Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Complicated and Expensive to Drive in Mexico City

We received a friendly reminder in the mail yesterday that we need to pay what is called a Refrendo Anual, or annual referendum.  This creative tax is levied on our vehicle, a Dodge Journey that we were able to purchase last year due to the generous gift of a friend.  The referendo for our vehicle is 414 pesos, or about $33 U.S.  It’s a yearly tax that is collected by the state government.

On the receipt is the amount that we would have paid last year for tenencia, which is a tax that was initially created to cover the additional expenses related to hosting the Olympic games.  Way back in 1968!  The tax brought in so much income, however, that it was never rescinded until…last year, 2012, a full 44 years after it was instituted.  How much would have we paid, this year, if we would have to pay tenencia?  Any guesses?  How about 6,922 pesos, or a whopping $550 U.S.!  For one year.  Just for privilege of driving a new car in Mexico.  We were exempted, the letter says, because our vehicle cost less than 350,000 pesos, or about $27.7K.  Vehicles that cost more than that continue to pay tenencia, prorated to the cost of the vehicle. 

Other related vehicle costs, an inspection done twice a year.  Each inspection costs about $24.  Assuming you pass, you get a sticker that permits you to drive until the next semester.  If you have a car that is over 10 years old, you cannot drive one day a week, and one Saturday a month, but you still need to get your sticker.  If for some reason you miss the deadline for getting your vehicle inspected, the fine is around $90 U.S.    Corruption is rampant at these inspection centers.  If you live outside of the Mexico City metro area, and you do not have this inspection sticker, not only can you not drive in Mexico City one day a week (regardless of how new your vehicle is), you also cannot enter the city until after 11 a.m. every morning. 

That might be hard to follow. Imagine how tricky it is for people (including truckers) who live outside of Mexico City, who have to come into the city (or drive through it) for some reason. Police here notoriously bother non-Mexico City plated cars.  Oh, the stories that could be told!  It is quite an intimidating thing!  If you have a foreign-plated car, well, we’ll say a prayer for you!



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