Visa, cars, government rules, and other things that make you go…[PART 3 of 3 or 4 or 5 or….]

Of course, this thread has to be at least a trilogy to be any good. The fourth post will probably be a dud as trilogies plus one go.

I should let you know that on Tuesday afternoon after 4 p.m. the government agency issuing the special 5 day driving permit for my mother-in-law announced over the phone that if we could get there by 5:30 p.m. that the permit would be issued on the spot. So, we hopped in the van and drove back to Querétaro. We drove like the wind, which around here is more like a migrating dust storm. We reached the office just in time to wait for 30 minutes and then to FINALLY hold the all-important papers complete with THE SIGNATURE and the obligatory government inky stamps on them. We had to make copies of these papers first thing, including one copy that needed to be reduced, cut out and taped to the windshield of the car (as soon as we got home to do that, remember, we weren’t allowed to drive it). There were no instructions concerning where to tape it…left, right, high, low…we ended up deciding in the middle, right of the rear-view mirror near the original sticker that was still in its rightful place left of the mirror.

The caravan of two vehicles left around 5 a.m. on Wednesday, got everything done on both sides of the border and are even now humming along the 600 mile return stretch of highway anxious to get home…and of course, as of a text message received about 20 minutes ago, stuck in stop and go traffic in the middle of nowhere.

As for us, our visas continue to be in the process of being created. I almost used the word “fabricated” but I think that mostly applies to whatever it was I was issued at the customs office not at the immigration office. Now that we’re securely beyond the 30 day grace period for renewing our car import papers, I’m sure our visas will be created and issued in short order. We’re still waiting for whatever the “thingy” is that customs promised to ship to our house. I suspect in lieu of a bad situation, the temporary fix from customs will create a horrible situation. We’ll see. I have total faith in the Mexican government…to totally screw things up. They’re quite good at it and have a lot more experience at it than most of us realize. They’ve been around quite awhile.

Oh, and I learned something a few days ago from my co-worker, Brock, who is our resident guru for all things residential. After checking facts with his expert lawyer contact, that lawyer agrees with our import agent up at the border who says we can indeed nationalize our 2006 vehicle. That’s good. However, nationalizing it only provides us with a piece of paper to put in the window. That does not get us a license plate on the vehicle. That is done locally within the state level. The bad news…and you had to know there was bad news somewhere in this story…is that our state will not issue a license plate to a vehicle that is only 7 years old upon importation. It must be at least 8 years old. So, should we attempt to nationalize our vehicle this year, the federal government of Mexico will happily allow it. The state government of this state will not. BRILLIANT!

So, we could nationalize it at the border and then go to a neighboring state to get one of their license plates. That would mean Guanajuato, or Michoacán, or Hidalgo, or the state of Mexico. Right away you can clearly see that this is an insane suggestion. I know you’re thinking that no one in their right mind would live in the state of Querétaro and then have their vehicle plated from one of those states. Of course, you’re absolutely right for thinking that. No one in their right mind would. And you know why, of course. Because every year the registration must be renewed and money paid. One must travel a very long way to pay it and just where are those offices in those other states? We have no idea. Not to mention that if you think in the context of the ongoing “war on drugs” within Mexico, you really don’t want to obligate yourself to go into any of these four states in central Mexico that have ongoing problems with violence…often in their state capitals…often near government buildings…often in broad daylight. No, I think not.

As a side note, our landlord told me a couple days ago this very thing. Except the violence risk wasn’t part of his experience a few years back. His VW “vocho” (Beetle) was once plated in Guanajuato. He was told to pay his annual fees/taxes here in San Juan at the local government office. They would send the funds to Guanajuato and he would not have to travel all the way over there. So, he went to the local government office and they affirmed that this is indeed how he needs to proceed. They gladly took his money and…did I mention that gladly TOOK his money? Yes, because that money never made it to Guanajuato nor did it ever make it back to our dear landlord’s wallet. He ended up having to park his vocho for 2 months, hop on a multi-hour bus ride to the state capital of Guanajuato and spend a couple of days there trying to get it sorted out so that they would give him his annual renewal and allow him to drive his car once again. How much did that cost him? A lot. BRILLIANT!

Yes…it is a horrible idea to have a vehicle with a license plate from a neighboring state. We will have to wait until 2014 to concern ourselves with nationalizing our vehicle rather than this summer when we planned to drive through the border on our way to other important and actually good reasons for traveling through that region.

Oh, and the state laws are typically changed or applied sometime in November of each year. So we could possibly nationalize the van before the end of the year. The only thing is that no one really will tell you exactly when that date might be in November or if the change in the legal calendar applies to EVERY aspect of the law. It might. It might not. It’s a gamble. With a Mexican government agency on the other side of the bet, I really like my chances. Yes. I am that brilliant.

On second thought, I will just wait until January…unless an official tells me otherwise over the phone. They always will tell you something over the phone. It may not be true, it may not be complete, but they will tell you something. If I can get an inky stamp on it, I’ll believe anything. BRILLIANT!

Need I say?…to be continued….


About alanbeth

What’s up? or rather, ¿Qué pasa? Hola, I’m Alan. I’m a missionary living in Mexico. We have a heart for MK Education and so we teach at a local Christian school with MK students as well as nationals and foreign students as well. I occasionally write or have a pic to share with you at my blog, Knowing Your ABCDs, which you can read with a click on the button above. You can read my blog with a click on the button above.
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