After over 60 years in international moves, we know that there’s nothing that can disrupt a relocation faster than finding prohibited materials in a shipment of household goods. Not only does it mean delays and possible fines, but it can also erode trust with international partners and officials, making future relocations potentially problematic.
Keeping up with the incredibly specific regulations set forth by all the countries of the world is a challenge, no question. However, if you have customers relocating to Mexico soon, we want to make it a little easier for you to move them south of the border.
We’ve been working with our established partners in Mexico to assist in relocations, and we’ve put together a list of the common and not-so-common items your customers should leave out of their household goods shipments. By helping your customers stay compliant with Mexico’s import laws, you’ll help them create a smooth move to Mexico—and avoid the delays, fines and other consequences of importing restricted items.
Commonly Prohibited Items That Carry Severe Consequences
As you might expect, Mexico has a list of commonly restricted items that are prohibited from entering the country, including two that can cause significant problems under Mexican law:
- Firearms – Mexico is very serious about penalties for unpermitted weapons. Entering Mexico with a firearm or a single round of ammunition without a permit could result in up to five years in prisoni—even if the import is unintentional, such as a stray bullet that somehow made its way into a moving box.
- Illegal Drugs – As with firearms, attempting to import illegal drugs into Mexico is a serious offense, punishable by prison, regardless of your legal status or citizenship. Mexico also has restrictions on prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. We’ll discuss those in the next section.
In addition to firearms and illegal drugs, Mexico also prohibits the import of:
- Money and securities
- Pornographic items
- Explosives and other dangerous goods
Including any of these items will interfere significantly with any household goods shipment. In addition to long delays in delivery, the shipper will also be responsible for fines and fees, in addition to serving any related prison sentences.
In addition to these items, Mexico also has additional country-specific prohibitions that you and your customers will want to be aware of.
Additional Items Prohibited from Import to Mexico
Although many of these items don’t carry the harsh consequences associated with the above list, packing these items in a household goods shipment may result in delays, fines and other issues at the border.
If you have any questions, talk to your partner who’s assisting you with the move to get clarification before the container is stuffed. Preventing issues with prohibited items will help you create a simple and positive moving experience for your customers.
First, let’s discuss two types of items that tend to create confusion with customers. Under customs law, you are prohibited from bringing in the following in your household goods shipment:
- New items purchased within six months – Under Article 90 of the Mexican Customs Law, the items in a household goods shipment must be used personal items and household furniture, including things like clothes, appliances, electronics, books, dishes, etc. Recently-purchased items, especially ones still in their boxes, will not qualify. In fact, your paperwork packet for Customs will need to include a signed letter, stating that the items in the shipment are used.
If your customers do have new goods they wish to import, those will be subject to customs duties and must be imported separately.
- All medicines, including first aid kits – This also includes over-the-counter medicines, such as inhalers and allergy/sinus medication. The U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico specifically advises against bringing products that contain stimulants (for example, medicine that includes pseudoephedrine, which is a controlled substance) or codeine. These are prohibited. In fact, you may even be arrested for bringing them into the country, even if you have a valid prescription.
In addition to these two categories, the following are also prohibited from import to Mexico in a household goods shipment:
- Consumable items such as paper towels, tissue, white paper and diapers, which may be subject to customs duties
- Food, including spices, tinned products, canned goods, supplements and pet food
- Beverages, including wine, beer and spirits
- Toiletries, sanitary goods and cosmetics
- Hunting trophies and taxidermy items
- Cleaning chemicals, including detergents and soaps
- Collectible items, such as pens and coins
- Blank CDs, DVDs and tapes
- Large quantities of similar items, which may be perceived as items intended for sale in Mexico
- Automobiles, boats, motorcycles, unless your client is a diplomat
- Parts for automobiles, boats and motorcycles
For a full list of prohibited items, talk to the company you’re partnering with to move your customers to Mexico. They’ll get you the most up-to-date information available. If you have any questions, it’s better to ask upfront to nip any potential problems in the bud before they become issues for Mexican customs to deal with.
Finally, in addition to ensuring that your customers’ shipments are free from these items, there’s one more piece you’ll need in place to create a simple and smooth transition for your customers: the right paperwork.
Paperwork Required to Move Household Goods to Mexico
Before containers can be stuffed for their journey to Mexico, you’ll need to ensure that your customers have all the proper documentation lined up:
Requirements for Foreign Nationals Include:
- A Mexico visa
- A passport
- Proof of employment letter
Requirements for U.S. Citizens Include:
- A copy of U.S. or other visas
- A passport and/or Permanent Resident Card
- Proof of employment letter in the U.S. or other countries
- Proof of residence in the U.S. or other countries
In addition, the partner who’s assisting you with the relocation will help you prepare the rest of the paperwork packet or customs, which, among other documentation, will need to include:
- A signed letter to customs, stating that all the items in the household goods shipment are used.
- Full inventory list (required of temporary resident visa holders)
- List of electronics in the shipment that includes the model, make and serial number (required of permanent resident visa holders and temporary resident visa holders)
For more details on documentation, check out our article on the 4 things you need to know when relocating your customers to Mexico or talk to your relocation partner.
Laying the Groundwork for a Smooth Move to Mexico
When you choose the right partners, moving to Mexico can be a fairly straightforward process. Additionally, by working with your customers from the start to 1) ensure that their shipments are free of prohibited items and 2) gather the right paperwork, you’ll avoid the most common snags that delay shipments. A little preparation upfront on your part will pave the way for a timely, stress-free and simple relocation to Mexico.
Have questions about moving your customers to Mexico? We have established partnerships in Mexico and service to more than 20 cities. We can answer your questions about timelines, paperwork and prohibited items to ensure a simple and easy move for your customers. Just reach out to us to talk with one of our Mexico experts.