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  • By LAC Blog
  • Wednesday 30, May 2018

Transporting merchandise over the US/Mexico border by ground is a time-honoured tradition. Millions of dollars of goods make this journey every single day, and there are huge markets to explore to the South. However, shipping between the US and Mexico can become very hectic if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are a number of laws, customs regulations and documents to be adhered to when attempting to cross this border for commercial purposes.  Here’s a rundown of the customs documentation necessary for cross-border shipping to Mexico.

Cross-border shipping to Mexico: Due Diligence

The first step is to ensure that the importer (usually the “customer” who is receiving the goods in this scenario) is properly designated.  If the receiving party is a first-timer, then they must register as an importer with the SAT (Servicio de Administración Tributaria) beforehand.  This government agency is a deconcentrated bureau of the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit in Mexico.

Cross-border shipping to Mexico: Paperwork

When transporting commercial cargo by ground from the United States, certain essential documentation is required each and every time for cross-border shipping to Mexico.  These are the Bill of Lading and Commercial invoice, the NAFTA Certificate of Origin, the Packing List and Shipper’s Export Declaration.  They must be submitted to either the Mexican customs broker or the American customs broker on US side, before crossing.

There is no excuse for missing or inaccurate documentation, and help will be very minimal once the truck is loaded and rolling.  The burden falls on the shipper to have all the paperwork completed properly and in a timely manner.

1.Bill of Lading and Commercial Invoice

The bill of lading is filled out by the exporter (US side) and can be submitted in either English or Spanish.  The exporter (aka the shipper) also completes the commercial invoice.  Submit this documentation to the U.S. Forwarding Agent, who can translate to Spanish (for a fee) if requested.  Invoices must show the following information:

  • Complete business addresses of the seller and buyer 
  • Tax ID Number of the seller (Canadian companies should use their Business Number) 
  • RFC Number of the buyer (The Registro Federal de Contribuyentes is a Mexican tax identification number)
  • The INCOTERMS agreed upon between seller and customer

Product quantities declared on the invoices must show exactly what’s being shipped.  Inaccurate declarations will be penalized by Mexican customs.

2. NAFTA Certificate of Origin

A uniform credential that is used in the United States, Canada, Mexico to certify that goods being exported are eligible as originating goods, for the benefit of a preferential tariff.
It can cover single or multiple importations (called a “blanket certificate”).  The exporter must complete and sign it, then keep it on file.
The importer must submit a copy to the appropriate customs broker to claim NAFTA benefits.  Note: You must provide the name and address of the Mexico customs broker and American forwarding agent for the shipment.

3. Packing List

Completed by the exporter it should detail the specific commodities, item by item, of each package or case in the shipment.
The packing list must be submitted to American Forwarding Agent. Both English and Spanish are accepted.
Note that Mexican customs does not accept numbers or product codes.
Detailed technical product info must be provided, such as a catalogue or design sheets or other pertinent documentation.
Tariff classifications are not finalized until merchandise is physically inspected by Mexican customs broker.  

4. Shipper’s Export Declaration

The exporter or a US Forwarding Agent completes this form. English is required.

Cross-border shipping to Mexico: Costly Mistakes

Note that before any shipment is allowed to cross into Mexico, all duties and taxes must have been paid in full to the Mexican customs broker.
Any delays at the border due to customs-related matters (such as incomplete documentation) may be subject to equipment detention or storage charges.

A Lot to Learn

Every country has its own regulations and shipping requirements so it’s important to be aware of this information before shipping internationally.  There’s a lot of information to consider when shipping to Mexico.  It all may seem complicated at first, but it can be very painless with the right logistics partner by your side.
Don’t take any chances and deal only with the best freight forwarders in the industry.


Get the Proper Assistance for Cross-border Shipping to Mexico, Contact Us Now! 

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