If you own a property in Mexico, you may have well been dazzled by the quantity of paper involved with the closing, the number of times you signed your name, sometimes multiple times within the same document, and the number of times you were asked for seemingly silly items such as the electric bill for your property “up north.” When you finally get your copy of the bank trust, it can be underwhelming – you have waited all this time for this? It is legal size, written in Spanish, with no translation, and has many pages – surely this is not the deed, right? Well, it must be important because you had to sign that you received it, so you’ll keep it, but where? Under the seat of the car, just until you get home, because it is so large; later you will find a place for it “at home.”
When I purchased a property in Paradise over 20 years ago, my HOA president suggested a system of paperwork organization for Mexico that has worked wonderfully for me. All your Mexico paperwork will fit nicely in one of those portable plastic file boxes, available many places for $10 or so. That box should be with you, regardless of whether you are in the USA or here in Mexico. In other words, it should make every single trip back and forth, because, trust me on this, in the future you will need what seem like strange documents at the oddest times, and if your file box is religiously updated and with you, you will have what you need when you need it. The box should contain several separate files, as follows:
Personal: 2 COLOR copies of your passport (NOT your actual passport) photo page – be sure you have signed the passport before copying; 2 COLOR copies of your driver license, which shows your CURRENT residential address; 2 COLOR copies of your Mexican resident card – both sides.
- Personal: 2 COLOR copies of your passport (NOT your actual passport) photo page – be sure you have signed the passport before copying; 2 COLOR copies of your driver license, which shows your CURRENT residential address; 2 COLOR copies of your Mexican resident card – both sides.
- Vehicle registration: 2 copies for every vehicle that goes to Mexico, including trailers or anything else requiring registration such as boats, ATV’s, etc.
- Car insurance policy (Mexican): Make 2 copies, and leave them in your car. The original policy should be in your traveling file box.
- Residential electric bill: 2 copies of the most recent electric bill for your home in USA. The address of service must show, and must be the same address as on your driver license. Be sure to update these copies in your file every time you receive a new bill.
- Mexico electric receipt: save every single electric bill, with the payment receipt stapled to the back of the bill, for your Mexico property, and file with the most recent bill in the front of the file. NEVER discard these, regardless of their age!
- Property tax receipt: save every single property tax bill, stamped paid, for your Mexico property, and file with the most recent in the front of the file. NEVER discard these either, regardless of their age! This includes receipts for federal zone payments for those lucky enough to have waterfront property.
- Bank trust: Take your original bank trust to a copy place such as Office Max and ask them to make 2 copies which have been reduced to 8 ½ x 11” size. Keep the 2 copies in your traveling file, and store the original in a SAFE place that you will remember many months or years in the future – a bank safe deposit box comes to mind. My friends stored their bank trust in a fairly substantial safe that was fireproof and secure. But when their home was broken into, the thieves took the entire safe! Do NOT leave your bank trust under the seat of the car – if left there, it may just go with the car when it is sold…or towed…or…
When you arrive at your destination, your traveling file box should be put inside your home, and not left in your car. Be sure to take it home with you when you leave. If you adopt this system, you will never have to tell anyone to wait until you arrive in Mexico “next trip” for an important document that is needed to help you and is stored in your Mexico house, and you will have handy documents that are helpful to you, in case you need service from the electric company or want to pay your taxes.
One last thought: even if you are not a property owner, traveling with a folder that contains the first 4 items on the list above may prove very useful to you! If you are involved in a fender bender, being able to hand over copies to a policeman and/or insurance adjuster will help to resolve a situation more quickly, and if you are one of the fortunate visitors who is ready to buy property, being able to hand those documents to your real estate agent when you make the offer will help to make the process just a bit easier.
So now Santa knows what to leave under the tree for you – a traveling file box! Merry Christmas!