Penner & Associates - Mexico Law Firm and Business Consulting for Mexico

For professional assistance & information on legal & business matters regarding Mexico and Latin America, please contact:

Please contact us at our Mexico offices located at:
Apartado Postal No. 9
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
TEL. US.: (800) 856-5709
Local Phone (415) 152-3648

e-mail E-MAIL


At our Phoenix or Mexico Offices
P.O. Box 42773
Phoenix, Arizona 85080
Tel: (623) 242-7442

e-mail E-MAIL

Montecito no. 38 Piso 37 Oficina 37
Edificio World Trade Center
Colonia Napolis C.P. 03810
Mexico, Distrito Federal
Tel: (55)5351-0438




Law Information


Choose one or more: GENERAL - ( Nafta , Export to Mexico from the U.S. , Import to the U.S. from Mexico , Certificate of Origin , Certificate of Quality ) , TOURISM - (Articles Carried with the Traveler , Cash or Negotiable Credit Instruments Carried with the Traveler , BUSINESS , Under/Over $2,500.00 US , Customs Broker , Filings, Permits and Duties , Bonded Warehouses , National Registry of Importers and Exporters of Mexico , Customs Brokers ; Additional Customs Rules

(Related pages on this site: "NAFTA" , "MAQUILADORA" )



Aduana ("Customs") is the centralized federal Mexican government agency charged with the responsibility of controlling importations and exportations to and from Mexico. It is under the general control of the Federal Mexican Government Ministry of Commerce and Industrial Development in its' Department of Customs.

The customs regulations in Mexico are codified in several volumes of law and use the uniform customs identification system used in many countries of the world (also known as GATT, General Accord on Tariffs and Trade).

Transport of merchandise in Mexico is either export or import.

Export and import can be either temporary or permanent. All processings with the customs authority are done in a written form known as a "pedimento" (application).

In matters of import to Mexico, in addition to the application for import, it is necessary to determine whether an import permit is necessary and whether import duty is necessary.

It is most common to find that a customs broker in Mexico will handle the importations and exportation for the public. These customs brokers are licensed by the customs authority of Mexico.

In order for a Mexican (individual or company) to import and/or export, he/it must be registered as such with the government customs authority. This registration process is easier for export and more difficult for import.

Nafta. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides for the free flow of merchandise (via customs) of many articles between the three signing countries (Canada, U.S. and Mexico). Each year the Nafta agreement liberates more items form the controlled items list. By the year 2008, NAFTA will have freed up it maximum of articles for the flow between the 3 countries.

Export to Mexico from the U.S. In order to verify whether your U.S. product qualifies under NAFTA for import into Mexico , you first contact the Foreign trade Division of the U.S. Census Bureau at telephone (301) 763-3259 (for durable goods) or (301) 763-3484 (for non-durable goods) and ask for a "harmonized tariff schedule number" or "classification" for the product you are inquiring about or you go to the web site of:  ( ). Then you can contact the Mexico desk officer at the U.S. Department of Commerce (in Washington D.C.), where a trade specialist will give you the duty rate for your product based on the "harmonized tariff schedule number" you got from the Census Bureau. You can also contact the U.S. NAFTA Help Desk at telephone (202) 927-0066 or the U.S. Trade Information Center at telephone (800) 872-8723.

Import to the U.S. from Mexico. A good source for information on importing to the U.S. is the Trade Commission of Mexico, located at the World trade Center in Los Angeles, California, (350 S. Figueroa St, Suite 296, Los Angeles, California 90071) at telephone (213) 628-1220 (their fax number is 213 - 628-8466).

The duty that the Mexican customs authority will determine (and charge) is figured by applying the corresponding tariff to the CIF (cost of the product + insurance + freight) value of the product. As well there will be a customs processing fee of 8/10th of 1% of the assessed CIF value. Also, there is an Added Value Tax (IVA) on goods and services sold in Mexico (see IVA elsewhere on this site).

Certificate of Origin. The NAFTA Agreement requires that, in addition to the product having a sticker or marking showing its origin (as is always required of imported products to and from Mexico, the U.S., Canada and many other countries), the exporter of the U.S. product (exporting to Mexico) must complete a certificate of origin (that it is of U.S. origin) to qualify for the reduction or exemption of tariff. A source for NAFTA facts is to call telephone (202) 482-4464 and request they send you documents 5000 and 5001 (they can fax them or mail them I believe).

