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Know The Law In Mexico - Importation Of Personal Goods

Adriana Perez Flores

One thing most of foreigners have done at one time or another is bringing items across the border into Mexico. Whether it was in your luggage flying in, in your car driving in, or in a transport truck you hired to bring down your items for you. This has always been a fairly simple matter, and still is if it's done right. But certain things are changing; the rules that are in place are now being strictly enforced.

We will not discuss the rules and regulations of flying in, as you never travel with furniture and appliances. However, when traveling via car into Mexico, many people often bring items such as small kitchen appliances (toaster and kettle for example) lamps, art, or any item that make their winter stay here or their permanent move more comfortable. Such items have never drawn the attention from customs when driving in, even if you got the red light at the border or the 25km check point. Now these items must be declared at the Mexico/US border. If you do not make such declarations, customs at the checkpoint can arrest you, and confiscate your vehicle and it's contents. If a declaration is made, and certain items are left out and found later, the same results will happen, arrest and confiscation. Please remember, if your possessions are confiscated, you will not get them back as you would have been charged with smuggling.

When moving large loads in a truck, or even in your own large vehicle, the importation list you obtained from a Mexican consulate must be accurate. Anyone who obtains a new FM3 or FM2 has a 6-month window to obtain their Stamped Inventory Visa from the Mexican Consulate in their country to move their personal belongings into Mexico duty free. These lists must be filled out according to what is in each box. For example, box one contains towels, glasses, and a Sony radio, model number XYZ and serial number 123. Box two contains etc, etc. Once this list is completed, in Spanish, a Mexican consulate in the country in which you are traveling from must certify it. This list or the boxes cannot be changed or altered later without having the list re-certified since this is now a change of manifest.

Most items are permissible into Mexico if done properly, except if the items are brand new, then you must report them as new and pay the appropriate duties and IVA. You can only bring in duty free items on this Inventory List duty free that are 6 months of age and they must have been used. If they have not been used even if they area 2 years old they are classified as new. The same classification is made if the item is in its original box unless you have a copy of the original receipt. If mistakes are made such as two transposed digits in a serial number, your may be subject to a fine and the goods confiscated. But if an inspection is done on your items crossing the border, and more significant mistakes are made such as not including a model or serial number, they will start to inspect your items more closely. If Customs find errors on items totaling more than $30,000 pesos, you will be arrested and your possessions will be classified as contraband and will be confiscated and most likely never see them again.

Even if you hire a company to import your items for you, you are still liable for any mistakes made to the inventory list, as you are the one who obtained it. The moving company will have their own set of problems as well if they try to cross with these kinds of mistakes. So please discuss with your moving company on all the current rules and regulations.

We are not trying to tell everyone that these worse case scenarios are going to happen to every individual, but this is the law. With confirmed reports of actual customs vehicles being beyond the 25km checkpoint and turning people around and bringing them back to the checkpoint, it would seem they are starting to enforce these laws.

Published or Updated on: January 1, 2003 by Adriana Perez Flores © 2003
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