Under the NAFTA, there are virtually no tariff barriers for U.S. exports to Mexico.
U.S. companies do, however, face certain non-tariff barriers when exporting to Mexico. In November 1992, Mexico published a list of goods (with several subsequent updates and expansions previously susceptible to fraudulent customs under-valuation and established a "minimum estimated price" for such goods.
Minimum estimated prices, also referred to as a “reference price”, no longer affect goods other than used cars, as per resolution published in the Diario Oficial on April 21, 2008. Please refer to the automotive industry best prospects section for further details.
Certain sensitive products must obtain an import license for which the difficulty varies according to the nature of the product. Periodically, the Mexican government publishes lists that identify the different items that have a specific import control. Items are identified according to their Harmonized System (HS) code number; therefore, it is important the U.S. exporters have their products correctly classified. U.S. exporters are encouraged to check with customs brokers as to the accurate classification of their products.
The following are examples of import licenses required and the Mexican government agencies that administer the particular licenses. Note that this is not a complete list.
• The Secretariat of Economy requires import licenses for weapons and ammunition, used goods, and refurbished equipment, among others.
• The Secretariat of Agriculture (SAGARPA) requires prior import authorization for some leather and fur products, fresh/chilled and frozen meat, and agricultural machinery among others.
• The Secretariat of Health (SSA) requires either an “advance sanitary import authorization” or “notification of sanitary import" for medical products and equipment, pharmaceuticals, diagnostic products, toiletries, processed food, and certain chemicals. Food supplements and herbal products are highly regulated in Mexico, unlike in the United States. In some cases only pharmaceutical-like companies may be eligible to import them.
• The Secretariat of the Environment (SEMARNAT) requires import authorizations for products made from endangered species such as eggs, ivory, certain types of wood, furs, etc.
• Toxic and hazardous products have to comply with import authorization from an interagency commission called CICOPLAFEST which has representation from the four agencies mentioned above. This list includes a large number of organic and inorganic chemicals.
Commercial samples of controlled products shipped by courier are also subject to these regulations. In the case of liquid, gas or powdered products, as of June 2008, they are no longer eligible to be shipped by courier, even in small quantities. Instead, these products must be shipped as a regular full-scale shipment would, with the consequential use of a customs broker. Some special treatment may apply in the case of samples intended for research, product registration or certification. Unless returned at the sender's expense, Customs often confiscates or destroys samples lacking the proper documentation.