Recovering Stolen Vehicles
Documents required to issue a Consular Letter to recover a stolen vehicle
Under the 1936 Convention for the return of motor vehicles stolen, converted, or embezzled in the United States and subsequently brought to Mexico, U.S. Citizens may be able to retrieve their stolen vehicles. Listed below are the documents required under the Convention in order to recover the vehicle. Once these documents are presented at the Consulate, a consular letter is prepared to support the request to the Mexican Government.
- As proof of ownership, either:
a) Title document or a certified copy
b) Bill of Sale or a certified copy
c) Department of Motor Vehicles Registration or a certified copy.
- A Police Report certified by the Police Department and translated into Spanish.
- If Title to the vehicle has been transferred since the time of theft. Bill of Sale or other documents showing transfer of the vehicle from the owner to an insurance company (necessary only if such a transfer of title has taken place).
- Power of Attorney and Spanish translation from the present owner indicating the name and address of the person responsible for the recovery of the vehicle and its returns to the United States (not necessary if the owner of the vehicle will personally come to Mexico to claim it and return it to the United States).
Certifications and Translations
The Power of Attorney must be made before a Notary Public or other official empowered to administer oaths. The title, registration certificate, and police report of theft must be originals or certified copies bearing the seal of the issuing office and the signature of the responsible public official. Simple photocopies of these documents, even bearing a "true copy" notarization, will not suffice. The Bill of Sale must be the original or a copy certified as a true copy by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The translator's affidavit must be executed before a Notary Public.
You must submit the original (or certified copy) and one photocopy of each document and the original and one photocopy of each sworn translation. The photocopies do not have to be certified.
In general, any act (except failure to make payment) which violates a provision of a rental or sales contract may results in a conversion of the property. If the act is a part of a transfer of the vehicle to Mexico, the vehicle is possibly recoverable under the 1981 Convention. Two examples of common acts which result in conversion are: renting the vehicle and failing to return it by the date agreed; and renting a vehicle for a specific trip within the U.S. and subsequently taking it to Mexico.
In event of conversion rather than theft it is necessary to establish a basis for a claim under the 1981 Convention. Documents establishing ownership (e.g. sales contract, security agreement) and the terms establishing the use of the vehicle, (e.g. rental agreement) must be presented. In addition, Mexican Government agencies require a police report of conversion (the police report is often overlooked by the owner in conversion cases).
If you have any questions about what is required, please do not hesitate to contact the Consulate.
The Consulate currently charges no fee for this service.
The treaty prohibits the Mexican government from imposing duties or fines related to the recovery of the vehicle. However, fees for service, such as towing to and storage in an impound lot are legal and must be paid by the owner.
The owner is responsible for all costs associated with returning the vehicle to the U.S.. The Consulate cannot provide financial assistance in these situations.
Beyond the Only Sonora and “Border Zones,” the government of Mexico strictly regulates the entry of vehicles into Mexico and a special permit is needed. (continue reading)