Home Expat Blogs How to Get a Jalisco Driver’s License in Lake Chapala

How to Get a Jalisco Driver’s License in Lake Chapala

Castellanos street in Ajijic
Credit: AlejandroLinaresGarcia | Wikimedia Commons

On January 1, 2020 hefty fines kicked in for drivers in the State of Jalisco unable to show a valid driver’s license. The Jalisco Transportation Department (SEMOV) has had a surge of new and renewal license requests. Until now in the Lake Chapala region, the complex to obtain your Jalisco driver’s license was located in Centro Guadalajara, where the operation hub was commonly known as “Transito.” SEMOV, eager to decentralize, is planning to open a new unit in 2020 at Lakeside to be located at the east end of the Chapala Malecon.

Obtaining a driver’s license for years has been thought of as a lengthy process, taking several hours or more. For us residents at Lake Chapala, it also included the hour or more drive to the Transito complex in downtown Guadalajara. For some, the Guadalajara traffic situation, and being unfamiliar with the street locations, made it a dreaded challenge.

The process will be a bit more streamlined with the addition of the planned Chapala office, and a marvelous program offered through the Lake Chapala Society in Ajijic. The process to obtain your Mexican driver’s license can be managed for most in less than 45-minutes. To obtain more rapid processing service, it is important to make an appointment online at citas.jalisco.gob.mx. The Lake Chapala Society program does this appointment for you.

It is also essential to know the required documents prior to going to Transito. For a new license or renewal, an expat needs the original and a copy of your Mexican Residente Temporal or Permanente visa, your passport (a copy of the photo page), your CURP (Mexican ID number) and proof of address (electric or telephone statement in the applicant’s name). An alternative option for proof of address is a certified residency document obtained for a fee at the municipal (city hall) palace. The applicant must also provide proof of blood type. Local clinical laboratories, for a small fee, can provide you with that.

Applicants are processed at Transito through various desk stations at which documents are checked and your photo and fingerprints taken. The exam test of your knowledge of Mexico’s driving laws is 10 multiple choice questions on a touch screen computer in the computer station room. The exam is not that intimidating and you can request the English version before you start. When the computer exam is successfully completed, you advance to the driving exam area. This requires drivers to complete a small circular route, obeying the signs encountered and your skill parking in a designated parking space. If you have a valid foreign driver’s license, take it with you and you will be excused from having to take the driving exam. You will not be asked to surrender your foreign driver’s license either, so you can retain both.

There are two license options: the Automovilista (regular) and the Chofer (chauffeur). The latter allows holders to drive taxis, pickups with capacity up to 3,000 kg and vehicles transporting up to 15 passengers. Applicants pay $633 pesos for a regular license ($531 pesos for a renewal) and $714 pesos for a chauffeur license. There is a 50 percent discount for those over age 60 with Mexico’s INAPAM (senior) card. Licenses are valid for four years.

The payment station might likely prove your longest wait. Payment lines can be long. Then a short wait while the license is printed. When ready, the applicant’s name will appear on a monitor and the plastic license with your photo and signature is presented to you at the designated pick up window.

The Lake Chapala Society offered program is open to LCS members at a current fee of $950 pesos. When you register at LCS for the program, you will receive online information on all documents required and will confirm documents submitted. LCS will make the recommended appointment at Transito for you. You will receive a listing of around 100 sample exam questions to study in advance with the correct answers shown. There is a class review session the day prior going to Transito. The LCS also provides round-trip transportation to Transito to be tested and receive your license.

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David Huff
David has lived in Ajijic along the northern shore of Lake Chapala since 2007 with his wife Catherine. From St. Joseph, Missouri, he held both government and private sector jobs before retiring in Mexico. David is an active volunteer with the Lake Chapala Society, Lakeside Little Theatre and with both the Spanish and English congregations of San Andres Church. He and his wife enjoy traveling and have visited 25 of Mexico's 32 states.