If you would like to permanently import your car to Mexico—and by that we mean getting your car registered with the Mexican government—it is different throughout the country. Yet, first a bit of advice. If you are considering importing a car to Mexico, you might just want to sell your car and purchase a new one once you are a resident. It can be quite difficult to legalize your car in Mexico. Taking a car to Mexico permanently is not simple, and there is a strict criterion for nationalization. There is a very good chance that your beloved vehicle won’t meet these meticulous standards.
Though we do not know how the new agreement will play out when it comes to how to import a car to Mexico, for the time being NAFTA still stands as the law of the land. Mexican states that any vehicle in Mexico for more than 180 days must be imported and registered in the state of your residence. As per NAFTA, Mexico has full discretion over which vehicles it lets Americans import. Cars in Canada may be imported, however you may not import a car to Mexico that has been registered in Canada. You are only allowed to import one car to Mexico unless you are registered as an importer with an RFC for resale.
It is a fact that Mexican Customs (Aduana) does not allow permanent residents to drive a foreign plated car. This is hotly debated because the law is rarely enforced, however Mexican Federal Law states that after 180 of an “indefinite period”, it is illegal to drive an American plated car if you are a Mexican permanent resident. Though local police won’t enforce this issue, the federales will confiscate and impound the car.
For the purposes of this article, the criteria for importing a car to Mexico will be broken down into two regions: North/Northwest border states, and the rest of the country.
WHAT TYPES OF CARS ARE ALLOWED INTO MEXICO?
Only cars, vans, trucks, and SUV’s that are manufactured in North America are allowed to be registered in Mexico. The first digit of your vehicle identification number (VIN) begins with a 1 – 5, then you are made in North America.
NORTH/NORTHWEST BORDER STATES:
f you settle along 20km of the border—in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Sonora—then the rules are slightly more relaxed to accommodate the needs of American expats who commute. Also the entire Baja California peninsula counts in this category. The truck, car, van, or SUV must be 5-10 years old.
THE REST OF THE COUNTRY:
Any states below the 20km of the border (except the Baja Peninsula) have different laws to permanently import your car to Mexico. The rest of the country except the states mentioned above only allow cars, trucks, SUVs, or vans that are either 8 or 9 years old.
IMPORT TAX & DUTIES (ARANCEL) TO IMPORT A CAR TO MEXICO:
There is a duty fee to import goods to Mexico. This varies from the age and location of the car, truck, van, or SUV.:
If you are within 20km of the border or the Baja Peninusla, the import tax is 1% of the value of the car.
If you are in the beyond 20km from the border in the rest of the country, the import tax is 10% the value of the car.
CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN (CERTIFICADO DE ORIGEN):
A little known trick is that you can get a 0% import tax if you have a certificate of origin. To discover how to get a certificate of origin to import a car to Mexico with NO IMPORT TAX, click here.
IF YOUR CAR IS TEN YEARS OLD:
If your car is ten years old, these are considered special circumstances. The value of the car decreases significantly, therefore the import tax is raised to 10%. This is only along 20km of the border or the Baja Peninsula—not the rest of the country.
VALUE ADDED TAX:
A Value Added Tax – or VAT tax (Impuesto al Valor Agregado – IVA in Spanish) is a tax is basically a goods and services tax. To import your car to Mexico 16% of the value of the car taxed.
CUSTOMS AGENT FEES (AGENTE ADUANAL):
Mexican law states that you have to hire a customs agent (agente aduanal) to facilitate importing a car to Mexico permanently. You must go to customs agent when crossing the border, to get the import request and pay all fees and taxes. It is best to contact your agent a few weeks before you want to import your car to Mexico. Any other method of taking a car to Mexico permanently is illegal. These fees will vary between person and company.
*To contact an agente aduanal, click here.
*For more information, click here.
*For information on crossing the border, click here.
*WeExpats drew upon the work of Qroo Paul for this article. If you would like to learn more about import laws, click here. And to read more material written by him and his wife, click here to read all their articles.
*To learn about how to get around keeping your own car in Mexico without registration or smogging issues in the United States, via a loophole in South Dakota, click here.
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