1 What Can I Bring into Mexico: Mexican Customs Rules – The Article

Feb., 2013
SAT has issued new rules for importing things. Customs brokers are no longer required for private individuals when bringing personal items in by land.

Dec. 7, 2013
Yucalandia offers the following update to Aduana’s policies on what is allowed for visitors to Mexico as a part of an ongoing series of articles on common issues. We welcome you to propose your own questions or issues for additional articles.

Please note that as of Dec. 5, 2013, SAT/Aduana has issued new Duty Free limits for people entering Mexico by air and by land. The new year round limits are $500 US dollars per person entering Mexico by air, and $300 US dollars per person by land. Note that these are the year round limits. There are also special holiday $500 USA per Mexican citizen Paisano program limits between Nov. 1, 2013 and Jan. 8, 2014.

Here’s a List of the Contents of this Article:
Click on any of the following topics to go to that Section.

What can I bring in duty free?

~ Which items may be included in my personal luggage exempt from duty?

~ In which cases should I pay taxes?

~ Which other items must be declared?

~ Which goods are restricted?

~ Which goods are prohibited?

~ How much should I pay for those additional goods that are not part of my luggage or the $500 flight or $300 auto exemption?

~ Are you planning on driving into Mexico with your household goods? ~ Menaje de Casa Rules (English) ~

~ Aduana: Menaje de Casa ~ (Spanish)

