Sunday May 28 2023

Posted by on February 09, 2014
  • Military Checkpoint 600 meters ahead
    Military Checkpoint 600 meters ahead


Road checkpoints in Mexico are a familiar sight, installed in response to the rising cartel presence in the country. They have been put there mostly to look for guns, drugs and evidence of cartel activities and they are nothing to be afraid of. If you are traveling by car in Mexico, expect to see several checkpoints along highways and secondary roads. However, as long as you don’t have any guns or drugs in the car, you should have no worries.

Most checkpoints are manned by military personnel (Puesto Control de Militar), and may be semi-permanent or temporary installations. They can appear at any time of the day and night, and may stop every vehicle, which causes some congestion. Some may only pick and choose among the vehicles for those that are likely to be used by the cartel, such as SUVs with darkened windows. In fact, in Baja Sur, they are now asking for people to take off their tinted window film, especially on the driver’s side.

In most cases, being pulled over at a checkpoint is no cause for alarm. When you are pulled over in checkpoints at night, douse your outer lights and turn on interior lights. In most cases, you will only be stopped for a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on whether they decide to check your luggage area.

Make sure that you have:

Required travel documents, including your passport, driver’s license, and Mexico car insurance card.
No opened bottles of beer or any alcoholic drinks.
No guns, ammunition or other types of arms including foldable knives over 4".
No drugs, except prescription drugs for medical conditions. Make sure you have your prescription with you.
Ancient artifacts or specific types of wood, unless you have a license to transport them.

Road checkpoints in Mexico are often manned by police or military personnel who will speak little or no English. They are mostly polite and will not give you a hard time unless you act suspiciously. Handy phrases to know include:

Habla Español? – Do you speak Spanish?
Adonde va? – Where are you going?
De donde viene? – Where are you coming from?

You may be asked to step out of your vehicle, and the underneath your vehicle may be inspected using mirrors. Your license plate and passport information may be noted. Always smile, remain courteous and comply with what the officer asks you to do.

If for any reason you or your vehicle is detained at one of the road checkpoints in Mexico, ask why and inform the consulate immediately about your situation. Your consulate may be able to coordinate with the officer who detained you to get full details and to assist in any possible misunderstanding. At any rate, the consulate will know where you are and monitor the situation. It would be infinitely better if you can speak or, at least, understand Spanish when you get to road checkpoints in Mexico, especially if you are more than just a tourist. If you are just a tourist they generally are fairly understanding and try not to scare you unless of course they feel you are carrying contraband.

In checkpoints of Baja they generally do not look that much at foreigners unless they feel you are carrying drugs or guns. Even if you are carrying small amounts of marijuana, if you give them the reason they will tear your car apart. They really don’t care about personal use and generally will just take what you have and give you a hefty mordida on the spot. Probably the real motivation behind them even bothering to look is that they can make some money. This is not right, but then breaking the law and having drugs is also not right according to their laws.

Many, many people driving Baja whether on the main highway or on secondary roads find other than a slight delay the military are courteous and quick to get you back on your way. Be sure when approaching the inspection to take off your sunglasses and turn off your music and don’t be making a lot of movement in your car as that will raise their suspicions. They rarely ask to see you immigration papers or car registration but they do have that right so be sure to have everything in order. Don’t give them a reason to investigate you, they most likely will just pass you through with just a wave.

This article was brought to you by the folks at West Coast Insurance. So. Be sure you have at least current liability insurance if you are driving Baja and or Mexico as it is the law.

Here is another article was written by one of readers on their Military Checkpoint experience in a very rural part of Baja...

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  • West Coast Mexico Insurance – Travel Insurance
    West Coast Mexico Insurance – Travel Insurance
  • West Coast Mexico Insurance Travel Insurance
    West Coast Mexico Insurance Travel Insurance
  • West Coast Mexico Insurance Travel Insurance
    West Coast Mexico Insurance Travel Insurance
  • West Coast Mexico Insurance Travel Insurance
    West Coast Mexico Insurance Travel Insurance


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