February 26, 2012 Update
There is a report out of San Miguel Allende (SMA) that the US Consul, Edward Clancy, has spoken with the head of Aduana about the current issues of foreign-plated cars in Mexico owned by Americans using Temporary Import Permits (TIPs). Mr. Clancy reports that he was told that there are no new Aduana laws at this time. Further, Aduana has not set a date for releasing any new laws or new rules.
Finally, the SMA US Consul reports that the current official Aduana policy is: If your car was legal before you changed to either the INM Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente cards, then the head of Aduana says that your foreign-plated car and your Aduana TIP are still valid, as long as you have a valid INM permit.
Hope this sets people’s minds at ease…
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There have been tons of rumors, suppositions and misinformation flying around on expat forums and expat blogs about what people think are the current Aduana rules for temporarily imported foreign-plated cars, a.k.a “TIP” (Temporary Import Permit) cars.
Here at Yucalandia, we like facts supported by the official rules and laws. Using that basis, let’s evaluate what is written in the current law and official rules:
First: There are no Aduana rules or law that specifically cover how to issue or renew Permisos de Importación Temporal de Vehículos for foreigners with either Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente IMN residency permits. ~ Zip / Zero / Nada ~
In the absence of any published law or rules, each local Aduana office has been doing what they think makes sense – likely as decided by their local director. Fortunately, now, based on the Feb. 26, 2013 report by the US Consul in SMA, Edward Clancy: The head of Aduana says that the current official Aduana policy is: If your car was legal before you changed to either the INM Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente cards, then the head of Aduana says that your foreign-plated car and your Aduana TIP are still valid, as long as you have a valid INM permit.
Second: The information recently presented by a few local Aduana personnel at Nuevo Vallarta meeting was NOT OFFICIAL , nor does it apply nationwide. If we read their 2 powerpoint presentations carefully, we find a number of factual errors, because they are NOT official nor legally-binding documents. They are instead just informal non-legal presentations to try to help the local gringos understand how Nuevo Vallarta agents are temporarily choosing to handle foreign-plate cars for gringos with the new INM Residency permits. The Nuevo Vallarta powerpoint Aduana presentation was effectively JUST A SET of PROPOSALS , because there have been NO NEW OFFICIAL written policies or rules promulgated out of Aduana in D.F.
Local offices of Aduana are given broad discretion and wide latitude in how they apply policies. In the absence of any new national policy: The Nuevo Vallarta Aduana personnel are fully allowed to apply overly stringent local policies, while Puerto Vallarta Aduana personnel (who are approving some TIP extensions) are fully allowed to grant very liberal local policies.
Third: All gringos whose INM permits have not expired, must really WAIT until there are formal policies/rules or a law written and approved by Aduana D.F. The current Ley Aduanero uses out-dated, obsolete, legal terminology ( “No Inmigrante” or “FM3” and “Inmigrante” or “FM2” and “Inmigrado“) ~ so, the old Aduana law terminology no longer fits the new INM residency permits and INM’s legal terminology. This leaves Aduana’s local offices with NO clear detailed legal guidelines on vehicle Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) – so they are just TEMPORARILY making things up as they go.
Does Mexico Really Plan to Allow Residente Temporal and Permanente Residents to Only have Mexican Plated Cars?
Many gringos are trying to use individual local Adana personnel actions as evidence to make logical sense of the national policies of 2 very different and very separate Mex. Gob. agencies. There is no official information on what Aduana has planned for us. These problems were created by INM dramatically changing the numbers and kinds and names of residency permits – which made Aduana’s written rules … obsolete, because there is Zip / Zero / Nada equivalency between the old INM FM2, FM3, & Inmigrado permits versus the new INM Residente Temporal & Residente Permanente permits.
