Despite the fact that Mexico is just across the border from the United States, exporting goods to our southern neighbor can sometimes be complicated. The following information is a summary of considerations U.S. exporters should keep in mind when considering exporting to Mexico.
In addition, CS Mexico offers U.S. companies a Border Business Development Program, which provides U.S. participants hands-on exposure to the physical transportation and documentation process of cross-border trade. For more in depth information, please consult the section on Logistics in export.gov
Once you have confirmed that your product has market potential to be sold in Mexico, the first step into exporting is to familiarize oneself with the appropriate Schedule B or the Harmonized Tariff Number for the exporter’s product, which will help determine the import requirements and duties for the Mexican market. While most import duties have been eliminated for U.S. exports to Mexico since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on January 1, 1994, it is important to check the tariff treatment of each product and recognize that “NAFTA treatment” applies only to the U.S. content in a given product, not to any product shipping from the United States.
Properly completed documentation is essential to ensuring that one’s export transaction goes as planned. Depending on the product, the documentation includes the invoice, certificate of free sale, etc. If products to be exported to Mexico do qualify for exclusion of duties or tariffs, a Certificate of Origin form must be completed.
For more information on harmonized tariff codes, visit: http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/bychapter/index.htm.
In almost all cases, the Mexican buyer is responsible for obtaining permits, making payments to Mexican authorities, and contracting a Mexican Custom Broker. Exporters should use an experienced freight forwarder and Mexican customs broker. It is highly recommended that U.S. exporters verify the full set of import requirements with their foreign customers, who are normally best equipped to research such matters with local authorities, before any goods are shipped. The freight forwarder and/or customs broker can also detect problems before the product crosses into Mexico and, in many cases, can correct the problem. Final import approval of any product is subject to the importing country's rules and regulations as interpreted by border officials at the time of product entry.
The most common methods of shipping goods from the United States to Mexico are by truck, rail, air and sea, or a mixture of two or more of these. A freight forwarder can assist U.S. companies when deciding which method of shipment would work best.
For a listing of freight forwarders or for general information on exporting, visit your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center. For local contacts, see our CS Mexico Business Service Provider directory. The freight forwarder, the exporter’s agent, can assist the exporter in issues related to tariffs, fees, transportation and other costs, packing and shipping requirements and methods, documentation, etc.
Mexican Customs Broker: By Mexican law, only Mexican Customs Brokers can clear products through Mexican Customs. All Commercial imports into Mexico, whether they are temporary or permanent, must be executed by a qualified and authorized Mexican Customs Broker.
Once your product reaches the Customs Broker’s warehouse on the U.S. side of the border, the Custom Broker will process the Export Form, known in Mexico as “Pedimento.” This form contains all information related to the products being exported, including the amount, description, price, etc. It also certifies that the products meet the criteria and requirements to be imported to Mexico, such as labeling, packaging, certificate of free sale, and any other requirement needed. It also contains information on the exporter and the importer of the shipment.
The Mexican government requires that all exports to the country have an importer of record. This basically means that you must have a person or company responsible for the import of your products into the country. These companies must also be registered into Mexico’s Import Records, known also as “Padron de Importadores.” If your client or buyer is not registered as an importer, you will have to use the services of an Import Company which will basically act as the importer of record for your products. The cost of contracting the services of an Import Company is approximately five percent of the value of the shipment.
After the Customs Broker ensures that all goods exported from the United States to Mexico abide by the receiving country’s regulations, he proceeds to send electronically the request to import the products to Mexican Customs. Once approved, the shipment is exported and the duties paid.
The Mexican Government requires a Pre-Shipment Inspection (PSI) for some goods for importation into the country, and is often carried out by a private organization. The importer is usually responsible for arranging the inspection, but the exporter must make the goods available for inspection within the country of origin, in this case, the United States.
Note: The Mexican Customs Bureau reports that one of the most common mistakes U.S. exporters make relates to a lack of documentation. Other issues that can result in the detention or rejection of shipments include violation of sanitary and phytosanitary requirements and non-compliance with labeling regulations.
Wood Packaging Materials
It is important to note that there are special regulations related to wood packaging materials, e.g. pallets, crates, etc. The regulations are intended to prevent the spread of foreign pests and disease in Mexico. Since these regulations frequently change it is advisable to check with your Customs Broker to ensure that all wood packaging is in accordance with the most up-to-date government regulations.
Service Providers Network
If you are seeking support/guidance for any related issues, please refer to our electronic Business Service Providers Directory (BSP). If you are an experienced service firm with expertise in helping U.S. exporters and investors, please click here to read how to join our Business Service Providers Network.
Further Questions, Comments, Concerns on This Topic
For specific questions about the Mexico’s import requirements for products, please contact a U.S. Commercial Service Mexico Specialist by Industry.