You may be considering a move to Mexico in the near future or maybe you found the perfect vehicle just across the US border. If so, you might be wondering how to permanently import your vehicle to Mexico. There are several factors involved that may help you decide.
Do I Need to Permanently Import My Vehicle to Mexico?
If you are a tourist staying for less than 180 days or a temporary resident, you may drive a foreign plated car and may want to consider getting a temporary import permit instead. If you are a Mexican citizen or permanent resident, you should know that it is illegal to drive a foreign plated car in Mexico. You must either naturalize the vehicle through importation or sell the vehicle and buy a different one in Mexico. If you are already in Mexico with a foreign plated car when you become a permanent resident, you have 180 days to import the car legally.
If you are still interested in permanently importing your vehicle into Mexico there are several things to do:
- Be sure your vehicle meets the requirements.
- Know what fees you are subject to.
- Get the right documentation together.
- Hire a broker (this is required by the Mexican Government.)
Requirements for a Vehicle to be Eligible for Importation:
- The vehicle has to be in working condition.
- There can be no liens on the vehicle.
- The vehicle must have a clean title (no salvage vehicles).
- A car from Canada may be imported IF it was never registered in Canada.
- Cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and vans must be manufactured in North America. The only exception to this rule is classic cars (30 years or old). They may be from any country of origin.
What Fees Are Involved in Permanent Importing a Car to Mexico?
The fees can be quite hefty and mainly depend on where you will be living in Mexico.
There are 2 different fees applied: VAT (Value Added Tax) and Import tax.
Both of these are based on your vehicle’s value, which is determined by customs.
- VAT: You must pay 16% of the Vehicle’s Value.
- Import Tax: You must pay an import tax IN ADDITION to the VAT.
You will need:
- The original title (It does not have to be in your name)
- Permanent Residence Card
- Photo of the miles, vehicle information decal, and vehicle
Hire A Broker to Permanently Import your Vehicle to Mexico:
The government of Mexico REQUIRES you to have a customs broker handle the importing of your vehicle. The broker will be a liaison between you and Mexican customs. The broker will help you gather the correct documents, tell you the exact fees you will have to pay and walk you through the importation process. There are plenty of options for customs brokers online that will be willing to help you.
Once I Have All My Documents, How Long Does the Actual Import Process Take?
To export the vehicle out of the United States, US customs will typically take 96 hours. 72 hours to process the exportation (unless you send your documents in ahead of time) and an additional 24 hours to get the vehicle to Mexican customs. Once Mexican customs have the vehicle, It will take approximately 3 days to get the invoice and vehicle back to you. The broker you are required to hire will facilitate this.
What Does The Process at The Border Entail?
Be sure to get to the Loredo, Texas office during work hours Monday through Friday.
Photographs will be taken of the vehicle and an Emission test will be performed. After this process has been completed, you need to empty the vehicle completely. The vehicle will be inspected by gamma rays to ensure nothing illegal is being imported. Then the vehicle will go to the Banjercito to get a sticker indicated the vehicle was legally imported. Once everything is completed, you will be given your documentation and a transfer permit which gives you 5 days to register your vehicle in your state of residence.
Can I Avoid Permanently Exporting my Vehicle to Mexico?
As you can imagine, some people try to avoid the lengthy process of importing a US car into Mexico, especially those living in border cities. If a foreign plated car is illegally imported into Mexico it is called a “chocolate car.” If you are caught with a chocolate car, your vehicle may be impounded.
With hundreds of thousands of people living on the Mexican-American border, there is a special type of registration you can get for your car to easily move through the border. With “Vehículos Fronterizos” you will receive a special license plate that allows you to drive 20km from the border into Mexico or the United States. This process can be completed at the Banjercito on either side of the border.
- Vehicle Requirements: Cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and vans must be manufactured in North America. The vehicle must be 5-9 years old at the time of importation.
- Fees: If the vehicle is 5-9 years old at the time of importation, 1% of the vehicle’s value must be paid as import tax. If the vehicle is older than 10 years, 20% of the vehicle’s value must be paid as import tax. In addition, 11% VAT of the vehicle’s value will be charged.
- Required Documentation: original title, proof of residency, and photo of the vehicle information decal.
Admittedly, the Mexican government has made it difficult to permanently import or naturalize your vehicle. After considering everything involved in this process, you may choose to sell your car in the originating country and buy a different one in Mexico. If so, check out our article on how to purchase a vehicle in Mexico.