Import Requirements and Documentation
For tax purposes, all Mexican importers must apply and be listed on the “Padrón de Importadores” maintained by the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (Hacienda). In addition, Hacienda maintains special sectoral registries. To be eligible to import more than 400 different items, including agricultural products, textiles, chemicals, electronics, and auto parts, Mexican importers must apply to Hacienda to be listed on these special industry sector registries. Infrequently, U.S. exporters have encountered problems when products are added to the list without notice or importers are summarily dropped from the registry without prior notice or subsequent explanation.
The basic Mexican import document is the "pedimento de importación." This document must be accompanied by a commercial invoice (in Spanish), a bill of lading, documents demonstrating guarantee of payment of additional duties for undervalued goods (see "Customs Valuation") if applicable, and documents demonstrating compliance with Mexican product safety and performance regulations (see "Standards"), if applicable. The import documentation may be prepared and submitted by a licensed Mexican customs house broker or by an importer with sufficient experience in completing the documents.
Products qualifying as North American must use the NAFTA Certificate of Origin in order to receive preferential treatment. This must be issued by the exporter and does not have to be validated or formalized.
Unless the importer is accredited to act as Mexican customs broker, the participation of a professional customs broker is necessary to ensure compliance with Mexico's customs regulations. Mexican customs law is very strict regarding proper submission and preparation of customs documentation. Errors in paperwork can result in fines and even confiscation of merchandise as contraband. Exporters are advised to ensure that Mexican clients employ competent, reputable Mexican importers or customs house brokers. Because customs brokers are subject to sanctions if they violate customs laws, some have been very restrictive in their interpretation of Mexican regulations and standards.