I’ve been getting quite a few questions from readers lately about how much “stuff” they’re allowed to bring into Mexico without being charged a duty and which items, if any, are exempt from that tax.
The folks who ask these types of questions generally fall into two categories: 1) People who are moving to Mexico from either the U.S. or Canada, and 2) people who already live in Mexico but return to their countries of origin to do some extensive shopping from time to time.
I had a little free time this morning so I decided to do a quick post on the topic.
Duty Exemption (Monetary Limits)
The thing that I’ve always found unusual about Mexico’s Custom’s rules is that many of the monetary limits are set in U.S. dollars and not pesos. This is one of the times.
You’re permitted to bring a certain dollar amount of goods, not including “personal luggage” (next section), into Mexico without being charged a duty. As you can see from the following chart, the limits vary depending on how you enter the country and whether or not you’re a Mexican citizen:
|Method of Entry||Duty Exemption Amount||When It Applies|
|By Land (Non-citizens)||$300 USD||All Year|
|By Land (Citizens)||$300 USD except during set dates established by the Paisano Program, then the limit is $500 USD||The period of the Paisano Program for fiscal year 2019 will be as follows:|
Easter: March 29 to April 29, 2019.
Summer: June 17 to August 19, 2019.
Winter: November 1° to January 8, 2020.
This exemption only applies to Mexican citizens who are not border residents.
|By Air and Sea (Everyone)||$500 USD||All Year|
The duty exemption of each member of a family can be accumulated if they travel together in the same means of transport, except if you are a border area resident. The rules are different for those folks. I’ll be doing a future post about border area residents (i.e. definitions and limitations).
You may prove the value of the goods that are part of the duty exemption with invoices or sales receipts. In case of not having these, the customs officer at the port of entry will be able to determine the value of the goods.
The following goods are NOT allowed to enter under the duty exemption:
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Manufactured tobacco.
- Automotive fuel, except the contained in the fuel tank of your vehicle.
Goods Considered “Personal Luggage” and Exempt from Duty
The following items are considered part of your “personal luggage” and do not count toward the monetary limits in the following section:
- Goods of personal usage, such as clothing, footwear, and personal care products, according to the length of the trip, including a wedding dress, baby items like a chair, carry cot, baby walker and stroller, among others, including their accessories.
- Two cameras or video recorders, photographic material; 6 portable cell phone equipment or other wireless networks; a global positioning equipment (GPS); an electronic agenda; a laptop, notebook, or similar; a portable copying machine or printer, a computer burner and a portable projector, with its accessories.
- Two personal sport kits, four fishing rods, 3 sailboats (with or without sail) and its accessories, trophies and awards, as long as they can be transported by the passenger.
- A portable device for recording or reproduction of sound or mixed; two digital sound or image recording, one portable DVD player, one set of portable speakers and their accessories.
- Five laser discs, 10 DVD discs, 30 compact discs, 6 software packages and five storage devices for any electronic equipment.
- Books, magazines, and printed documents.
- Five toys, including collectible toys, one video games console as well as five video games.
- One pressure measuring device, one glucose measuring device, or mixed and its reactants, as well as medicines for personal use (in case of psychotropic substances medical prescription must be shown).
- Hand luggage, bags, trunks and suitcases or any other item necessary for the carriage of the luggage.
- One binocular and one telescope.
- Two musical instruments and their accessories.
- One tent and other camping items.
- One hand tool set with its case, which may include a drill, tweezers, spanners, dice tool, screwdrivers, and power cables, among others.
- Passengers over 18 years old are permitted to enter a maximum of 10 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 g of tobacco, and up to 3 liters of alcoholic beverages and 6 liters of wine.
- Senior adults and people with disabilities can introduce items that overcome or reduce their limitations without paying additional taxes such as walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, walking sticks, among others.
- Three pets, provided that they have the proper documentation.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Generally speaking, if you exceed the monetary limits you’ll be charged a duty of 16% on the overage. I use the term “generally speaking” because the duty percentage can vary for specific types of items (e.g. tobacco, alcohol).
A couple of our newest neighbors recently flew into the Cancun Airport with 20 suitcases containing their old possessions from the States. Obviously the Customs folks at the airport took an interest in them, and long story short, they ended up paying just over $700 in taxes to import their stuff.
If you’re moving to Mexico permanently and you plan on bringing a lot of things along with you, you might want to consider applying for a special certificate at the Mexican Consulate that allows you to import your household items duty-free. It’s called a certificado de menaje de casa. I’ll be doing a separate post on this topic in the near future.
* The information in the post was obtained from Mexico’s official government website: https://www.sat.gob.mx