Packing for a Mexican vacation means different things to different people. Some are light, carry-on only travelers and some are “bring the kitchen sink” kind of travelers! No matter what kind of traveler you are, it is important to know the rules of what you can and cannot bring to Mexico.
Sections in this article:
- Customs Process
- Merchandise that is allowed
- Permitted Food Items
- What needs to be declared
- Prohibited items
- Regulations on Donations
- Traveling with your pet(s)
- Rules & Regulations to Import Weapons
Customs Process: What to expect at the Customs inspection point in Cozumel
- After you have been through Immigration and collected all of your baggage, proceed to the customs inspection point and place ALL of your luggage and personal items on the conveyor belt to be x-rayed.
- Present your declaration form* to the Customs agent.
- You can introduce into national territory, without payment of taxes, the merchandise that makes up your personal luggage, and that whose value does not exceed the franchise to which you are entitled.
- If you exceed the franchise, you must pay a global rate of 16% of the total value of the surplus merchandise, through the format Payment of Foreign Trade Contributions (excess franchise). Pay with a credit or debit card.
- Press the traffic light button when you are instructed. If you get the green light you may exit the Customs area. If you get the red light your baggage will be inspected. Follow the instructions provided by the Customs official.
*NOTE: You can complete your declaration form online the day of travel: https://siat.sat.gob.mx/PTSC/DPE/faces/resources/pages/declaracion/declaracion.jsf
Merchandise you are allowed to bring to Mexico
Passengers are allowed to bring, free of duty, merchandise in their personal luggage when entering the country. Ask the customs officers for the list of merchandise allowed or visit the SAT Customs web site.
Duty-free allowance is a tax exemption granted by the Mexican Government to a national or foreign passenger for certain merchandise he is bringing in Mexico.
- Passengers entering Mexico by air or a maritime port may import up to $500.00 USD. Each member of the family is entitled and can be accumulated if they travel together in the same means.
- You can prove the value of the merchandise that is part of the franchise with invoices or sales receipts. In the absence of these, the customs personnel may determine the value of the merchandise.
Your personal luggage may consist of the following without paying taxes:
- Goods for personal use, such as clothing, footwear and hygiene and beauty products, provided they are consistent with the duration of the trip, including a bridal outfit, baby items, such as a chair, portable crib, stroller, walker, among others, including their accessories.
- Two photographic or video recording cameras; photographic material; three portable equipment for cell phones or other wireless networks; a team of global positioning (gps); an electronic agenda; a portable computer equipment known as laptop, notebook, omnibook or similar; a portable copier or printer; a burner and a portable projector, with its accessories.
- Two personal sports teams, four fishing rods, three gliders with or without sail and their accessories, trophies or recognitions, as long as they can be transported commonly and normally by the passenger.
- A portable device for the recording or reproduction of sound or mixed; or two digital image and sound recording or reproduction and a portable dvd player; a set of portable speakers, and their accessories.
- Five laser discs, 10 dvd discs, 30 compact discs, three software packages and five storage devices for any electronic equipment.
- Books, magazines and printed documents.
- Five toys, including collectibles, and a video game console, as well as five video games.
- A device to measure blood pressure and one to measure glucose or mixed and its reagents, as well as medications for personal use (in the case of psychotropic substances, the prescription must be shown).
- Boxes, pouches, trunks and suitcases or any other item necessary for the transfer of luggage.
- A binocular and a telescope.
- Two musical instruments and their accessories.
- A tent and other camping gear.
- A set of hand tools with its case, which may include a drill, pliers, keys, sockets, screwdrivers, power cables, among others.
- Passengers over 18 years of age, a maximum of 10 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco; up to three liters of alcoholic beverages and six liters of wine. (Note e-cigarettes are prohibited in Mexico effective 19 February 2020.)
- Older adults and people with disabilities, items that due to their characteristics replace or reduce their limitations, such as walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, canes, among others.
You are permitted to bring the following food items into Mexico
Note: Quantities for your personal use and consumption
- Shelled almonds
- Hazelnuts without shell
- Roasted coffee
- Pelleted cereals
- Spices (vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, amoms, cardamoms, anise, coriander, fennel,
- ginger, saffron, turmeric, thyme, bay leaves, curry, etc.)