~ Map of Aduanas del Pais

~ SAT – Directory of BANJERCITO Offices that Handle Vehicle Imports

~~~~~~~
Back to the article:

Aduana’s current webpage for passengers arriving by Land and Aduana’s current webpage for import rules for passengers arriving by Plane says:

What can I bring in duty free?
° The items allowed in your personal luggage, according to the length of the trip
° As of Dec. 5, 2013: Up to US$500 per person in permitted goods, or its equivalent in other currencies when flying into Mexico. Passengers arriving by land are allowed only $300 of goods per person. Passengers traveling with family members (spouse and children) may combine their personal exemptions only when arriving together. In order to claim this additional exemption passengers must have the corresponding commercial invoices or receipts available
° Beer, alcoholic beverages and manufactured tobacco may not be included in this additional exemption.   New Duty Free Limits for Entering Mexico – Dec. 2013.

Desk-top computers are allowed, with 16% duties, as long as the total value of the computer is less than $4,000 USD.  Alternately, bringing in more than $3,000 USD of goods, no longer requires using a Customs Broker – Menaje de Casa style lists are accepted and encouraged. ~ Are you planning on driving into Mexico with your household goods? ~ Menaje de Casa Rules (English) ~

=================================================================
Which items may be included in my personal luggage exempt from duty when flying?

° Suitcases, trunks, and the necessary bags to carry your belongings.

  1. Goods for personal use, such as clothing, footwear and personal toiletries and beauty products, as long as they are appropriate for the duration of the trip, including wedding party items. Baby travel accesories, such as strollers and baby-walkers.
  2. Two photographic cameras or video recorders, 12 rolls of film or videocassettes; photographic material; three portable cell phone or other wireless networks; global positioning equipment (GPS); a portatil typewriter; an electronic calendar; a portable computer (laptop), notebook, omnibook or similar items; a copier or portable printer; a portable projector, and their accessories.
  3. Two sports equipment, four rods, three speedboats with or without sails and their accessories, trophies or recognitions, provided that they can be transported normally and commonly by the passenger, one stair climber and bicycle
  4. A portable radio for the recording or reproduction of sound or mixed tapes; or a digital sound reproducer or portable reproducer of compact discs and a portable reproducer of DVD’s, such as a pair of portable speakers, and their accessories.
  5. Five laser disks, 10 DVD disks, 30 compact disks (CD) or magnetic tapes (audiocassettes), for the reproduction of sound, three software packages and five storage devices or memory cards for any electronic equipments.
  6. Books, magazines and printed documents.
  7. Five toys, —included those that are collectible— and a video game console and five videogames.
  8. One device that permits measurement of arterial pressure and one for glucose, as well as medications of personal use; in the case of psychotropics the medical prescription should be shown.
  9. One set of binoculars and a telescope.
  10. Valises, trunks and suitcases necessary for the movement of goods.
  11. Passengers over 18 years of age, may bring in a maximum of up to 20 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco and up to three liters of alcoholic beverages, and six liters of wine.    Items in excess of the above cannot be imported without complying with applicable regulations and restrictions.
  12. Two musical instruments and its accessories.
  13. A camping tent and camping equipment, as well as their accessories.
  14. A set of tools including its case, it might have a hand drill, wire cutters, wrenches, dices, screwdrivers, current cables, among others.
  15. Up to two dogs or cats, maybe introduced as well as their accessories, provided that the corresponding  zoo/sanitary  import certificate issued by (SAGARPA) is presented to the customs officials.**

**SAT’s website (parent agency of Mexican Customs) Item #16 describes 3 pets allowed per person. ~ ~ Equipaje personal~~ plus descriptions of the veterinary certification you need to complete before traveling: el certificado zoosanitario para su importación, expedido por la Secretaría de Agricultura,

~ Additional details (in English) on importing pets are listed at an SRE website: ” When traveling to Mexico with your pet. “ including explanations about the veterinary exam requirements.

*******

° New or used goods for personal use, such as clothing, footwear and personal hygienic products, in reasonable quantities, according to the length of your trip and that they may not be subject to commercialization

° Medications for personal use. In the case of psychotropic substances you must present the corresponding medical prescription ***

° Persons with disabilities may include those items for personal use that due to their characteristics may replace or reduce their disability.

http://www.aduanas.sat.gob.mx/aduana_mexico/2008/pasajeros/139_10210.html and
New Duty Free Limits for Entering Mexico – Dec. 2013

=================================================================
In which cases should I pay taxes?

- Remember that you are entitled to bring in up to US$500 worth of goods in addition to the personal items included in your personal luggage, and that you are allowed to combine this amount with family members (except for alcohol and tobacco not allowed for minors).

- If you exceed this exemption, or if your family’s combined amount exceeds the combined exemption, you must pay duties and taxes. There is a flat 16% rate of duties and taxes, which is applied only to the amount exceeding the exemption (individual or combined). You must fill out a payment form, which is available at the Customs counter

- If the value of the goods surpasses one thousand dollars (per family member) after subtracting the US$500 exemption, or if any of the goods is subject to non-tariff regulations or restrictions, you must hire the services of a customs broker. Private brokerage services are always available at the airport

- If you bring a desktop computer, you may pay duties and taxes by filling out a payment form as long as the value of the computer and its peripherals and accessories do not exceed US$4,000. If the total value of the computer and its peripherals and accessories exceeds US$4,000 you no longer are required to hire the services of a customs broker.

=================================================================

Which other items must be declared?

- Animals, agricultural products and medications

- If you are carrying more than US$10,000, or its equivalent in other currencies, in cash, checks, money orders or any other monetary instrument, or a combination of them, you must declare the amount exceeding US$10,000. You will not have to pay duties or taxes, but you must declare it on the Customs Declaration form. Failing to declare it is a violation of Mexican Law and such violation is sanctioned with administrative and even criminal penalties.

=================================================================

Which goods are restricted?

• Firearms and ammunition. In order to import firearms and cartridges you must secure an import permit from the Ministry of Economy and from the Ministry of National Defense. For further information please visit the following websites: http://www.economia.gob.mx and http://www.sedena.gob.mx.

• Hams and Cheeses, well sealed in their original packages, with all labeling intact are allowed:  SAGARPA: Ingreso de jamones y quesos ,Firehttp://senasica.gob.mx/?id=3694

***Aduana de Mexico offers a specific list of medications for which Mexican Custom’s has special rules.   See:  http://www.aduanas.gob.mx/aduana_mexico/2008/pasajeros/139_11149.html   Read Section 8.

~ Aduana de Progreso has confiscated incoming shipments of grease products, including small tubes of water-proof fishing reel grease. The person who ordered the grease was sent an official notice by Aduana asking him to come to the Administrative Offices at the Progreso Muelle. The Aduana supervisor told him that all grease products were forbidden for import by private individuals.

=================================================================

Which goods are prohibited?

- Narcotics, insecticides and live predator fish of any size. Stamps, stickers, drawings, illustrations or printed materials representing children in a denigrated or ridiculous way, or inciting violence. For further information please visit the Mexico Customs website http://www.aduanas.gob.mx
- The Ministry of Agriculture prohibits the following goods since they represent a great risk for the introduction of plagues and diseases: earth, straw, padded containers of hay, straw decorations without processing; homemade foods; flours of animal origin; fresh, dry, canned or frozen meat and meat products, such as smoky, salted and mature sausages that have been elaborated in countries under absolute quarantine (Europe, Africa, Asia and South America).

~ The Port of Progreso Aduana office also says that all grease products are not allowed, including fishing reel lubricants. ???

For additional information please visit the website http://www.sagarpa.gob.mx .

=======================================================================

How much should I pay for those additional goods that are not part of my luggage or the $500 flight exemption or$ 300 driving exemption?

If you exceed the $500 flight exemption, or$ driving exemption (per person), you must pay duties and taxes. There is a flat 15% rate of duties and taxes and you must fill out the payment form intended for it, which is available at the Customs counter.

For travel in 2014,  we are not required to use Customs Brokers.

*    *    *    *     *     *    *

Are you planning on driving into Mexico with your household goods?
Here is our crude translation of Aduana’s current official rules for bringing in household goods using a “Menaje de Casa”.

The following used household items can be imported duty-free:
~    The furniture and utensils of a house, used exclusively for the use and proper and regular treatment of a family, clothes, books, booksellers.
~    Works of art or science, they do not constitute complete collections for installing exhibitions and art galleries.
~    Scientific instruments for professionals as well as workers and craftsmen tools, provided they are essential to the development of the profession, trade or occupation.
~    Scientific instruments and tools that enjoy the exemption may not be a complete set of equipment for the installation of laboratories, clinics or workshops.

Foreigners interested in importing household goods duty free, must certify that the household goods were acquired at least six months before the date you enter Mexico.

People who are allowed to imports household goods, without payment of taxes on foreign trade are:

Important:
No utensils are considered part of the following commodities:
~    Goods which the persons concerned have been abroad for commercial or industrial activities.
~    Vehicles.

Legal basis: Article 61 Section VII and 142 of the Customs Act, Articles 90, 91 and 94 of the Customs Act Regulation, Rule 3.3.3. of the General Rules on Foreign Trade for 2012. Aduana: Menaje de Casa ~ (Spanish)

Yucalandia Note:
We suggest taking at least 3 copies of the list, because Aduana will keep one copy at the border, and then when you cross the 25 km Aduana checkpoint, they might keep a copy of the list. As you cross state borders and go through military or police checkpoints, they can ask to see the list. In the bustle of traveling, a single list might get lost – leaving you with no list (a.k.a. in the dog-house) for future inspections of the load.
*    *    *    *    *    *    *

If you are entering by land or sea, you can check the following official map of Aduana offices, along with their contact information, hours of operation, and addresses:  Map of Aduanas del Pais

Happy Trails !

*                     *                   *                    *
Feel free to copy while giving proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry

Read-on MacDuff . . .

197 Responses to 1 What Can I Bring into Mexico: Mexican Customs Rules – The Article

  1. Pingback: What Can I Bring into Mexico: Mexican Customs Rules | Surviving Yucatan

  2. norm says:

    What kind of number do they put on things like used cement mixers and power planners? I tend to fix things myself, my big tools are something that I would want to mule down if I bought in Yucatan. Who sets the value on a 50 year old cement mixer? It’s not pretty but it works great, I’d hate to pay $100 USD for the old beast just to cross the border. What kind of import taxes do regular folk have to pay?

    • yucalandia says:

      Norm,
      whew…. The last friend I know who brought down a bunch of that kind of stuff (a gasoline powered welder, and 1/3 of a bus of tools and household goods etc) wound up in a standoff with Aduana for a while – and Aduana ultimately caved and charged him an arbitrary $300 or $400 for the whole lot.

      On another trip, we hauled in a 16 ft totally enclosed trailer that was about 1/3 full of household goods – and they waved us through – they were only concerned about a bag of prescription medicines. We also brought in a pickup load stuffed full of household goods and a 4′ x 6′ trailer loaded 6 feet deep: $300. easy-peasy – But the key to easy-peasy was having a printed spreadsheet list including every item and estimated prices.

      If they just give your load a visual once-over, and it’s clear that you aren’t hauling drugs, guns, bales of cash, lead batteries, food, or supplies to run a business, you will likely be waved through with no $$$ – which is the experience of 100′s of people reporting going through Laredo/Nuevo Laredo early in the day. Matamoros Aduanas has a stiffer reputation for charging arbitrary fees.
      All the best and safe travels. Stop by and stay a while at our home in Merida if you like…
      steve

      • norm says:

        Thanks Steve. Hope to be in Yucatan next November. I have my eye on the Reo Bec/Calakmul area for some off the beaten trac ruins. Mid January is a trip into Yaxchilan viva Palenque. My plans are a remote highland Guatemalan ruin called Mixco Viejo for the 12/21/12 winter solstice.(I’ve seen clear evidence of local Mayan use there in the past) I plan on driving my van down, doing a ruin trip with you and your buds would be very cool if we can line up our ducks.

      • John says:

        Steve,
        We are wanting to come to MX possibly to retire. We have several animals; however, and no one seems to know how we can get them through. I’ve called every possible number from embassy to customs and no one knows anything. But I bet if we came to the border with the animals all of a sudden everyone would know all the rules! We aren’t up for surprises; however, and would just like to know in advance what we need. Also, we wanted to bring a gun or two just for protection for traveling through the country. No one seems to know anything about that either. Do you have information on either of these? I would really appreciate it if you could give us some definitive answers. Thanks! John

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi John,
        As it says above in the article under “restricted items” (above) ~ ~ <a href="http://yucalandia.com/answers-to-common-questions/what-can-i-bring-into-mexico-mexican-customs-rules-the-article/#Which%20goods%20are%20restricted&quot; ~ ~: no guns allowed, no ammo, no munitions.

        For pets: As listed above in the article: ~ ~ Additional details (in English) on importing pets are listed at an SRE website: ” When traveling to Mexico with your pet. “ including explanations about the veterinary exam requirements. ~ ~

        While the SAT (parent of Aduana) website listed above in the article expands on the SRE description:
        Hasta tres mascotas o animales de compañía: gatos, perros, canarios, hámsteres, cuyos, periquitos australianos, ninfas, hurones, pericos, tortugas, aves silvestres de tamaño pequeño (excepto rapaces), así como los accesorios que requieran para su traslado y aseo, siempre que presenten ante el personal de la aduana el certificado zoosanitario para su importación, expedido por la Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación; para animales de vida silvestre además debe presentarse el Registro de Verificación expedido por la Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Medio Ambiente, que compruebe el cumplimiento de la regulación o restricción no arancelaria a que se encuentren sujetos.

        Fortunately, all the things you were looking for are in the article,
        steve
        http://www.aduanas.sat.gob.mx/aduana_mexico/2008/pasajeros/139_10956.html

  3. Barker says:

    What if you arrive on your own sailboat?

  4. Barker says:

