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Customs Regulations to and from Mexico

Last updated: August 5, 2011

Entering Mexico from the US and Canada

  • By Air: When entering Mexico by commercial airline, you are allowed to bring in tax-free (in addition to your personal luggage and goods), an exempt amount of up to $300 USD in the form of one or more articles.
  • By Land: When entering Mexico by motor vehicle, you are allowed to bring in tax-free (in addition to your personal luggage and goods), an exempt amount of up to $75 USD in the form of one or more articles.

If you exceed these exemptions, there is a 16% tax on the value that exceeds your allowance.

Permitted Personal Duty-Free Items:

  • Goods for personal use, such as clothing, footwear and personal toiletries and beauty products, as long as they are appropriate for the duration of the trip, wedding party items, and baby travel accessories such as strollers and baby-walkers.
  • Two cameras or video recorders, 12 rolls of film or video cassettes, photographic materials, three portable cell phones or other wireless devices such as a pager, global positioning equipment (GPS), a laptop computer, a Kindle or iPad or similar item, a portable copier or printer, a portable projector, plus their accessories.
  • A portable recording device, a compact disc player, discs, and a portable DVD player and their accessories such as a pair of portable speakers.
  • Five laser disks, 10 DVD disks, 30 CDs or audio cassette tapes, three software packages and five storage devices or memory cards for any electronic equipment.
  • Books, magazines and printed documents.
  • Five toys, including those that are collectible, and a video game console and five video games.
  • Two sets of sports equipment, four rods and accessories, three surfboards with or without sails, one stair climber and one bicycle.
  • One set of binoculars and one telescope.
  • Two musical instruments and accessories.
  • A camping tent and camping equipment.
  • A set of tools including its case, the contents can include a hand drill, wire cutters, wrenches, vices, screwdrivers, among others.
  • Trunks and suitcases necessary for the movement of goods.
  • One blood pressure measuring device and one for glucose, as well as medications for personal use (see "Medication" below for additional information).
  • Medication: You are allowed to bring prescription drugs into Mexico for personal use only. Any medications carried overseas should be in their original containers and clearly labeled in case your luggage is inspected. Psychotropic drugs must be accompanied by a prescription.
  • Alcohol and Tobacco: Adults over 18 years of age may bring up to 20 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco, and up to three liters of alcoholic beverages and six liters of wine.
  • Pets: Up to two dogs or cats may be brought into Mexico, as well as their accessories, provided that the corresponding Zoosanitary Import Certificate issued by (SAGARPA) is presented to the customs officials. Visit our Pet Travel Tips for more information.
  • Gifts and Donations: US or Canadian citizens bringing gifts to friends and relatives in Mexico should be prepared to provide Mexican customs officials with the origin and value of these gifts. The total value of the gifts will be included in your exempt amount as indicated above. Anyone traveling to Mexico with goods intended for donation should be aware of Mexican Customs regulations prohibiting importation of used clothing, textiles, and other used goods into Mexico, even as charitable donations. The importation of all medicines and medical equipment for donation to charity must be approved by Mexican Customs in advance; failure to obtain the proper import permits will result in the confiscation of the medical supplies. Out-of-date medications may not be imported for donation under any circumstances. Individuals or groups wishing to make charitable donations should check with Mexican Customs for the list of prohibited items, and should hire an experienced customs broker in the US or Canada to ensure compliance with Mexican law. The charitable individual or group, not the customs broker, will be held responsible for large fines or confiscation of goods if the documentation is incorrect.

Items that Need to be Declared:

  • If you are carrying more than $10,000 USD or its equivalent in other currencies, checks, money orders or any other monetary instruments, or any combination thereof, you must declare the amount exceeding $10,000 USD. You will not have to pay duties or taxes, but you must declare it on the Customs Declaration form.
  • Animals, agricultural products and psychotropic medication.

Restricted Items:

  • Firearms and Ammunition: In order to import firearms and/or cartridges you must secure import permits from the Ministry of Economy and from the Ministry of National Defense.

Entering the US from Mexico

Regardless if you are travling by land or by air, you are entitled to an $800 USD duty-free exemption on goods brought back into the US. The next $1,000 USD worth of the goods is subject to a flat rate of 3%. If the total value exceeds $1,800 USD, the remaining duty will be determined based on duty rates in the tariff schedule, which are generally between 0-10% (except for clothing and textiles, which can go up to 25%).

  • Alcohol: There is no limit to the amount of alcohol a traveler may import as long as it is for personal use or gifts. However, only one liter of alcohol per person may be entered into the US duty-free. Only travelers who are 21 years or older may import alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages purchased in duty-free shops are also subject to duty if they exceed your one liter exemption. Duty is generally 3% of value and the IRS excise tax is generally between $.21-.31 per 750ml bottle of wine, $.67 for champagne and $2.14 for hard liquor.
  • Tobacco: A traveler may include up to 100 cigars and 200 cigarettes in the $800 USD personal exemption from duty. Additional cigars and cigarettes may be brought into the country, but they will be subject to duty and taxes. Cigarettes may also be subject to a tax imposed by state and/or local authorities.
  • Firearms: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms requires that all firearms must be imported by a registered firearm dealer. This includes firearms that are new, used, inherited or antique.
  • Money and Monetary Instruments: Customs and Border Protection does not collect duty on currency. However, travelers leaving or entering the US are required to report negotiable monetary instruments (i.e. currency or endorsed checks) valued at $10,000 USD or more.
  • Pets:  See “Bringing Pets back to the US” under Pet Travel Tips and Adoption for more information.

Entering Canada from Mexico

When entering Canada from Mexico by land or air, the following exemptions apply:

Personal Exemptions: You are allowed the following personal exemptions from duties and taxes:

  • Absense of 24 hours or more: $50 CAN
  • Absense of 48 hours or more: $400 CAN
  • Absense of 7 days or more: $750 CAN

You can claim the above amounts in exemptions when entering Canada. In general, the goods you include in your personal exemption must be for your personal or household use. Such goods include souvenirs that you purchased, gifts that you received from friends or relatives living outside Canada or prizes that you won. Goods you bring in for commercial use or for another person do not qualify for the exemption and are subject to applicable duty and taxes.

Although you can include some tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, a partial exemption may apply to cigarettes, tobacco products and manufactured tobacco. Except for tobacco and alcohol, goods you claim in your seven-day exemption may be shipped to your home by mail, courier or other means of transportation.

Alcohol: You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcohol free of duty and taxes:

  • 1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine; or
  • a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of alcoholic beverages; or
  • up to a maximum of 8.5 litres of beer or ale.

Tobacco: If you are 18 years of age or over, you are allowed to bring in all of the following amounts of tobacco into Canada free of duty and taxes within your personal exemption:

  • 200 cigarettes;
  • 50 cigars;
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco; and
  • 200 tobacco sticks.

Food, Plant and Animal Products: All food, plants, animals and related products must be declared. Based on emerging threats, the import requirements for food, plants, animals and related products are subject to change on a daily basis. To determine the most up-to-date import requirements for these items, refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Automated Import Reference System.

Firearms: You must declare all weapons and firearms at the CBSA port of entry when you enter Canada. If not, you could face prosecution and the goods may be seized.

Money and Monetary Instruments: If you are importing or exporting monetary instruments equal to or greater than $10,000 CAN (or the equivalent in a foreign currency), you must report this to the CBSA when you arrive in Canada or before you leave. This applies to either cash or other monetary instruments.

Pets: See “Bringing Pets back to the Canada” under Pet Travel Tips and Adoption for more information.

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