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Getting to San Carlos, Mexico
Driving: The easiest approach driving from Tucson, Arizona is by taking the Interstate I-19 from Tucson. Take the I-19 for 62 miles south to Nogales, and exit the Mariposa exit #4. At the stoplight turn right on Mariposa Road and follow this to the border.
Mariposa Road is the last chance in the U.S. to get gas, food and facilities, etc.
The driving time from Nogales to San Carlos is approximately 4 hours.
Mariposa Road will take you across the border and onto Mexico Highway 15. Follow the signs to Hermosillo, staying in the left lane. On this road you will be on the way to the Km. 21 station where visa and car permits can be obtained.
There are three tollbooths (Caseta) total along the highway to San Carlos. Each tollbooth requires approx $4.00 U.S. or approximately $40.00 pesos. For the three tollbooths you will need approx $12.00 total, or approximately $120.00 pesos.
RV's are charged about $350.00 pesos, or about $35.00 total for all three tollbooths.
Towed vehicles will be charged an extra toll fee.
The next stop is an inspection station. You will be issued a ticket that provides assistance for travelers - ambulances, towing and emergency services. Hold onto this ticket in the unfortunate event that you require these services.
Tourist Permit: After leaving the inspection station, proceed to the Km. 21 checkpoint - this is where you will find the office that issues Visas/Tourist permits. Look for immigration signs and a sign for parking at the office that issues Tourist Permits. The front of the building says "Tourist Permits".
All stays longer than 72 hours in Mexico, or stays outside the Sonora Free Zone require a Tourist Card. If you are staying up to 7 days, the Tourist Card is free. Stays longer that 7 days are approximately $20 for the Tourist Card.
Vehicle Permits: Not needed for San Carlos / Guaymas. These areas are part of the "Only Sonora" free zone. If you plan to travel outside of the Free Zone, you will be required to get a temporary vehicle import permit.
If you need additional information on the "Only Sonora" program, call -1-800-4-SONORA (800-476-6672).
Boats being towed require a importation permit. This is found at the Federal Aduana building (Customs). Boat permits are not available in San Carlos.
Follow the signs on I-15 to Santa Ana and Hermosillo. After the last tollbooth, start following signs to Guaymas.
The quickest route to San Carlos is to by-pass Hermosillo, unless you need some services, etc. Follow the signs to Guaymas. From here, you will have approximately 83 miles to San Carlos.
Returning your Tourist Permit / Visa - on your return trip back to the U.S., you must return your Tourist Permit at the Km. 21 checkpoint.
Auto Insurance Laws apply to Puerto Penasco, San Carlos, Guaymas and the Sonora Free Zone !! - if you are in an accident, you need to provide valid Mexican Insurance.
By Air: The International Airport of Guaymas receives flights from Phoenix and Tucson, private planes, and is open during daylight hours. The larger airport, the International Airport of Hermosillo has 7 major carriers with world-wide connections.