When deciding to move household items and the considerable expense of a moving company, keep in mind Mexico is a country of 130 million people and everything is available at competitive prices and the equivalent quality you will find in other countries. This includes, cutlery, bedding, linens, cookware, clothing, electronics, furniture, food, etc. Sources include Mercadolibre, Amazon Mexico, Liverpool, Costco, Sam’s, Zara clothes and Home, H&M, Pottery Barn, Palacio de Hierro, City Market / Mega / Superama / HEB / La Comer / WalMart etc. and thousands of markets for food items. On-line ordering is available from most if not all major retailers. If renting, the majority of places are furnished including with beds which are usually 5 inches shorter, meaning the sheets you bring will often not fit.
Moving household items (typically when using a moving company) to Mexico in large quantities involves special requirements and documentation, including your immigration status and various customs declarations. The goods themselves are restricted to used (not new) items that are normally part of a household, such as furniture, clothing, linens, and appliances. Permissible items generally are allowed without trade duties (duty tax), but requirements vary. Minimize problems and fees by learning about all applicable requirements and preparing your documents and shipments accordingly. Please note, sending clothing, electronics, personal items, books, etc by courier may result is large fees and frequently, outright denial by Aduana (Customs). The following are some of the basics to get you started.
To be excluded from the IVA tax your items must enter Mexico no later than 6 months from the time your visa is fully issued in Mexico. Please note if you try to bring in a large number of household items with a moving company and you want to follow the law, you will need a Menaje de Casa from the consulate, a broker at the border and your visa fully issued. Those with only a pre-approved visa may be required to have their household items put into storage on the US side of the border; wait weeks for your visa to be issued in Mexico and return to the border to retrieve your items. Some moving companies have a way to avoid many steps.
Here are some of the documents you are to provide to bring household goods into Mexico:
Resident card—official document of Temporary or Permanent Resident status
Bill of lading (BL or BOL)—required for transporting goods by sea; if shipping by air, this document is known as the airway bill (AWB)
Packing list—a detailed catalog of your goods, including a description and shipping box number for each item
Proof of last entry date—may be an airline ticket or reservation
Proof of address—may be a utility bill dated within three months of your last entry
Passport—from your county of citizenship
Letter of declaration to customs—including your Mexico address, a description of your goods and acknowledgement of the requirement to bring your goods with you when you move out of Mexico.
Letter of empowerment—authorizes a customs broker you are working with to handle and transport your goods
Declaration of Household Goods (Declarción de Menaje de Casa)— with a Menaje de Casa is for use by a Customs broker to import your items. A Menaje de Casa is not required when an individual brings items. If you do have one, based on experience by clients, you encourage a thorough inspection of your vehicle.
Goods that are allowed include household goods and personal effects. Article 90 of the Mexican Customs Law states that the items you take across must be used (purchased at least 6 months prior) personal items and furniture of a house, e.g. clothes, books, furniture, appliances, and electronics. Tools and implements are also allowed if they are required for your profession or if they are used for a hobby. Medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, blood pressure or sugar monitors and oxygen generators are allowed duty-free. New (unused) items and those in unopened packaging may be allowed into Mexico but will likely be subject to duty and other requirements.
Goods that are not allowed include guns or ammunition of any calibre, as well as most other weapons. Also not allowed are fresh or frozen food including fruits and vegetables, plants, spices or seeds. It is illegal to bring into Mexico some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine are prohibited. Individuals are advised to carry a copy of the prescription or doctor’s letter but it is still possible that you may be subject to arrest for arriving to Mexico with substances in these lists. it is not recommended to ship these items with your household goods. Vehicles, including cars, boats, recreational vehicles, and trailers are not considered household goods and must be declared and approved separately. This does not apply to motorized vehicles.
Menaje de Casa is for moving household and personal items to Mexico. It is provided by a Mexican consulate and applies to expats with a Temporary or Permanent Resident visa. At the consulate, you provide your address both outside and inside of Mexico; provide original and 4 copies listing household items in Spanish; your list must contain a detailed description and the quantity of the goods. For electronic items, you must indicate the brand, model and serial number. The fee for the Menaje de Casa is $169 US. The tax exemption only applies for the first 6 months from when the TR or PR visa is issued in Mexico. A Customs broker is required for those with a Menaje de Casa.