Moving household items to Mexico involves special requirements and documentation, including your immigration status and various customs declarations. The goods themselves are restricted to used (not new) items that are normally part of a household, such as furniture, clothing, linens, and appliances. Permissible items generally are allowed without trade duties (duty tax), but requirements vary. Minimize problems and fees by learning about all applicable requirements and preparing your documents and shipments accordingly. The following are some of the basics to get you started.
To move household goods (HHG) into Mexico, you must have an immigration status of Permanent Resident (Residente Permanente) or Temporary Resident (Residente Temporal). Permanent Resident status is for those who plan to live in Mexico indefinitely. This includes foreigners moving to Mexico as well as Mexican citizens who have lived outside of Mexico for more than two years.
Temporary Resident status is for those moving to Mexico for a limited time, or at least intending to move out of Mexico in the future. If Temporary Residents move out of Mexico, they must take their household goods with them. They are also discouraged from selling or giving away their goods while residing in Mexico. By contrast, Permanent Residents may move out of Mexico and leave their household goods behind.
Here are the primary documents you must provide to bring household goods into Mexico; be aware that there may be additional requirements for your situation:
- Resident card: This is an official document of Temporary or Permanent Resident status.
- Bill of lading (BL or BOL): This is required for transporting goods by sea; if shipping by air, this document is known as the airway bill (AWB).
- Packing list. This is a detailed catalog of your goods, including a description and shipping box number for each item.
- Proof of last entry date: This may be an airline ticket or reservation.
- Proof of address: This may be a utility bill dated within three months of your last entry.
- Passport: This is from your county of citizenship.
- Letter of the declaration to customs: This includes your Mexico address, a description of your goods, and acknowledgment of the requirement to bring your goods with you when you move out of Mexico.
- Letter of empowerment: This authorizes a customs broker you are working with to handle and transport your goods.
- Declaration of Household Goods (Declarción de Menaje de Casa): This is required only for Permanent Residents and Mexican citizens; optional but sometimes recommended for Temporary Residents.
Goods That Are Allowed
A rule of thumb about what items you may bring into Mexico is to stick to household goods and personal effects. Article 90 of the Mexican Customs Law states that the items you take across must be used personal items and furniture of a house, e.g. clothes, books, furniture, appliances, and electronics. Tools and implements are also allowed if they are required for your profession or if they are used for a hobby. Medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, blood pressure or sugar monitors, and oxygen generators are allowed duty-free. New (unused) items and those in unopened packaging may be allowed into Mexico but will likely be subject to duty and other requirements.
Goods That Are Not Allowed
You may not bring in guns or ammunition of any caliber, as well as most other weapons. Also, no fresh or frozen food, plants, spices, or seeds are allowed. While personal medication, supplements, and perfumes and other cosmetics are allowed when carried with your luggage, it is not recommended to ship these items with your household goods. Vehicles, including cars, boats, recreational vehicles, and trailers are not considered household goods and must be declared and approved separately.