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How to import vehicles to Mexico and their customs requirements

To organize an international move, you should not only keep in mind the packaging that protects your belongings, but also the procedures and requirements that allow you to enter your household items a without problem to the new country. Now, if we include the transfer of a vehicle, that is another process to which you must pay full attention so that inconveniences or extra costs do not arise at the time of the move.

Here we will share with you everything you should consider when importing vehicles to Mexico, considering the possible legislative changes and latest reforms that the Mexican Government has established, so that you understand everything that this procedure entails, from the requirements, documents and necessary costs.

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You may also be interested in the following articles, all about the regulations and requirements for moving from abroad to Mexico.

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Procedures to import vehicles to Mexico

It's important to mention that the procedures to import vehicles to Mexico vary depending on the type of importation, that is, if it's permanent or temporary.

Permanent import

This is a type of importation without any time limit, where the foreign vehicle (usually from the United States or Canada) will remain permanently in Mexican territory and will be nationalized, replacing the plates in any state of the republic.

For this process it's important to have certain documents that verify the characteristics and conditions of the vehicle. In this way, the car can enter if used and fulfilling the following requirements:

    • The year/model of the vehicle is 8 or more years prior to the year of importation.
      That is, during 2022 vehicles whose model year is 2013 or older can be imported.
    • The vehicle identification or serial number corresponds to the manufacturing or assembly of the vehicle in Mexico, the United States or Canada.
    • The owner who performs the importation must be a person of legal age and a resident of the territories listed above.
    • Vehicles must not be restricted or prohibited from circulating in their country of origin.
    • Present the document of a prior permit to import issued by the Ministry of Economy in Mexico.
    • Pay the import taxes that correspond to the vehicles, which we detail later in the article.

* We recommend you visit the official page of the Mexican government where you can also find out about the process of importing used vehicles to Mexico by clicking here.

Temporary import

This establishes a time limit for the vehicle, American in most cases, to circulate in Mexico legally, allowing the importer to enter national territory with the sole purpose of returning the vehicle.

Normally, temporary importation is used by migrants or simply visitors from the United States to stay in Mexico for a maximum period of 6 months, with the possibility of extending it to one year.

This procedure can be carried out through the following ways:

* For more information on the documents needed to prove the temporary import permit of a foreign vehicle, whether you are Mexican or not, da clic h.

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Who can import vehicles to Mexico?

Any physical and moral person can carry out the permanent importation of vehicles (as long as they've been used) for a period of 12 months without needing to be registered in the Importers Register.

Likewise, people with business activity, considering their taxation according to the ISR Law and are registered in the list of importers, may import the number of used vehicles they require.

The importation of your vehicle can only be processed before the customs authorities through a customs agent, either by the country's maritime traffic customs, the northern border, or which the agent is attached.

Por lo tanto, será esencial que acudas a un agente aduanal quien te guiará durante todo el proceso para obtener el pedimento de importación y pagar todos los impuestos y contribuciones necesarias.

Therefore, it will be essential that you go to a customs agent who will guide you throughout the process to obtain the import request and pay all the necessary taxes and contributions.

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Steps to follow for the definitive importation of the vehicle

1. The owner must carry out the procedure through a customs agent who is in charge of the definitive importation of the used vehicle. You will have to give the agent:

    • Your official ID
    • A letter of entrustment to carry out the operation
    • A vehicle title

* If you're going to import more than one vehicle per year, you must be registered in the Importer's Padron registry.

2. The customs agent will do the following:

    • The agent will obtain the certificate ensuring that the vehicle meets the physical-mechanical and environmental protection conditions (there are verification centers near the border customs).
    • The agent will arrange for the vehicle to be certified by a Used Vehicle Background Provider Company.
    • He or she will verify that the vehicle identification number matches the one on the property title.
    • The agent will present the title deed to U.S Customs for export clearance (this process usually takes 2 business days on average).
    • It will prepare the import request and pay the corresponding taxes.
    • It will give you the definitive import request paid.
3. Being the owner, you must appear physically before the customs authority and present the vehicle with the petition at the corresponding customs office. Make sure you receive the import request back with its attachments.