    I really can’t bring canned smoked fish from Germany? That is our main protein backup on our boat, very surprised about that detail. We have over 200 cans that are good till 2017.

    • yucalandia says:

      Barker,
      We don’t know import rules for arrival on your private boat. Do they inspect the contents of personal boats when you arrive?
      Can you leave the cans of fish on the boat? I will ask some friends who sailed the Caribbean for roughly 12 years, using Mexican ports what they know.
      steve

      • Barker says:

        Hi Steve, thanks for the quick reply. I can absolutely leave the canned fish on the boat. I’ve only arrived in Mexico via sail boat once and that was a friends boat. No officials ever came on board but that doesn’t mean they wont and ignorance is never an excuse. Thank you for the offer of asking your friends. I’m enjoying the other great information you have posted. Glad I found your blog. Cheers.

  5. Claire says:

    Hi there. I’m driving to Merida in July with two 12-yr olds. Does the personal exemption apply to them as well as individual exemptions – as to laptops, CD’s and the like. The way I read it, we, as a family, have a combined exemption of $900US above the personal luggage exemption. Am I correct? Does the $300US exemption apply before receipt of FM2/3? Thanks for your advice, and your blog.

    • yucalandia says:

      Claire, correct. The exemption has nothing to do with your INM permit application.

      • aspen says:

        Can you not bring a laptop and ipad into Mexico?

      • yucalandia says:

        Aspen,
        One person can bring in both as an airline or bus passenger.
        Aduana might charge you 15% duty on one of them. – or they might not. If you are traveling with a companion, have them carry one of your 2 computers. Or, carry a print-out from Ebay showing a low price on one of the computers, so that any duty charged is low.

        e.g. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-iPad-16GB-Wifi-3G-Case-Bundle-w-Square-Trade-Warranty-/220966591308?pt=US_Tablets&hash=item3372a29b4c shows a price of $160 – which would get only a $24 duty if Aduana chose to assess duty on your 2 computers.
        steve

      • Claire says:

        Thanks for your reply. I’m somewhat confused as to the 300USD exemption. http://www.aduanas.gob.mx indicates up to 75USD exemption above the personal luggage when driving in, but allows 300USD exemption when flying in. Also, ‘…in order to claim exemption…passengers must have the corresponding commercial invoices or receipts available’. The items I’d like to bring in above the personal luggage exemption is mostly kitchen stuff, bedding, school supplies for 2 children,(and family pics/portraits) have been used for several years and, of course, no receipts. How do I get around this? Do I list an approx cost from way back for each item?

        Many thanks again for your help. Methinks I worry too much.
        Claire

      • yucalandia says:

        Claire,
        You’re welcome.

        A friend regularly makes 3-4 trips a year here to Merida with household goods. She makes an Excel spreadsheet naming each item in Spanish, serial numbers for electronics etc, and prices – with multiple copies, so Aduana can keep one in their records, and you can keep yours with you for showing at various checkpoints throughout Mexico.

        She goes onto Ebay to find images and prices for used items – and prints out copies as supporting documentation for her estimated prices on the spreadsheet. Aduana has accepted her spreadsheets every time with no hassles. No drugs, no firearms, no meats or produce, medications only with prescriptions…

        Are you still confused about the differing limits for land entry vs. airline passengers? The rules have describe charges for different services, but the amounts and requirements seem clear. Government requirements around the world often do not make sense to the rest of us. *grin*

        You’re right not to worry. Most people cross the border with either no duties or small payments. Many people are just waved through after cursory load checks.
        steve

  6. Kathryn says:

    Does anyone know if you can bring white unbleached flour into Mexico? We are planning a trip tp Merida soon and would like to be able to bring flour with us if possible.

    Thanks in advance

    • yucalandia says:

      Kathryn,
      Our friends have brought us bleached bread flour on their last 2 flights with no problems: King Arthurs’s in new unopened commercial packaging. I mention the commercial packaging, because sometimes Aduana confiscates food products that are in baggies, bulk, etc – while passing/approving commercial food products in their original unopened packages. Is this their official policy ???
      steve

  7. Pingback: Qualifications and Qualities of a Good Scientist | Surviving Yucatan

  8. Dawn says:

    If I’m driving in and bring a used tv that’s value would be less than 400.00 do I have to stop to declare

    Thanks
    Dawn

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Dawn,
      Outside of your personal (exempt) items, each person is allowed to import $300 in household goods per person. Check Ebay and find a reasonable price for your TV. Many travelers find that if you give Aduana an excel spreadsheet listing the ebay prices of you goods is enough for them to wave people through after inspecting the list. They may ask for printouts of the ebay webpage for items.

      If they do decide to charge a duty, it would be just 15% of the total amount OVER the $300 per per person limit. If you have 2 people in the car, the total exemption is $600.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  9. Hi! I am coming back home after almost 2 years outside of Mexico. Last time I arrived with my really old laptop to give to my mom and my new one. Both were bought in Mexico and the customs people gave me some problems. This time I am traveling with my Lap Top and I would like to bring my ipad also. Does anyone know if I could have a problem again?

    • yucalandia says:

      Andrea,
      Welcome home!
      There are several issues here. Aduana’s import rules on computers are very specific: only 1 computer per person as personal itmes exempt from duties. They do simple and effective X-ray scans on all bags that clearly show computers as unique items. Further, the Aduana agents are very familiar with what computers look like on X-ray.**

      If you want to bring in 2 computers, why not follow the rules, and be ready to pay any duty?
      Is following a clearly stated and fair law “having a problem”?

      Do we like it when foreigners try to get around laws in our home country?
      e.g. Do we like it when foreigners intentionally dodge paying taxes, get paid illegally, just so they can save a little money?

      Bring printed receipts to show what each computer costs, and have enough cash ready to pay a 15% duty.

      They may not charge you the legal duty, but you will stay legal and have your bases covered in either case.
      Happy trails,
      steve

      **We have seen Aduana handle it either/both ways. Some people are charged a small duty on the second computer, other people are just waved through.

  10. Molly Schroeder-Fisse says:

    My husband, daughter and I are traveling into Mexico for an extended stay (around five months) and would like to bring our dog and two kittens. What is required to bring them into the country? Is this even allowed?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Molly,
      You can bring in the animals as long as you have the appropriate veterinarian’s certificate of good health. There are good discussions on this topic on Yolisto and Mexconnect. Gringodog also has very good current information on this.
      steve

  11. Andrew says:

    My wife and I are traveling into Cancun airport on Thursday. We both are on diets and require special diet food to eat during the day. They are all in commercial packaging and include powder drink mixes, cereal, and protein bars. Can we bring these items into Mexico? Do we have to report anything for these?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Andrew,
      This is an area where the letter of the law and the enforcement/practice of the law (regulations) diverge.

      Fortunately, the practice of almost all Aduana agents for the past 25 years has been that they allow all packaged, non-meat or non-fruit . products. If your foods are in commercial, new, unopened packages, in quantities appropriate for personal usage, then you will likely sail through Customs (Aduana). Your stuff should not look like you are opening a health food or supplement business – where case loads of stuff looks like “mercancia” (commercial goods).

      In practice, you cannot bring in meat products – even if they are cured/cooked in new commercial packaging – e.g. DO NOT try to bring in SAUSAGES or DrIED MEATS – unless you are willing to possibly have them confiscated as you enter Mexico. Sometimes processed meats slide through, and other times not. No FRESH FRUITS ! NO DRIED FRUITS ! (these may slide by) NO FRESH VEGETABLES ! All of these things are considered Agricultural Products.

      If you need to bring in a bunch of protein bars or packets of mixes, I would pack them loose – not in a sealed box or original box- but instead either in a crude grocery sack or loose in your suitcase. If they are in their original box, they may be considered “mercancia” and you will have to beg and explain and plead that they are only for personal use. If you have a friendly physician who will write you a note explaining your special diet as a medical condition, then it may all go even smoooooother.

      Don’t worry, don’t fuss, follow the advice given above … and if Aduana fusses at you: Be patient, stay very calm, but be helpful and persistent. Many many many times, Mexican officials appear to be bringing down the hammer, starting to deny foreigners something, … but if the foreigner stays calm, does NOT get pushy, ASks for help, and listens respectfully to all the scolding and warnings by the Mexican official, then… many many times the Mexican officials take pity on us, and allow us to break the rules, and they wave us through, especially after we promise to be good good doggies, next time ….

      Good Dog! Take your biscuit and go… … vs … BAD DOG ! ~ NO BONE ~

      So, even if it looks like things are going badly, and they are reading the rules to you, chapter and verse, stay hopeful. Many times they will relent, scold you, instruct you, and then wave you through. The people who get frustrated, get angry, get pushy, growl or get barky … often do not get what they want (flaunting authority here often backfires??).

      *grin*
      Happy Trails!
      steve

  12. Amy says:

    I’m flying into Puerto Vallarta and am bringing a small used synthesizer as a gift. Is this allowed? Will I be charged an import tax? I bought it on ebay for $270. Thank you!

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Amy,
      If you show Aduana employees your receipt for $270, and they accept this value, then because it is less than the $300 USD personal exemption, you would owe no duties. Aduana is not required to accept the values we present, especially because many gringos make up their own fake receipts. Aduana personnel may choose to reject your $270 valuation, especially because their regulations call out electronics as special items.

      If you have more than $30 in other goods in your bags or possession, that are not personal clothes or personal toiletries, then they can charge you import duties on any combinations of items valuations that exceed the $300 USD per person per flight personal exemption limit.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  13. rachel says:

    Hi! I flying in to visit friends and am planning on bringing them a wooden sculpture. Do you know the regulations surrounding obviously dead or treated wood?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi rachel,
      If it is wood in a natural form, like worm-hole-ridden untreated drift-wood sculpture, then it could be an issue. If it is a well finished, highly polished piece of carved sculpture, like an African ironwood or ebony figurine, then likely no problem.

      What airport are you flying into? Cancun is back to using their red-light / green-light system, so, if you get a green-light, they wave you through. We just came through Cancun on Saturday with 4 suitcases loaded with things (including 2 laptops and a desktop computer and electronics gear and 6 big kitchen knives etc) that would generally trigger the X-Ray tech to flag us for an Aduana agent to examine our goods and receipts, but the X-ray tech said nothing, and we got a green light. Ironically, even with the green-light for our family, they did ask to check my wife’s little back-pack/purse, as I rolled through with my 4 big bags loaded with suspect items.

      Conversations with 3 different Aduana managers and supervisors all confirm that IT IS ALL UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL AGENT… The individual agents are given broad discretion in deciding what items to confiscate, what items to allow to go through duty-free, and what items are charged a duty…
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  14. jessica says:

    Hi I had a family friend take some items (clothes, shoes, personal items) in 2 boxes to my husband in Jalisco. Most of it new but without the tags. It seems as he has an issue at inspection with his truck and for being over the limit in goods, he had other boxes as well and they took away his truck. They told him he can pay the taxes for the goods that went over the limit but he didn’t want to. Is there any way that I can get my items back from the Aduanas? is there a time limit to claim the items. This is in Tijuuana B.C. I’m loosing about $300 worth of merchandise. Please help as I have researched all day and can’t seem to get an answer. Thank you in advance

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Jessica,
      Have you called Aduana in Tijuana?

      Aduana offers a nice map of all their locations, where you click on a city, and the contact information and address pop up:
      Map of Aduana del Pais

      I suspect that the formal thing that happened with your friend who tried to import too much is that he got tagged for attempting to bring in what Aduana considered commercial quantities of items. If he did not pay the duties, then I think the legal process he completed was: He formally surrendered the good inside Mexico, rather than taking them back out of Mexico.

      Since he likely surrendered the goods, then they likely cannot be recovered. This is equivalent to you going into US airport security with a knife and large scissors. TSA Security gives you a choice, surrender the knife & scissors, … or leave security with your things, mail/ship your knife and scissors to someone, and then return to try again to get through TSA security.

      Alternately, if your friend did not formally declare that he was bringing in more than $75 of items for import (trying to illegally bring in multiple boxes of goods as personal items), then Aduana likely seized the goods as undeclared imports of goods that were clearly not his personal items. If the goods were seized as undeclared items being brought in with bad faith, then they definitely are not available.

      Did your friend get his truck back? Was he stopped at the Aduana checkpoint about 25 km into Mexico? This part of the story is very unusual ~ implying that Aduana was convinced of some bad faith or attempts to smuggle things?

      This is one of those cases where it would have been much cheaper to pay the 15% duty, than to try to slide-by without getting caught.

      Come back and tell us what happened,
      steve

  15. Steph says:

    Hello, I am flying into Cancun and bringing wedding decorations and gifts. Do you think I will have to pay duty for these items because they are over $300. Any advice?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Steph,
      Cancun has returned to using the red-light / green-light system. If you get the green light (like most people), then they wave you through, so, you are most likely not going to trigger the 15% duties, unless their X-Rays show you bringing in commercial quantities of things. Since Aduana can assign ANY value they want to each item, you may want to bring an Excel spread sheet printout of the prices of each non-personal item, and RECEIPTS for every non-personal item. e.g. Let’s say there are some electronics gifts in the haul: They love to charge excessive duties on electronics, and I have had them assess $200 duties on a $75 receiver (which I ultimately argued them down to $15).

      Best Wishes !
      steve

  16. Chad says:

    Steve,
    I promise… my last question on all these threads of yours. You have been so informative and I’m sure you are more worried about the new immigration and Aduana car threads than this one.

