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jwallacq

Oct 24, 2014, 8:15 PM

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Importing used educational materials to Mexico?

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I doubt if anybody is going to know the answer to this question, but I was hoping that maybe somebody could at least point me in the right direction:

I'm going to be visiting Mexico at Christmas in my pickup truck. I have a friend who operates a pre-school in Mexico, and the friend has asked me if I could bring them several large boxes of used Montessori educational materials from the USA.

I'd like to help this person out, but I don't want to find myself, a thousand miles away from home, trapped at the border in the middle of some gigantic, bureaucratic Customs & Immigration nightmare.

These materials probably had an original value of several thousand dollars when they were new, but now they are about 3 to 5 years old and (presumably) worth a lot less, but I don't think anybody has any receipts or other proof of value -- and there is no way to obtain "proof" of the original cost, much less the current depreciated value. We are talking about stuff like blocks, jigsaw puzzles, abacuses (abaci??), alphabet sets, counting beads, globes, maps, number sets, etc., etc.

Does anybody have any ideas how to get TRUSTWORTHY information ahead of time? Based on previous bad experiences, I firmly believe that getting this kind of information from a Mexican consulate in the USA is worse than useless. The Aduana is from Mars and the Consulates are from Venus; and they don't speak the same language.

Thanks in Advance! (Oh! I don't know if it matters, but I would probably be crossing at Piedras Negras or Cd. Acunya.)



YucaLandia


Oct 25, 2014, 6:24 AM

Post #2 of 7 (4356 views)

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Re: [jwallacq] Importing used educational materials to Mexico?

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Disclaimer: There is no one who can give you definitive TRUSTWORTHY information on this, except for the Aduana agent who looks at your load.

Since none of us can know who your Aduana agent will be, and the Aduana agent's reaction at that time of day may depend how happy/content, bored, or frustrated he will be, there really is not any definitive single answer.

Since your future at the Aduana crossing depends on the personal whims of the moment of one Aduana agent, we are left describing how things have worked for people with similar issues in the past.

Many/most people say: "Nothing to declare" - the Aduana agent asks a few questions, suspects there are no problems/issues, and waves the driver through.

Some people print up an ersatz "menaje de casa" style list of what is in their load, printed out from a spreadsheet that describes each numbered box, and the contents of that box - doing their best to assigning $$ values to the items. The Aduana agent scans the list and either waves them through - or assesses 16% duties (actually a tax) on what the Agent believes needs a duty. If you don't like that value, the drivers sometimes go back to the USA and drive to a different crossing point (like the 2 at Nuevo Laredo) or wait for an Aduana shift change, and drive back through, to get a different Aduana agent. Commercial quantities of any goods - enough to start a business - can be assessed duties.

Finally, we know 4 different travelers entering Mexico with commercial quantities goods for donations - like 1,000's of toothbrushes, or 1,000's of books, etc. We (Yucalandia) advised each of them to get a formal letter from the charitable group receiving donation, printed on letterhead, describing the donation, and promising that the goods would not be sold or used for commercial purposes. One of these travelers was NOT even donating them to Mexican organizations - but was on his way to donate them in Cuba. One of the travelers had brought in over $10,000 of big bags of laboratory supplies, in each of 3 different trips - for use at a University lab doing public health studies. In addition to the formal letter from the receiver: Each traveler also had an accurate "menaje de casa" style list that they gave to Aduana.

The Aduana agents in all 6 cases accepted the ersatz "menaje de casa" style list, and allowed the traveler to pass, without charging any duties. 4 of the cases were processed at Aduana checkpoints in airports, 2 were processed for Americans driving into Mexico.

What will happen with you? It may all depend on how you conduct yourself.

Best of Luck,
steve
-
Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com

(This post was edited by YucaLandia on Oct 25, 2014, 6:43 AM)


jwallacq

Oct 25, 2014, 7:45 AM

Post #3 of 7 (4327 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] Importing used educational materials to Mexico?

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Thanks for the advice.

