All commercial vehicles entering the U.S., whether registered in Mexico, the U.S., or another country are subject to safety inspection. In New Mexico, the inspections may be conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the state Motor Transportation Division.
Inspection standards are in compliance with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and are the same at all commercial ports along the US/Canadian and US/Mexican borders. The safety standards are the same as those imposed on commercial traffic on U.S. highways.
Commercial Safety Inspection Locations and Hours
In Columbus, the inspections are conducted within the port of entry. At Santa Teresa, safety inspections are conducted at a separate facility located one-half mile north of the port of entry. The inspection facilities are open the same hours as commercial Customs inspections at the ports of entry.
New Mexico Border Commercial Zone - Mexican Commercial Vehicles
Because of Mexican regulations and economic factors, most of the vehicles carrying cargo between the U.S. and Mexico belong to Mexican transportation companies. In New Mexico, Mexican commercial vehicles may currently only operate within the New Mexico Border Commercial Zone comprised of Luna and Dona Ana Counties. The Mexican vehicles may also operate between Columbus or Santa Teresa and the adjacent El Paso Border Commercial Zone, which is defined as within a twenty-mile radius of El Paso commercial ports of entry.
Mexican commercial vehicles may only transfer cargo between the border commercial zones and Mexico and may not carry cargo between points within the commercial zones. Please refer our map titled, "New Mexico's International Border" that shows the federally designated border commercial zones.
U.S. Department of Transportation-Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations
U.S. Trucking Companies
American trucking companies engaged in international commerce must be registered with the Motor Carrier Safety Administration and must display their USDOT registration number on their tractors. In addition to vehicle safety compliance, the companies must meet numerous other requirements including insurance, driver qualifications, logbook, and company safety history. More information concerning USDOT requirements is located at the Motor Carrier Safety Administration webpage.
Mexican Trucking Companies
The requirements for Mexican trucking companies operating within the Border Commercial Zones are generally the same as those for U.S. companies. Mexican companies must also apply and be registered with the Motor Carrier Safety Administration and must display their USDOT and ICCMX registration numbers on their tractors. More information concerning Motor Carrier Safety Administration requirements for Mexican companies is located at the Motor Carrier Safety Administration Spanish webpage.
New Mexico Motor Transportation Division (NM MTD) Regulations
In addition to vehicle safety compliance, NM MTD inspects commercial vehicles for height and weight compliance, both gross weight and axle weight.
NM MTD also issues state permits for oversize cargo, IFTA fuel permits and tax returns, and trip permits. For additional information concerning NM MTD regulations and permits, please contact NM MTD directly at (505) 882-2471.
Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Decal Program
Commercial vehicles that successfully pass a full safety inspection are eligible to qualify for CVSA decals, which must be placed on both the tractor and trailer. CVSA decals are valid for a period of up to 90 days.
Vehicles with CVSA decals are less likely to experience further full safety inspections until the decal expires, unless critical safety violations are detected. More information can be obtained from the NM MTD at (505) 882-2471 or at the safety inspection facilities.
Visa Requirements for Mexican Drivers
Mexican national truck drivers generally qualify for B-1 business permits or laser visas and must make application through a consulate or the embassy in Mexico.
In addition, drivers operating within the Border Commercial Zone beyond 25 miles from the border must obtain a Form I-94 Arrival and Departure Record ("Permiso") at a border port of entry. Additional information concerning immigration permits for drivers is at CBP - Commercial Transportation.