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General. Working with Customs officials throughout the world, FedEx has developed innovative technology to eliminate many paperwork-handling steps and expedite the movement of international shipments. This is the FedEx Expressclear electronic Customs clearance stem. Starting at the origin, state-of-the-art technology allows the processing of shipment paperwork and electronic transmission of documents to the designated FedEx Hub and destination clearance location. The Expressclear system also keeps a database of regulatory information, which includes importers registration numbers, broker designation, corporate contact names and telephone numbers. At a FedEx hub, international shipments are sorted, scanned and loaded on to an international flight. Vital shipment information is keyed into a worldwide manifest database, which is linked to computer systems operated by brokers and Customs officials in many countries. Even before the plane takes off, or while it is in the air, Customs agents and brokers at the destination airport of entry can begin examining shipping manifests, querying air waybill data if they need more details, assessing duties and taxes and selecting which shipments they wish to examine. International shipments are scanned at all key points throughout the process and allows for up-to-date status reports including when Customs clearance is obtained.
Customs brokers. A licensed customs broker must submit the customs declaration. The broker must have a power of attorney from the importer. From the business point of view, the customs broker provides advice on trade and customs matters. From the tax point of view, the customs broker is liable for any misbehavior concerning the application of the proper customs procedure, the tariff classification of the goods, the correct payment of duties and taxes and the strict compliance with non-tariff barriers.
Tariff classification. Mexican tariff items have 8 digits. Knowing the correct tariff classification is crucial. This will determine the duty rate and establish any applicable non-tariff barriers.
Duty payment. Once the customs broker calculates the applicable duties and taxes, they are paid at the commercial banks located at the ports of entry.
Registration requirements. A company seeking to import goods into Mexico must have a tax number and must also be registered as an importer. In theory, this measure allows the customs authorities to better monitor the trade in goods and prevents contraband. The registration procedure is relatively simple, but it may take some weeks. Sector-specific registration is a major concern. Persons who want to import certain sensible goods are required to be registered in one of 32 (approximately) specific sectors (e.g. automotive goods, steel, tools, electronic appliances, bicycles, toys, textiles, apparel, footwear).
Value added tax (VAT). Customs authorities collect a value added tax (VAT) upon entry of the goods into Mexico. For more information, see "Duties and Other Fees", below.
Customs fees (DTA). In addition, Mexican customs charges a customs processing fee (DTA) of 0.8%. Maquiladoras and PITEX companies pay a preferential fee. Goods originating from certain free trade areas are exempt from the processing fee.
Inspection. Physical inspection is performed on approximately 10% of the shipments. Private companies perform a second inspection. This is a tactic implemented to reduce any wrongdoing on behalf of the customs officials. These inspections do not prevent further auditing in the importer's records by customs authorities.
Customs practices/International complaints. Foreign countries and exporters complain about certain issues of the customs administration. For example, they criticize the lack of prior notification of procedural changes. Inconsistent interpretation of trade requirements at different ports of entry is also disapproved. They also complain about excessive fines for violations committed as a result of simple mistakes.
Import/Export Documentation. The Mexican Law is very strict regarding the proper submission of customs documentation.
Customs declaration. The import declaration is especially detailed and it is submitted both in electronic and printed manners.
Invoices. The invoice evidences the sale for export to the country of importation. Thus, the invoice is essential to determine the transaction value of the goods. The customs regulations are very detailed concerning the information that the invoice must contain. Foreign sellers or shippers must exercise care in preparing invoices.
Invoice requirements checklist:
Place where the invoice is issued;
Date in which the invoice is issued;
Seller's full address;
Importer's full address (no PO Box);
Detailed description of the goods (including grade or quality) (avoid using codes);
Quantities in weights and measures;
Total value of the invoice;
Any identification numbers such as serial, part and model numbers of each good.
In order for the importers to avoid difficulties and delays the following information should also be included:
Seller's tax identification number;
Commercial terms (e.g. CIF, FOB);
Kind of currency;
Country of origin;
Marks and numbers of the packages;
Total number of packages; and
For NAFTA trade, is advisable to include the US, Canada and Mexico province or state in which the seller and the importer are located.
Transportation documents. The bill of lading and the air waybill, endorsed by the transport company, are also attached to the customs declaration. These documents normally prove the date on which the goods entered the customs territory.
Non-tariff barriers. Compliance with most non-tariff barriers is evidenced in paper for example; import permits. Thus, compliance there with must be attached to the customs declaration. Mexico regulates products in a number of areas, mainly for health and safety reasons. Goods subject to non-tariff regulations include hazardous materials, pharmaceuticals, food items, medical equipment, etc.
Certificates of origin. Certificates of origin are used to authenticate the origin of the goods imported. They may be required for different purposes. Certificates of origin may be required to claim a preferential tariff treatment when the good originates from a specific free trade area. Certificates of origin may also be required and be attached to the customs declaration in order to prove that the good does not originate from the country to which an antidumping duty has been imposed. Certificate official forms and completion requirements vary depending on the origin of the good.
Individual information. The importation of certain goods requires disclosing very specific information for identification, analysis or control purposes. This requirement may apply to more than 100 types of goods. For example, the importation of wines and liquors requires information such as the full name of the product (e.g. Vodka), its trademarks and age (e.g. Scotch Whisky, Johnnie Walker, Black Label), the appropriate geographical indication and the year of production (e.g. Table Wine, Marqués de Caceres, red, Rioja, 1988), the number of bottles and their content, any lot or manufacturing number, alcohol content and other particulars. This information may appear on the customs declaration, on the invoice, on the transportation documents or on a separate exhibit.