4. Finally, register your vehicle with the Public Vehicle Registry.

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Documentation required to import vehicles to Mexico

In addition to the import request that the customs agent will obtain, take into account that you must comply with the following requirements and documents:

    • Title of ownership of the vehicle or certificate of origin in the name of the importer or endorsed in their favor.
    • Official identification of the importer issued by the Mexican government (passport, voter ID or consular registration).
    • Voter ID with photo that matches the vehicle owner's title.
    • Professional Certificate of the importer.
    • Vehicle registration certificate.
    • Importer's proof of address. It can be with a payment receipt not older than 3 months, whether for electricity, telephone or water services.
    • Bank account statement of the importer not older than 3 months.
    • Proof of filing issued by the corresponding Municipality not older than 3 months.
    • For natural person present the CURP of the importer / For legal person the Power of Attorney.
    • Physical or digital photograph of the vehicle identification number.
    • Submit a Certificate of Pollutant or Gas Emissions (processed in the USA).

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Contributions and payment of taxes when importing vehicles to Mexico

As mentioned above, the customs agent will be in charge of managing the import petition, as well as the payment of duties, contributions and the general import tax. This includes the payment of VAT, ISAN, ISTUV and DTA, taking into account the following:

Cost in vehicle import tariffs

According to the changes established in 2020 on the trade agreement between Mexico, Canada and the United States, vehicles will pay a preferential tariff of 10% of general import tax to enter the country, as long as they comply with the following:

      • Verify they were made in North America
      • Check that they are in order according to emissions
      • They adhere to the customs price list.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

The rate of 16% of the value of the vehicle must be applied, being in order with article 1 of the VAT Law or, if the importation is carried out by a resident of the border region, the rate of 8% of the vehicle value.

Tax on new cars - Impuesto sobre automóviles nuevos (ISAN)

Every natural and legal person is obliged to pay this tax when importing cars into the country definitively. This law establishes different fees since the rate is set depending on the value of the vehicle, so we recommend you consult article 3 of the ISAN Law, to more accurately determine the amount to be paid.

Vehicle Tenure or Use Tax - Impuesto sobre tenencia o uso de vehículos (ISTUV)

The payment of this particular tax must be made by the importers of the vehicle. We recommend that you consult the ISTUV Law in order to determine the requirements and the amount more accurately.

Customs procedure fee - Derecho de trámite aduanero (DTA)

A fee of 8 per thousand must be paid. In the event that the amount (after applying the 8 to the thousand) is less than the fixed fee of $258.91, then this last amount will be applied. However, we recommend consulting article 49 of the Federal Law of Rights in force in Mexico.

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- Last update 2022 -

On January 19, 2022, the Official Journal of the Federation (DOF) published the Decree for the regularization of used vehicles of foreign origin, which establishes the costs, requirements and procedures necessary to definitively legalize the also called "chocolate cars" in Mexican territory .

📅 This will be in force from the day of its publication in the DOF and until July 20, 2022.

The 10 federal entities of the Mexican Republic that will benefit from this decree and where the cars of foreign origin can be regularized are the following:

  • Baja California
  • Baja California Sur
  • Chihuahua
  • Coahuila
  • Durango
  • Michoacán
  • Nayarit
  • Nuevo León
  • Sonora
  • Tamaulipas

Cost: According to the decree, the regularization and definitive import of used vehicles will cost 2,500 pesos (125 dollars) for use.

Used vehicles with the following aspects will be denied regulation or importation into the national territory:

    • If the vehicle, due to its specific characteristics, is restricted to circulate in the country of origin or in Mexico.
    • If it's a luxury or sports vehicle or it's an armored vehicle.
    • If the vehicle does not comply with mechanical environmental protection provisions, in accordance with applicable federal or local regulations.
    • If the vehicle has been reported as stolen or is related to the commission of a crime in any investigation file or criminal proceeding.

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Don't forget that legal changes may occur regarding this process of importing vehicles to Mexico, therefore we recommend that you consult the necessary documents when carrying out the operation.


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