- Dried fruits (seedless)
- Cereal, oilseed and legume flours
- Medicinal herbs (exclusively dried)
- Dehydrated vegetables
- Cashew, walnut, cashew or cashew nuts without shells
- Dried pistachios (salted)
- Dehydrated tobacco. Compliance with the Secretariat does not exempt from complying with other authorities
NOTE: This list is illustrative, but not limiting
What needs to be declared
You must declare all the articles that are different from those of your luggage or all the articles that you bring with you with a value greater than $500 USD.
Carrying over $10,000 USD cash when departing from or arriving to Mexico is legal. However, failing to declare it is a violation to the Mexican Laws and punishable by administrative penalties when the total amount exceeds $10,000 USD, and by imprisonment when it exceeds $30,000 USD.
If you are carrying over $10,000 USD cash or its equivalent in other currencies, domestic or foreign cheques, travelers’ cheques, payment orders or any other bearer negotiable instruments, or a combination thereof, when departing from or arriving to Mexico, you are obliged to declare it to the Mexican customs office by filling out the following forms:
- Customs Declaration for Incoming Passengers upon arrival or Cash Declaration for Outgoing Passengers upon departure.
- Declaration for incoming or outgoing cash and bearer negotiable instruments.
Note: You can fill out the online Customs Declaration or Declaration for incoming or outgoing cash and bearer negotiable instruments at https://sat.gob.mx/BienvenidoaMexico before arriving to Mexico. These Declarations shall be handed to a customs officer at the point of departure or arrival, as required.
You are prohibited from bringing the following items into Mexico
- Narcotic drugs
- Electronic cigarettes
- Used clothing that is not part of your personal luggage
- Some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine are prohibited.
- Firearm, certain types of knives, ammunition
- Images of any kind that represent children in a denigrating or ridiculous way, in attitudes of incitement to violence or destruction
- Earth or soil
- Pots or articles with content of vegetable or unknown origin
- Propagative material (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, buds, cuttings, etc.)
- Flowers, plants, seedlings In Vitro, vegetables and fresh fruits
- Grains (corn, beans, rice, quinoa, wheat, sesame, sunflower, beans, lentils, etc.)
- Fresh chestnuts
- Fresh cheeses
- Homemade or artisan products are not allowed
- Fresh meat of any kind
- Products of swine origin and their derivatives originating in countries with the presence of African Swine Fever, such as: ham, sausages, bacon, pork rinds, sweets with pork, raw pork, dried meat, smoked cutlets, precooked sausages, pasta with pork, BBQ ribs, pork flour, lard, instant soup with pork, bacon toothpaste, salami, mortadella, ham sandwich, chorizo, etc.
- Balanced food for any species (except for dogs and cats)
- Balanced food for dogs and cats with beef, sheep and goat meat
- Sandwiches, sandwiches, cakes, sandwiches, hamburgers, pizzas, etc., with meat and dairy content without packaging full, nor sanitary seal of the competent authority
- Free-range chicken
- Live fish or turtles
- Live, raw and dried crustaceans
- Totoaba, fresh or cooled (fish)
- Frozen Totoaba (fish)
- Predators of any size
- Untanned leather products
- Hunting trophies (mounted, fresh, salty, others)
- Any animal species (except cats and dogs) regulated
- Insecticide (Isodrin or Aldrin, Heptaclor or Drinox, Endrin or Mendrin or Nendrin or Hexadrin, Leptophos)
- Poppy seeds (Narcotic)
- Flour of poppy seeds (Narcotic)
- Seeds and spores of marijuana (Cannabis indica), even though when they are mixed with other seeds
- Marijuana (Cannabis indica)
- Juice and extracts of opium, prepared to smoke
- Extracts and juice derived from marijuana (Cannabis indica)
- Mucilage and condensed products derived from the marijuana (Cannabis indica)
- Thallium sulfate
- Heroin, base or hydrochloride of diacetylmorphine
- Medication prepared with marijuana (Cannabis indica)
- Medication prepared with acetylmorphine or of its salts or derivatives
Consult the following websites for lists of controlled substances in Mexico: http://www.cofepris.gob.mx/AS/Paginas/EstupefacientesPsicotropicosYSustancias-Quimicas.aspx (check the “Lista Amarilla,” “Lista Verde,” and “Lista Roja) and http://www.aduanas-mexico.com.mx/cgi-bin/ctarnet/notas_ex/listas_cap29.html .
