Most people here drive without bothering to get a license, it’s only a $200 peso fine if you are stopped by the transitos (traffic police) and you don’t have a license. I don’t have a license, although my moto has current placas (plates) and a permiso de circular (permit to drive) and is current in impuestos (taxes) y el refran (a yearly charge instituted to pay for the 1980’s Olympic games that up until 2012 was mandatory for all vehicles).
However, for some who enjoy a challenge, it is possible to get a driver’s license in México.
Here’s my husband’s experience. First, he had to make sure he had an official copy of his Mexican birth certificate, obtained from the civil office in his hometown of Cerano. We actually went to Cerano and applied for a new copy since the copy he had had been issued some 30 years before and was “different” than the newer versions or so they said.
Next, my husband had to obtain his credencial de votar (IFE) which is a voter’s registration card and believe it or not–free. This was obtained at the voter registration area (IFE office). He had to bring proof of residency, like a water bill or rent receipt. At the time, his parents were still living in Moroleón, so we borrowed a water bill from them. He presented his proof of residency along with two testigos (witnesses) who already had IFE cards from Moroleón to sign for him. We had only brought his mother, so she asked the next person in line to sign for him, a relative stranger. No one cared. The card came in about 20 days later and he went back with his receipt to pick it up.
Then my husband had a blood test at a lab to determine what sort of blood he is (o positive). This is listed on the driver’s license, I suppose in the event of an accident.
After that, he had to go to the community center for a physical of some sort. I’m not sure what this was for. His physical condition isn’t listed on the license, but maybe to determine if he was fit enough to drive.
When he had all these documents plus another proof of residency, like the electric bill we again borrowed from his parents, he took the originals and a copy of each to the transito (transit) office. In the office, he was given a few pages of the driving manual, not the entire manual, told to read it and take the test afterward. The first time he missed 7 (you can only miss 5 to pass). So he went back the next day, took the same test and missed 12, the same questions that were right the day before. The third day, he took the same test and didn’t pass again. So he asked what he needed to do to pass and slipped the $200 mordida (bribe) into his folded exam paper. He didn’t need to retake the test, nor take the driving section, nor take the eye exam, although he wears glasses to drive.
He waited around in the office for some other papers, the authorization I believe, which he took to another building, the oficina de recauado (payment office) about 2 miles away and paid there the $515 for a 5-year car driver’s license.
Note: The type of license is very specific. If you are stopped by a transito (traffic police) and have a license to drive a car but are driving a truck, you will get a fine. If you have a license for a moto but are stopped when driving a car, you will be fined. Etc.
Then with the papers marked paid, returned to the first building to receive his license. I haven’t attempted this process yet. I’m sure it will be even more tedious for me and I will need to present even more documentation. I can’t wait to tackle it.