Prior, we had written about how you can transport your pet via a Ferry from the Baja sliver of Mexico to its mainland and from that sprung this blog that'll tell you more about the TMC experience in general and what you'll need to know & have in preparation for the ferry.
REQUIRED DOCUMENTS FOR YOUR VEHICLE TO BE ON THE FERRY
First off, the moment you consider a ferry to cross into the Mexican mainland either via Baja Ferry or TMC (from baja), be sure to have your vehicle registration to prove ownership of your vehicle to be allowed to get the vehicle ''import permit.'' Yes, you'll need one to have your car legally on the mainland and the person that the vehicle is registered under MUST be there with their ID to be granted this permit.
What you'll also need to have in order to get the import permit is your Mexican FMM TOURIST VISA, that same thing they give you whenever you fly internationally into any country (see image below). Technically, ONLY the person that the vehicle is registered under needs the FMM to get the import permit. If you've driven from the USA into Baja like we did, you would be told that the only option you have in getting the FMM is at the immigration office at any US/Mexican border entry point. For us, that would've have been Tijuana. It'll cost about $25 for each person's FMM since you're traversing by land instead of flying into the mainland. (TIP: If you'd already driven far down into Baja w/out having to stop to get an FMM, the other only place we've heard of from several people is that you can get the FMM form is in Cabo San Lucas, which was only about 1-2 hours drive from La Paz.) Sadly, like we said prior, we were told by the Mexican officials that we can only get it at the border so since the car was registered under Brittanny, only she had to fly back to TJ (airport is a walking distance to the border) to get her FMM.
sample FMM Tourist Visa we downloaded from Google images
The import permit costed us $69 usd plus a $400 usd deposit and allows you up to 6 months stay on the mainland, of which you can extend/renew at any border, be it Guatemala, Belize or a U.S. state. Ohhh, and the building you would need to go to to get the import permit is called BANJERCITO. To receive the deposit back, when exiting the country via the same vehicle, you'll need to stop by any Banjercita office near any border entry point BEFORE crossing the border into 1 of the 3 different countries. Other than needing the import permit for the car to go on the ferry into the mainland, it is also a legal requirement along the way when the mainland authorities stop you at any point, especially the military checkpoints.
ABOUT THE TMC FERRY
TMC is a working ferry for the nation's businesses transporting supplies, equipments and other cargo as opposed to the alternate BAJA FERRY that caters to the comfort of tourism. Hence, unlike Baja Ferry, there won't be any sleeping cabins available and majority of the people on board are trucker men; fortunately nice people. Fortunately, dogs are allowed to roam w/ your supervision or remain in the car w/out the need to be crated like the BAJA FERRY so that is such a huge plus for us. There is a small size sitting lounge with a TV that some people slumber in but most people that we saw on our trip slept in their vehicle. Being a work horse, the overall cleanliness of the ship isn't the best but still very acceptable and even adventurous in our book. Ohh, the restrooms are often clean and they do have showers on board but I would not rely on those if you're not used to public amenities. =)
While on board, despite what people say, the inclusive Mexican meals were actually authentic and good in our opinion. I would definitely give it a try if you're not the paranoid type.
The FERRY TICKET
The ferry company considers your type of vehicle and the number of passengers ''cargo'' so the weight/type of the vehicle will slightly impact the price of your ticket. All in all, it shouldn't cost you as much as the Baja Ferry alternative where you can't have your pet out of the kennel, assuming you're taking one like we did. The trip was overnight and about 14-18 hours depending on loading efficiency. To check out the updated prices, you can visit their website at www.ferrytmc.com. Costed the 3 of us 4,747 pesos or roughly $250usd at that time.
When you're at the website and selecting your port of departure & arrival, keep in mind that LA PAZ translate to the word "PEACE" so select that option if you're going from or into La Paz. I feel quite retarded after realizing that but hey, who would think that Google Chrome would translate the name of a City in its English equivalent, something we soon realized Mexico does quite often.
We had used this website for planning purposes and due to uncertainties, such as the type of operator ticket we're supposed to get, we had decided to purchased the ticket at the port's ticket office instead. There are 2 ports over on the mainland you can select to arrive at: Mazatlan and Topolobampo. We considered taking the less expensive Topolo' port and drive a few hours along the coast southward to reach our intended Mazatlan destination but with some information from people saying that the route isn't that scenic and due to the cost of tolls along the road, you wouldn't save much anyway so we had waived that option and ferried straight into Mazatlan.
After sorting out your desired ferry schedule, plan to arrive at least 2 hours ahead to give yourself time to process the car paperwork and to purchase the ticket at a different building. It shouldn't take too long given that all the aforementioned paperwork are in order.
a. After getting the import permit, the ferry ticket, and finally weighing in the car, we had an hour to kill so we parked at a random spot--you could no longer drive out of the port at that point--and walked across the street around the top corner for a Michelada.
b. Do request to be parked on the upper deck of the Ferry to avoid the intensely loud engine noise below. We've been told it'll help with the sleep factor.
c. Be prepared for a long trip and having pillows, if room permits, would be very helpful.
d. Meals have a time window so the kitchen will be closed if you don't get there on time. They'll let you know the time period that it'll be served.
e. TMC FERRY and BAJA FERRIES share the same port in case you didn't know and it's about a pleasant 20 minutes drive from the end of the malecon on the way towards its 2 most popular beaches, Balandra and El Tecolote.
16 hours of ferry time can be quite tiring
We hope this information have helped you plan for your travels and feel free to reach out if you have questions via the message box below. Have super fun in Mexico and try not to get stopped by the police so many times like we did; 13 times to be exact!! Fortunately, we only paid 1 time but it was purely an accident. Msg us if you want tips on what to expect from the corrupted police and how to avoid paying them anything.
Daniel & Brittanny
“Hey! Great advice/info. I would love to know more specifically about dogs on the TMC ferry. In your post I believe you said they can accompany you (don’t have to stay in the vehicle) as long as they are under your control. What about facilities for them? Is there a reasonable place for the dogs to use the restroom onboard?” Marty Mastera on October 21, 2019"
Hi Marty. Great question. There are no facilities for them to pee or poop on board.. hence, I’d probably recommend bringing a pee pad if your furry friend are trained to use one. We just went rogue on that one and had to just pick up his poop with a bag. The peeing part was rough as there was no way around it so we just let him go at the front of the ship. Not sure what to do there other than letting them pee, clean/soak it up with some sponge like material and discard it. Good luck with that and if you have any great idea on how to handle that, do share it!