    As I begin to pack things up and prepare paperwork to come down, my next concern is prescriptions. On many sites there is talk of Americans being jailed for having legitimate prescriptions. I will be attempting to bring my script of Alprazolam (xanax), which according to aduana is a psychotropic substance that must be declared. many sites have said don’t bring them even if they are legitimate. I will have about 20 pills, in the original labeled bottle. I also scanned a color copy of the prescription before taking it to the pharmacy and then today I went ahead and had a doctor note written up (of course in English, however). But, after reading some posts elsewhere… my next stop is Yolisto where a member has talked about being questioned about their scripts at a checkpoint. Do you have any opinions on how risky it is to bring this into Mexico? Thanks for any insight.
    Chad

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Chad,
      This is beyond our ken.

      On the surface of things, if you declare that you have them, and have a legitimate legible prescription for them, and they are in the original container, and you have only personal use quantities (not commercial quantities), then it all sounds good. They might confiscate them???

      Re Yolisto and the person questioned at a checkpoint:
      For the one incident I know that was reported on Yolisto, I was present for the whole thing. The couple had a 16 ft enclosed trailer, about 20% full. Aduana had the owner open the back trailer door to inspect the load. They had us tell them the contents of a few boxes, and then had us open those few boxes to confirm the contents. On the top of one of the containers they inspected, there was a zip lock bag with about 10 different bottles of clearly-used prescription meds, all in their original pharmacy bottles with their labels.

      Since there was more than 1 or 2 bottles, and because the couple did not have written prescriptions for the bottles, the Aduana agents argued that they should confiscate the bottles. I served as the couple’s facilitator and translator, because they did not speak Spanish. The discussion went back and forth with the Aduana agents for between 5 and 10 minutes, discussing that the pills were legitimate, and that the official labels on the bottles were accurate/unaltered and served as documentation of them being officially prescribed by a legitimate doctor, and that these were personal quantities… Aduana agents were adamant that they must confiscate the bag due to the lack of written prescriptions. The wife then pointed at a withered, sunken section of her elderly husband’s leg (exposed below his shorts), and she said that he needed the pills for his bad leg.

      The Aduana agents were clearly touched by her appeal, and they softened. They half-heartedly tried to say (again) that they had to confiscate the bag of prescriptions, and she persisted her sad story saying that he was pitiful and he needed the medicamentos… They surrendered, and let us go, with the pills.

      What should you do? Contact Aduana yourself.
      steve

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Chad,
      Sometimes a bit of research can help. Xanax drug name is…. Alprazolam .

      Did you search the Aduana website for Alprazolam?
      http://www.aduanas.gob.mx/aduana_mexico/2008/pasajeros/139_11149.html

      What articles can a passenger introduce as part of his/her personal luggage?

      Each passenger (even if he/she is minor) can introduce articles that are mentioned next, new or used, like part of his personal luggage, without the payment of taxes:

      8. Devices that permit measurement of arterial pressure and glucose, as well as medications of personal use; in the case of psychotropics the medical prescription should be shown.

      Explanatory notes: Psychotropic substances are considered such as:
      Alobarbital
      Alobarbital aminofenazona
      Alprazolam

      Looks like you are fine, especially if you make a copy of the Aduana webpage listing the requirements for Alprazolam / Xanax.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  17. Chad says:

    :-) You and I are referring to the same person and she and I have actually been PMing each other for a while now about the drive and such. I sent her a msg. earlier about the situation. I am a worry-wart and over analyze things.

    I guess the big question is… Did this occur at an aduana checkpoint (the one just outside of Nuevo Laredo)? Or a state/local/federal checkpoint? I didn’t get that in her post.

    I guess I could see the concern with 10 bottles, whereas my number won’t be as high. I just don’t want to do be behind bars for LEGALLY importing something. That’s what gets me. It is not illegal to bring prescriptions in, but there are reports of issues. I always thought that the actual label on the bottle served as a prescription since pharmacies will take the original.

    I guess, the good news is that they were just going to confiscate the bag and not haul them into jail.

    Please let me know (in case the mentioned person doesn’t… I know that they are heading north again soon) if this was the 25km checkpoint or a random stop. Thanks again for everything.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Chad,
      It was at the border in Nuevo Laredo.

      As she wrote on Yolisto, she now hides things inside compartments in her truck. After leaving the Aduana checkpoint at the border, she hid anything she thought might be a problem.

      Hiding things? Not good.

      If Aduana finds even one cached item, they can tear your vehicles apart – taking off the door panels, interior cabin panels, taking the seats apart, etc.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  18. Pamela Mayhew says:

    We fly our private plane to Loreto Baja CA Sur at least once a month to a rental we have secured. We are always needing to bring with us foods that we can not find in the town of Loreto. We have heard ALL KINDS of comments and rumors from our ex-pat friends regarding custom restrictions on food, however, I have searched the Internet and have not found ANY legal information. Could you please tell me the restrictions for foods into Mexico (cooked, cured American meats, poultry, pork, fish), eggs, dairy, juice, fruit, vegetables, cereal, bread. Is there a web site that I can print a document from?
    Two Fun Junkies Flying to Loreto!
    Pam

  19. Karen says:

    We will be bringing a 20′ trailer with all our worldly goods into Mexico through the Laredo border crossing this fall using our one-time household goods exemption. We will have a menaje de casa approved by our local Consulate. My question is: Do we need a customs broker to clear the goods across the border or can we simply do it ourselves? I cannot find a definitive answer with a reference to the applicable Mexican law anywhere. In fact I have found contradictory answers on various Forums. If we do need a customs broker, can you recommend one in Laredo, TX? Thank you.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Karen,
      In the past, you needed a broker for anything over $3,000 total while driving in. Aduana changed the rules, and you can now bring in a load of household goods. This explains why some sites say “yes” and others say “no”. Some people make an effort to keep their information both current and accurate. Others, not so much. (especially many typical lawyers, many “facilitators”, and many Notarios)
      steve

      • Karen says:

        Thanks, Steve, for your response. Do you by chance have a reference to the applicable law that I could print out to hand to any Aduana official at the border who may not be current (or accurate) either? With my luck I’ll get the one guy/gal who hasn’t kept up to date and still thinks I need a customs broker. Thanks.

      • yucalandia says:

        I would print out the Aduana webpage on Menaje de Casa listed above.
        Youn can find the Ley Aduanera at http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/12.pdf , but the menaje de casa info is scattered through the law.
        steve

  20. Roxana Hart says:

    What constitutes a ‘load’ of household goods? Also, if I decide to live permanently in Mexico but need to order through the mail certain vitamins or other health supplements, what are the regulations regarding mail orders (or is this beyond your ken, too)?

    Thanks, Roxana

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Roxana,
      You asked: “What constitutes a ‘load’ of household goods?
      Did you read the English language section in the article above http://yucalandia.com/answers-to-common-questions/what-can-i-bring-into-mexico-mexican-customs-rules-the-article/#Are%20you%20planning%20on%20driving%20into%20Mexico%20with%20you%20household%20goods on Are you planning on driving into Mexico with you household goods? ~ Menaje de Casa Rules (English) ~ ?

      This section says you can bring in one load of:
      The following used household items can be imported duty-free:
      ~ The furniture and utensils of a house, used exclusively for the use and proper and regular treatment of a family, clothes, books, booksellers.
      ~ Works of art or science, they do not constitute complete collections for installing exhibitions and art galleries.
      ~ Scientific instruments for professionals as well as workers and craftsmen tools, provided they are essential to the development of the profession, trade or occupation.
      ~ Scientific instruments and tools that enjoy the exemption may not be a complete set of equipment for the installation of laboratories, clinics or workshops.

      Foreigners interested in importing household goods duty free, must certify that the household goods were acquired at least six months before the date you enter Mexico.”

      —————
      You are allowed to mail in vitamins – just not commercial quantities of them.

      Natural barbituates and natural hallucinogens are not allowed.

      —————
      Re beyond my ken: If you read my second response to Chad, I did some research, and found that there was a written exemption buried in Aduana law allowing Chad to import his Xanax for personal use. I guess I could go back and delete my first answer, but it seems more honest to leave both answers, as it took extra work to find the ultimate answer?
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  21. Linda White says:

    where can I find these instructions in Spanish so I would have the $300.00 per individual at the border for the agents to read for themselves. Sometimes the agents try to go around the rules and collect under the counter

  22. Terri says:

    Hi there, reading all these comments has been so interesting. I and 3 other ladies will be flying into Mexico as missionaries…will be working at an orphanage. We’ve been going for years. However, I haven’t been the past 2 years. I always (for 10 yrs) bring canned tuna (the snack pack with crackers), cans of potted meat, flat bread, etc. and it has never been questioned or taken. I also bring many meds (due to being a heart patient). Have things changed, do I have reason to leave the food and need to be concerned about the meds? We eat our food we bring for the first day, then they take us to buy food (we buy lots of food, we feed the kids 3 meals a day while we’re there). Anxious to hear from you. Thanks, Terri

  23. Bob Caskey says:

    I have a very big problem or not a problem at all. I have no idea. I did all the research and engaged customs broker and immigration atty. early on. I have in hand the paperwork for the permanent visa done in the consulate in chicago. I have the visa in my passport. I know I have to complete the process in Merida. But I also packed up all my stuff, inventoried it and completed a menaje de casa which was also processed and stamped in chicago. All of a sudden my customs broker says that I must have the FINAL permanent visa in hand before Aduana will release my goods. ANd now other folks are coming out of the woodwork saying that only temporary visa applicants/holders can bring in the menaje tax free (for used goods over 6 months old). I thought I knew the procedure. And the kicker is we sold the NOB house, packing the truck tomorrow and driving down to FLA with our goods on Sunday morning.

    Please help!

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Bob,
      Good news and bad news…

      You do qualify to bring in one load of household goods – without paying duties – under a Menaje de Casa as a resident of Mexico.

      Since you are not officially a Mexican Resident until you have your card in hand, you might have to store your goods, until you get your Residency card.
      steve

      • Ingrid says:

        Yikes Steve! We have our permanente visas and will be retiring at the end of the year. We have already rented a house in Chapala. Do you mean to tell me that we won’t be able to take anything listed in our menaje de casa? I heard sometimes it has taken months to get the cards from IMN. Tell me this isn’t true, how can it be?

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Ingrid,
        In theory, you must have some sort of approved residency to bring in household goods with a menaje de case and no duty. That means having Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente cards. I can take as little as 10 days and as much as 2 – 3 months for the INM office to get you cards, depending on which INM office you are using.

        In practicality, many visitors bring in a trailer load of household goods with no problems, or paying small duties like $300 – $400.
        steve

  24. Elizabeth says:

    HI, Steve I have a question for you.. I will be traveling into mexico in July with my husband and two kids. I plan on taking used clothes to give away to my relatives, would I have to pay taxes on that?
    Thank you

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      As long as you are not bringing in big bales of clothing, (commercial quantities), you can simply say that the clothes are for personal use.
      steve

  25. Sergio Venegas says:

    I am wanting to drive 6 computers with monitors and keyboards to support a ministry in Ensenada, BC. All of the equipment is donated and the business has depreciated all of the equipment. Is E-bay still the way to value? Also, can you take care of this in the States, say at a Mexican Consulate before arriving at the boarder?

    • Katie says:

      I have a question. I am coming in February for my wedding and plan on bringing all the wedding favors and wedding party gifts! Will I encounter a problem? Also what do they consider a commercial amount. I will have about 65 people coming for the wedding and everything from my place card holders will be in quantities of 65! Help please!

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Katie,
        What a dandy question.

        We use the “commercial quantities” comment as standard boilerplate, to mean “more than for personal use”.

        I think you can make a fine explanation that you are getting married – a personal event for friends and family. None of it is to be sold. Mexicans know how many invitations, party favors, etc are needed for a wedding, and if you get a reasonable Aduana agent, they should smile, and congratulate you.

        Along those lines, it is OK to chat with the Aduana folks as you go through. You could happily ask them if they see your wedding gear, if they X-ray your bags. Have fun with it!

        If you get a grumpy agent, keep things light, and if they really do want to charge the 15%, then ask if you could please talk with one of the gerencia or un jeffe about how they handle novios and wedding parties.

        You should do fine.

        Congrats!
        steve

  26. Rita Ross says:

    I am traveling on a bus going through Nuevo Larado Aug 5th. Was hoping to bring a small torch of mapp gas and oxygen to a friend as a gift. It is in its original packaging and I have no receipt as it was given to me. I have a smaller torch as well that I would bring in its place that has no gas in it.Is it permissible? Thanks. Learning a lot from the posts.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Rita,
      While no one can perfectly predict what Aduana will permit: In theory and in practice, you should be fine bringing this into Mexico by bus. If your plans change, and you fly here, know that IATA rules would prohibit it – and TSA would likely take it.

      Good plan,
      steve

  27. Kaye says:

    Hi Steve…coming to Mexico in a couple of weeks.
    Status…I am currently with one year on the old FM-3…issued 10-11-12 and will be renewing under the new system now. ( I am currently trying to decide whether or not I can qualify for the permanent residency. I will be sending a question re this issue under the appropriate forum here after this.) My fiance and I are coming by air under separate visas…he will be entering on a tourist visa. We are staying Aug 15-Nov 24. I will be bringing some household items in my luggage.

    Here are my questions:

    Question #1: He wants to bring some of his older and some new woodworking tools in his luggage to help me work on my house. They won’t be returning with him this trip because we have more to do than we can get done in one trip.
    a) 12″ Craftsman compound mitre saw…label says Made in Taiwan
    b) 71/4″ Craftsman circular saw…label says Made in China
    c) Ryobi battery operated sawzall…label says Made in China
    d) Craftsmen variable speed router…label says Made in USA
    e) Ryobi battery operated impact driver…to be purchased…origin TBD
    f) Ryobit battery operated jigsaw…to be purchased…origin TBD
    g) Box of 24 drill bits
    h) One Ryobi battery charging unit.and 4 rechargeable batteries…to be purchased…origin TBD ( Are there any restrictions on type of batteries you can now put in checked baggage?)
    i) Several replacement blades for the mitre saw, sawzall, and jig saw
    j) Misc chisels, etc

    Should we do the list with serial numbers and/or eBay printouts for all? Any Nafta issues here with the Taiwan/China thing? He plans on using the new tools a little before bringing down so they will be slightly used at that point.

    Question #2: Should I have to stay with Residente Temporal for 3 more years and have not used my one time household goods importation, would I still be eligible to use it withing 6 mos of being issued my renewal? I am not sure as it is considered a renewal and everything I have seen says within 6 mos of issuance…nothing about renewals being eligible if you’ve never used it before.

    Sorry for such a lengthy entry…but wanted to give you as much info as possible for you to be able to answer. Any advice is much appreciated.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Kaye,
      about 2(?) years ago, Mexico agreed to lower the previously high duties on Chinese goods – so, IF Aduana decides to charge you duties, they are likely at the normal rate (16%). You may get the green-light coming in – and not be checked at all. If they notice the tools on X-Ray, they have the option of saying “go on through” or … send you to the secondary check tables. At the secondary check tables, an agent looks at things and tries to decide if you are over $300 per person (air travel).

      This step is where a pre-printed spreadsheet is helpful, naming everything that is NOT a personal item, and identifying a price.

      When they can take your dated, signed spread-sheet and give it to their boss, to put in a file, it gives them a fig leaf that shows every item along with supposed “used” prices – which is where the E-bay pricing and printouts are key – as official-looking proofs of prices.

      If they do decide to charge you duties, feel free to push back (not aggressively, not angrily) – like a negotiation. e.g. I brought in an old model obviously used Dish Network receiver, that I had previously imported and paid duties on (but did not have the prior Aduana receipt)… They wanted $75 USD in duties on it… we went back and forth for about 10 minutes, haggling over the real value, and settled on $15 USD of duties- which was an level acceptable to both of us. We smiled, shook hands, and the Aduana agent went his way and we went ours.

      Happy Travels,
      steve

    • Nancy says:

      Hello Kaye,

      Just wondering how your trip went- going through the border with all the tools? We are planning on doing the same this fall. Any help would be appreciated.

      Cheers
      Nancy

  28. Soph says:

    Hi! I will be traveling to Mexico, next summer, as a minor and I am trying to plan out my airport experience. As pitiful as that sounds, this will be my first time going through customs without my parents. Needless to say, I am stressed out. Because I will be going as a student (I will be doing a Spanish Immersion class) I will need both my laptop and iPad in Mexico. There is no way either of these items will be going into my checked bag; I don’t want them broken or stolen. These will be for my personal use only, do I have to pay for either? I am very nervous about all of this hullabaloo with customs/Aduanas, please give me some piece of mind!

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Soph,
      I pad and laptop, eh. Aduana policy does not affect how you handle having 2 of them on the airplane – as checked or carry on baggage.

      You go through Aduana with all your baggage in one shot. You push a button to play baggage roulette: Green light? Put the bags onto the X-ray machine, and if they see nothing – you go through without any inspection.

      Red Light? or they see something on X-ray… Then you get screened by an Aduana agent, who asks you to open your bags.

      In that system, after leaving the airplane and getting your checked baggage, I would pack the laptop and Ipad into separate bags – so they are not seen on Xray in a single bag. and then hope you get the green light (which seems to happen about 80% of the time).

      If they do pull you over for an Aduana inspection, be polite, say nothing. You are allowed personal items duty free, plus $300 of other things. They could waive you through with no problems with 2 computers, or they could say that you need to pay duties. Since you want to keep your total non-personal item $$ total low, some people pull up and print Ebay auction price pages to document used $$ prices on imported items (like your personal computer and Ipad)… Make a spreadsheet describing each item, the manufacturer, the model, and the serial number (on computers and electronics) – and be prepared to prepared to pay 15% tax on the total ( – $300 USD) of non-personal items you are bringing in.

      Many many people come in unscathed with a laptop and Ipad/Ipod.
      Hope for the best, be happy, and confident,
      steve

  29. Daria says:

    Bummer. I really wanted to bring some piranhas over.

  30. Jon says:

    Flying into Cancun then onto Merida for 6 months. Was thinking of bringing my PC but in parts. Motherboard, HDD, power supply etc then re-assembling it. Will this be a problem even if I declare it? Value etc?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Jon,
      When you write “PC”, do you mean desk top – with a separate monitor ?

      You are allowed $300 of goods to import, in addition to your personal items. Can you show that the PC and you imported items are worth less than $300 – or pay the 15% duties ? Realize that because Mexico has not signed the Information Technology Agreement, they can reject used or refurbished computer hardware: http://web.ita.doc.gov/ITI/itiHome.nsf/a9d7cf5852b7c32385256ce70062ee2a/67560a8e8075bb9085256d0b007188fa?OpenDocument

      My wife and I flew into Cancun last fall, and I had an old 40 gig hard drive, and we got an Aduana agent who insisted that the HDD was a computer. He insisted that it was the “alma de la computadora”. We spent a full 30 minutes hassling over it… We finally gave up and told them to take it, and I started repacking my bags. They relented (3 Aduana personnel had come over), and let me bring it in.

      So, realize that because Mexico builds desktop PCs, under NAFTA, they have the legal right to prohibit them, while laptops sail in. ??? If you get a “green light” – you likely cruise in with no problems. Red light – or if they notice it while x-raying your bags: they may confiscate the PC or the parts.
      steve

      • Jon says:

        Yes, sorry. I did mean desktop. I was planning on just bringing the basic componets and sourcing the case, monitor when I’m there if that would be at all possible. Perhaps it may be better to bring a laptop in. Appreciate the reply.

        Jon.

  31. Stephen Cupp says:

    I went to Cancun last year and the agents made me pay the 16% duty for my camera equipment. I will be going back this year. Do I have to pay again or do I just show them the receipt that I paid last time?

  32. Rob says:

    Wow, Thanks for all your research. We have been searching for information on what we can bring in our house hold good. You have made it very easy for me and my wife. Thank you and God Bless

  33. Rosie Alanis says:

    Please inform me what is the best way to mail (Federal Express, DHL or UPS) prescription medications to my parents in Toluca, Mexico? Permits, letter from prescribing doctor,) Please advise many thanks!

    Rosie Alanis

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Rosie,
      Fed Ex has had the better results for the past 6 months with out lab’s shipments to and from the USA.

      In theory, we are not allowed to ship medications between USA-Mexico using the mail. If the Customs department of either country finds your shipment of medications, they will confiscate it.
      Hope that helps you avoid losing the meds,
      steve

  34. watts says:

    I want take clothing made in Thailand shipped to me in the US and then take it to Mexico and sell it. Is it possible for you to give me enough information so I can at least figure out where to start to figure out the laws and taxes?

  35. Cheri says:

    I am a little confused, maybe someone can help me here. My husband and I are thinking of relocating to Mexico, we are currently in Costa Rica and had no problems with customs here. We brought a lot of stuff with us from the States. I have a Nintendo Wii, I use it for my exercises; I have back problems. We also have a bunch of DVDs that we don’t want to leave behind. I know the printer is OK and the two lap tops. But what about the Wii and the DVDs? Thanks.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Cheri,
      Did you read the section above on Menaje de Casa exemptions for household goods? Are you planning on driving into Mexico with your household goods? ~ Menaje de Casa Rules (English) ~

      What route/method are you planning to use to get to Mexico?

      When driving in:
      Each border crossing has broad latitude in how they enforce the regulations. Some border crossings like Nuevo Laredo allow honest-looking Americans and Canadians to enter with entire trailer loads of goods, checking 1 or 2 boxes, and charging either no duty or small duties (like $300). At these “liberal” crossings, it helps to offer the Aduana agents a menaje de casa style spreadsheed (not approved by any Consulate), documenting the contents of each box – along with estimated garage sale prices. Bring several copies – one for the border-crossing Aduana folks, and another to show or give to the Aduana agents at the 25 km checkpoints.

      Alternately, some border crossings, like Mexico-Guatemala, have added lots of restrictions not published in the law. We have not heard any reports from people driving in from Guatemala with a load of household goods in the past year, so, we have no basis to say what you will face if driving from Costa Rica. e.g. Americans/Canadians going to the Belize border or US Border to cancel a automobile Temporary Import Permit (TIP) are allowed to cancel the TIP and then get a fresh one re-issued immediately – without leaving Mexico, while the Guatemala-Mexico Aduana officials have told some Americans doing the same thing that they have to go into Guatemala for 3 days….

      Are you air freighting in things? If so, then the airport Aduana officials likely stick to the letter of the law – and they might even ask you to use a Custom’s Broker.

      If driving, are you driving yourself or using a professional moving company/Custom’s Broker? If you use a Custom’s Broker, then they likely stick to the letter of the law, and you pay 15% duties on non-exempt items.

      Do your qualify under Menaje de Casa rules – being allowed to bring in a load of household items duty free?

      That’s about all I can offer without more details.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  36. Raul says:

    How about bringing a tv 42 ” to Mexico? Is it alow as a personal possession ?

  37. Mike Cummings says:

    Steve,
    My wife and I are currently living in Mexico with 1 year Temporary visas. We have purchased a property in Chelem. As yet we have not brought or shipped any household goods. There is approx. $3,000.00 worth of goods in Canada, everything over 6 months old. In April we are planning to return to Canada until November 2014 for family reasons. During this time our visas will expire in July. Because of this, we were going to return to Mexico for 5 months using a tourist visa. Would we be allowed to drive through Mexico bringing our household goods in a utility trailer, using the Menaje de Casa exemptions?

    Thanks
    Mike

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Mike,
      Unfortunately, the formal rules say: “no”. The actual informal practice for Canadians entering on tourist visas is one where they check your list, give your load a quick “once-over” inspection, ask to look in a box or 2 (to confirm that the box contents match the list’s box numbered items), and then either wave you through or charge modest duties (like $300 – $500). We came through with a truck and trailerload, and paid nothing in duties. A friend with a busload of things paid $400. … Still, none of us know what will be the informal policies in Nov 2014. Could you hire a representative to make your application with INM to renew your Residente Temporal – and make a short trip when the papers are ready to sign and get fingerprinted? or, possibly you could apply for multi-year Residente Temporal permits (not to exceed 4 years total), applying before you leave in April? I would check out those possibilities??
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  38. Bruce Pumphrey says:

    My wife and I will be crossing the border in May and heading to Akumal to take possession of our condo we have purchased. I am retired, my wife is not. We will be traveling under the new equivalent of FM3 visas and have a temporary permit for our car. We will be hauling household goods in an enclosed trailer valued at $3,000 to $5,000 US. We will have a detailed spreadsheet that has all of the household items we are transporting with the name (English and Spanish) valuation of each item. Since we are likely to be over the $3,000 limit, will we need to obtain a customs broker? I presume that they duty could be as high as $150 US per $1000 in value over the limit but we are unsure exactly what the limit is for the allowed value of household goods for person (there will be 3 of us) traveling as Temporary Residents (FM3) versus traveling as Tourists (FMT). Could you clarify the exempt value that would not be subject to for those traveling with Household Goods on a Temporary Resident Visa?

  39. Bruce Pumphrey says:

    Thanks so much Steve.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Bruce,
      I think the article was missing one detail on making the household/Menaje de Casa move easier: Make at least 3 copies of the list, because Aduana will keep one copy at the border, and then when you cross the 25 km Aduana checkpoint, they might keep a copy of the list. As you cross state borders and go through military or police checkpoints, they can ask to see the list. In the bustle of traveling, a single list might get lost – leaving you with no list (a.k.a. in the dog-house) for future inspections of the load.

      Did you check out our article on driving to Yucatan from the USA at: http://www.yucatanliving.com/destinations/driving-through-mexico-to-yucatan.htm ?
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  40. Bruce Pumphrey says:

    Thanks Steve. We plan on having multiple copies with one signed by a representative from the Mexican consulate here in Washington, DC. We will cross reference the list with numbered clear storage boxes. My wife and I are pretty OC that way. Driving through Mexico is a new adventure or us so making sure we are organized will eliminate any delays at the border. We also have pets traveling with us which will complicate things a bit more. For that we have a vet here to do all the paperwork before we leave and will identify one in Laredo to contact on short notice should issues arise. Your info has been very helpful.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Bruce,
      Please come back and write about how the process goes with the Consulate/Embassy(?) in D.C. approving your list. The Mexican Consulate in Denver had us make the 3 hr (round trip) drive 3 times – (12 hrs total spent) and the Aduana agents at Matamoros said that they did not care at all about Consular approval – (which meant it was a waste of time for us) ???
      steve

  41. Liz Ruben says:

    Do you think a Leatherman Tool would be allowed into Mexico in a checked bag on a commercial airline going into Merida? Would a customs fee would be charged?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Liz,
      IATA regs allow it. If Mexican Customs does not see it on their X-ray, you are fine. If they find it, since knives are forbidden but knives that are tools are allowed, you can argue/convince Mexican that the Leatherman is a tool… e.g. Machetes and kitchen butcher knives are allowed in Mexico, but pocket knives are NOT. It is all up to the on-the-spot judgment of the aduana official who may (or may not) find it.
      steve

