Transacting Customs clearance in Mexico can be a challenge for both experienced and novice shippers.  While it is a common destination for North American goods, organizations like the Tecma Group have the expertise, experience, and know how make the process of importing into Mexico easier.

What is Mexico’s Servicio de Administración Tributaria, or SAT?

The SAT is the federal Mexican Tax Administration Service.  This governmental entity is a part of the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit, or Hacienda, and is the revenue collection service of the Mexican federal government.  In addition to collecting taxes, the SAT applies fiscal laws as well as plays a role in customs clearance in Mexico by applying Customs Law.  It does this with the purpose of financing public spending. 

The Mexican Tax Administration Service consists of twelve bureaus, of which three of involved in the conduct of the country’s foreign trade.  These are the:

  • General Administration of Customs;
  • General Administration of Foreign Trade Audit;
  • General Legal Administration.

What Agencies are Involved in Customs clearance in Mexico?

Mexico’s Customs Law provides that personnel authorized to carry out the physical and documentary recognition of goods are the Customs authority.  Depending upon the type of goods, another authority may also intervene in the transport operations of goods to and from Mexico.  Agencies that are involved in Customs clearance in Mexico include the:

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food – Issues the Phytosanitary and Zoosanitary Certificates of Import and Export, and inspects the goods in accordance with the SAGARPA Agreement;
  • Ministry of National Defense – Grants Import and Export Permits, and inspects goods during Customs clearance in Mexico under the SEDENA (Secretariat of National Defense) Agreement;
  • COFEPRIS – Secretary of Health. It issues the Sanitary Import and Export Authorizations, and also verifies and inspects certain goods in accordance with regulations on health supplies;
  • Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) – Issues Import and Export Authorizations, in the same way, inspects goods in accordance with SEMARNAT Agreement through Mexico’s Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente (PROFEPA). PROFEPA is Mexico’s agency that is charged with the protection of the environment.
  • Economy Secretariat- Grants import and export permits, as well as issues import and export quotas on goods;
  • Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (Hacienda) – Authorizes the inclusion of a business entering goods into and exporting goods out of the customs territory of Mexico in the nation’s Registry of Importers and Exporters;
  • Secretary of Energy – Issues the permits for the import and export for Customs clearance in Mexico of hydrocarbons and nuclear and radioactive materials and fuels.

The Pedimento (Import General Manifest)

In order to have goods released upon Customs clearance in Mexico, a pedimento, or import general manifest, must be presented. 

The pedimento is the most relevant Customs form that importers or exporters use during the importation or exportation of their goods into or out of the country.  It can only be filled out by a Mexican customs broker.  Additionally, it is an electronic document that is generated and transmitted to Mexican Customs that contains information relating to the goods and other formalities that are related to legally processing the import and export of items into and out of Mexican customs territory.

How are inspections carried out during the process of Customs clearance in Mexico?

Once the pedimento has been drawn up and submitted for review by Customs authorities.  At this point, an automated selection mechanism is activated, which determines whether or not a Customs inspection will be performed.  If selected for review, the Customs authority conducts an examination of the items to be imported or exported.

This procedure can be performed by Mexican Customs personnel at the border, at maritime ports, and in the interior of the country.  These these are the steps that are followed by the authorities to carry out inspections during Customs clearance in Mexico:

  1. The inspector accesses information that displays the Customs document of the shipment that is subject to inspection;
  2. The Customs official performs a revision of the Customs documents to ensure that they have been filled out properly;
  3. The inspector carries out a physical inspection of the goods;
  4. If the inspector encounters any irregularities during the process of Customs clearance in Mexico the goods will be put on “hold.” The most common reasons for merchandise being held up in Mexican Customs include:
  • The misclassification of goods;
  • The misvaluation of goods;
  • An incomplete North American Certificate of Origin;
  • Incorrect documentation;
  • An incorrect power of attorney or Shipper Export Declaration;
  • Discrepancies between the contents of the shipment specified on the Packing List and the goods that have been presented.