INM has very different needs and different agendas than Aduana. There appears to be almost ZERO/zip/nada coordination between INM’s changing to new policies (creating totally new immigration categories), and Aduana. The problems INM has caused to existing Aduana policies, makes it clear that they did not coordinate policies with some intent to screw expats. INM issued their new law in May 2011, and then issued totally new policies on Nov. 9, 2012. In the meantime, Aduana has issued ZERO/zip/nada official adjustments to Aduana policies to accommodate the new INM rules => no coordination => no evidence of any plan => no evidence of any intent.
Some gringos are imagining that Aduana is ” saying that the only cars they want legally in their country those cars that have a Mexican plate ” . There is Zip/Zero/Nada official information to confirm this.
Really, we all must wait to see exactly what Aduana’s official national policy will be.
Aduana may allow our foreign-plated vehicles … or they may not…
In the meantime, we only have various, individual, non-binding proposals being made by a few local Aduana offices.
History of How this Mess Evolved: INM’s FM3 and Aduana’s TIP program were originally created in response to a 1990’s Mex. Gob. effort to support the growth of maquiladoras/factories in Mexico to take advantage of NAFTA. Aduana was told to create a permit that allowed American and Canadian manufacturing managers and experts to move to Mexico temporarily, and live and work in Mexico temporarily … temporarily bringing-in their foreign-plated cars. The intent was a TIP with no final hard-and-fast expiration date, but instead to create a flexible permit for business men and experts to come to Mexico – work a while – and return back to Canada or the USA.
After the TIP was created, (and the FM3), lots of US and Canadian retirees decided to use these temporary-businessman programs for their own purposes: coming into Mexico to live effectively as permanent residents – often with NO intent to permanently return to the USA or Canada – and certainly not intending to return their cars to the USA or Canada. The gringo retirees did this by filing for temporary residency and temporary auto import permits in Mexico, even though their effective intent was to permanently leave the cars in Mexico.
The Mexican systems were not designed for how the Americans and Canadians used them. “Temporary” permits were intended to be temporary, for businessmen to come and go easily , but because the Mex. Gob. did not anticipate the gringo retirees’ unintended usages when writing the FM3 and TIP rules, the rules were basically later used by gringo retirees as loopholes to avoid becoming permanent residents – and used by gringos as loopholes to avoid paying duties to bring in the cars for what they really use as permanent importation.
The facts? Gringos wanted to bring their cars into Mexico and basically not ever take them out, without paying the import duties. Pay Zero/Zip/Nada in import duties. Pay Zero/Zip/Nada in annual permit fees. Pay Zero/Zip/Nada in annual registration fees nor getting plates. Pay Zero/Zip/Nada in taxes – all while liberally using the Mexican roads and services … all for free. Free => A word gringos treasure..
Should we blame Mex. officials from later trying to clean up the mess of 10,000’s of gringos who came into Mexico and stayed here using their vehicles for free, free from unrestricted by pesky registrations, free from even reasonable import duties, free from getting new license plates, – all by simply using loop-holes in Mexican policy designed for truly temporary businessmen and manufacturing experts?
What are we left with now?: Unfortunately, Mexican government policies change only very slowly, and since INM policy changes made Aduana TIP policies obsolete: Aduana is taking a while to try to formulate a new policy. It is difficult to create a new policy where Canadians and Americans who really come here as permanent residents can be shifted to actually allow their cars to be here for long periods (effectively permanent imports) – and to stop scooting through the loophole of basically free temporary auto permits.
Canada and the US do not allow Mexicans to import their cars into Canada and the USA, and keep them there for free, especially Mexicans who want to live there more than 6 months or a year.
I am left asking: Why should Mexico offer something that the USA and Canada (and pretty much all other countries) prohibit?
Why should individual Americans and Canadians in Mexico, expect much free services and free usage of the roads, and expect more liberal treatment from the Mexican Gob., than they offer Mexicans who are guests in the USA and Canada?
Unfortunately, all governments change their policies and rules over time – and the rest of us are left to figure out what to choose from the resulting options.
We have to wait until Aduana actually publishes something official.
Let’s all hope that Aduana comes out soon with official policies that work.
Happy Trails, steve
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© Steven M. Fry
Read on, MacDuff.