing that we have a long way to go toward fluency in Spanish). For people who can’t navigate basic situations in Spanish, it would be recommended to take a translator along to get through the driver’s license process. Contacting one of the local language schools in Guanajuato would be a good place to start if you need to find a good translator to get you through the process of getting a Mexican driver’s license in Guanajuato.

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