If your goal is to drive with a dog to a destination in central Mexico, I highly recommend crossing the border in Texas using the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge.
It is about a 30-minute drive west of Laredo Texas.
Below is information about crossing from Texas to Mexico with pets at the Columbia Bridge.
I provide tips on places to stop and get gas, have lunch at a pet friendly restaurant and where to spend your first night in Mexico.
What you need before crossing the Texas-Mexico border
Paperwork Requirements For You, Your Car, Your Dog.
For YOU to enter Mexico:
Passport –A valid passport that is good for the duration of the visit.
Have a few black-and-white copies with you.
Note: For some reason Mexico does not allow color copies.
NEW Visitors Permits Requirements (FMM)
Getting a FMM is not the same as it used to be. The Mexico Immigration Office no longer allows tourists to visit Mexico for up to 180-days automatically.
A FMM is a visitors permit, known as Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM. It is what you need to enter Mexico legally.
When driving across the border you will be required to complete the FMM card at the immigration office.
Often times the desk for the FMM is in the same building where the desk is for the TIP (temporary import permit, for cars) is located.
The immigration official will ask how long you intend to stay in Mexico. Be sure to let them know your plans so that they provide you with sufficient days for your visit.
The immigration official may ask for proof of how long you are staying; such as hotel, Airbnb, and VRBO reservations.
If you are flying out, show the airline ticket.
Be sure to surrender your FMM and TIP when leaving Mexico!
Their new systems will keep track of your entry and departure.
The officials will look you up on their system before determining how many days they allow you to stay in Mexico.
You can learn more about the FMM here.
For your CAR to enter Mexico:
Bring your current Driver’s License. Make sure it will not expire while you are visiting Mexico.
Bring a few black-and-white copies with you.
Registration of the vehicle
Original and photocopy of the registration of the vehicle issued by a foreign authority in the applicant’s name. If the title or registration is in the name of a spouse, a marriage certificate must also be presented. Only the titled owner of the vehicle and/or their spouse can get a TIP.
Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) for your car
This allows foreign plated cars to cross the border into Mexico from other countries, such as the U.S. and Canada. TIPs are obtained at Banjercitos.
The good news is that the Columbia Bridge has a Banjercito on site. Note: deposit and fees apply.
Proof of temporary Mexico auto insurance for the car.
More detailed information on TIPs, driving with a leased car and more can be found at this very helpful website Mexperience.
For your dog to enter Mexico
Although Mexico does not require a health certificate for your dog, I highly recommend bringing the following documentation with you:
- An up-to-date rabies certificate. New CDC regulations implemented July 14, 2021.
- Record of all vaccines and due dates
- Record of medications for flea/ticks/mites and lice. Plus, heart worm prevention.
Columbia Bridge Border Crossing Information
Point A – Enter Mexico at Colombia Solidarity International Bridge
If you are driving from the US or Canada this is one of the easiest and most straight forward border crossings from Texas into Mexico.
The popular name is the Columbia Bridge border crossing.
The official name is the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge.
It is about a 30-minute drive west of Laredo Texas by taking Mines Road heading west.
It is small and convenient place for processing all the immigration paperwork.
You are able to get a tourist FMM card and a TIP (temporary import pass) for your car. All in one building!
You cannot bring your dog with you inside the building unfortunately.
You do not need to show any paperwork for your dog. No one will inspect your dog; however, they will inspect your car.
Aerial View of Customs & Banjercito Building
Once you cross the bridge you will drive straight ahead to the Aduana/Customs and Banjercito building.
The building will be on the right. There is a small parking lot in front of the building.
On our first time crossing here we missed the entrance to this parking lot. We ended up parking at the car inspection station.
We were able to park there and walk back to the main building for our FMM and TIP.
Once you enter the building, to towards the right-hand side. This is where you will get your FMM card.
In the center of the building is a small shop with a photocopy machine in case you need it.
To the left-hand side (once you enter the building) is where you will get your TIP. This is the Banjercito office.
Get your FMM first, then get the TIP for the car.
The Banjercito no longer provides the holographic sticker to prove your car is legal to drive in Mexico. All you need is the paperwork they will provide you. Make copies and keep one in the glove box.