  42. Dick Smith says:

    What about bringing in a lazer gun. A friend put one in her checked luggage and all was fine?

  43. Pingback: New Duty Free Limits for Entering Mexico – Dec. 2013 | Surviving Yucatan

  44. Pete Capetillo says:

    I’m a musician and own my own PA system and all the musical instruments to form a music group , a value of about $ 40,000.00, if I decide to move to San Luis Mexico to form a band and play music there for a living, can I take all my stuff in my enclosed trailer and cross the Laredo border?

  45. Pingback: Mexican Import Duties Changed for Chinese Goods – 2013 Update | Surviving Yucatan

  46. watts says:

    I want to bring clothing into Mexico and sell them to boutiques and possibly even on the beach. What kind of visa do I need and what percentage will the tariff or taxes be. They are not be made in The USA…where I am a citizen but have my labels and not say where they were made. I have heard that the Mexican government makes a big stink about this stuff. Any suggestions? The total cost of the product will not exceed $500USD.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Watts,
      You are allowed up to $300 of non-personal items now when driving in. The Duty on clothing is 30% on non personal amounts more than $300 by car or $500 by air.
      steve

  47. JMC says:

    So, I am willing to buy a Charcoal Grill and Smoker and travel with it to Mexico, is there any restriction to those type of products? This is from the USA. I haven’t find this products in Mexico. It is below $500 USD and is for personal use. Regards.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi JMC,
      As you can see in the lists of prohibited or exempted items, grills are not mentioned in either category. You are allowed $500 Duty Free per person in non-personal items when driving in, so the grill fits as part of household goods. If it is a big beautiful grill that Customs/Aduana officials might think is worth over $500, bring the receipt showing your grill cost less than $500.
      steve

  48. Shayne says:

    My sister-in-law is asking that I bring her some prescription drugs from the US to her in Mexico. They are hormone replacement drugs and non-narcotic. The are not for MY personal use. Can I legally bring them?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Shayne,
      The letter of the law says you can bring in prescription medications for personal use, including the requirement to bring written prescriptions to accompany every medication (bottle/tube) in your name. I have seen times when Aduana officials check the names and bottle labels versus the written prescriptions, and other times when they did not check.
      steve

      • Shayne says:

        Thanks Steve.
        When they do check, do they just toss the stuff or would they conceivably detain me? I don’t mind them tossing her meds. Just holding up my vacation is my worry.
        Shayne

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Shayne,
        That is an excellent question.

        In theory, they can apply nasty penalties to people who try to bring things in without declaring them. In practice, as long as you are not trying to bring in bullets or arms or explosives or other contraband or stacks of cash, then Aduana historically just confiscates the (minor) item(s) and scolds the passenger – especially when we are sincerely humble.
        Happy trails,
        steve

  49. Mike says:

    We have our residente permanente visas and are flying to Cancun on January 2. Our household goods are following overland with a moving company. My wife will be carrying her jewelry with her on the plane. Is there a limit on the value allowed for the jewelry and do we have to declare the value? Also, the consulate and moving company assured us that we could import our HHGs (menage de casa) on the strength of our visa alone and not have to wait for the resident card. Sometimes i hear that customs requires the residency card but we were very clear in asking about this with both the consulate in Toronto and the moving company at specializes in Mexico. What is the truth? Im a little nervous now.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Mike,
      If your Mexican moving company is well-experienced at importing household goods, (at this point) I would trust the advice of your moving company and their (in-house) customs broker, since that customs broker is responsible-for and should know the Aduana policies at the border crossing your moving company is using. Re your wife’s jewelry: As long as she does not try to bring in what looks like commercial quantities of jewelery – then you can claim them as personal items. If it looks like you are bringing in things for sale, then they can and do charge duties.

      I only know of one report where Aduana did not approve the goods being brought in by a moving company and their customs broker. The goods were held for roughly a month, until the family got their visas completed, and then released. This happened 7 years ago. We have read no reports in the meantime about this kind of problem.
      steve

  50. Mike says:

    Many thanks.

  51. gary says:

    Hi Mike,
    I am wondering about brining in my cigarillos. they are smaller then “normal” cigars and I smoke then like some smoke cigarettes. For a stay of two weeks I should probably take 20 eight packs, or 160 total. Do you think they would be considered cigarettes or should I declare them or check at the airport on arrival?
    Are you allowed more then the “limit” and what is the duty on smokes?
    Thanks in advance, Gary

  52. Dan says:

    HI…. I’m somewhat confused by what I’m reading here… conflicting info… so I’m looking for clarity! My wife and I plan on moving to the yucatan from Canada in September. We plan on driving our minivan and pulling a cargo trailer with our household goods. We’ve decided just to rent a house for a year before buying a home and living there permanently. Therefore, our plan is to drive in with 6 month tourist visas and renew them for another 6 months. Can we do this with tourist cards or do we need temporary resident cards? thanks so much. Dan

  53. Bruce Pumphrey says:

    This is still a bit confusing but apparently under new regulations/laws you cannot enter Mexico with a foreign tagged vehicle (with a Temporary Importation of Property a TIP permit) on a Residente Temporal Visa. Some have indicated that there is an exception if your visa is non-lucrative (no work allowed) for students and retirees. But if your visa allows for work, you cannot bring a foreign tagged car if your temporary resident visa allows for work. Anyone else have info on this?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Bruce,
      I have not read the entire 2014 Ley Aduanera, but “residente temporal” is only mentioned two times in the Law, and both are in Article 106. Article 106 describes the conditions that foreigners must meet to temporarily import a car and who can drive that car. The section clearly allows visitors and “residente temporal” permit holders to get TIPs – NOT as just some exception. The proposal that it is just an exception seems to misrepresent the law – making the other proposal (about lucrativos) equally suspect.

      Read Article 106, Section IV here for yourself:
      IV. Por el plazo que dure su condición de estancia, incluyendo sus renovaciones, en los términos y condiciones que establezca el Servicio de Administración Tributaria mediante reglas, en los siguientes casos:

      a) Las de vehículos propiedad de extranjeros que se internen al país, con la condición de estancia de visitante y residente temporal, siempre que se trate de un solo vehículo.

      Los vehículos podrán ser conducidos en territorio nacional por el importador, su cónyuge, sus ascendientes, descendientes o hermanos, aun cuando éstos no sean extranjeros, por un extranjero que tenga alguna de las condiciones de estancia a que se refiere este inciso, o por un nacional, siempre que en este último caso, viaje a bordo del mismo cualquiera de las personas autorizadas para conducir el vehículo y podrán efectuar entradas y salidas múltiples.

      Los vehículos a que se refiere este inciso, deberán cumplir con los requisitos que señale el Reglamento.

      b) Los menajes de casa de mercancía usada propiedad de residente temporal y residente temporal estudiante, siempre y cuando cumplan con los requisitos que establezca el Reglamento y el Servicio de Administración Tributaria mediante reglas.”

      Google Translate offers:
      IV. For the duration of their term residence status , including renewals , in the terms and conditions established by the Internal Revenue Service by rules , in the following cases :

      a) vehicles owned by foreigners who enter the country provided temporary stay of visitor and resident, provided that they are of a single vehicle.

      Vehicles may be driven on by the importing country , your spouse, your parents, children or siblings , even if they are not aliens, an alien who has a residence conditions referred to in this subsection, or by a national, provided that in the latter case , the same trip aboard any of the persons authorized to drive the vehicle and may make multiple entries and exits.

      The vehicles referred to in this subsection shall comply with the requirements specified in the Regulations.

      b ) The household goods of used merchandise owned by a “residente temporal” (or) ” residente temporal estudiante”, provided they meet the requirements established by el Reglamento y el Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT) mediante reglas.
      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

      Careful reading could be stretched to imply that since Residente Temporal wording does not specifically call out “con permiso de trabajo” descriptions, it could mean that working RT’s continue to NOT be allowed to have TIP vehicles – but I think that interpretation is a stretch. I will discuss this with an attorney to see if that is how Aduana is interpreting the new law.

      Aduana officials had described last fall that they only wanted one class of Residente Temporal – with equal treatment – regardless of permission to work.
      steve

      • yucalandia says:

        Hi Bruce,
        Continuing the theme, see Article 61, section VII:
        VII. Los menajes de casa pertenecientes a residentes permanentes y a nacionales repatriados o deportados, que los mismos hayan usado durante su residencia en el extranjero, así como los instrumentos científicos y las herramientas cuando sean de profesionales y las herramientas de obreros y artesanos, siempre que se cumpla con los plazos y las formalidades que señale el Reglamento. No quedan comprendidos en la presente exención las mercancías que los interesados hayan tenido en el extranjero para actividades comerciales o industriales, ni los vehículos.

        Note that the Ley Aduanera calls out only Residente Permanente as NOT being allowed to temporarily import vehicles.
        steve

  54. Bruce Pumphrey says:

    Thanks so much Steve. This very helpful. We don’t plan on working while there but may want to keep that option open down the road. Hopefully by then they will clarify this or we will have a vehicle tagged in Mexico.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Bruce,
      Nothing to clarify. I think you just heard/read a rumor – or someone mis-read the new law.

      The current official Aduana policy is that there is no distinction in the law against lucrativas. (All Residente Temporales are the same according to the attorney we consulted.)
      steve

  55. Shayne says:

    This is all really good. Can you put me in touch with your sailing contact. My wife and I are considering an extended run around Mexico and need to know how to manage our boat contents. Specifically, some defensive weapons we keep on board for pirates in the US VI and cannot dispose of.

  56. playaright says:

    Hello Steve and gang. Need to ask this question, as no one seems to have addressed this exactly. So, we are moving to Mexico on a residente permanente (hopefully, need to apply here in Canada) and then drive the ‘household goods’ down in a 16 ft cargo trailer. How do we deal with the truck and trailer? We would like to import them- obviously, but I have heard all kinds of things, for example, ” you can’t import your truck, because it will be full of stuff”, or “you can’t import the truck because you only have the ‘pre residente perm. doc and not the real thing”. How do we do this- in 2 steps, or 3 or 100′s… Has anyone done with recently? I truck and trailer are not new and are Nafta, so it’s just the HOW that we need to know. I know we need a broker for the truck/trailer ,,, but with it full? With the ‘pre doc’s”? thanks for any help that comes our way.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Playa,
      The Aduana rules on brokers changed on Jan 1, 2014. You no longer need to use a licensed customs broker – but you still need to prepare a Menaje de Casa style list of the contents of each numbered box.

      The Mexican Consulate will give you a special visa that gives you 30 days in Mexico. That means that if you do a Temporary Import Permit on the truck and trailer, then it is good for just 30 days. You could use those 30 days to drop off your load, get your Residente Pemanente and then return to the border to do your permanent import.

      Really, each border crossing tweaks their policies, so it is often best to do it in 2 trips. 1 trip to get the Residente Permanentes and a second (leisurely?) trip with your goods.

      The “truck full of stuff” issue is a MIS-application of seaport customs rules versus your plan to drive in. When you have your Resident Permanente, you can certainly/definitely drive in with a truck load of stuff and also permanently import the truck at the same time. If you choose to use a commercial SHIP/boat to move/import your truck at some seaport, then the vehicle must be empty.
      steve

  57. hasanchez says:

    Hi Steve,
    I was wondering if you have any idea where I could find information regarding what items would be allowed to import as a Mexican National? We will be moving to Mexico towards the end of this year (Chiapas), I am a US citizen and my husband a Mexican national. We will be driving, and the vehicle is registered in both of our names. I want to make sure I have everything in order ahead of time so hopefully we have an uneventful trip. There will be 3 of us. if you could point me in the right direction that would be great! Thanks for your help and I love your blog!

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Heather,
      Other than the Menaje de Casa household goods exemption for foreign residents moving to Mexico, Mexican citizens have the same restrictions that we foreigners do (except for the Paisano Program benefits for Mexicans).
      steve

  58. irene says:

    is there any special visa required to visit in Vallarta on holiday from Jan. 31 to March 13 and staying at two different resorts. We own two time shares there.

    Irene

  59. irene says:

    By visitor’s visa, do u mean the one they give you on the plane? Can we bring any kind of meat in our checked luggage ie salami sausage or frozen steaks etc.?

    Irene

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Irene,
      Yes, the FMM you fill out on the plane can serve as an application for a visitor’s visa.

      FMM = Multiple Format – which means Residente Temporales also use it to log their comings-and-goings in-and-out of Mexico. – It also means Residente Permanentes also use it to log their comings-and-goings in-and-out of Mexico.

      Tourists bringing in meat? Dicey.
      Sometimes Aduana allows salami-sausages or other dry and cured meats ~ intact / un-opened ~ sealed in the ORIGINAL shrink-wrap packages. Other times, the Aduana agent says “No” and confiscates them. It really is up to the individual entry point’s policies and the individual Aduana agent’s discretion. Our friend’s last attempt to bring in a dry salami when flying ~ failed ~ while her previous attempts succeeded. ???

      Formally, importing meat is not allowed. The same goes for dried fruits…
      steve

  60. Dan says:

    hola! My wife and I are planning on moving the the Progreso area in September 2014, We will be driving from Calgary, Canada. We were planning to haul our household stuff in a cargo trailer, probably a 5×8, but now we’re thinking that it might just be way easier, not to mention a nicer drive, to hire a moving company to take our stuff there for us. However, my wife has contacted a number of moving companies already, and she’s not having much luck getting anyone to even call her back! Very frustrating!… Do you by any chance know of a reputable moving company that could take our stuff from Calgary to the progreso area? THanks so much! Dan

  61. Dan says:

    thank you so much Steve!…. you are a wealth of info… and very helpful! Muchas Gracias!