NOTE: This list is illustrative, but not limiting
Donations to Bring to Mexico
A donation is a foreign good that is exempted from tax payment. The goods are considered as a donation, when they come from abroad and the donor must also be from abroad. The recipients should be public entities, such as Ministries, State and Municipal Governments and non-profit organization authorized by the Tax Administration Service (SAT) to receive donations.
In order to avoid wrongdoing, it is necessary to observe the established guidelines. or example, if the goods donated are intended for sale or any other commercial purpose, they would be falling in responsibilities, and tax evasion.
To carry out the donation, the application form must be submitted. This document is called “Declaration of goods donated to the Federal Treasury” and “Annex 1, List of goods subject to donation,” which can be obtained for free at Mexico´s Embassies and Consulates.
It is essential to bear in mind, what kind of goods are considered as a donation, for example, to give away used clothing or shoes to relatives living in Mexico, do not fall into this category.
Donations you are allowed to bring to Mexico:
- School-type trucks to use in the education sector
- Garbage collectors vehicles equipped with compactor or roll of system
- Cars sweepers
- Fire engines
- Ambulances or mobile clinics to provide medical or radiological equipment services
- Truck crane-cage for street lighting maintenance
- Trucks for desilting the sewage system
- Vehicles, machinery and equipment for civil protection
- Equipment and medical instruments and laboratory (in good condition)
- Wheelchairs and orthopedic equipment
- Various prostheses
- New clothing or shoes
- Musical instruments
- Sport goods
- New computer equipment to public educational institutions
- Used computer equipment for primary and secondary public education
Donations you are NOT allowed to bring to Mexico:
- When the donor and recipient are the same person
- Used clothing and shoes
- Canned food and bottled water whose expiration date is longer than three months from the date of entry into the country
- Medicines whose expiration date is greater than one year from the date of their entry into the country
Traveling with pets
Mexican customs will allow you to introduce domestic pets (cats or dogs) to Mexico, provided that you have the correct zoo-sanitary paperwork in order and the animal(s) appear in good health on arrival. You can import, without paying taxes, up to three pets or companion animals that you bring with you.
- Submit a Good Health Certificate. The certificate is only valid for 15 days. Have the original and 1 copy. The Good Health Certificate must have the following elements:
- Issued by an official veterinary physician; letterhead paper with the professional license number printed
- Name and address of the exporter (in the country of origin) and the importer (destination address in Mexico)
- Rabies vaccine application date and its validity (animals under 3 months old are exempt).
- That during the inspection before your trip, the animal(s) were found clinically healthy.
- The animal(s) have been internally and externally dewormed, within the six previous months and are free of ectoparasites.
- If you don’t meet the above elements, you must contact a Veterinary Physician (of your choice and on your own in Mexico), who will issue a health certificate and apply the corresponding treatment.
- Your animal(s) must enter in a carrier or container, clean with no bedding, no accessories (toys, treats, etc.), otherwise, these will be removed and destroyed. The carrier or container will receive a preventative spray treatment by the official personnel of the SADER-SENASICA; its collar and leash are ok.
- You can include enough animal food for the day.
- If you send your pet as documented cargo, verify the requirements of the airline and consider the need of using the services of a customs agent for its release in Customs.
For more information, visit the following website: https://www.gob.mx/senasica
Rules and regulations to import weapons
Importing weapons, ammunition, cartridges, explosives and related chemical substances to Mexico requires the appropriate permits. Failure to obtain such permit may be deemed as an offense and may even be punishable by imprisonment.
Please refer to the rules and regulations to import weapons found in the SAT Customs and the National Defense Secretariat web sites:
This information provided in this article is for guidance purposes only.
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