Mexico to increase drive-in deposit requirement

MEXICO CITY -- The Mexican government plans to implement a new policy next month that will require drivers to leave a refundable deposit of up to $800 before entering Mexico by car.

The new policy, which replaces an old system requiring a smaller deposit, is designed to curtail the illegal importation and sale of U.S.-registered vehicles in Mexico.

According to the Mexican Embassy in Washington, the effective date for new rules governing the car-deposit initiative was postponed from Nov. 1 to allow more time to fine-tune the measures and provide more flexibility for drivers.

Under the new policy, which is expected to be in place before the 1999 Christmas season, drivers must post a deposit using a credit card or cash. The deposit amount will vary depending upon the year of the car: $400 for 1993 and earlier models, $600 for 1994 to 1998 models, and $800 for 1999 and 2000 models.

The deposit will be fully refunded when the car exits the country from any point along the border, regardless of where the vehicle entered Mexico.

Vehicles not traveling beyond the border-exempt zone, which extends 16 miles into Mexico from the border, will not be required to post a deposit.

Sectur, Mexico's Ministry of Tourism, said it will in no way benefit from the new policy. Sectur, which is evaluating the impact the initiative may have on tourism, said it may suggest alternatives to make it more convenient for visitors entering Mexico by car.

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