Certificate of Quality. There exist certain items that in order to be imported into Mexico, require a certificate of quality, to assure Mexico that the product is not of inferior quality. Some of these items are: ceramic, glass, electric household appliances, electric products, medical instruments.



Articles Carried with the Traveler. International travelers are permitted to import into Mexico with them on their arrival to the interior of the country, without duty or formal declaration (other than the normal customs card given on the airplanes, which is the substitution for the formal application / "Pedimento"), up to $300.00 Dls worth of merchandise in one or several articles. If their arrival point is in the international border area (US, Guatemala, Belize), then the limit is $50.00 Dls. worth of merchandise. The traveler is to press the fiscal stoplight after delivering the customs card. If the light turns green the traveler goes forward and exits the customs area, but if the light turns red, the customs officer must verify the correctness of the declaration as compared to the travelers' luggage (and carry items).

If the traveler carries more than that permitted, he may ask for a review of his items prior to the pushing of the stoplight. If the customs authority finds more than declared, there will be a fine and duties imposed. If they find something that is illegal, they will take it away and potentially hold you (if the item also is illegal to possess in Mexico).

Cash or Negotiable Credit Instruments Carried with the Traveler. Travelers are permitted to carry up to the equivalent of $10,000.00 Dls U.S. currency in cash or negotiable credit instruments upon arrival to Mexico, without the need to declare it. The traveler may also transport sums greater than the ten thousand, but is required to advise customs of the action.



In Mexico, all exports and imports are done with an application for export/import (known as a "pedimento"). The company must be registered as an exporter (in the case of export) and an importer (in the case of import) with the Federal Taxation authority of Mexico "Hacienda" (Secretariat of Hacienda and Public Credit / "Secretaría de Hacienda y Credito Público").

In addition to the application for import or export, the exporter must check to see if a license is needed to import or export, and if so, then he must acquire it prior to import or export, as the case may be. As well, if for import, the importer must verify whether there is any duty payable for the import, and if so, he must pay it.

Under/Over $2,500.00US. All businesses in the US must file under a general or validated export license if the company is transporting more than $2,500 Dls worth of items out of the U.S. in the shipment (to Mexico). All businesses in Mexico that wish to export more than $1,000US (I believe - must be confirmed) must file for export with a customs broker licensed as such in Mexico (the US also has customs brokers that can handle the import/export from the US side)..

Customs Broker. The Federal Government of Mexico licenses persons that have shown (by examination) their ability to handle the customs brokerage activity on behalf of the general public. The customs brokers are private parties (not government agents) that are in the business of assisting private parties and businesses in their importation/exportation activities, by performing filings, obtaining permits and paying duties, as needed.See Customs Brokers below.

Filings, Permits and Duties. The general rule on imports to Mexico is that there will be a need of a filing ("Pedimento") and possibly the payment of a duty and/or the acquisition of an import permit.

Bonded Warehouses. Mexico permits the existence of bonded warehouses, under the control of Customs. When the Mexican goods are placed in one of these bonded warehouses it is considered as having been exported from Mexico. This bonded warehouse procedure will permit the Mexican exporter to seek certain tax incentives at the time of deposit.


National Registry of Importers and Exporters of Mexico

Mexico maintains a National Registry of its authorized importers and exporters. Those persons and companies that customarily import or export are to be registered there, otherwise they can not import or export. The Mexican government agency controlling over the registry (Hacienda) will require more of the registrar for imports than exports (since it favors Mexico balance of trade and foreign debt ratios to export). If you are a one time importer and of minor importance, the Customs authorities will permit you to perform the import personally or with the assistance of a customs broker, without this registry. If the matter is of greater importance (higher value) you may be able to get help from a brokerage firm. Just remember that if you are in business in Mexico, you will need to seek the importer and exporter registries.

Customs Brokers

 You should be able to find a customs broker along the border with Mexico and /or Canada, as well as in the bigger cities of most countries of the world.

One e-mail we received is: "Dear Mr. Penner:   I'm a Licensed Customs House Broker located in Nogales Sonora, Mexico offering services for the import/export proceedings to our clients.   We offer: - Import/export of Mexican Customs Clearence. - Warehouse facilities in Nogales Az - Consultant on Customs Law and procedures.. - Temporary imports and Maquila/PItex - Fright logistics.   Please feel free to contact me for any consultation on my field.   A.A. Rene Garayzar Franco Blvd. Luis D. Colosio #4100-S1 Nogales Sonora Mexico C.P. 84062 Tel (631) 4-6686, 4-6464   Fax ( 631) 4-6666 E-Mail:"  

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