Be sure to use a credit card to pay for everything, especially the TIP. When you leave Mexico the deposit for the TIP will be refunded to your credit card.
After you are done getting all the proper paperwork, drive your car to the inspection station.
Be prepared to open your trunk and doors. (We kept our dogs leashed and outside of the car while they inspected.)
They will ask you questions about what you are bringing in such a food and alcohol.
Bring copies of any purchase receipts for items that are new or items you may have a large quantity of. For example vitamins.
Be sure to take all items out of their retail box before packing.
After you are done with the inspection, set your GPS to Matehuala San Luis Potosi Mexico.
Regarding GPS apps. We found that using the WAZE App in Mexico was far superior to Google Maps.
WAZE never got us lost or sent us to the wrong location.
Getting To The Toll Road – Quota
When leaving the inspection area, head towards Highway 1 for a short drive to Highway 2.
Be very careful because Highway 2 is known for speed traps! It is a small two-lane road.
Highway 2 will take you outside the big busy city of Nuevo Laredo and take you directly to Highway 85D – which is a toll road (Cuota).
To tell the difference between a Calle Libre (free road) and a Cuota (Toll Road) look for the letter “D” after the number. If it has a “D” – then is it a Toll Road.
Try to use the Cuotas when they are available.
Cuotas offer a more direct route, and are continuously being repaired and repaved. I have even seen people cleaning the guard rails!
Point B – Stop for lunch in Saltillo Coahuila Mexico
Saltillo is about 2 ½ hours drive from the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge border crossing.
I suggest eating lunch at the Four Points Hotel by Sheraton in Saltillo.
It is conveniently located on Highway 40, on the right-hand side if you are driving south.
This is a pet-friendly hotel with a nice restaurant. There is a patio in the back where you can bring your dog and have lunch.
The parking lot is secure, so you can leave your luggage in the car while you eat.
If you need gas, there is a Costco gas station 5 minutes from Four Points Hotel on Highway 40.
Saltillo is one of the most industrialized areas in Mexico. It has one of the largest automotive clusters in Mexico, with plants such as Grupo Industrial Saltillo, General Motors, Fiat Automobiles, Chrysler, Daimler to name a few.
After filling up the car with gas, continue to head south to the 57D toll road towards Matehuala in the state of San Luis Potosi. About a 3-hour drive.
Point C – Spend the night in Matehuala, San Luis Potosi
In total, this town is about a 6.5-hour drive from the US border on the Pan American Highway – Toll Road 57D.
Normally folks spend the night in Matehuala and then leave the next day for their final destination.
Las Palmas Motor Hotel a perfect place to stay for the following reasons:
- Pet Friendly
- There are carports available for many of the rooms. This means you can park your car right next to your motel room door and never unload the car (if you wish).
- A safe place to stay; completely fenced in.
- Large grassy areas for dogs to walk or run around.
- The restaurant on site is decent and offers weekly specials.
- Nice pool, fairly large and clean.
- Friendly staff
Matehuala is the jumping off point to other cities in central Mexico:
- Guanajuato and San Miguel Allende
- Mexico City
I would like to suggest taking some time to visit (some not so famous) interesting places in this part of Mexico.
A really cool ghost town, an Opel Mine where you can mine your own opals, a great place to buy some wonderful cheese and wine, plus more.
All of these places are pet friendly and kid friendly too!
Read more about my pet friendly/kid friendly road trip!
The GrinGO App for traveling in Mexico.
WAZE is the best app for directions and up-to-date information on accidents and where the police are. All information is supplied by other drivers. It is also a great resource to contact other drivers around you to find out why you find yourself stuck in traffic.
Another great resource is the private Facebook group called On The Road To Mexico. Even if you are not a fan of FB, this private group is well worth joining.
There are 56K+ members who can help to answer your questions real-time with up-to-date travel information all throughout Mexico.
Google Translate, as it allows you to use your phone’s camera to translate menus, signs, ads etc if you are not familiar with Spanish.
WhatsApp for free texting and internet phone calls all over the world.
Uber and DiDi for ride -share services. Very inexpensive in Mexico. Note: not all states in Mexico allow ride-share services.
As always… safe travels!