  62. I see that the regs. have changed to $500 duty-free to bring in by airline; can you point me to a place I can print this out in case the aduanas does not have it current? I’m leaving on Feb. 1 to GDL, and the aduanas website still has the $300 limit. Thanks!

  63. irene says:

    Is there any restriction to the amount of $ you can bring in for 6 weeks vacation in Vallarta, Mexico

    Irene

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Irene,
      If you bring more than $10,000 USD in currency, you have to declare it.

      If you plan to bring in enough to buy a home, (more than $10,000 USD), we strongly advise using bank to bank wire transfers instead (to not carry so much cash).
      steve

  64. Pingback: Can We cut US state, local, and federal deficit spending ? | Surviving Yucatan

  65. Jackie says:

    Hi Steve,
    My family of 5 is planning on driving through Mexico onwards to belize permanently. Does the Meneja de casa still apply if we are just driving through? We will be driving a 17ft box truck and our personal vehicle as well. Any words of advice? I have been making an inventory of all our boxes like you said in your previous writings. We have three small children and need this move to go as smooth as possible.
    Thanks,
    Jackie

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi jackie,
      There is a separate special permit for transiting Mexico – but I would still prepare the Menaje de Casa list, because it generally saves you from having to unpack your load at the US/Mexico border from either the US Border Patrol or from Mexico Aduana – just give them a copy of the list – and they are happy. There are also stops at some of the state-to-state crossings inside Mexico – and military checkpoints – and these guys are equally happy to see a good accurate Menaje de Casa list of what’s in your load – so bring as many as 4 copies (to pass some out).

      Basically, the US Border Patrol can and does have some of us totally unpack our loads if they suspect hanky-panky. Same goes across Mexico and when entering Belize. The list puts govt. agents at ease and shows you have nothing to hide.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

      **Have you read our companion article that documents much of the route you can travel? see: http://www.yucatanliving.com/destinations/driving-through-mexico-to-yucatan.htm

  66. Sherry says:

    We are traveling to Cancun on the 8th and I’m wondering what we are allowed for cigarettes each?I found on one site, all persons over 18 are allowed 20 packs each…so much cigars etc. I’m asking this as my parents just returned from Puerta Vallarta where they had taken 4 cartons (32 packs) in when they arrived and were charged $75 USD for 2 cartons being told they were only allowed one each? If I could get a reply in English as well as Spanish to take along with us, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Sherry

  67. Ruth says:

    I am travelling to Cancun Mexico on Feb 4, I will be bringing my 2 piece pool cue with travel bag inside my checked luggage, which is OK with TSA in Canada. I’m wondering if I will have any trouble with Mexican security officers going in or out of Cancun via airport. Should I state that this cue and bag is in my luggage before hand or am I worrying for nothing? I’m bringing it because I play better with my own cue and there are pool tables at the resort. Also have 2 aersol sunscreens 60 SPF 222ml each in luggage any problem with these?
    Thank you,
    Ruthie :D

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Ruth,
      I believe that IATA regs govern what aerosols you can bring onto the airplane.
      IATA Regs USG-05 on Aerosol Containers ( http://www.jafa.or.jp/temp_file/001359504715_0001001.pdf )
      Except as provided in 49 CFR 173.306, aerosol containers larger than 120 mL capacity (4 fl oz) must be non-refillable metal receptacles or plastic aerosols. Aerosols must consist of a gas compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure, with the sole purpose of expelling a non-toxic (other than a Division 6.1 Packing Group III material) liquid, paste or powder and fitted with a self-closing release device allowing contents to be ejected by the gas.

      So, I believe your sunscreens fit this description for checked bags on an airline.

      The pool cue: The US TSA started allowing pool cues in checked bags as of June 3, 2013 http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/prohibited-items – In the past Mexico’s airport security has followed US TSA guidelines for flights headed north, so a pool cue should be fine in checked luggage.
      steve

  68. Catherine sherred says:

    I would like to bring a suitcase full of wedding decorations. In the past people were charged duty on these items. It looks like that isn’t the case anymore? Or is it subject to $500. And does my wedding dress count. Please explain who wedding decor works in the cancun airport.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Catherine,
      The wedding decorations would be subject to the $500 limit. I don’t know how they classify wedding dresses – whether they are normal personal items or as dutiable.
      steve

  69. Gail says:

    We are having a wedding in Cancun. We would like to bring a dried starfish for part of the wedding ceremony. Is this allowed?

  70. Catherine sherred says:

    So why does the article say that you can bring all personal items including those for a wedding party?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Catherine,
      One basic principle described to us by an Aduana Supervisor: “We know what is allowed when we see it.

      This means they reserve the right to waive anything through, or to assess duties, on the whim of each individual agent. This means that our article describes the official policy, but reality (for each time you enter Mexico) says they may or may not allow it.

      Hope it all works well – plan to be firm (not aggressive) if they pull some BS, be patient, be persistent – and work politely but firmly to get them to not charge inappropriate duties. Ask for a supervisor to help if needed, but be prepared to offer to pay some duties (regardless of what the rules officially say).
      steve

  71. Terri says:

    Catherine and Gail, the bottom line is this … it all depends on the mood of the person checking your luggage. I go to Mexico every summer to work in an orphanage. Most of the time we (4 – 5 of us) are blessed and they question nothing (50 lb suitcases of new clothes/shoes, bug spray, lots of meds/vitamins, syringes, school supplies, 100+ eyeglasses, tools, lots of food, etc). Last summer they let us bring in a large set of kitchen knives…not a question. However, I have had batteries taken. When I asked how many were too many/how many can I keep…he laughed and said, “This is too many, I keep.” He kept them all. My rule to follow is “Don’t take anything that you don’t mind giving up…and it doesn’t really matter what the article/rules/guidelines say. You can question but don’t/shouldn’t argue with them there. We have even landed at the wrong airport late at night and forced off the plane at gunpoint. They wouldn’t tell us where we were or why we were there. We’ve had the police block us in and insist on money before they would let us out of the airport parking lot. I love the Mexican people and would love to bring the children home with me… that’s why I keep returning. Wishing you the best of luck and pray for your safety.

  72. Megan says:

    My husband is leqving the us voluntary for immigration court so we are all goingto mexico myself my husband and our two children is there a limit on how much clothes and shoes we bring with us can we bring toys and can we bring a tv

  73. Lanortenadelsur says:

    HOLA!!!!my Husband and I him U.S.Citizen me a Mexican national but Im also a U.S.legal resident are planning to relocate to Tijuana, Mexico cannot make it in California I have my Family over there and We want to cross the border to work everyday like a million of people do ,can we crossed our household goods little by little without paying the duties I know how Aduanas are and do we have to get Permits to live there!!!!

  74. Lanortenadelsur says:

    Hi Steve: until now I did not know that such procedures exist all I know is that were married 15 years ago living in California since then,we got married in Vegas, were visiting my Family in Tijuana all these years and were really tired of paying these ridiculous charges of rent and utilities, and we want it to do it or die in Tijuana close to my Family and Friends hes an orphan pobrecito!my Family loves him, I have my Parents alive and all my siblings well almost all of them in Tijuana I miss them terrible!!.we are planning you know to get across our appliances, our bed set,, and old sofa bed,can we get them across in the menaje de casa without any trouble an I understand that our desktop has to be declared and it cost us $839.00, we live 2 hrs.away from the Border with San Ysidro thats why I said that we want to cross our small stuff little by little like books, picture frames, our clothing,etc.thank you so much for your information its been really eye openning wish us luck well keep you post it of our adventure it can help somebody else!!!!

  75. Judy Dishaw says:

    Is there any legal way to get used clothing and other donations across the border for food banks and orphanages. I go to Baja once a month with food donations for a small community with around 40 families that we help out. There is a small school with 22 children and we also take school supplies. I tried to take used clothing for the children and got escorted back across the border. I don’t speak fluent Spanish, so I am not sure how to go about getting items to them legally. Any suggestions would be appreciated. thanks

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Judy,
      I would get an official letter from the food banks and orphanages and school – on their letterhead – signed by an appropriate manager at each organization – describing both who that manager/person is (their title and role), who you are, and what you bring in, and what they use it for. Have them promise that any and all donations will be used exclusively for charitable purposes (to ease concerns about scams or misdirection of resources).

      Be firm and persistent (but friendly) with any Aduana personnel. Have a complete Menaje de Casa style list of every box, bale, or bag and it’s contents – and have 3 copies – to give and or show to Aduana, police, military, and state boundary checkpoints (if you go outside of Baja). We have had Aduana challenge some of our imports of $10,000′s of medical supplies that are used exclusively for Public Health programs, and when we give them a copy of the letter on the receiver’s letterhead – Aduana has ultimately allowed the imports every time.
      Best of luck,
      steve

      steve

  76. Nicholas Knutsen says:

    I’m a Norwegian planning to apply for a temporary resident permit. I’ve read everything I can find about the menaje de casa, and I’m still not clear about it. You mention here a couple of places that we don’t need a custom’s broker now. That’s apparently new as of Jan 1, 2014. You also say that we can refer to the Aduana web page to confirm this. I’m not sure if it’s the page “Inmigrantes y nacionales repatriados o deportados” or “No inmigrantes con características de ministros de culto o asociados religiosos o de corresponsal, visitantes y visitantes distinguidos” (seems to apply to religious leaders only?). In any case, both pages say you need an Agente Aduanal, isn’t that the customs broker?

    According to my consulate (in Denmark), you *don’t* need a customs broker with the menaje. But my girlfriend (a Mexican who I hope to join in Guadalajara soon) called Aduana and they said that you *do* need a customs broker.

    What can I expect to pay for a custom’s broker? I heard it’s like $2000 or more.

    As I have no furniture to move, just lots of boxes, I was thinking about either using UPS or bringing it with me on the plane as baggage. Have you heard about anybody using a menaje de casa bringing their items that way?? It seems nobody can tell me if this would even be possible. Thanks for any help!

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Nicholas,
      Are you driving into Mexico?
      The advice about not needing a customs broker using a Menaje de Casa is based on driving in from the USA.

      If you are shipping things into a sea port, then yes, you likely need to use a licensed broker. I have never heard of anyone using a Menaje de Casa for arriving by plane.
      steve

      • Nicholas Knutsen says:

        Thanks for you reply.

        No, I’m in Norway, so driving in would be pretty difficult. :) It’d be either using the Menaje by ship, or using it by air or by parcel service (if possible). The Danish consulate, talking about Danes and Norwegians, had only heard of people using it by ship, and said that you didn’t need a broker. So lots of contradictory information.

        Yeah, it seems nobody has heard of using a Menaje in any other way than by sea or by road. But does it say anywhere that those are the only options? I mean, if it’s not specified by law that you can only use a Menaje by sea or by road, the airport terminal Aduana should in theory accept it. Of course theory and practice are not the same thing…

  77. Igor Oliveira says:

    Hello,

    I will be flying from the United States to Brazil, with a connecting flight in Mexico. I might go over the five hundred dollar limit. In that case, would I be subject to import taxes?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Igor,
      When you calculate the $500 of items, did exclude your personal items (exempt) or other exempt things?
      http://yucalandia.com/answers-to-common-questions/what-can-i-bring-into-mexico-mexican-customs-rules-the-article/#Which%20items%20may%20be%20included%20in%20my%20personal%20luggage%20exempt%20from%20duty

      Everything I have researched does not include additional exemptions for people who are staying in the airport – because as you leave Aduana/Customs, you have the opportunity to leave the airport…

      Unless you are carrying commercial quantities of things, or carrying multiple computers, or electronics (like stereo receivers), Aduana usually does not charge the 15% IVA tax – waving people through. Aduana Mexico also has customers push a button to get either a red light or green light. If you get a green light, your luggage is subject to only a cursory X-ray scan. Red light => inspection by an agent. If you do have to go through that secondary screening, and they want duties, then try to explain that you will not leave the airport, and that you will be leaving Mexico – showing them your continuing flight boarding pass. (Individual agents have broad discretion to decide whether to charge, and they often just allow overages – except for electronics and computers.)
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  78. MLT says:

    I’m a 3rd year Residente Temporal in Mulege and to head up to San Diego’s Trader Joe’s for some 2.5 Buck Chuck. What duties would I have to pay for bringing down 10 cases?

  79. MLT says:

    PS, If I use my regular broker to bring them down, he charges me $1 per bottle PLUS 31% (which includes the IVA)

  80. Dan says:

    HI… my wife and I and our 2 dogs will be driving from Canada to Mexico at the end of August. We are relocating in the Chelem area. We plan on towing a uhaul trailer to Houston and putting our household goods on a ship (linea peninsular) to Progreso. We’ve now contacted two different customs brokers, asking for a quote on what their fees might be, and what this might cost us. however, even tho they say they’ll get back to us, they don’t!. We are more than likely going in with tourist visas and will have roughly 3k to 5k worth of stuff, including a few thousand dollars worth of musical instruments (I am a musician). Can you tell us what or how Custom’s brokers charge for their services? we are aware that we’ll pay duties and taxes of 16% on whatever exceeds the current exemptions… thanks so much!

  81. New To Mexico says:

    I plan on moving to Mexico as a TR or a PR and to have my son drive me down with a truck for my household goods. What do we need as paperwork for him and for the the – we will rent it – is that allowed. He will come as a tourist for 2 weeks. I am aware of the spreadsheet of items in my boxes. It is more about the truck – is a rental OK or do we need to own the truck for this purpose?

  82. Jeanette koehler says:

    I will be flying into Mexico from my recent visit in the us, can I bring coffe, popcorn, and various spices in my suitcase?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Jeanette,
      Mexican Customs (Aduana) agents usually allow these things as long as they are in their original, sealed, un-opened, commercial packages. Opened items, privately produced items that are not in sealed new commercial packaging are often confiscated.
      steve

  83. Carol Warnes says:

    Hi, I am visiting my son and family in Mexico from UK and want to take his favourite home made cake. Will this be allowed.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Carol,
      Depends on the luck of the draw – (red light or green light) and if a red light, then the opinion of the Aduana agent who looks through your bags. Commercial food products in their original sealed packages are generally allowed (except for some meat products). A home-made cake… ???
      steve

  84. Dawn says:

    Hi,
    We are marrying in Cancun. We like others want to bring wedding decoration, such as 14 metal lanterns in for our ceremony. These lanterns were bought in the US but manufactured in China. Also, the bouquet is made from silk artificial flowers so would this be allowed ? Is the wedding dress considered a personal item?
    Dawn

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Dawn,
      Silk flowers are fine.
      The wedding dress is fine as a personal item.
      Goods manufactured in China are fine.
      Do the 14 lanterns put you over the $500 per airline passenger limit for non-personal items?
      steve

  85. Amanda says:

    We are planning a wedding in Cancun in June 2015. I have a niece that has a genetic disorder that requires her to be on a very strict specific diet. Her parents have to have exact brands and such for her foods. The foods include prepackaged meat, fruits, cheese, crackers, canned veggies, whole cream, and butter. Will they be allowed to bring the food into Mexico if they provide a doctors letter stating that she has to have these foods in order to maintain her health?
    Amanda

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Amanda,
      Maybe so, maybe not. It all depends on whether she gets a green light or red light, and it then depends on the Customs agent she gets. As written above, some allow food in unopened commercial packaging, others not. Some allow meats still in the original factory packaging, while others stick strictly to the rules (no meats).

      A formal letter from a doctor, on the clinic’s letterhead, describing her conditions and special needs, explaining specifically what foods she needs and why would certainly help. Notarize the letter for it to be given even more respect here. A good Spanish translation of that letter, and copies of both for Aduana to put in their files would also help, along with a complete inventory (spread sheet) with Spanish translations of all the foods she is bringing is a big help.

      BTW, the USA has been far more strict with us trying to bring foods into the USA than Mexico, so she might lose anything left-over when she returns to the USA.
      Good Luck,
      steve

  86. maria hero says:

    I went to mexico @ Laredo had to pay did not have items that were not suppose to be only 2 suitcases(reg) very rude people had to pay 231.oo pesos what happen to duty free

  87. Ricky says:

    Hello,

    I am planning on brining magnification glasses for precise work and they cost around $30. Can i pack 10 of them and bring them with me or will i be charged duty as they are many pieces. Thank in advance for you help.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Ricky,
      I think you can make a good case that they are personal items for personal use: different styles, different powers, used in different rooms (reading in the living room, pair by the bedside, pair in the bodega, pair for watching TV). The Aduana people are used to us gringos telling bizarre stories (what normal person needs 10 pairs of glasses???)….

      Do not even breathe the words “for work” or “para trabajo” – as that sets-off alarms/waves-flags that you are working or that the glasses are for commercial purposes (work).

      Most likely, they will not even say anything, so I would not even bring it up, unless asked.
      Happy Travels,
      steve

  88. perfectdon says:

    I will be coming to Merida with some photo prints and photo canvases of my own work, as well as some towels and bed linens. These are for a home a recently purchased. My concern is for the photos and photo canvases. How is a price determined, should I just document the cost of the printing ? The bed linens, towels, as well as some small kitchen gadgets ( can opener, cheese grater, corkscrew, etc ) also have no documentation. How would I place a value on the items.
    Thanks in advance

    • yucalandia says:

      You could check on E-bay for small kitchen gadget prices. Make good faith estimates of the values on the art. Foto printing costs are a good start. It sounds odd, but a computer printed spreadsheet list in “menaje de casa” format (spanish name of the item, serial number of electronics/tv/computer items, & value – all totaled neatly) can make all the difference. They love having the formal/official looking list, that you date and sign. It gives them a full listing of all non-personal items that gives them protection – and something they can show the boss and then file.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  89. martimu says:

    Forgive me if this has been answered – I tried to carefully skim to see if it had and didn’t find anything – so here goes:

    The hubby and I are moving into the home we purchased outside San Miguel next month and with our resident permits will be driving down through Nuevo Laredo. We’re ready to start preparing our Menaje de Casa and my question is how detailed should we be? We’re clear about electronics and things with serial numbers – but what about things like books, articles of clothing, art supplies, et al.
    Does EACH item need to be listed (Poetry book, Doolittle Publisher, 1978); 1 tube cadmium red paint, 1 tube pale yellow paint, etc.)
    Or is it possible to say:
    12 Books (Total value $50)
    64 tubes of paint (Value $100)
    3 sketchbooks various sizes (Value $20)
    7 pairs of shoes
    handmade kitchen dishes (4 plates, 7 cups, 3 pitchers)
    3 pans, various sizes

    Because if I have to itemize every single individual thing (the paints alone for example) my list is going to be HUGE!

    Thanks!!

  90. martimu says:

    Forgive me if this has been answered, I tried scanning to see the answer I’m looking for. When preparing the menaje de casa just how specific should you be?

    Can you say:
    12 books valued at $50 total
    64 tubes of paint valued at $100/set
    12 shirts $2.50/each
    Set of kitchen dishes $100
    3 paintings – $25/each

    Or
    should I list each tube of paint, every single book and each individual dish?

    I’m good with the things that have serial numbers and such – but these personal items have me flummoxed! I just haven’t been able to find where folks have solved this issue. I’m dreading the couple boxes I have of personal talismans and such…..listing each of those is going to make me look like a nut!

    Thanks in advance!! And for all the insights above.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Marti,
      Great question! We created our list in the second (general) manner you propose:
      64 tubes of paint for pictures — Box #29 — $100 USD
      etc.

      They were very pleased with our list. Aduana agents did not care at all whether it was approved by a Mexican Consulate. They just want each numbered BOX’s contents to match the list ~ and ~ they also want a copy for their files – so bring 3 or 4 copies, to offer to various Aduana checkpoints, at interstate-border crossing check points, to curious police officers, and to military checkpoint officers. Generally, they just look at the list, and then maybe ask to scan the load, and maybe look in one or 2 boxes, to see if your list matches the box’s actual contents.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

      • martimu says:

        Thank you so much, Steve. I truly appreciate it! It’s really nice to get reinforcement from someone who’s done it already. :)

  91. Bruce says:

    There seems to be a lot of conflicting information on this and I am not going to help matters any but just share our experience thus far. My wife and I are moving to Akumal in mid May and just obtained our Residente Visas and had our Menaje de Casa stamped and sealed by the consulate here in DC. We brought a copy in with extensive details on the unit and total costs in $US and $MX(Pesos) and were specifically asked to return the next day with a copy with the estimated values of each item removed (I just hid those columns in the spreadsheet). So now we have this very official version that has no cost/value information. We will present this initially to Aduana when we enter Mexico at Nueva Laredo in May but plan on also having with us copies of the more detailed version with references to what is in each labeled box and it’s associated value. We will present the more detailed version on request. I think this is the best we can do and roll the dice. The rules are in flux and very confusing. To add additional confusion, although this is the first time as a non tourist in Mexico, because I am officially retired and we are entering based on my retirement income, I was issued a Residente Permanente Visa. But because my wife is self employed they would not consider her income (much larger than mine) her income based on a Company Profit and Loss Statement or from joint tax returns. She only pays herself a small salary and would not qualify based on he W-2 wages. As such, she was issued a Residente Temporal Visa. We were told that neither expires but that each of our resident ID cards issued in country by immigration have to be reissued annually. Sorry for the long winded message. And this even omits the story about the Mexican Cowboy Tamale guy outside the Mexican Conslate in DC.

    • martimu says:

      Your recap is very helpful, Bruce. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it. You and your wife’s situation sounds remarkably similar to that of my husband and I. Good idea have both versions of your spreadsheet available. Covers the bases! We will definitely do the same.
      But what about that Mexican cowboy tamale dude, lol?

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Bruce,
      Interesting.

      Remember that your Mexican Consulate is a part of SRE (the equivalent of the US State Department and Embassies) while Aduana is a part of SAT (the equivalent of the IRS and Customs & Border Patrol). Just like the US State Department in an Embassy really has NO jurisdiction over what a US Customs and Border Patrol officer does with you at the border, Your Mexican Consulate has NO jurisdiction over what happens at the border with individual Aduana agents.

      Since your formal Menaje de Casa exempts a load of duty-free household goods, valuations are not strictly needed. Will every single Aduana agent know this? Will all police know this? Will all soldiers at checkpoints know this? Will all state officials at interstate border crossings know this?

      More Important: Will your individual Aduana officer inspecting your load decide that every single item in the load is a personal household item – and not a commercial item or group of things in commercial quantities? Your advice from a Consulate clerk is no help in this situation.

      For these very real (and routine) reasons, I would print and bring copies of each list, both with prices and without prices, because => logical & legal ways of doing things are not always practical or workable. I know the list works when you list prices.

      You are personally using the special case of the Menaje de Casa list as a LEGAL document proving your load should be duty-free – but legal REALITY says that any Aduana agent can personally decide that something on your list is NOT a household or personal item, and charge you duty on that item. e.g. Any Aduana agent could decide you are bringing in enough tools to start a workshop or mechanic business, and they can legally charge you whatever $$ they want by arbitrarily assessing your tools at extremely high values.

      I have had this happen on electronics and tools, where they have assigned up to 10X too high values based on their personal opinion on the spot.

      If you have an existing proposed value, (and documentation for unusual or expensive items), Aduana generally accepts your proposed value.

      There can be big differences between what some State Department / SRE / Consular clerk (with NO authority over Customs matters) tells you far from the border versus the reality of what happens with the Aduana/Customs agents at the border. This explains why there is differing advice given on various websites:
      Theory vs. Reality.
      Happy Trails,
      steve

  92. Bruce says:

    Thanks Steve, we are definitely taking a belt and suspenders approach and will have actual receipts where we have them. My tools are so beat up, I am not sure they would assign any value to them. Haha. But at one thing people can keep in mind is that if they decide to assign a huge inflated value, look the item up on your phone or tablet and show them at least what the current suggested retail price is.

    We are a little worried as we are taking in flat packed RTA kitchen cabinets as wee have not found high quality cabinets in Qintana Roo unless they are custom made tropical wood. We know tropical wood is good but concerned about the environmental impacts of its harvesting. As such, we are prepared to pay the 15% duty on the $4,000 worth of cabinets we are bringing in. Let’s hope not but we included the duty in the budget.

  93. Bruce says:

    Oh and on the Cowboy Tamale guy, he camps out with his tamales in front of the DC Mexican consulate on 16th and Euclid NW in front of All Souls Unitarian Church. His tamales 3 for $7 are the best I have EVER had. Tamales con mojo rojo o verde (cerda o pollo) and Tamales de rajas (pollo y queso). A little bit of street food heaven in DC.

  94. Bruce says:

    Oh he’s only there from 11 to 1. He also does large batches for catering.

  95. Latifah says:

    Steve, I’m going to a conference in Mexico and many people coming want to bring art and/or crafts that they’ve created to sell at the conference. Do they have to pay taxes on what they sell? Can they ship things to the conference organizers ahead of time? Do you know where I can find this information? LT.

    • yucalandia says:

      Hi Latifa,
      This area of tax law is beyond our ken.

      They likely legally cannot sell things without RFCs…? needing accounts with Hacienda/SAT?

      Maybe they can use an existing business to be their tax paying surrogate… paying the Mexican business the taxes, plus a fee to handle the extra work…?

      In theory, Mexican-USA tax treaty law allows US artists to make up to $3000 USD of art-sales income a year in Mexico – exempt from taxes… Read our tax article on the US-Mexico tax treaty (for Americans) at: http://yucalandia.com/living-in-yucatan-mexico/tax-issues-for-americans-living-and-working-in-mexico-a-redux-for-2012/

      and go to the subsection:
      ~ $3000 Income exemption for artists, performers, athletes et al. and see the links from our main tax article for the official sites: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-trty/mexico.pdf and http://www.irs.gov/publications/p901/ar02.html – Table 2, scroll down to “Mexico”…

      which we wrote specifically on this issue….

      Hint: Google searches on “Yucalandia US Mexico taxes” offers this as the first Google entry… *grin*

      But they still may need to document it… and report it to Mexico? requiring individual RFCs from Hacienda/SAT – to qualify for the $3000 exemption ???

      If each of them proves that they are paying income taxes in to the US IRS on this income, and prove their total annual Mexican sales are less than $3,000, and they show the specific section of the US-Mexico tax treaty to anyone who asks, then they MAY be in the clear…

      A Mexican tax official may point out a catch in that legal approach: If the American makes Trip #1 early in the year, and sells $2,500 (less than $3000) of art, without reporting it to the Mexican Hacienda – claiming the $3,000 exemption for that trip’s income, and then the American makes Trip #2 to Mexico later that same tax year, selling another $2,000 of art without reporting it to Hacienda -but saying “I sold less than $3000 in art on this time in Mexico.“, then the American has illegally avoided paying taxes in both the USA and Mexico, by ~ breaking the individual sales into enough small parts ~ and ~ spreading the sales across international borders ~ …

      This means to stay legal, your artist friends really need to bring things in through approved channels (no more than $500 duty free per person by plane), and sell it under the auspices/account of a Mexican business with a RFC account – where they ….

      Hint #2: Lawyers charge $150 an hour for these types of legal, international, treaty-driven subtleties of Mexican and US tax laws…. (buy me dinner? or offer me a choice of chatzkies/art? *grin*)

      I don’t know the specific details – just the principles of the law – so contact a Mexican tax attorney or Mexican accountant,
      steve

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s