What I was hoping to hear when I posted this was: "Oh don't worry. There is a blanket exemption for educational materials; just fill out Form xyzw and you're home free." ... If that's not the case, then what you are describing does pretty much agree with my (limited) prior experience.

I have only been to Mexico once in the last 15 years, but prior to that -- about 20 years ago -- I crossed the border on numerous occasions with lots of stuff and the ONLY time when I had any problems was the one time when I tried to "go by the book."

Not sure I would want to try the idea of coming back to the USA with a truckload of stuff, though. My past experience was that the US customs & immigration people are about ten times greater pains in the you-know-what than the Mexicans.


richmx2


Oct 25, 2014, 1:15 PM

Post #4 of 7 (4277 views)

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Re: [jwallacq] Importing used educational materials to Mexico?

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Someone here would know (I don't offhand) the address for a reliable customs' broker. Used books have a very limited commercial value and there are no duties on printed material.


http://mexfiles.net
http://mexicobookpublishers.com


jwallacq

Oct 26, 2014, 2:37 PM

Post #5 of 7 (4216 views)

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Re: [richmx2] Importing used educational materials to Mexico?

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Yes, that would be very helpful. Hopefully somebody will chime in.

I wonder how much customs brokers charge for small, non-commercial shipments? If they are going to charge a hundreds of dollars fee for, say, a thousand dollars of merchandise, then it would be cheaper just to pay the 16% tax and be done with it.


richmx2


Oct 27, 2014, 10:27 AM

Post #6 of 7 (4174 views)

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Re: [jwallacq] Importing used educational materials to Mexico?

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Where do you plan to cross? The only time we did this was at Nogales with a load a new books for commercial resale. It was rather comical... the broker unloading our truck, fillng out the paperwork, loading onto one of his employee's pickup trucks, crossing the border, and re-filling our truck on the other side, just across the NAFTA zone.

Since these are used books (nominal value) and not for resale, I don't THINK you'll have much trouble, but asking a customs broker wouldn't hurt.


http://mexfiles.net
http://mexicobookpublishers.com


jwallacq

Oct 27, 2014, 1:02 PM

Post #7 of 7 (4158 views)

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Re: [richmx2] Importing used educational materials to Mexico?

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I will be crossing somewhere upstream of Laredo -- probably Del Rio, TX or Eagle Pass. My (very limited and probably out-of-date) prior experience is that people on both sides of the border are a little more laid-back as you get farther away from Laredo.

If you don't mind my asking: How much did the customs broker charge you for their services?

My only prior experience with customs brokers was about 22 years ago in Matamoros. I think I sort of alluded to this in my original post. At the time, I had a Mexican work permit and so I was able to use the "menage de casa" thing. So I went to my local consulate (Philadelphia back then), got all the forms & instructions, followed all the rules to the letter. And I naively assumed that when I got to the border they would just wave me through. Fat chance!! There was something wrong with the forms (I still don't know what), and for all practical purposes they impounded my pickup truck; they would not even let me drive back to the US.

They told me I needed some form from the Mexican consulate in Brownsville, so I had to WALK back across. I had a wife & a newborn baby and even back in those days, Matamoros wasn't the safest place in the world. Needless to say, when I got to the Mexican consulate, they either couldn't or wouldn't help. Finally somebody suggested that I should go to the US consulate in Matamoros, so we had to walk south across the bridge again. ... managed to get to the US consulate just as they were closing, but at that point, I did get my one lucky break: I encountered a US vice-consul who was a really nice guy (unlike most of them) and he put me in touch with a Mexican customs broker who was also a super nice guy.

I don't remember anymore how much I had to pay the broker, but I'm pretty sure that most of what I paid him went to bribing the Aduana. I have a vivid recollection of going out to the Aduana parking lot late at night with the broker and an Aduana officer; they had a big 4x8 sheet of plywood that they put over the spikes at the entrance to the parking lot so that I could drive out the wrong way, go back to the bridge, make a U-turn, and come back in a different lane.

Anyhow, you can see why I really don't want to go through all that again!
 
 
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