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Military Checkpoints While Driving in Mexico

Mexico checkpoint

While driving in Mexico you will need to stop at military inspection checkpoints

Perhaps one of the most intimidating experiences for the first time road traveler to Mexico are the encounters with military checkpoints along the Mexican highways. In an effort to control drug trafficking and other illegal activities, the Mexican government has installed a number of military checkpoints along many of the major highways throughout Mexico. In Baja alone, there are about a half-dozen military checkpoints between Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas.

What to expect:

When approaching a military checkpoint, you will see a handful of young men (often under the age of 20) dressed in green military uniforms and armed with automatic rifles. There will usually be some sort of building structure, but the military folks will usually be standing on both sides of the road waiting for you.

Although fifty percent of the time you will be waved through, you should always come to a complete stop and expect to pull over and get out of your vehicle in order to have the interior of your vehicle inspected.

Do not panic. The soldiers are instructed to be courteous to tourists, and they almost always are. Do not expect the soldiers to speak any English, so if you do not speak Spanish, most of the communication will be through hand gestures. They may ask you where you are going ('Adonde va?') and where you are coming from ('De donde viene?'), so be prepared to at least say the name of town you are heading to and coming from.

If they do request to inspect your vehicle, just politely step out of your vehicle and let them do their job. A typical inspection usually involves opening the glove compartment, checking under the seats, popping the trunk, and perhaps inspecting the contents of one or two of your travel bags.

NOTE: The possession of any type of firearm in Mexico is illegal. US and Canadian citizens have been thrown in jail for possession of just one single bullet. If you own any firearms, you should check your vehicle prior to entering Mexico to make sure your vehicle is completely free of any materials associated with firearms. The only exception is for hunting in Mexico, but you must have all of the proper permits.