Other documents. Certain documents are not necessarily attached to the customs declaration. For example, the value declaration specifies the way the importer calculated the customs value (e.g. the price actually paid, the price adjustments). These documents are kept in the files of the importer and the customs broker for further reference and audits.
Importer's files. Importers must retain the documents that prove the legal importation of the goods, in case the fiscal authorities require clarification after customs clearance.
Customs valuation. Customs valuation complies with the WTO Valuation Code.
Transaction value. The primary basis for customs value is the "transaction value." The transaction value is the price actually paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to Mexico. The price actually paid or payable is the total payment made or to be made by the buyer to or for the benefit of the seller for the imported goods. The payment may take the form of a transfer of money or can be made by way of letters of credit or negotiable instruments. Payment may be made directly or indirectly. Certain costs must be added to that price (e.g. commissions and brokerage) and certain other costs must not be included in the customs value (e.g. the cost of transport after importation).
Adjustments. The cost of transport, loading, unloading and handling charges associated with the transport, as well as the cost of insurance, of the imported goods to the "port of importation" (C.I.F.) must be included in the customs value.
Other methods. The Customs Law sets out other methods for determining the customs value whenever it cannot be determined under the transaction value method. For example, the transaction value method may not be used when the buyer and seller are related, and that relationship influenced the price. Such other valuation methods are the transaction value of identical goods, the transaction value of similar goods, the deductive value, the computed value and the fall-back method (any of the previous methods applied with reasonable flexibility). The methods of valuation are set out in a sequential order of application.
Accuracy of the declared value. The Customs Law stresses the proper use of the valuation methods and the need for accuracy of the declared value. Direct enforcement includes the seizure of the imported goods when the declared value is disproportionate vis-a-vis the transaction value of identical or similar goods. Other rules emphasize the truthful declaration of traceable components of the international transaction, such as the importer's and the exporter's names and addresses.
Reference prices. Mexico has established a "minimum estimated price" for certain goods (over 300 tariff items, including tools, wood materials, appliances, textiles, apparel, footwear). This reference price system implies that if the transaction value of the good is lower than the estimated price, the importer may be required to guarantee payment of the difference in tariffs due between the two valuations (i.e. the transaction value or the estimated price).
Duty rates. All tariff items are covered by ceilings under the WTO. The bound ceiling rate is 35%. Applied rates are much lower due to tariff preferential treatment granted in trade agreements. The General Import Duty Law establishes the MFN rates. An annual directive determines the preferential tariff rates applicable to originating goods exported from those countries to which Mexico grants preferences (e.g. Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the European Community, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Nicaragua, Norway, Switzerland, Uruguay, the US and Venezuela). Notice that most NAFTA originating goods are now duty free since the Agreement has reached its 10-year transition period. The sectoral promotion programs provide reduced import duties available to manufacturers of certain goods. Other reduced rates may apply to certain companies established at the border zone.
Mexico is a major user of antidumping measures. Currently, approximately 90 procedures have resulted in antidumping duty determination. Antidumping duties are charged on particular products (e.g. textile goods) from particular exporting countries (notably China) in order to bring their prices closer to the "normal value" (which may result in rates up to 1105%). Since the objective is to act against a genuine injury to the domestic industry, any non-compliance is severely punished.
On January 1st , 2002 the Mexican Congress approved a comprehensive fiscal package that includes an increase in the tax rate on cigarettes and cigars and modifies the excise tax scheme for alcoholic beverages.
Tariff types. Mexico levies ad-valorem duties (duties expressed as a percentage of the value of the imported goods), specific duties (duties levied as a fixed sum per unit of quantity) and compound duties (duties comprising an ad valorem duty to which a specific duty is added). Ad-valorem duties are the most frequent; specific duties apply to sugar and compound duties apply to sugar products.
VAT. Customs authorities collect a value added tax (VAT) upon entry of the goods into Mexico. The VAT rate is normally 15%. The VAT is 10% for goods staying in the border zone (the border zone is usually up to 20 kilometers south of the U.S.-Mexico border). The VAT is assessed on the cumulative value of the customs value of the good plus the duty and other fees. The major items that are exempted from the VAT are the following: temporary imports, personal luggage, household furnishings of immigrants or returning nationals, and goods that are not subject to the VAT in domestic transactions, such as non-industrialized animals and vegetables, pharmaceuticals and certain food products
In addition, Mexican customs charges a customs processing fee (DTA) of 0.8 %. Maquiladoras and PITEX companies pay a preferential fee. Goods originating from certain free trade areas are exempt from the processing fee.
There are no exchange controls for Mexico.
Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT's)
Technical barriers to trade are normally intended to protect human, animal or plant life or health, the environment or consumers. They include testing requirements, packaging requirements, marketing standards, certification requirements, origin marking requirements, health and safety regulations, and sanitary and phytosanitary regulations. Labeling requirements are a species of technical barriers to trade.
Despite the depth and speed of the trade-in-goods liberalization process in Mexico, significant barriers to trade still remain. Non-tariff barriers are all barriers to trade that are not tariffs, including all public regulations and government practices that introduce unequal treatment for domestic and foreign goods of the same or similar production.The most remarkable are quotas, prohibitions and import permits. Mexico regulates products in a number of areas, mainly for health and safety reasons. Goods subject to non-tariff regulations include hazardous materials, pharmaceuticals, food items, medical equipment, etc.
No consular fees are known to exist.
Import Clearance Process
Make sure to browse the FedEx International Resource Center for more information about Shipping & Mail Forwarding to Mexico.