Importing and Exporting in Mexico

Starting a Mexican Company is necessary for importing or exporting in the country. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the requirements to import and export in Mexico.

First, the incorporation. Starting a Mexican company or otherwise starting a business in Mexico is necessary in order to import or export under ones own name. The only alternative is to rely on a customs broker to import or export products for you under the broker’s company – which entails steep fees.

Second, the company must obtain an import permit. This process can take as much as 15 business-days. However, in our experience, this timeframe can vary. In the past, it has taken as little as three business-days. The import permit requires the following:

  • Registration with the tax authorities
  • Predesignated customs broker
  • Local corporate signatory in Mexico
  • Mexican Company’s Electronic Tax Signature (FIEL).

If the incorporation process has been completed, the Mexican Company more than likely has already obtained its registration with the tax authorities. However, the Mexican Company must also have its electronic tax signature. In most cases, it will be the company’s accountant who has processed this. It is important to make sure that if your company does not have a Mexican shareholder, as a matter of practice, you should have you Mexican account name with a limited corporate authority for Powers of Administration for purposes of processing the companies electronic tax signature or “FIEL” as it it called in Spanish.

Once the Electronic Tax Signature is processed, the company is ready to apply for an import permit. This is referred to as the “Padron de Importadores” – the importers’ registry. The company must have already contracted the services of a customs broker. No import permit cannot be processed until the customs broker provides their official broker’s number called a “numero patente”. The submission for the import permit is made online using the Mexican Company’s electronic tax signature.

Some sectors require a secondary authorization for sensitive products which may include:

  • Some chemicals
  • Radioactive or nuclear materials
  • Some textiles
  • Explosives
  • Firearms
  • Some textiles
  • And other areas of sensitive economic or national security nature

Further information may be found here:

Documentation Requirements for Importing or Exporting in Mexico

There are a whole suite of documents that are required to import or export in Mexico. These documents are required by the customs broker in most cases for either importing or exporting. Before going into our non-exhausting list, it is important to remember that in most cases a foreigner will not be able to sign any other this documentation. Therefore, having an accountant or attorney in Mexico who is duly authorized with a limited Power of Administration for the company will be essential. This process is complicated and often requires at the very least a week or two of back and forth to complete.

  • Copy of Articles of Incorporation for the Mexican Company (Acta Constitutiva)
  • Copy of Power of Attorney of company representative, accountant or attorney (Poder Notarial del Representante Legal)
  • Proof of Address (Comprobante de Domicilio)
  • Copy of Mexican representatives identification – Passport, residence card or Mexican voter registration card
  • Original signed Customs Broker Power of Attorney
  • Mexican Company’s Tax ID registration
  • Mexican Company’s Electronic Tax Signature Certificate
  • Photos of the company’s registered office – interior and exterior
  • Mexican Company’s Tax ID registration
  • Mexican Company’s Electronic Tax Signature Certificate

This process is notoriously tedious. Most customs brokers will reject documentation if a single comma or period is in the wrong place or if documentation is no submitted on letter-head. Furthermore, customs brokers will in many cases require proof of address under the company’s names. If this is not available, or if you have not contracted a phone line or utility bill under the Mexican Company’s name, this can cause issues. For these and other reasons, getting from incorporation to importation is a difficult process requiring expertise. Failure to produce a single document… in the proper form required by the customs broker can bring the process to a screeching halt.

Import/Export Companies can handle every step of the import or export process with ease.  First, will establish an S.A. de C.V. (Corporation), an S. de R.L. (Limited Liability Company) or any other legal entity the customer wishes. Second, we then register the company as either an Importer or Exporter with the Mexican authorities.

Establishing an import or export operation is essentially the same as establishing a “run-of-the-mill” corporate entity. The two essential differences are that in addition to establishing the company, it must be (1) be registered on the Registry of Importers and Exporters, and (2) obtain an import or export license from the appropriate oversight authority, if necessary.

For Importers. Even if the company plans to only import temporarily on a single occasion it must register with Registry of Importers and Exporters. The company must be up to date on all taxes and fiscal obligations. The company must appoint a customs agent to oversee its affairs. These initial steps take take no more than 10 days to complete.

For the majority of importers, the process of becoming an import/export company generally implies one step – registering the company on the Registry of Importers.  Keep in mind that if the company is planning to import items that require authorization – like medicines – it will have to register or receive a license for such product prior to importation.  These time periods vary widely depending on the respective government authority having oversight.

For Exporters.  Unlike the case with importers, only certain exporters are required to register on the Registry of Exporters. These included exporters of the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes and tobacco
  • Energy drinks
  • Iron
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Copper


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