Truck Campers Banned in Mexico?

Confusion at the Border

You may have heard by now that truck campers are being turned away at the Mexico border. Is this true? Unfortunately, yes. But the reason appears to be a misunderstanding of Mexican law by Mexican customs officials at certain checkpoints. Here’s what we’ve learned here at Truck Camper Adventure after investigating the matter further.

A recent Mexican law, enacted in November 2015, states that commercial vehicles with a cargo capacity (“capacidad de carga”) or payload of 7,716 pounds or greater are prohibited from entering the country and will not be granted a temporary import permit (TIP) (as far as we can determine, the law applies only to mainland Mexico and not to the state of Baja).

Unfortunately, Mexican customs officials at certain checkpoints—El Paso, Laredo, and la Paz (the ferry from Baja) appear to be the worst offenders—have misunderstood the term “cargo capacity” to mean Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) (officials, apparently, are referring to the GVWR number located on the truck’s door pillar placard). The 3.5 ton figure is supposed to apply to the payload/cargo capacity of the pickup truck, NOT to the GVWR, which, as we know, is an entirely different number (the GVWR includes both the payload and the weight of the truck). This gross misunderstanding and application of the law means that only half-ton pickup trucks with a GVWR less than 7,716 pounds are granted entry by these officials. Truck camper owners with one-ton and 3/4-ton trucks are being turned away at the aforementioned checkpoints. Furthermore, this restriction is supposed to apply to commercial vehicles only NOT to private vehicles.

What can be done? Avoid the aforementioned checkpoints. If you own a one-ton or 3/4-ton truck, we recommend that you obtain your permit online ahead of time rather than at the border. We also recommend that you bring a printout of the statute (in Spanish) with you in case you encounter any problems. Another solution to the problem is to have your truck camper rig reclassified as a motorhome here in the United States. Apparently, motorhomes are exempt from this new Mexican law. Unfortunately, having this done to your rig is a difficult, very lengthy process here in the U.S., but it might be worth the effort since motorhomes are granted a 10-year permit to freely enter and leave Mexico. If you are a frequent traveler to Mexico, this might be the way to go.

In the meantime, it’s hoped that the word gets out on the true application and intent of the law. As it stands right now, too many U.S. tourists with truck campers (and those with trucks towing travel trailers and fifth wheels) are being turned away at the border, leading to frustration and changed plans. This can’t be good for Mexico’s struggling economy. It’s in Mexico’s economic interest to get this issue straightened out as soon as possible.

GVWR door pillar sticker for a 2011 Ford F-250 3/4-ton pickup truck.

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About Mello Mike 561 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. He currently rolls in a 2013 Ram 3500 with a 2021 Bundutec Roadrunner truck camper mounted on top. A communications expert, he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side.

7 Comments

  1. I have searched for the actual statute you are referring too. All I can find is that they are referring to capcidad de cargo, not differentiating for commercial vehicles vs private vehicles. Could you please tell me where to find that particular statute? Thank you

  2. Recently encountered this issue with my sprinter van in la Paz. Seems as long as you can show the customs official that you have a bathroom, stove, etc they will generally give you a motorhone TIP. My van is not a motorhone on the title, but I was able to get a TIP without much of a Hassle a few weeks ago despite being over 7500 pounds.

  3. Thanks for the heads-up Mike! That’s the kind of intel that really helps prevent unhappy surprises. Please post a follow-up when this gets ironed out.

  4. You should clarify that this only applies to mainland Mexico, not Baja. At least from what I understand and from what I have been told by Discover Baja.

  5. A number of people are working to get this cleared up, including companies that operate RV caravan tours. Rumor has it that it will be fixed soon.

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